O'Brien's Christmas Portfolio Tasting 2006

At the Four Seasons, O’Brien’s had assembled a collection of what many of us will be drinking this festive season and invited the wine scribes to preview same.

Overall the quality was outstandingly high and the rise-and-rise of this progressive chain seems set to continue, thanks chiefly to the efforts of the buying team, skilfully led by David Whelehan and, it has to be said, the high standards of service in O’Brien’s outlets, improved out of all recognition in the last 5 or 6 years.

WHITES

Novas Chardonnay 2005, e11.99
An initial tropical fruit festival to delight the Man from Del Monte subsides to leave stylish citrus and apple flavours at the back of the palate. Good clean finish. Organic too.

Andes Peaks Sauvignon Blanc e7.99, will be on Christmas promo at 6.49
No mineral refreshment, simply ‘travel sweets meet tinned fruit’ but hey… for the money!

Kelly’s Patch Unoaked Chardonnay 2005 e7.99
Fresh, clean, tasty wine and good value for money. Delivers.

Pazo de Senorans 2005 e16.99
Decent enough but there’s plenty of competition at this price point.

** Fritsch Gruner Veltliner 2005 e13.99
Smart, mineral, plus bit of fatty bacon, nose segues into rich, dark, complex mysterious flavours. Loved it. Great value too.

Schloss Schonborn Gutswein Riesling Trocken 2005 e11.49
** Ignore the tongue-twisting name, go seek it out. You won’t be disappointed. Extremely good value for money.

**Fritsch Riesling Wagram 2005 e13.99
More good stuff from these smart-as-paint Austrians. Gorgeous honeyed flavours, pointed up by just enough acidity to keep it from cloying and a fantastic weight of fruit.

Sparr Riesling Reserve 2005 e12.99 Christmas Promo 11.99
Good work, ruined by a curiously stark after taste. I much preferred the ‘Gutswein’.

***Schloss Shonborn Erbach Marcobrunn 2004 e23.99
Not, at the price, for casual drinking but if you can afford it, buy with confidence. Massive weight of fruit but not a big alcohol hit; honeyed tones and a long, long finish should please.

Chanson Macon-Villages 2005 e9.99
A slightly ‘pastey’ finish robs this wine of some of its allure but undeniably good value.

***Pierre Andre Rully2004 e14.99
Simply lovely. Budget burgundy at its best.

** Brocard Chablis Grand Crus Bougros 2002 e45.
Delicious, firm fruit and a classic Chablis GC finish, long and lingering. Look for it in O’B’s Fine Wine Sale and grab it at the promo price (under e30)

***Roger Belland Santenay 1er Cru Beauregard 2004 e23
Belland’s Santenay is highly regarded and it’s easy to see why. Much of the essence of top-dollar white burgundy for less than half the money.

Domaine du Salvard Cheverny 2005 e11.99
Off-putting nose leaves you unprepared for the lovely, clean appley fruit that follows. You might like this, you might not. I did, sort of.

*Delheim Sauvignon Blanc 2005 e10.89
The sort of clean, refreshing but not-too-tart Sauvignon that’s replaced Chardonnay in the hearts and minds of Dublin 4 demoiselles. Gets a * for value.

**Vatan Sancerre 2004 e22.95
Silky and superb. Great winemaking.

Henry Bourgeois Porte du Caillou Sancerre 2005 e17.99
Decent and good value for money but suffered in comparision to the Vatan

*Delheim 3 Springs 2006 Sauv/Sem/Chard e8.99
Decent quaffer at a good price, much better than most for the money.

**Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc 2005 e15.99
If you like NZ Sauv B (and I do) this is one of the very best around. Unless you are into labels, give Cloudy Bay a miss and buy two of these for the same money.
At the promised Christmas promo price, a steal.

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