A bunch of winemakers in the garden…

We are delighted to welcome a ‘bunch of winemakers’ to the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Wednesday 10th May, for truly special wine talk and tasting – outside in the garden. Winemakers travelled from wine estates in France and Italy in association with Le Caveau, including Elena Pantaleoni, and Francesca, of La Stoppa, Rivergaro, Emilia-Romagna, Italy; Theo from Foradori in Trentino, Italy;  Gulio from Ampelia, Maremma, Tuscany, Italy; Bertrand Ambroise of Maison Ambroise, Premeaux-Prissey, Cotes-de-Nuits, Burgundy, France; Nicolas Donne of Domaine Guy Allion, Touraine, Loire Valley, France; Guilhaume de Conti, of Tour des Gendres, Bergerac, South-West France and Thibaud Chaume of Domaine Chaume-Arnaud, Vinsobres, Rhône Valley, France.

We were fortunate with wonderful May sunshine to be able to have the wine class outside, in the timber amphitheatre in the gardens. A magical evening and our thanks & appreciation to all of the winemakers, who had travelled over, in association with Le Caveau.

Each of the winemakers spoke about their region, their wines and vineyards. All of whom have a focus on low intervention wines, organic, biodynamic and natural viticulture and winemaking. In turn, each of the winemakers gave a tutored tasting of one of their wines by way of illustration (and enjoyable tasting!).

Nicolas Donne of Domaine Guy Allion, Touraine, Loire Valley, France

Cédric and Dorothée Allion run their 30-ha estate with great care and passion. Members of Terra Vitis, their viticultural methods are resolutely organic and sustainable, while minimum intervention during winemaking ensure the wines are pure and offer a true expression of the terroir. The vineyards are mostly planted on slopes overlooking the Cher river, close to the beautiful Chateaux of Chenonceaux and Chambord.

Touraine Sauvignon, Loire Valley 2016

Grape variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon character with a real mineral edge, the palate is full-flavoured with freshly squeezed lemon mingling with white fruit, pear and green apples ending with racy, fresh notes.

“This wine is produced under the Terra Vitis ethic that it is an approach based on reason, not faith. Cédric and Dorothée Allion`s small estate minimises strategic intervention in the vineyard and studiously avoids chemical additives. The results speak for themselves here – this is a super smart sauvignon blanc that is crisp to the point of steely sharpness, bursting with gooseberry, peanut and nettle notes. A clear and startlingly well priced competitor to New World sauvignon” Tomas Clancy, Sunday Business Post

Gulio of Ampelia, Maremma, Tuscany, Italy

Ampeleia (from the Greek word for ‘vine’) is owned by Elisabetta Foradori and Giovani Podini. It was founded with Elisabetta’s overarching vision of allowing the true nature of an area, its diversity, its grapes, land and culture to be expressed. The wildness of the southern Maremma, bounded by the Colle Metallifere and the sea were virgin territory, far removed from the glamour of Bolgheri and Montalcino. The estate is interspersed with chestnut and cork oak forests as well as Mediterranean scrub. 

‘Un Litro’, by Ampelia, Maremma, Tuscany, Italy 2016

Grape varieties: Alicante (Grenache), Carignan and Alicante Bousche

‘Un Litro’ is a true expression of the wild Mediterranean terroir of the Maremma. It is a peasant wine in the best sense of the word: a joyous, infinitely drinkable blend of Alicante (Grenache), Carignan and Alicante Bouschet which grow so well in this hot, southerly corner of Tuscany. It spends 6 months in cement tanks. Unfined, unfiltered, no added SO2. (Total SO2: 41 mg/l) Balsamic character on the nose, wild herbs and spices hints. Well defined on the palate, clear-cut and neat. Contrasting finish with pleasantly bitter notes of cherries and wild strawberries.

Bertrand Ambroise of Maison Ambroise, Premeaux-Prissey, Cotes-de-Nuits, Burgundy, France

Bertrand Ambroise, and his son Francois and daughter Ludivine operate on 21 hectares and purchase grapes from another 3. Their vineyards were converted to organic viticulture and they received their certification in 2013. From manually harvested grapes, neither filtered nor fined, the wines are classic Burgundy with distinct terroir-influenced personalities. 

Cotes de Nuits Villages, by Maison Ambroise, Burgundy 2015

Grape variety: Pinot Noir

Cotes de Nuits Villages is beautifully expressive and lush, with ripe red fruits, earth and a touch of  creamy oak. It is dry and medium bodied, perfect balanced, with ripe juicy fruit. Oak on back palate with will further soften with age. Long finish.

