Friday, September 24, 2010

On tasting this weekend

We got some new Bordeaux in - Chateau Noaillac 06 back in stock and I ordered a few cases of this stuff to try. Hadn't tasted it before I ordered which is usually asking for trouble, but pleasantly surprised. Good fruit, decent structure, well rounded and smooth, very happ indeed. On tasting this weekend, its around €20ish.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The numbers don't add up

In last Sunday's Tribune, Lar Veale recommended three wines - Protocolo from O'Briens and two wines from Aldi - one at a fiver, the other a Chilean Merlot at €4.69. I know that journos are there to give their recommendations as they see fit and the tumbling prices and incredible value in wine is great from a consumers point of view. Nobody is challenging the figures though, asking how is it so cheap? For those of you at the back who haven't been paying attention, here's how a wine at €4.69 breaks down:

Retail Price €4.69
Less Vat 21% €0.81
Leaves €3.88
Less duty €2.05
Leaves €1.83
Less transport €0.50 (conservative - has to get from Chile to Germany, Germany to Ireland etc)
Less materials €0.50 (bottle, label, closure, outer box etc)
Leaves €0.83  for both Aldi and the poor guy who has to make the stuff.

Even the most basic industrial swill will cost at least 1 euro per litre, so what's going on?

Option 1
The wine is really really cheap. In which case it will not be good enough for Lar to like it?

Option 2
Aldi are selling below cost - legal, but not sustainable

Option 3
Aldi love the Irish people so much that they just want to give them wine as cheaply as possible and are not interested in profit.

I suspect it is some combination of 1 and 2. I don't know. But somebody knows. And somebody should be asking the question on behalf of the consumer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

This tastes ok, but can I drink it?

I thought there was an interesting comment by John Wilson in the Irish Times last Saurday, when he was talking about a Rioja that tasted thin and weedy in tasting, but was delicious with dinner. Is it possible for wines to taste and drink differently?

When we do tastings in the shop, as we do every weekend, it is noticeable that a fruity, soft merlot or shiraz from the Australia or Chile always gets a better reaction than a Bordeaux or a Chianti, both of which can be a bit dry and tannic when tasted on their own. If it is 12 noon on a Saturday afternoon and you are grappling with a hangover, it can be even tougher. and yet, these wines are often better wines and, presented in a different context - preferably over dinner - most people would probably prefer them.

You can draw your own conclusions about the implications of this phenomenon in terms of wine shows, critics ratings and the unsurprising Parkerisation of the wine world.

In terms of buying wine, this is often done in the unreal world of the wine fair, such as Vinexpo, VinItaly or any of the other ones around the world. However, when making a decision about whether or not to import a wine, we usually try to introduce a bit of rigour to the process by requesting samples to be sent to us back in Ireland, where we taste them blind against their peers. Then we rate them, but also reveal them and drink them over dinner. It is a combination of the blind tasting and the performance of the wine over dinner which informs our decision. If it performs well in the blind tasting AND is one of the first bottles to empty, then we know we are on to something.

So, I think tasting and drinking are two connected, but separate things. Drinking is more informative and better fun. It also is a lot more time-consuming. Sometimes, you have to taste and try to make an informed judgement about how the wine will drink with a meal, which is the primary purpose of wine...

I'm sure that all our esteemed wine critics can make this distinction and this judgement and are rarely seduced by showy, blockbuster fruit-driven monsters with new oak, heavy bottles?!

What do you think?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Beaufield Mews Languedoc Dinner next Tuesday

Next Tuesday, September 14th, we are hosting a Languedoc dinner in Beaufield Mews in Stillorgan. The good people in Beaufield have devised a special menu featuring dishes from the region and we will match them up with the following wines, introduced by Jean-Michel Langevin, an expert in wines from this region:

Domaine Grauzan Sauvignon Blanc
Cuvee Paredaux Blanc
Chateau Larzac Coteaux de Languedoc
Mas de Martin Cuvee Roi Patriote
Mas de Martin Cuvee Ultreia

Cost per head is €50, all in including food and wine. Champagne will be available from 7.30, we will eat at 8pm. Call John or Julie on 01 2880375 - there are still a few places'll be a great night!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tasty line up for Yalumba dinner next Tuesday

I just got the line-up of wines for the Yalumba dinner next Tuesday, this will be a great night.

First the food: we are doing the regular Jaipur Tasting menu  - this menu is normally €45 so the deal we have is pretty good at €50 incl wine. Jaipur have been at the forefront of quality Indian cuisine in this country for years now - their food is modern, authentic, balanced. Service is exemplary.

The wines to be presented by Jane Ferrari of Yalumba Wines are as follows:

Y Series Riesling
Y Series Chardonnay
Y Series Shiraz/Viognier

Barossa Viognier
Patchwork Shiraz

The Menzies Cabernet Sauvignon
The Signaure Cabernet Shiraz

Late Harvest Botrytis Viognier