The Gilbeys Portfolio press tasting was one of the best organised and most enjoyable tastings of recent memory – hats off to Julia Kennedy, Lynne Coyle and Mary Dowey – despite the worst efforts of the Guinness Storehouse staff who did their best to sabotage the event by mopping the floor of the adjacent restaurant with Jeyes’ Fluid!
These boys are big – one in every seven bottles of wine retailing at over ten euro is a Gilbeys bottle. The portfolio contains many hallowed names – Trimbach, Drouhin, Louis Latour, Jaboulet to name but four.
Anyhow, here are my impressions:
Wild Coast Chardonnay-Semillon, South-East Australia 2006. e7.99
Good, honest, pleasant, non-cloying quaffer, excellent value for money
*Santa Rita 120 Reserva Especial Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda 2006, e11.50
The base Santa Rita wines have,m in my opinion, underperformed in recent years. This one is well back on track with a nice minerally crackle at the front end and smooth luscious fruit at the back. From the recently-exploited cool (for Chile) region of Leyda. There’s hope for Chilean SB yet!
**Santa Rita Riesling Limited Selection, Valle de Casablanca 2006, e11.99
On special at SperValu and Centra for 7.99, this is daft money for a nicely-balanced, delicate riesling that comes without the ‘characterful’ benzine intrusion.
**Hunters Marlborough Riesling 2004, e19.99
Very smart stuff. Lovely minerally prickle folowed by a tangy weight of citrus and stone fruit, with a hint of herbs and beeswax. Classy.
***F.E.Trimbach Riesling Cuvee Frederick Emile 2003 e35
Benzine is back! All the characteristic of non-palate clogging classic riesling. Trimbach describe their gear as ‘Protestant Wine’. Don’t take this the wrong way, folks, this is no tub-thumping Lambeg drum pounder; they mean modest and understated but in reality this wine has nothing to be modest about. Lean, spare, suave, elegant, a total class act. One of the best food wines in the world and that’s the truth.
Next, two Burgundies from Louis Latour, both at 37.50.
The Meursault Premier Cru Chateau de Blagny 2003 had a huge hit of fruit and a decidedly long finish but was, for me, on the unsubtle side of unsubtle.
The Puligny-Montrachet Hameau de Blagny 2002 was leaner, maybe even a tad unapproachable but should mellow.
The Biodynamic Joseph Drouin Meursault 2003, e40, was, a huge, vastly OTT wine with immense oaking. You’d need a hunk of roasted veal or similar to get this down. Not one for a quiet night by the fire.
**In contrast, the Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet, e40, was a more quiescent proposition. Still fat but with more elegance and a generous, lingering finish.
To be honest, there is probably better value in white Burgundy out there than this quartet.
Navarro Correas Coleccion Privada Chardonnay, Mendoza 2005, 10.99
All the plusses and drawbacks of budget chardonnay. On the one hand, uncomplicated and easy-to-drink. On the other, uncomplicated and easy-to-drink . Bit boring, really.
*Fairview Viognier Coastal Region (South Africa) 2004. e14.99
At last! A low-mid priced viognier that doesn’t clog the palate. Very decent and would make a nice change from the usual suspects.
Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes-Hermitage Mule Blanche 2001. e21.99
Quite refined and stylish, but not a wine I’ll ever be fond of. Lot of competition at the price too.
**L’Expatrie Barossa Semillon, Colonial Estate 2003 e19.99
Lovely lemony well-integrated fruit, smartly judged fruit-acid balance, non-clying, long finish all the hallamrks of Jonathan Malthus. Love it!
***Clos Nardian Saint Aubin de Brannes, Bordeaux Blanc 2003 e75
Oustanding exposition of white Bordeaux style from JM again. Utterly gorgeous, but the price!
**’G’ Saignee des Anges Bordeaux Clairet 2005 e12.99
Gold star winner in the Noffla Awards ’06. Far better than the over-trumpeted, over-blown Domaine Ott Bandol at twice the money. Clean, fresh, enjoyable entirely non-cloying.
The sheer weight of clean fruit comes as a nice surprise. As good as it gets, especially when the sun shines and you can drink it in the garden, poreferably with a bucket of Wexford strawberries.
*Chateau de Sours Bordeaux Rose 2005 e14.99
Benchmark stuff from a really good producer. Quite a big hit and hard to put down a second bottle, for me, a slight minus point in a rose but otherwise very impressive.
Santa Rita120 Reserva Especial Rose Shiraz , e11.50
Hasn’t managed to shed the spearmint overlay common to most Chilean rose. Not bad, but needs more work.