A lot of people know that Kelly’s on Rosslare Strand is a little piece of heaven, and they keep going back, time after time to the family hotel now run by Bill and Isabelle Kelly and their daughter Laura.
What many people don’t realise is that Kelly’s has one of the best and most keenly priced wine lists in the country, packed with wines so sought after that most restaurants can only dream of getting hold of them. The reason for this, apart from Bill’s charm, enthusiasm and fluent French is not unconnected with the fact that Isabelle’s brother is Paul-Vincent Avril of the legendary Clos des Papes. But there is much more to the Kelly’s selection than this Rhone superstar.
Johann and I went to Kelly’s recently to meet Jean Claude Ramonet and his daughter, Anne France, and to taste some of the wines from their 22 hectare Burgundy estate. It was, predictably, heaven, because Ramonet’s wines are superb, the white equivalent, as Clives Coates MW has written, of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti in the reds. They are very rare and virtually unbuyable.
Bill Kelly’s enthusiasm for great wine involves a missionary spirit and a level of generosity that is truly exceptional. As a result, there are wines as rare as hen’s teeth on his wine list for tiny prices compared to international averages.
Here are some outstanding bargains. You can have them when you eat in the Beaches Restaurant at Kelly’s Resort Hotel where Eugene O’Callaghan, that outstanding chef, is now cooking.
Amongst the delights we sampled there recently were foie gras with pink fir apple potato, the most outstanding plaice I’ve ever tasted and meltingly tender and delicious veal cheeks.
There are few things calculated to make the heart sink more rapidly than the sight of a “breakfast buffet”. Needless to say, there is no question of that at Kelly’s. Johann had kidneys while I had smoked haddock with a poached egg.
We also, I should add, had a truly delightful time. Kelly’s is not just special. It’s unique.
Here are some fabulous white Burgundies from Kelly’s current list (there are many more) and a stunning red from Clos des Papes (which also produces a remarkable a long-lived white, by the way)….
Macon-Vergisson “Sur la Roche” Eric Forest 2012
€32, Kelly’s wine list
I met Eric Forest, a young and wildly enthusiastic wine maker, at Kelly’s a couple of years ago. He is doing remarkable things in the Maconnais, part of Burgundy that has been rather overlooked for too long. His organic Pouilly-Fuissé is a wine of great weight and distinction but this white wine, from just beside it is very similar. As Bill says, it’s precise and has superb minerality. I like to think of this as Chardonnay as it should be.
Chassagne-Montrachet Domaine Ramonet 2011
€54, Kelly’s wine list
Ramonet is a name that makes the hearts of white Burgundy lovers beat a little faster, even if many have never managed to taste the domaine’s wines. To be able to do so in a restaurant for less than the retail price of a big name Champagne is astonishing. And while this 2011 vintage is all about elegance and delicacy, the Ramonet style, combining power and restraint, is well to the fore.
Puligny-Montrachet “Les Ensigneurs” Domaine Ramonet 2011
€65, Kelly’s wine list
My point about price is even more relevant here. This is a much more brilliant expression of the Chardonnay grape in Burgundian form than most people, even wine lovers, ever get to taste. Deeper than the Chassagne and from just below the tiny Batard-Montrachet, it yet has great freshness and impeccably judged oak along with a combination of butteriness on the palate and mintiness on the bose. Amazing.
Chateauneuf du Pape Clos des Papes 2006
€72, Kelly’s wine list
Decanter magazine named the 2005 vintage “No. 1 red wine in the world” and this 2006 is very close, a wine of huge complexity that is still evolving but enormously pleasurable to drink now. It has terrific colour and concentration with raspberry and damson fruit, spice, white pepper, dark chocolate, even a touch of roast meat on the nose. In other words, amazingly complex and the kind of wine you need to drink slowly and thoughtfully.
Bienvenue-Batard-Montrachet Domaine Ramonet 2010
€165, Kelly’s wine list
I have not had the 2010 vintage but was privileged (and I really mean that) to taste the 2004, a wine that combines sheer power and utter finesse in a way that logically doesn’t make any sense. This is the magic of white Burgundy at this stratospheric level. It still costs less than what Kelly’s have to charge for Dom Perignon Champagne (admittedly at €185 better value than anywhere else in the country!)
You can download Kelly's wine list here: Kelly's Wine List
Guests can buy some wines from the Kelly's cellars to take home. Have a look here: Wine off Sales