Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bring out your dead part 2

Reds - mightn't get them all done, in a bit of a rush:
Chalon Pinot Noir 98 - acidity sticking out, fruit a bit dead, but just about ok
Faiveley Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru 87 - a bit hard as well but decent fruit and nice
Faiveley Clos de Beze 87 - nice nose, fruit still there, acidic as well but nice (I think I ended up drinking this later)
Drouhin Clos des Mouches 85 - sweaty
Mas de Daumas Gassac 98 - expressive, farmyardy, delicious (I did drink some of this later)
Domaine Trevaillon 88 - dirty nose, smoky, vegetal palate - long & smooth
Chateau Vannieres Bandol 93 - nice nose, still tannic, fruit dying a bit
Domaine de la Mordoree Lirac 99 - tannin and pepper and not much else
Produttori de Barbaresco 96 - tannin and acid, little fruit (others liked this)
Selvapiana Bucerchiale 94 - full bodied, very smooth, lots of fruit, nice balance
Arzuaga Reserva 95 - oaky, but nice fruit, full bodied and rich, v good
Condada da Haza 95 - lovely mature fruit, very smooth, I like
Pesquera REserva 94 - smooth, smoky & suave
Pesquera Gran Reserva - v tannic, good fruit, needs food
Ch du Cayron Cahors 95 - hard and nasty
Clos du Gamot 96 - rancid
Leeuwin Art Series Cab Sauv 95 - lovely cedar & tobacco, classic WEst Oz, very smooth
Tahbilk cabernet 92 - a bit tired and emotional
Manso de Valasco 89 - delicious
Beaucastel 81 - a bit shitty but hanging in there
Prieure Lichine 83 - very nice, mature
D-Armailhac 45 - hovering, delicate, floating, ghostly (but nice)

That's it!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bring out your dead

I was at a dinner a few weeks ago where guests were asked to bring a bottle or bottles of wine which they had in their house for ages (we all have something) that could be great or could be dead. The idea was to try older wines that could be really interesting and have a bit of a wine spring clean. As there were some real wine anoraks invited, we were not allowed to show off - it had to be interesting, not expensive!

The first hour was spent tasting the wines, then we sit down and drink the ones that are good. We had 16 people and about 30-40 wines. Below are some of them, my notes were patchy at the beginning and got waorse as the night went on, but here goes...

Lusca 2006 - this is the Irish wine from Lusk - fresh citrus note, palate dominated by mouthstripping acidity. Surprisingly drinkable.
Cloudy Bay 1998 - very nice, still alive, very interesting
Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Folatieres 1995 - weird rubbery nose, too mushroomy for me (Pam liked it)
Meursault 1er Cru Perrieres 1996 - dead
Genot Boulanger Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru 1999 - very mineral, fruit seconadary but very good
Trevor Jones Chardonnay 2001 - ripe fruit, still alive, very nice
Riesling Smaragd 1995, Wachau - amazing petrol nose, crisp and fresh, very expansive palate
Domaine Huet Le Haut Lieu Sec 1990 - crisp, fresh, honey & lemons, hanging in there
Domaine Huet Le Haut Lieu Sec 1995 - really fresh, crisp and delicious, bang on form
Brundlmayer Gruner Veltliner Spatlese 1983 - sweet, rich marshmallowy - soft and smooth, delicious
Eroica Riesling 2001 - fresh Riesling fruit, crisp, mineral, nice balance
Zind Humbrecht Clos Hauserer 1996 - expansive, broad, amazing complexity - really good
Vouvray Moelleux 1985 (producer?) - dead
Marcel Deiss Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive 89 Grand Cru - long and intense, excellent
Heidseck Vintage Champagne 1955 - like slightly fizzy sherry - dead

How about that for a mixed bag? Will do the reds tomorrow

Friday, March 13, 2009

10th Birthday coming up

We are open 10 years on St. Patrick's Day and to celebrate we are having a customer day next Tuesday with free glasses of wine or champagne for anyone who fancies a tipple and 20% off ALL stock for one day only. We will be open from 12 till 6pm - hope you can come along.

Before then, of course, we have to beat those dastardly Scots!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Our tasting last Monday

We had our trade tasting on Monday in the stunning Ely CHQ. I saw the cellars there before they were taken over by Ely and every time I go in there I am amazed at what an amazing job they did on that place. It really is stunning and a must-see for any wine fans. They are offering really good value there at the moment as well.

Anyway, back to the tasting. It is always difficult to get people out to tastings - I'm not sure if there is a bit of winetasting overload going on; I was happy enough with the turnout, but would have liked a few more. The people that came were all serious, though and that is possibly more important that getting big crowds. The wines were, happily, all tasting well. It is always a good exercise to taste the range all in one go, something we don't do that often. Out of a tasting of 47 wines, highlights for me were:

Gregoris Pinot Grigio - this was really singing, jumping out of the glass, fresh, aromatic and delicious.

