Preamble Mini-tasting August 2004 
Favourite Whites from Tony Fahy followed by a byo in the elegant confines of Paul Cummins' garden

1. Hazendal Bushvine Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, SA, 2003
Beautiful aromatic nose, not overpowering.  Enough acid to be fresh, slight hint of orange peel, maybe a little residual sugar.  13.5%  lovely.

2. Clos Malverne Sauvignon Blanc, Stellenbosch, SA, 2003
Grassy, hint of gooseberry, not too pungent.  Crisp, lots of fruit, gooseberry again.  13.5%  Refreshing.
Dunnes 11.00

3. Houghtons Verdelho, Swan Valley WA, 2002
Very little nose.  Lime, somewhat oily, good acid, vibrant. 13.5%.  Good but not worth

4. Chateau Reynella Chardonnay, SE Australia, 2000
Hugely oaky on the nose; spicy.  Tons of vanilla mask the fruit.  Oily.  Almost Riesling with butter and oak.  Big.  13.5%Well integrated but too much caramel.  Shame.

5. Gran Feudo, Garnacha Rose, DO Navarra, Spain, 2003
Very little nose.  Nice, dry, flavoursome.  great acidity, a hint of tannin, caramel, herbaceous.  Very unusual, very nice.   13%

McCabes, Dunnes 8.50 - 9.00

That completed the formal proceedings.  My contribution to the party was two bottles from Gaillac with unusual local grapes:

La Vigne Blanche Domaine d'Escausses, AC Gaillac, 2002
Less elegant than the Ch. Clement Termes, it is still a fine mouthful and, again, needs another while to be at its best.   Syrah 40% Fer Servadou 35% Merlot 15% Duras 5% and Cabernet Sauvignon 5%.  13% alcohol. 

According to Anthony J. Hawkins' Super Gigantic Y2K Winegrape Glossary, Fer is also known as Fer Servadou, Brocol, Braucol, Mansois and Pinenc. The name apparently refers to the iron-hard woodiness of the vine. Grown to a limited extent in the Gaillac AC and other regions of southwest France where it is used to impart colour, intensity and aroma to regional red wine blends. The variety grown in Argentina and called by this name is now thought to be a clone of Malbec.

Garnet-red. Silky and elegant nose, red fruit flavours, some wood, spices and  leather. Well structured,  full mouth-feel, soft tannins. Long finish of liquorice and chocolate.

It's 5.40 from the chateau - weep, you poor overtaxed Irish punter!

Chateau Clement Termes, AC Gaillac, 2001
This is a wine that needs a few more years, but even now it is drinking well and is a big but very elegant wine.   The cepage is 30% Braucol, 20% Duras, 30% Syrah and 20% Merlot   12% alcohol. 

According to Hawkins (above), Duras is a minor grape grown in the Gaillac AC northeast of Toulouse, France. Has several synonyms including Cabernet Duras and Durade.  Used to create red and rose' blended wines made from such varieties as Fer, Negrette, Syrah and Gamay Noir. Not to be confused with the appellation of the same name.

When I tasted it with Tommy Cullen of Jus de Vine we found a description of Brocol that said that it gave smokiness and rusticity, and we found lots of that.  The Duras, on the other hand, imparts considerable elegance.  Big, round, silky; with flexible tannins, it would be great with a steak or cheese.

At about 45 for six (7.50 each) in France this is serious competition for both the French wine establishment as well as the new world, with the added advantage of being unusual.  God knows what it would cost here :(

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