Restaurant Review

Restaurant Review: Mourne Seafood bar, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin

Mourne Seafood Bar Exterior
Mourne Seafood Bar Exterior

Originally in Belfast, Mourne Seafood Bar also has venues in Dundrum (the other Dundrum, not the one in south Dublin) and at Grand Canal Dock close to the Liffey.  Considering the size, importance and location of Dublin there are very few seafood restaurants here, so this is a welcome addition.

Mourne also has an excellent wine list, with plenty of red wines which might surprise some.  My review will concentrate on the liquids and then my friend Jayne will give an account of her visit.

A Wino’s View

Mourne Seafood Bar interior, looking over Grand Canal Dock
Mourne Seafood Bar interior, looking over Grand Canal Dock

I’m not very adventurous when it comes to seafood – fish and chips will do me just fine most of the time.  As it happens Mourne do the best fish and chips that I’ve tasted in any restaurant in Dublin, and the portions are fantastic, so I tend to stick to what I know and like.

On a recent visit I did venture slightly off piste and tried the Chowder (excellent) and the Moules Provençales (excellent and filling).  If you like seafood you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

So now I will move onto some of the wines I’ve tried and loved:

Sartarelli Verdicchio Spumante, Marche, Italy

Sartarelli Verdicchio Spumante Brut NV
Sartarelli Verdicchio Spumante Brut NV

In the April edition of I reviewed the still Verdicchio from this producer as it was poured at the Ely BIG Tasting in March, and it was a winner.  By happenstance the still wine was only there by accident, it was this Spumante which was supposed to be shown.

Not to miss out I tried it at Mourne and was very impressed.  It’s a proper wine, with plenty of zippy acidity and citrus flavour to serve as an aperitif, with seafood (makes sense!) or on its own.

La Piuma “Terre di Chieti” Pecorino, Marche, Italy

La Piuma “Terre di Chieti” Pecorino, Marche
La Piuma “Terre di Chieti” Pecorino, Marche

As a renowned cheese hater I was obviously wary of something with “Pecorino” on the label, but the beauty of wines-by-the-glass means you don’t have to take a chance on a whole bottle.  There’s flowers, soft stone fruit and racy acidity, plus a little more texture and interest than you get from everyday Italian whites.

I would be interested to see how this ages.  Take the plunge and try this wine!

Soalheiro “Allo”Alvarinho & Loureiro, Vinho Regional Minho, Portugal

Quinta de Soalheiro Vinho Regional Minho Allo

To be clear: this is nothing to do with Michelle from the Resistance, Réné or the Fallen Madonna with the…erm…you know whats.

This is a delicious white wine from the Vinho Verde area of northern Portugal, close to the border with Galicia.  The main difference from the Vinho Verde DOC and Minho VR is that the latter may contain non indigenous grapes – often Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon.

This bottle is a blend of two local varieties, Alvarinho (better known as Albariño in Rias Baixas and Loureiro, and for my palate it knocks spots off many more expensive wines. This does well with seafood but has enough fruity characters to be quaffed on its own.

The same crowd do a fantastic sparkling Alvarinho which I reviewed here

Domaine Octavie, Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine, France

Domaine Octavie Sauvignon de Touraine
Domaine Octavie Sauvignon de Touraine

Touraine is a reliable, easy-drinking and food-friendly wine from the area around the city of Tours in the Loire Valley.  It comes in red, rosé and white versions and can be made from a dozen permitted grapes.  Helpfully, those made from Sauvignon Blanc usually display it on the front label, still quite unusual for French wines.

Although reliable, Sauvignon de Touraine can be a bit sharp and acidic at times.  This, however, has a depth of flavour rarely encountered in the area – it could easily pass for a more expensive neighbour from Sancerre.  It’s possibly the best Touraine I’ve ever tasted.


Taste The Sea
Taste The Sea

Food 8/10

Wine 8/10

Service 8/10


Given my lack of adventure with seafood, I was delighted when my Twitter friend Jayne agreed to contribute to this post after she had visited Mourne earlier in the year!

A Foodie’s View

Jayne loves shoes...and wine....and seafood!
Jayne loves shoes…and wine….and seafood!

Well, well, well.  On a rugby weekend to Dublin I had the most fantastic find of Mourne Seafood.  Set by the waterside, the setting was almost as perfect as the food.  Being a self confessed seafood and wine junkie, Mourne Seafood did not disappoint!  The only challenge was what to choose from the delights on offer.

Pil Pil Prawns
Pil Pil Prawns

Starting with the Pil Pil prawns with smoked paprika, chilli and garlic, they tasted as good as they looked and warmed me up as it sleeted outside.

Irish Scallops Linguine
Irish Scallops Linguine

After washing it down with a fresh Sauvignon Blanc, I enjoyed the delectable seared Irish scallops linguine. Cooked to perfection.

I could see all the diners thoroughly enjoying the food and atmosphere as I left to watch Ireland unashamedly beat England.  If you’re looking for a meal for 2 or group get together Mourne Seafood is a great choice.