Theo of Foradori, Trentino, Italy

The mountain ranges that make up the Dolomites, a World Heritage Site, are found between the Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions and delineate a landscape of extraordinary beauty. Elisabetta Foradori’s grandfather bought the estate, based in Mezzolombardo, in 1929, a mere ten years after Italy’s annexation of the province from the defunct Austro-Hungarian empire meant that the traditional markets for the local wines had disappeared. At first, the wine was sold to local co-operatives, but Elisabetta’s father began bottle and sell their own production. His life was cut tragically short by cancer when Elisabetta was just eleven years old. Nine years later, she had graduated in viticulture and oenology and had taken over the reigns of the estate, albeit more out of a sense of duty than passion. Teroldego from the Rotaliano plain had been singled out for its quality since at least the 14th century, but the prevailing philosophy, post-WW2, was to squeeze maximum yields through clonal selection and an industrial approach to production. She decided to dedicate her work to renewing  Teroldego and planted as many cuttings as she could. 

Teroldego plunges its roots deep into the limestone, granitic and porphyritic rocks of the Campo Rotaliano, a small plain embedded between steep rock faces in Trentino (Northern Italy). It is the intense expression of its land, of its people, of the Dolomites. By 2002, Foradori had garnered international recognition for her work and visionary approach. However, always changing and evolving, she decided to convert the estate to biodynamic viticulture. Seeing the change in the quality and drinkability of her wines, she applied for and received organic and biodynamic certification in 2009. The vineyards cover 28 hectares – 75% of Teroldego, 15% of Manzoni Bianco, 5% of Nosiola and 5% of Pinot Grigio

Foradori ‘Morei’, Trentino, Italy 2015

Grape variety: Teroldego

‘Morei’ again from local dialect, translates as ‘moro’/’scuro’. The Teroldego here plunges its roots deep in the stones and sand of the soil carried by the river Noce giving rise to deeply coloured wines with a dense and mineral texture. Eight months on the skins in clay amphorae

‘Morei is very fresh, pure and linear with pure red cherry fruit and lovely fine-grained structure. Elegant, direct and pure.’ Wine writer, Jamie Goode


Guilhaume de Conti, of Tour des Gendres, Bergerac, South-West France 2014

Viticulture is biodynamic, the soil is nourished with seaweed and silica treatments to encourage microbial activity. Yields are low, 5 to 6 bunches per vine, manual picking and selection of ripe and healthy grapes is essential; on the top cuvées there are several ‘tries’ in the vineyard, and the wine will only be released if it reaches the highest of standards. The blends will also change according to the physiological ripeness of the grapes

Gloire de Mon Pere, Chateau Tour des Gendres, Bergerac, South-West France

Grape varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc.

Gloire de mon Père – The nose is intense and powerful – black fruit, dark chocolate, anisee with flowery notes. Generous and ripe on the palate, the layers of sweet, juicy fruit are supported by a firm but balanced tannic structure.

Thibaud Chaume, of Domaine Chaume-Arnaud, Rhône Valley, France

Domaine Chaume-Arnaud biodynamic vineyards are planted on slopes and terraces around the picturesque villages of Vinsobres and Saint-Maurice, near Nyons.  The altitude, between 200 to 450m, and the cool wind from the nearby Alps (the Pontias) keep the temperature lower than the neighbouring villages and contribute to the natural freshness and complexity of the wines. Harvest in done by hand and yields are kept very low.   

The Chaume-Arnaud Côtes du Rhone is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, dark-coloured, it has a rich and velvety character. Very inviting nose, sweetly fruited, with gamey/meaty hints. Gorgeously ripe and juicy cherry, plum and cream on the palate with discreet spices. Fine tannins and acidity on the finish hold and balance this brilliant wine very well.

Elena Pantaleoni of La Stoppa, Rivergaro, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

La Stoppa is located in the Colli Piacentini in north-west EmiliaRomagna. Founded in the late 19th century by Gian-Marco Ageno, the estate was bought by Elena Pantaleoni’s father in 1973. At the time, the estate focused on producing international style wines. Elena inherited the estate in 1991 and by 1996, she and head vignaiolo Giulio Armani began to execute the vision they had for the future of the estate. They replanted Barbera and Bornada, as well as a small amount of Malvasia Candia, Ortrugo and Trebianno, all of which were much more suited to the hot climate and heavy clay soils of the Colli Piacentini. 

