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Dublin, Ireland
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.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fortify yourself and be of good spirit

Poncey title, huh? Well, Diploma started back in January with the Fortified wines lecture. Again, I think the range was good, although it's getting harder to get some styles of fortified wine so a few came out of the old Wine Development Board stock. As always, stockists/suppliers in parentheses, details at the end.

We started with Tio Pepe Fino from Gonzalez Byass (B & F), probably the best fino to buy in Ireland, at about €15.40. Classic flor character on the nose, with a lovely dry palate structure. Fino is tricky as it has the lowest acidity of almost any wine, no sugar and only 15% alcohol by volume (abv) and so is quite susceptible to the effects of oxygen. In very real terms, a fino should be drunk within 6 months of bottling, within 6 days of opening and should always be drunk quite well chilled. Next up was Williams & Humbert's "A Winter's Tale" Amontillado (OB) selling at €11.38 which is a real bargain price. A sweetened amontillado, the wine shows some fino notes on the nose, with a well-balanced sweet palate. I think this wine has improved over the last few years. This was followed by another classic Harvey's Bristol Cream (B & F) at €14.25. One of my favourites as it's an extremely good example of a cream oloroso. We then had two more serious wines, both from Gonzalez Byass. We first had the Del Duque Amontillado VORS (B & F) at €16.25 - given that this is a wine with an average age of 30 years this is a real bargain price Classic nutty notes on the nose with some fino undertones, it is dry, elegant and very long on the palate. The Matusalem Oloroso VORS (B & F), also €16.25, is an excellent oloroso - firm, elegant, powerful and long.
We then moved onto Port, starting with Niepoort Colheita 1995 (WWC), €49.85. This is a very different style of Port to what most people see - a single year Port aged extensively in wood. As a consequence, it has lost some of the primary fruit character associated with bottle aged Ports and has a nutty, ripe fruit nose with an elegant, though still powerful, palate. Then Niepoort 20 Year Old Tawny (WWC), €62.00, my favourite category in the wood-aged Ports. Nutty fruits on the nose, with a complex and almost dry style on the palate this is a lovely wine. The next three were all from old Wine Board stock so no prices are available. We started with Warre’s Late Bottled Vintage 1995, a classic traditional LBV. Deep, powerful and still showing plenty of youthful power with some signs of development on nose and palate. Then, Dow’s “Quinta do Bomfim” 1996, a very rich and deep wine showing hardly any age at all - very deep colour and lovely intense young fruits, very well-balanced. Finally, Dow’s 1991 - a very good vintage wine from one of the best "traditional" houses - big, rich, powerful: everything that Irish property developers aspire to but with one crucial difference - this wine still has a long future!
Then to Madeira, with Cossart Gordon 10 Year Old Bual, (OB) €39.12 - a good wine showing the classic high acidity with baked fruit that marks out the Madeira style generally. Next was Cossart Gordon 5 Year Old Malmsey (OB) €25.12 which, while it had the classic Malmsey character had less depth or finesse than the Bual.
Then a quick tour around the world, starting with France and the Cave de Rasteau “Signature” Rasteau 2004, (OB), €17.39, a very good sweet, red fortified from the Rhone. Deep colour and bright primary fruit but with the lower alcohol typical of French Vins Doux Naturels. This was followed by the Gérard Bertrand Banyuls “Grand Cru” 2002, (OB), a real bargain at €22.40 as this is a very rich, deep and well-made wine not yet showing the chocolatey character tha these wines develop with age. Finally, a good example of one of the finest wine styles in the world, the Rutherglen Estates “Re” Rutherglen Muscat also from old stock. This shows the classic tangerine and raisin character of fortified muscats from this part of Australia, with a very sweet palate from really high sugar. Bad for me (unfortunately) but great for anyone who loves fine wines.
The stockists are B & F = Barry & Fitzwilliam, a wholesaler who can only sell to retailers, WWC = Wicklow Wine Company, OB = O'Brien's.

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