Last Sunday, we took the bus to The Big Smoke to attend the Eatyard Wine and Cheese Festival at The Iveagh Gardens. This was the second year of the festival but the first in this much larger setting. We arrived early and stood at the head of the queue for a few minutes before being let loose!
Sip Sip Horray
The first port of call was a visit to the “Sip Sip Horray” tent to sign up for a talk and tasting. I wanted to attend the “What’s all the buzz about natural wines” with Green Man Wines and although I got my name down, a mix up in my head meant that I turned up an hour late and missed it altogether. This mix up may have had something to do with the vast quantities of wine on offer!
We were pretty hungry heading in and decided to order some food straight away. The Lasagna Toastie from Decent Sandwich caught our eye. We ordered and I wandered up to the Little Italy stall to see what was on offer. A quick look at their wine list revealed a magnificent surprise – Amarone della Valpolicella BY THE GLASS! I won’t make a habit of spending €13 on a glass of wine but this beauty was worth every penny and more – a real treat. It actually worked pretty well with the toastie too although matching to it wasn’t really my priority.
The selection of food and wine on offer was exceptional. Some of the biggest Irish wine shops (Green Man Wines, Wine Lab, L’Atitude 51, Wines Direct etc.) were present selling by the glass or bottle. My only real issue with the festival in general was the size of the glasses on offer. I would have much preferred to be able to buy smaller glasses to taste more. A 70ml glass would have been perfect to try 6-7 types but with only full size glasses available, I limited myself to 3 to avoid being drunk by 2pm!
Aswel as the Amarone, I also tried an interesting blend by Ampeleia. Unlitro is a mix of Grenache, Carignano, Mourvedre, Sangiovese and Alicante Bouschet. It’s a red fruit and anise bomb that I quite enjoyed. The third wine was, unfortunately a bit of a let down. Natural wines are often described as being a bit rough and this one lived up to the stereotype. Sincero by Cosimo Maria Masini could in another life be described as a Super Tuscan because of it’s blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese but while these tend to produce big, beefy wines packed with flavour, Sincero suffers from being mediocre in pretty much every way.
On the cheese front, Sheridan’s had a magnificent collection of Irish and European varieties while Little Italy were the only stall serving both food and wine – it was exceptionally busy! Corleggy also had a stall, serving a lovely plate of their offerings as well as prepackaged wedges to take home.
Wine and Cheese is very much the main attraction of this festival but there are other options. Cocktails and beer are available for non-wine drinkers while there are numerous food options on offer which aren’t based around cheese. The main stage is a fun area to hang out with lot’s of entertainment including a cheese making demonstration, a cracker eating contest and the fabulous Dublin Ukulele Collective going down a storm. The “Merlot Can You Go” competitions were also great fun to watch – people doing limbo after a few glasses of wine, what’s not to love!
Soon it was time to head home – the Kildare Club Championship started the same day and I wanted to be back to see the Moorefield v Sarsfields match at 5.30. The organisers have the day seperated over two blocks of approximately 4-5 hours and this works very well. Although it is a lovely way to spend an afternoon or evening, there is no need to spend more than a few hours here – unless of course you plan on getting absolutely hammered!
We really enjoyed our afternoon of indulgence and I’m already looking forward to next year!