The vines were worked organically from the early 90s and La Stoppa received organic certification in 2008. Elena, in typical humble fashion, describes herself as ‘la custode de la vigne’, merely a guardian, until she in her turn passes the estate to the next generation. Her low-key, but powerful conviction is that her responsibility is to farm and make wine in as sustainable, non-interventionist and authentic a way as possible. The wines qualify for Colli Piacentini DOC, but are bottled as Emilia IGT because she feels that the rules of the DOC do not allow the authenticity of the terroir to speak. Her stances on the necessity of truly artisan (as opposed to industrial) production, the use of indigenous grape varieties, yeasts and minimal intervention in the cantina have made her a leading voice for devotees of natural, artisanal wine. She featured in Jonathon Nossiter’s 2015 documentary ‘Natural Resistance’. 

La Stoppa ‘Malvasia Dolce Frizzante’, Emilia-Romagna, Italy 2015

Malvasia Dolce Frizzante, is luscious and subtely sweet with a soft sparkle, the wine is made from Malvasia di Candia grape variety. Single fermentation via the Charmat Method. Honeyed on the palate with floral, tangy fruits. Light, frothy, off-dry. White peach, lightly floral, simple, but delicious purity. Ideal as an aperitif, although Italians would drink this more as a light dessert wine with fruit desserts. It is a ‘mosto parzialemente fermentato’ wine. The method is to pick the aromatic Malvasia grapes quickly and do a very gentle pressing. The juice or ‘mosto’ partially fermented with the fermentation stopped by reducing the temperature. This results in a low alcohol, semi-sparkling, gently sweet wine.

Wines of Portugal

A great presentation by Maurice O’Mahony, of Wine Alliance - with great slides showing the dramatic Douro Valley landscape, a unique part of the wine world, and a brilliant tasting of a selection of whites and reds to taste, from Quinta do Judeu, Douro and Isidro de Pegoes, Setubal. Our thanks and appreciation to Maurice for a very enjoyable and  educational evening at the cookery school.

Portugal wines


Wine Alliance demo

Easter tasting at Ballymaloe

Our annual Easter wine tasting for guests of the house, at Ballymaloe, was this year given by Fionn Little of Bubble Brothers Wine Merchants, Cork.

The guests enjoyed what was a fantastic line-up of wines from Bubble Brothers,  including Chateau Beaucastel and Avignonesi including their rare Vin Santo

André Clouet Grand Cru Réserve Brut NV
André Clouet Grand Cru Réserve Brut NV



Avignonesi line-up of red wines
Avignonesi line-up of red wines

Avignonesi Rosso di Montepulciano 2009

Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Grande Annate 2006

Avignonesi Desiderio Cortona 2006

 Château de Beaucastel "Coudoulet de Beaucastel" Côtes du Rhône 2007  & 2009
Château de Beaucastel "Coudoulet de Beaucastel" Côtes du Rhône 2007 & 2009


Avignonesi Vin Santo 1997
Avignonesi Vin Santo 1997

Avignonesi Vin Santo 1997 – this was  a real, rare treat – the reputation preceding the tasting of this unique Vin Santo, lived up to its expectations in the glass! Please see the link here to learn more about the Avignonesi Vin Santo

Fionn Little with his grandmother, Mrs. Myrtle Allen, and some of the guests enjoying the tasting.
Fionn Little with his grandmother, Mrs. Myrtle Allen, and some of the guests enjoying the tasting.

Simon Tyrrell, Tyrrell & Co

Delighted to welcome to the cookery school, Simon & Emma Tyrrell of The Wine Store, and Tyrrell & Co wine merchants – five times winner of ‘Wine Merchant of the Year’ Award in Ireland. Simon is also an acclaimed winemaker,  making wine in the Rhone Valley.

Simon spoke to the students, ahead of his presentation and tasting tonight in Cork – at L’Attitude 51, Corks new Wine Cafe, where Simon will be presenting a Rhone tasting this evening at 7.30pm

Simon & Emma Tyrrell with Rachel Allen
Rachel Allen, and Simon & Emma Tyrrell
Simon Tyrrell and Darina Allen talking to the students
Simon Tyrrell and Darina Allen talking to the students

On The Grapevine

Gabriel Cooney, of On The Grapevine, Dalkey, Co. Dublin, visited the school  – pictured here in the Garden Cafe at the school, with Mike Hanrahan (acclaimed singer/songwriter,  former teacher at Ballymaloe Cookery and now Chef at Pat Shortt’s Bar, Castlemartyr)

On the grapevineGabriel spoke to the students after lunch about starting On The Grapevine wine business, and gave a great insight to the students about running a successful wine shop and business – very much the theme of the day’s demo, by Blathnaid Bergin, of The School of Restaurant and Kitchen Management, who was teaching the students about running a business, costs, and all things relevant to running and managing a successful business.

