01 August 2018

Seriously good wines
chosen with a sense of
humour in Ballybunion

Wine by the glass … a glass of Pinot Grigio in Daroka in Ballybunion, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

‘I can certainly see that you know your wine. Most of the guests who stay here wouldn’t know the difference between Bordeaux and Claret’ – Basil Fawlty, Fawlty Towers.

‘I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food’ – WC Fields, ca 1930s.

These are just two of the many humorous quotations on the wine list in Daroka, a restaurant on Cliff Road in Ballybunion, Co Kerry, overlooking the cliffs and the beaches.

But, humour aside, they take their wines very seriously in Daroka, which has become one of my favourites on many Sunday afternoons when I am normally only fit for a walk on the beach or to laze back watching cricket.

On their wine list, the management of Daroka tell their diners: ‘Our wine philosophy is straightforward, in terms of style, we look for wines of balance, wines that are true to type (representative of their origins), and wines that will complement our style of food.’

Some of the wines are priced in the high triple figures. But this should not deter anyone, and in fact the wines in Daroka are not only sensibly priced, by and large, but the Daroka team offers guests an interesting way to explore the restaurant’s choice of wines.

They explain: ‘In terms of pricing, our aim is to offer excellent value at each price point. To help select our wines, we work closely with our wine suppliers.’

They go on to say, ‘We have taken much pleasure in creating our wine list and we have a number of wines which we regard as hidden gems, such as our “Wine by the Glass.” We do hope that you enjoy our selection and welcome your comments and feedback.’

Wine glasses in rows in Daroka in Ballybunion, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Some interesting examples of this approach to selection is found in their ‘Wine by the Glass’ listings. Two tasting lists, with choices from Italy, France, Spain, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa – three ‘old world’ and three ‘new world’ wine producing countries – are offered in the tasting menus for white and red wines, each having a ‘Flight A’ and a ‘Flight B’ in which you are offered three 125 ml glasses, from €15.50 to €17 for each ‘flight’.

The White Wine Flight A (€15.50) includes a glass of Domaine de Lacabasse (France), Domaine de Millet (France) and San Simone (Pinot Grigio, Italy).

The White Wine Flight B includes a glass of Domaine Félines Jourdain (Chardonnay, France), Costas del Sió ‘Las Cuadras’ Millet (a blend of Muscat and Viognier from Spain) and Paddy Borthwick (a Riesling from New Zealand).

The Red Wine Flight A (€16.50) includes a glass of Bodegas Pagos de Araíz Joven (Spain), Fattoria Nicodemi ‘Terrana’ (organic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy) and Paper Road (Pinot Noir, New Zealand).

The Red Wine Flight B (€17) includes a glass of Crios de Susana Balbo (vegan-friendly Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina), Bodegas Carlos San Pedro Viñasperi Crianza (Rioja from Spain) and Andreas (Shiraz from South Africa).

The approach is good-humoured, but these are seriously good world wines. They say on their wine list in Daroka, ‘We are proud to work with small, quality-focused wine producers. In our opinion, not only do smaller producers inevitably offer a superior combination of quality and value for money, many of those that appear in our list are benchmark producers for their region.’

Meanwhile, if you would like to ponder what people in Bordeaux call their best bottle of Claret, I discussed it HERE some years ago.

Upstairs in Daroka in Ballybunion, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

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