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Hi, I'm a Master of Wine (MW) having passed in 1997. I am about to open a wine shop in Dún Laoghaire, Ireland, called The Wine Library and this is my wine blog. There should be no conflict of interest between my work with The Wine Library and the opinions expressed herein but I will do my utmost to be fair and responsible in my posts – please read my Who Pays article. I have worked in wine education, retail, and consultancy. From June 2013 until May 2017 I was the Retail Manager for The Wicklow Wine Company. I was a member of the Council of the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) from 2008 to 2014 and was also a member of the Events, Trips and Governance Committees Having had problems with potentially libellous comments from unidentifiable posters, I now require that if you post a comment, you must identify yourself properly or it won't be published. Please note that I do not review products or services on request so kindly don't ask. I value my independence and I believe my readers (few that they may be) do so also.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Go west, Diploma!

And south, as well! On Tuesday 27th, Barry Geoghegan MBA was back in the saddle as the Diploma circus headed west and south to learn all about the Americas in one day! He started in North America (he even included Canada - probably only because there is a Canuck in the class LOL), headed into the USA then, after lunch, covered Chile, Argentina and other south American countries. The wines were, if I do say so myself, pretty darn good.

We started with the nice and fruity, but ultimately not exciting Cline Viognier 2006 California, Nicholson €18.20; followed by the very good and classic style of Clos du Val Napa Valley Chardonnay 2006 California, O’Brien’s €23.50. We then skipped a few (see below) and went straight to the Fetzer Mendocino County “Bonterra” Merlot 2004 Calfornia, E Dillon €19.45, which was actually a pretty good merlot - nice fruit definition, round and supple with good weight. This was followed by two very serious wines - first the Ridge Sonoma County “Lytton Springs” 2006 California, Nicholson €43.20, a classic zinfandel wine, big and powerful and second, the always superb Ridge Santa Cruz “Montebello” 2000 California, Nicholson €152.55, a wine which has never disappointed me. For a nine year old wine, it had amazing depth of colour, lots of strong primary fruit character, great power while remaining elegant, and enough depth to suggest ageing well for at least another 10 to 15 years.
After lunch we gave the students a four wine blind tasting, with a theme. The wines were Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir 2006 California , Nicholson €39.82, Domaine Drouhin Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2005 Oregon, Gilbey’s, €55.20, Marimar Torres Russian River “Don Miguel” PinotNoir 1999 California , O’Brien’s €44.50 and Matetic San Antonio “EQPinot Noir 2006 Chile, Coman’s €25.90. It was interesting to see how well they did. All identified pinot noir - very good, because if they hadn't yours truly would have been very disappointed! However, as is often the case, the sublime elegance of the Saintsbury led many to underestimate the wine - some two years ago Dick Ward sent me a magnum of the 1989 Pinot Noir for a tasting of new world pinots noirs I organised in Dublin on behalf of the Institute of Masters of Wine and it showed superbly, even though he personally rated this as an average year. The Matetic EQ was probably the biggest surprise for most as we haven't seen much serious pinot from Chile here in Ireland - I rate it very highly. The Drouhin was classic - slightly more vegetal than most new world pinot noir wines are - and the Torres was a lovely mature wine but still with some time to go.
After that, we went into the South American stage, starting with the oddly-named Carmen Casablanca “Gran Reserva” Chardonnay 2008 Chile, E Dillon €16.35, - I don't get how the term Gran Reserva can be applied to wine just bottled! Still, it's a nice wine but nowhere near the quality level suggested by that tag. This labelling is, as far as I know, unique to Ireland - one way or another, it should be re-thought.
This was followed by the very good and tasty Norton Mendoza Reserva Malbec 2006 Argentina, O’Brien’s €13.99, quite a ripe wine and very tasty; then the really yummy Emiliana Central Valley “Y Caro” Reserva 2007 Chile, O’Brien’s €9.99 (I believe this is a promo price so get it while you can!). Then the Odfjell Central Valley “ArmadorCarmenère 2007 Chile, Tindal €14.30, which is a good, rich wine, drinking now but which will keep a while. The superb Loma Larga Casablanca “BK-BL” Syrah 2006 Chile, Gleeson’s €23.60 followed, a deep, black syrah with loads of structure - one to age for at least 5 to 10 more years. Finally, we had my favourite wine of 2008, the Altaïr Alto Cachapoal Valley 2003 Chile,Tindal €51.30, one of the finest cabernet-based wines I tasted last year. Not as dense as the Montebello but a very elegant yet powerful wine and one to keep.
Well, that's it until the new year so see you then.

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