Another one to break the mold – Nautilus Estate Marlborough Grüner Veltliner 2011

Nautilus Estate, Marlborough
Nautilus Estate, Marlborough

I’m a fan of Marlborough wines.

I’m a fan of Grüner Veltliner.

Until fairly recently I was very happy with Marlborough Groovies.

But then thanks to some excellent tastings in Dublin I began to realise that, although New Zealand GVs are very nice, they are only analogous to the simpler style of those from Austria.  Outside of those, there’s a whole world of flavours and textures to try – see here.

And now, I’ve changed my mind again!

This is why:

Nautilus Estate Marlborough Grüner Veltliner 2011

Nautilus Estate Marlborough Grüner Veltliner 2011
Nautilus Estate Marlborough Grüner Veltliner 2011

I’m a big fan of Nautilus Wines, especially their lovely fizz and gorgeous Chardonnay (one of the best in New Zealand in my opinion).  It’s great that they’ve planted other aromatic grapes as Marlborough’s dry and cool, long growing season is perfect for them.

Normally this style of Grüner is one that is supposedly best drunk young – which is pretty much true for Marlborough Sauvignons.  Alongside citrus and stone fruit and a dash of white pepper, there’s loads of freshness which makes them a joy to drink.  But once the freshness is gone, you can’t get it back – there’s no Shake n’ Vac solution here.

But this wine was inadvertently left till four years after vintage, and yes a little of the freshness had gone, but it was replaced by some lovely toasty notes – just like you would expect from a good Aussie Semillon.

It’s a delicious wine, I just wish I’d held on to my other bottles for longer!

It just goes to show: most wine is drunk far too young!

Please ponder that message and put a few “ordinary” bottles aside to try in a few years.

Tasting Events

A half-dozen of the best from the Ely BIG Tasting

Twice a year the Ely Winebar and Restaurant Group hold consumer tastings at their larger venue in Dublin’s IFSC.  Over a dozen of their wine suppliers show a selection of their wines, both currently listed and not listed, so that consumers get a chance to try new things and their feedback might lead to new listings!

The tastings are very well organised by Ely Group Wine Manager Ian Brosnan and Head of Biz Dev Jeri Mahon – thanks to both them and all the other staff supporting the event.

Here are a few of the wines which really stood out for me:

1. Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV (Liberty Wine) {by the glass at Ely Place and Ely CHQ}

Champagne Charlie
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve

Perhaps it was the occasion, the perfect serving temperature or perhaps just a little extra time in bottle since I tried this last year, but Charles was tasting fantastic. The fruit is lovely and there’s some light biscotti notes from ageing on the lees. Perfectly balanced and poised, this is a definite candidate for the best non-vintage Champagne on the market.

2. San Lorenzo Verdicchio dei Castelli de Jesi Superiore ‘Vigna delle Oche’ Marche 2012 (GrapeCircus at Sheridan’s) {by the glass at Ely Place and Ely CHQ}

San Lorenzo Verdicchio dei Castelli de Jesi Superiore ‘Vigna delle Oche’ 2012
San Lorenzo Verdicchio dei Castelli de Jesi Superiore ‘Vigna delle Oche’ 2012

San Lorenzo is a well-established family producer now run by Natalino Crognaletti – something of a madman/eccentric/genius* (delete as appropriate) who is not only organic, not only biodynamic, but also believes in being self-sufficient. This means that he follows a minimal intervention path of wine making, with much more work required in the vineyard, but even goes so far as to keep chickens so he has his own eggs for fining the wines before bottling!! (This helps remove any big particles and can be an alternative to filtration which can strip out the flavours.

So what’s the result in the glass? Loads and loads of flavour! There’s minerality, citrus and soft stone fruit – and oodles of texture, which would make it a great food wine. You need to give this a try to taste something off the beaten path.

3. Domaine des Baumard Savennières “Clos de St Yves” 2010 (Tyrrell & Co)

Domaine des Baumard Savennières "Clos St Yves"
Domaine des Baumard Savennières “Clos St Yves”

This wine sparked such a positive reaction that I was moved to note the highly articulate comment: “Toast toast toast – frickin awesome!”

Chenin Blanc is one of the world’s most under-rated grapes, and the Loire Valley is perhaps France’s most under-appreciated wine producing areas. Having said that, I don’t often fancy the drier versions, but adore the sweeter ones, all of them having a trademark streak of acidity through the middle.

This example really hit the spot! It has already started to take on more interesting flavours but hasn’t lost its freshness. Tasted blind this would fool plenty into thinking it was a posh white Burgundy.

The producer likes his wines to be as clean as possible so uses no oak barrels and seals bottles with screwcaps rather than corks – thumbs up from me.

4. Paddy Borthwick Wairarapa Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Wines Direct) {by the glass at Ely CHQ}

Paddy Borthwick Wairarapa Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Paddy Borthwick Wairarapa Sauvignon Blanc 2014

The third word there is the wine region of Wairarapa in the south of New Zealand’s North Island, not to be confused with Waipara which is north of Cantebury on the South Island. It’s an area more well-known for its Pinot Noir, particularly in the main subregion of Martinborough (again, not to be confused with Marlborough), but it is also home to some excellent aromatic whites.

