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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 DĂșn 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.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Viennese Ball

I am a lucky man: I was invited to Vienna last week to give a Masterclass on Northern Rhone wines by my colleague Frank Smulders MW, who works at the prestigious Palais Coburg hotel. Palais Coburg is one of the finest hotels in Europe with a stunning wine collection and is also a Major Supporter of the Institute of Masters of Wine. Part of the hotel's wine activities is a series of Masterclasses, hence my involvement. While for many, the chance to spend two nights in a 5 Star hotel would be a big thrill, for me it was the chance to taste some fantastic wines. The audience was made up of some of Austria's top winemakers, as well as wine professionals from central Europe and wine collectors.
Frank had chosen an excellent range of wines. We started with two whites, both from Chapoutier. The 2008 Condrieu Invitare was lovely and fresh (given the cool, wet vintage the acidity was expected) but bottle variation between the two bottles led us to amalgamate them so the aromatics weren't as good as they might have been. The 1996 Hermitage de l'Oree was also from a less famous year but was lovely on the nose and palate. Quite rich, with nutty floral notes and good weight, it stood up very well. By the time we had finished the 8 reds which followed my glass of this wine was still showing very well - definitely a wine with some real depth.
We started the reds with 2 wines from Cornas: the 1985 Delas Freres Chante Perdrix was fading but still quite good - some dark fruits on nose and palate, with the moderate acidity of the vintage. The 1983 Jaboulet was actually very good. Although, getting on a bit, the powerful vintage showed through with deep colour and still some tannins. For some in the audience, this was one of the best wines as it could be bought in the hotel for €79! Indeed, these two wines were very good value, both being under €100 in the hotel's restaurant.
There followed three Cote-Rotie wines, a 2004 La Landonne from Rostaing, a 2000 from Jasmin and then a 1992 La Mouline from Guigal. An excellent flight, with one each from the Cotes Brune and Blonde and a range of vintages. The Landonne was firm and dark in style, still too young in rality; the 2000 was lovely, with the rich, ripe fruit of that excellent vintage but was amazingly overshadowed by the La Mouline - although not a highly regarded vintage, this wine had an astonishing nose and a beautiful palate structure, with youthful fruits overlaid by peppery, mature notes and a lovely long finish. At €334 per bottle by no means a bargain but what a wine!
We finished with three Hermitage wines - a 2005 Guigal, a 1986 Chave and a La Chapelle 1983. The Guigal was too young, but with a rich round fruit, highlighting clearly the difference between Cote-Rotie and Hermitage. The Chave was, perhaps, fading but had the beautiful elegance his wines always seem to have, with a lovely polished leather character over lovely mature spice and fruit notes. The La Chapelle again showed the quality of that vintage, as well as showing the big difference between Cornas and Hermitage, having a rounder structure and softer tannin balance.
Overall, a lovely set of wines showing vintages and districts well and giving the audience some real taste treats!

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