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Pick Me!

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

You know, the great thing about food and wine is having your prejudices revealed as falsehoods. You get your mind changed about foods and wines because something arrives that is unmistakably good, that is unimpeachably fine.

So, Muscadet. It's a joke, right? Like Soave, and Lambrusco, and Blackberry 'phones, and Nokia's share price, and the Microsoft Surface. Mighty war horses that are now cart horses. Not worth opening unless someone has sent you a dozen oysters. There is much better stuff in the Loire valley, so don't waste time on these acidic fiascos.

And then, you actually open and taste some Chateau du Coing de St. Fiacre, and what you discover is a Muscadet that should carry the Pick Me! label. It's a pure revelation. It's fresh and full, like a good Muscadet sur lie should be, but there is much more to this wine that just fullness and freshness. It has a livid minerality that shows careful vineyard work and well as considerable vinification skills. Véronique Gunther-Chereau, the owner, is actually a pharmacist by training, but since 1990 she has run the estate and her wines have won deserved acclaim. Like the best Loire wines, you could actually tuck these away for several years and wait to see what delights a little maturity would bring to them, for they have the structure to age, despite the fact that everyone tells you that Muscadets should be drunk young. Certainly, the 2010 we have been enjoying is a coltish thing. But there is absolutely no chance we are going to put the 2010 Chateau du Coing away: too much pleasure in the bottle right now to do that.

from Le Caveau, Kilkenny: www.lecaveau.ie

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