Rather than gooseberry, asparagus and grapefruit which are stereotypical Marlborough Savvy flavours, Sauvignon from here is often even more tropical. This lovely example from Paddy Borthwick had passion fruit notes jumping out of the glass – in fact it reminded me of the passion fruit Mojito that my wife had at Cleaver East on Mother’s Day!

5. Sipp Mack Alsace Grand Cru Rosacker Riesling 2009 (Mitchell & Son) {by the glass at Ely CHQ}

Sipp Mack Alsace Grand Cru Rosacker Riesling 2009
Sipp Mack Alsace Grand Cru Rosacker Riesling 2009

I could happily have spent the evening just smelling this amazing wine (but then I’d have missed out on so much else!) Sipp Mack is one of the top echelon of Alsace producers and a personal favourite of mine, especially their Grand Cru Riesling and Pinot Gris bottles. There’s a touch of sweetness which acts as a counterpoint to the zippy acidity and mineral freshness.

This is drinking gorgeously now but, if you could keep your hands off it, will be even more amazing in five years’ time.

6. D’Arenburg “Lucky Lizard” Chardonnay 2012 (Febvre)

D'Arenberg Adelaide Hills "Lucky Lizard" Chardonnay
D’Arenberg Adelaide Hills “Lucky Lizard” Chardonnay

This is Unreconstructed, All-original, Can’t be bettered, Aussie Chardonnay!

The past decade has seen Australian Chardonnay move back from big, alcoholic fruit bombs to more subtle, mineral and food-friendly styles. Mclaren Vale’s D’Arenburg hasn’t really followed that trend, which wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows of the current boss Chester Osbourne – his shirts are so loud they can be seen from space and he released a wine called Fuckeliana (yes, really!)

In fairness this is actually made the other side of Adelaide from their base, up in the Adelaide Hills which is the source of Shaw + Smith’s M3 Chardonnay. It’s big but doesn’t have that buttery, especially melted butter, taste of some Chardonnays.

Why change when it’s this good?

More to come!

Tasting Events

Judge Dread?


Yesterday I had my first experience judging wines in a competition – hurrah!

But not ordinary wines, no.  These were a small number of wines entered into the (Irish) National Homebrew Club’s third annual competition, so home made wines.  I had expected they would be kit wines, perhaps with an odd tweak here and there, but no…

They were fruit wines!  The so-called “country wine” category…but nothing ventured, nothing gained!  There is vitis vinifera grape wine made in Ireland, though it’s produced in very small quantities and isn’t the finest you might have tried – though it’s definitely drinkable – see here.  The competition had but three entrants in the wines category compared to hundreds of beers of all types.

It was a very interesting experience, and on reflection I’ve jotted down a few thoughts. Please excuse me if they are bleedin’ obvious!

1) Judging isn’t the same as tasting

When you’re tasting, especially if it’s just for your own interest, you can pick and choose which wines you taste and which of those you bother writing tasting notes for.  If you’re judging you have to taste, consider and write up every wine properly.

2) Judging and tasting are easier with reference points

In the big wine competitions wines are usually tasted in flights of a similar type and / or origin, so wines can be compared to their peers.  I’ve never tasted a dandelion wine before…should I expect to taste parsnips?  Particularly with a very small number of entrants to the wines part of this competition, there was no agreed standard of quality to judge against.

3) Amateur-made drinks are not the same as commercial products.

Here I mean amateur in the best sense of the word – they are lovers of what they do, though unpaid.  Do you judge them by what is available on the shelf in your local wine merchants?  Or do you compare them to the less successful producers who don’t even make it that far?

It’s a difficult one to answer.  Guidance was offered by the head judge and organiser, in that scores shouldn’t be too generous – people need to know what to work on.  But then again, we didn’t want to scare off potential entrants.

And…when a wine is obviously faulty, it’s FAULTY!

Here are the results:

Silver Medal Winner


Bronze Medal Winner

Rose Hip
Rose Hip

See the full list of medal winners in each category here!

Information, Opinion

Old world, New world

Yet another INXS reference, and yet another link to an article on The Taste – but I make no apologies, and expect more in the future!

Please click through to read the full article here.

So, dear reader, do you have a preference for either Old or New world?  Please leave a comment, I would be interested to hear.

Personally, I probably drink wine outside of mealtimes more often than with food, so this perhaps has a bearing on what I like to drink.  But then I really love good Riesling, even when the producer says it’s “difficile à aimer” (difficult to love) on its own as it’s crying out for food.

The reasons why we like the wines we do need a great deal more research – though Tim Hanni MW has made a good start.


“Old world new world / I know nothing / But I’ll keep listening” – INXS

This clip is from a 1983 concert performance – when Michael Hutchence still thought he was the second coming of Mick Jagger – but before they became internationally famous.

The track itself is from their third studio album Shabooh Shoobah (1982), which also features “Don’t Change” and “The One Thing”