A visit to the wine region of Saint-Emilion

Posted on: 8th June, 2015

Category: The Wine Buff

Contributor: Tony Eklof

Some years ago in April we decided to take a break from our usual Italian holidays and fly to Bordeaux. France’s fifth largest city is a jewel. Think Baroque instead of Renaissance. Always boasting of stunning classical buildings financed by the prosperous wine trade, Bordeaux has had a major facelift and now also boasts of a smart new tram system. Our first morning there we were strolling across the stunning Place de la Bourse when we spotted a friend and neighbour from Dublin giving a wine tour to a group of enthusiasts. Small world? No need for a rented car on this trip thanks to France’s excellent train system. We did two excursions from Bordeaux, one south past the great sand dunes of the Bassin d’Arcachon, past glitzy Biarritz and on to the charming seaside town of Saint Jean de Luz. The second visit was east to the stunningly beautiful Roman town of St-Emilion, also the centre of one of Bordeaux’s most famous wine communes. The hilltop town is like my dream holiday place, beautiful architecture, wine bars, wine shops and nice cafes and restaurants at every turn.

There is even a little train a la the Clonakilty Model Railway that you can take to catch a glimpse of all the surrounding famous Grand Cru estates.

Saint-Emilion’s world famous product is grown along the slopes of the town which is located on the right bank of the Gironde and its tributary La Dordogne, indicating Merlot as the dominant grape. Generic Saint- Emilion AC also has four satellite regions offering good value, Lussac, Montagne, Puisseguin and Saint Georges. Going upmarket from this point, the classification gets pretty complicated, (and the wines get quite expensive!) Saint-Emilion has its own classification outside of the famous 1855 Medoc listing of the best Bordeaux wines. First introduced in 1955 it is regularly updated, unlike the Medoc equivalent.  The 2012 version lists in ascending order of quality, Grand Cru Classes, Premier Grand Cru Classes B, and finally Premier Grand Cru Classes A, of which

there are only four Chateaux, Angelus, Ausone, Cheval Blanc and Pavie.

Saint-Emilion’s popularity can be attributed to the soft, approachable character of its mostly merlot based wines. They can generally be enjoyed at an earlier age than their more astringent cabernet based cousins from the Medoc.

Outstanding recent vintages of Saint-Emilion include 2005, 2009 and 2010.

While visiting Saint-Emilion, (an official Unesco World Heritage Site), we stayed at a pleasant well-located inn, Hotel et Logis des Remparts, which I’m happy to recommend.

L’Enclos du Chateau de Saint-Pey, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2011. This was the star buy in this year’s annual French wine sale in Lidl. €13.99.
Chateau Robin Lussac-Saint-Emilion 2011. A good example of a fine value wine from one of the four Saint-Emilion ‘satellite regions’. Curious Wines, Cork, €17.99 or €14.39 if you buy two.

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.

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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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