González Byass, Jerez, Spain

The famous Spanish wine company, Gonzalez Byass, established in 1835 in the Jerez region, it is still a family owned business and it is now at the 5th generation.


Oscar, Samuel, Michael and Colin

They produce wine in different regions of Spain: Rioja, Toledo, Jerez, Somontano, Penedes and Cava. Oscar Bayo presented a selection of wines – Cava, White, and Reds from different regions of Spain, and of course a  selection of Sherry, including the  range of their very special 30year old Sherries – Del Duque Amontillado, Apostoles Palo Cortado, Mathusalem Oloroso and Noe Pedro Ximenez – a stunning range and line-up of some of the most complex Sherries.

Colin Downey and Oscar Bayo
Colin Downey & Oscar Bayo

line-up of Sherry


IWSC Spanish Wine Producer of the Year 2010. González Byass, Jerez, Spain

Joe Cronin and Colin DowneyPictured recently in the wine cellar at Ballymaloe, in advance of the Gonzalez Byass wine event, were Joe Cronin, Ballymaloe (who celebrates 60 years working at Ballymaloe this month) and Colin Downey, Barry & Fitzwilliam Wine Merchants, who co-hosted the event with Ballymaloe.

Oscar also spoke to the students of the 12-week Cookery Course at the school, with an emphasis on Sherry and Food, in particular how well Fino goes so well with food, especially Iberico Ham



Wine talk







(Pictured is the Grain Store at Ballymaloe set for a previous Sherry event in Ballymaloe, earlier this year, in May,when we welcomed Cesar Saldana, Consejo Regulador, Jerez, in association with Wines of Spain and The Irish Times)


New Season’s Olive Oil from Tuscany

Launch of the New Season’s Olive Oil, at Ballymaloe on Wednesday 9th November 2011

Olive Oil

Wines and Olive Oil of Tuscany,
Wednesday 9th November at Ballymaloe






We had an amazing day with the launch and masterclasses of the new season’s  Tuscan Olive Oil.

I hope some of these photographs can convey the excitment and sense of occasion in Ballymaloe throughout the day – Billy Lyons ‘Restaurants and Food in Cork’  also has written a very nice article about the launch here.

And also see ‘The Vine Inspiration’ wine blog nice article here on the Winemakers Dinner that evening at Ballymaloe House

Also on some more photos the Ballymaloe House Facebook here and  here

In the hall

Pictured, in the entrance hall at the cookery school, are Bea Contini Bonacossi, from Capezzana, Carmignano www.capezzana.it, Federico Giuntini, Selvapiana, Rufina www.selvapiana.it, and David Gleave MW, of Liberty Wines who showed the olive oil of Fontodi www.fontodi.com, along with Darina, Rory and Gillian.

Olive TreeBeatrice and Federico, pictured by the Olive Tree in the gardens at the school.

In association with, and special thanks to Gerry, Ben, and all at Liberty Wines

David and GillianGillian Hegarty, pictured with David Gleave MW, prepared an amazing lunch, along with Rory O’Connell, specially for the occasion.

ScallopsRoaringwater Bay Scallops with Capezzana New Seasons Extra Virgin Olive Oil – delicious!


In demo

We all very much appreciate the time and effort that Beatrice, Federico and David, took to come to Ballymaloe, and our thanks to them for a memorable day – we look forward hopefully to welcoming them back soon again.





Gerry and Darina

All in demo room

Olive grove

Fontodi logo


Cantine Leonarda da Vinci, Tuscany

We had a visit recently to Ballymaloe from Giacomo Alarai, of Cantine Leonarda da Vinci, Vinci, Tuscany, Italy, with Gerry Gunnigan, Liberty Wines Ireland.

in the hall
It was lovely to welcome Giacomo to Ballymaloe, and we took the opportunity to show him the artisan coffee roaster, based at Ballymaloe,  Marc Kingston of The Golden Bean – Marc does his roasting in ‘An Tigin Beag’, which is beside The Grain Store and his coffee can be found at  Co.Cork Farmers Markets.

Marc and Giacomo