Chateau Miaudoux Bergerac Sec - hadn't tasted it in a while, but this was crisp and fresh from the Sauvignon with the 15% Semillon adding a little roundness. Really good.

Reverdy Sancerre - I had this in Alexis recently and it was lovely. Crisp, but with amazing aromatics and a long, stony, mineral finish. Excellent.

Poggerissi Rosso - amazing value from Basciano - 100% Sangiovese - ripe fruity and straightforward but really easy-drinking. Great house red.

Basciano Chianti Rufina - this again is great value with good concentration, full-bodied and rich. Punches way above its weight.

Degani Valpolicella - the real deal - great purity of fruit, med body, quite concentrated, dangerously easy to drink.

Chateau Larzac Coteaux de Languedoc - Syrah/Grenache blend- med body, very smooth and easy-drinking. Great all-rounder.

Haut Medoc de Giscours - fragrant, reflecting its Margaux roots. Perfect claret.

Felton Road Pinot Noir - expensive, obviously, but what a knockout wine. Rich by Otago standards, incredibly smooth with a silky texture, lovely fruit and a finish that goes on and on. Delicious now but with last for years.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The old reliables

While the country sits waiting, cowering for the new round of fresh indignities to be heaped upon it, there seems to be consensus in the press that income tax rates will go up and that excise duties will be increased significantly. In case you have put the worthless botchjob that was last October's budget into repressed memory, let me remind you that our glorious leaders increased excise duty on wine by 50c per bottle only 4 months ago.

You would imagine that an increase of almost 25% on the most penal tax rates on wine in Europe, resulting in a 40% increase in business for the off-licence trade in Northern Ireland (and resultant loss of business for their southern counterparts and the Irish exchequer) would be damage enough for the time being. Add in the fact that the restaurant sector is haemorrhaging, the retail sector in Ireland stands at the edge of the abyss and what are we looking at? Measures to improve confidence and encourage consumer spending (in this jurisdiction)? Or another increase in taxes on consumption? I think we know the answer.

Every time Brian Cowen forecasts unemployment rates for the end of the year, it goes up - the latest forecast (or is it a target?) is 450,000. Shortsighted, soft, unimaginative increases in duty on alcohol will drive more people to drive up North to do their shopping and discourage people from taking up the great value to be had in Irish restaurants at present. The results will be:

- reduced tax take from booze
- no change in consumption
- huge increase in unemployment from retail and restaurant sectors

Not exactly a win-win, is it?

I know I am biased in this, but let me assure you there are no millionaire wine merchants in Ireland. Most are small business, trying to get by, glad to make a living from doing something we love.

It seems this government is intent on driving the country into the abyss on all fronts, but if you care about wine and can lobby your local TD about this, I think you should. Otherwise the only ones standing after the great depression of 2009/2010 will be the supermarkets with their offerings of industrial wine.

Monday, March 2, 2009

We're having a tasting as well...

Our portfolio tasting is on next Monday in Ely CHQ. This is a chance to open bottles for trade customers and communicate any new wines, price changes etc. The good news is that there are no price increases this year, we have a few new wines, we have dropped a few as well and it is always good to taste the range and get customers to do the same.

It's a bit like having a party though, you just hope people will turn up!!

Tastings, tastings

One of my many discarded resolutions for 2009 was that I was going to keep detailed notes of every single wine I taste a la Michael Broadbent. I think that lasted until the NZ Wine Fair in mid January when everything tasted the same. I am not often photographed with my bicycle either, so it looks like grey hair continues to be the only thing that Michael and myself have in common. Plus ca change....

Anyway, Liberty had their portfolio tasting last week with a dizzying 250 wines on display. I only had the last hour to taste so was pretty focussed. Needless to say, the wines in general were of a very high standard, but my favourite was the Isole e Olena Chianti Classico. Refined, elegant and balanced, pure class in a glass. If I didn't bring in some tasty Italians myself, I would say Liberty have the best Italian list in the country, but they are definitely in the top two!! Their Aussie range is excellent as well, albeit expensive. But you get what you pay for.....

Simon Tyrell had his tasting today in town and he had an excellent range of wines as well, with the stars coming from the Rhone, as you might expect. I really liked the Aphillantes Cotes du Rhone Villages 05, which would make may Chateauneufs blush. The Simone Joseph wines are really good as well, great value as is the MArtinelle Cotes du Ventoux. The last wines I tasted were a traditional style Rioja called Castillo de Clavijo - enjoyed those as well.