Single Farm Origin
The strategic importance of Ráthchloch (stone fort), on the old Kilkenny to Waterford road, was equally appreciated by the Vikings adjacent Danesfort. The striking vantage point looks over Richard Raftice’s low lying land of quick-drying, shallow gravel soils deposited by ancient glacier meltwater ensuring it is an early sowing/ripening terroir.
The nearby Danesfort Castle (also called Dunfert) was built by James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormonde, in the late 14th century in what is known locally as the Castle Field. As well as buying Kilkenny Castle, he was responsible for the construction of Gowran Castle, County Kilkenny. As Governor and Lord Justice of Ireland, Ormonde instigated a series of conflicts with the MacMurroughs and the O’Byrne’s, obliging Richard II to sail for Ireland with an army of over 8,000 men, the largest force brought to the island in the late Middle Ages. Amongst Richard’s warriors was a young Henry of Bolingbroke, subsequently Henry IV. Ormonde, a loyal supporter of Richard II, entertained the king at Kilkenny Castle several times.
The Raftice family has been farming near Danesfort since about 1966 when it was purchased by Richard’s parents James and Bríd. Here, James developed an interest in competitive ploughing and served on the committee of the Kilkenny Ploughing Association from 1969 to 1980.
This track starts out in the yard by the old farmhouse, on a very windy, but warm and sunny spring day. Crows are all around the yard and through the orchard at the back of the farm. Silage is being cut nearby and, as we leave the orchard heading out towards the fields, birds can be heard nestling in the nearby barn. The wind blows through the building; outside it gusts through the gates and railings before we head off down the track that leads out to fields. At this point there are trees either side; slowly the space opens up and we’re out into the tall winter barley that stirs in the wind.
Appearance: a deep gold with oils and legs so slow that they make the turtle from the parable look like Usain Bolt.
Nose: fields and barnyard, black pepper; hay that’s ready to be brought in; blackcurrant jam, warm vanilla, butterscotch, honeycomb, citrus zest.
Taste: sweet stewed apple, berry compote, pepper, mince pie, black cherries, cocoa.
Finish: has warmth with a gentle spice that drifts on with a little butterscotch.