The Grand Christmas Tasting 
Tony Fahy and Mark Downes

This is the traditional 'Tasting we can't afford'; as such, we are often drinking very expensive or unobtainable stuff and it is very difficult to give star ratings; I've tried to be less price conscious than usual this time.

1. Soave Classico, DOC, Pieropan, 2003
Quite floral; lemon and almond.  fresh and unusual with a hint of butterscotch and a nice zing.  90% Garganega and 10% Trebbiano di Soave, this is not your usual dull Soave.  12%.
On the Grapevine, 16.99

2. Rully Premier Cru Gresigny, JM Boillot, 2002
Huge, smoky oak nose. Very lemony.  Needs more time for the oak to tone down. Very nice, though, with a long finish
Terroirs 30 approx

3. Riesling, Leeuwin Estate Art Series, Margaret River, WA, 2002
A teeny hint of kerosene; beautifully petrol-y, full, good acidity, citrus, hint of pineapple, clean, long finish.  Excellent.  Even my Riesling-phobic beloved liked it. 12.5%
Searsons 17.99

4. Chateau des Erles, Fitou AC, Lourton Bros, 2002()
Dark, clear red.  Unusual nose; maybe a hint 'synthetic'?  Deep liquorice, black pepper, good acid, oak sweetness, blackberry.  They say it will develop for seven years.  All old vines; Grenache 40%, Syrah 35%, Carignan 20% and Merlot 5%.  Carignan apparently 'sterilises' in hot climates!  14% alcohol.  A very fine wine.  Shame about the price. 
Terroirs 39

5. Merlot, Falesco, Umbria IGT, 2001
Another dark wine.  A bit dumb, some dark fruitcake.  Quite stern, leather; silk with a bit of rasp.  I wasn't all that impressed; the others were, though.  12.5% alcohol.

O'Brien's 17.45

6. Vergelegen, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2000
Served blind; a Bordeaux look-alike.  Absolutely lovely, will improve for years (up to 15, according to the blurb).  Won best Bordeaux blend \t the London Wine Show.  14.5% alcohol.

Gleeson's 37

7. Chateau Gloria, St Julien, Bordeaux 1999
Served blind.  Quite stern.  Didn't appear to have the cedar and other goodies I associate with it, anf that I found last month.  Bottle difference?


8. Chianti Classico, Il Molino de Grace, Italy, 2001
Looks lovely.  Quite dumb but explodes in the mouth.  Lovely cherry-stone finish.  Better in a couple of years. 13% alcohol.  Very nice.
Terroirs 19

9. Santenay, Jean Claud Belland, Cote d'Or, Burgundy, 1999
Smoky nose, lots of fruit; strawberry, raspberry, more smoke. Very nice, fresh. Alcohol 13%.  The most southerly part of the Cote d'Or.  I like this, and not a bad price for decent Burgundy either.
Mitchell's 23.95

10. Vina Ijalba, Rioja Reserva, 1994
Whopping nose, beautifully fruity, chutney!  Silky, fruity, great backbone, silky tannins.  Some greenness still.  Beautiful.  I think it would go another few years but the blurb says 10 years from vintage.  Only 15,000 bottles made; Tempranillo 50%, Graciano 50%.  The high acidity of the Graciano grape makes it a good candidate for blending with low-acid varieties like Tempranillo, although its sparse yield is prompting many Spanish growers to replace it with more productive vines. A similar situation exists in France's Languedoc-Roussillon, where Graciano (known there as Morrastel) is also being replaced. Superb!

50 estimate

11. Alberto, Vino Rosso de Veneto, Zenato, 1998
Wonderful, warm, fruity, well-balanced, complex, wonderful. Cab Sauvignon 70%, Merlot 15%, Corvina 15% (dried).  Alberto is the son of Sergio and this was, apparently, made for his 30th birthday.  What a wine!

Searson's 33.98

12. Petit Verdot, Craneford, John Zilm, Barossa, SA, 2002
Dark mpurple, violet nose.  Jammy, silky, fresh.  Gets better in the glass (was too cold).  Still sopme coating tannins.  Quite spicy.  Said will last 15 years. Alcohol 13.5%


13. Ramos Tinto, Tawny Port, 10 years old
Really light, still red!  Nutty nose.  Lovely, light, quite burning, not well integrated;sweet but quite fresh.  Quinta system.  Not up to expectations.  Alcohol 19.5%

Searson's 32.50

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