The Chairman's Christmas Crackers
Rodney Shaw

Because of the nature of the evening the star ratings cannot always take price into account.

1. Dom. Pierre Gaillard, Condrieu, 2005
Lovely fragrant nose. Rounded, hint of butterscotch; good acid - "a balance between unctuous and structured" according to the supplier. Pears and peaches. Very long finish. 100% Viognier.
BBR €38

2. Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume "SiIex", Loire, 2005
An altogether fresher nose but quite restrained; slightly smoky. Teeny bit of sweetness, good acid. 13.5% alc. Dagueneau is one of the top producers and 2005 was a very good year. Still, I'd prefer the Condrieu by far and the price difference is substantial.
BBR €78

3. Ata Rangi "Craighall" Chardonnay, Martinborough, New Zealand, 2004
Huge, powerful, oaky-smoky nose followed by a wash of passionfruit, great acid and a wonderful, lingering finish. Buttery, citrus fruits, tangy, complex but possibly a bit over-oaked. From the low-yielding Mendoza clone and 14% alc.
O'Briens €

4. Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl,
Cru Hunawhir, Alsace, 1997

Wonderful, spicy, sweet, exotic nose. Concentrated fruit and hugely spicy, with good acid but beginning to fade, I think, ever so slightly. So drink it now, if you're lucky enough to get your hands on it. It was served with smoked Gubbeen cheese that was way too smoky for it.
Richard Verling €30

5. Mission Hill “Oculus”, British Columbia, Canada, 2001
Nice garnet colour.  Nose hard to describe: shoe polish, blackcurrant. A bit of tannin, some burn, fruit pastilles. Lovely. Winemaker is John Simes from NZ.  45% Merlot, 35% Cab Sauvignon, 15% Cab Franc, 5% Petit Verdot.
Gleasons €25 - 30

6. Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac, 5eme cru classe, Bordeaux, 2003
A bit lighter than the Oculus, more refined nose. Really smooth, perhaps a bit lacking in fruit? Some greeny tannins, quite stern. Disappointing - I was looking forward to this. We had the 2002 in May. 13% alc. 73% Cab Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc, 2% Petit Verdot
Terroirs €89, reduced to €

7. Dom. Rossignol-Trapet. Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru, Burgundy, 2002
Almost clear rim. Light, savoury nose. Quite lively; not a lot of tannin but it was said it would keep another five: I wouldn't risk it. Loads of fruit. A savoury wash Long finish. Quite delicate: the duck wiped it out.. 13.5%
BBR €66

8. Luigi Bosca. Finca Los Nobles, Malbec Verdot, Mendoza, Argetnina, 2002 
Big, inky, murky, leggy red. Jammy nose. Huge concentration; tannins not too pronounced, great fruit, a bit of alcohol burn. Quite restrained; not too jammy.
£23.50 - €35+ especially sourced in England (with difficulty)

9. Paul Jaboulet Aine “La Chapelle”, Hermitage. Northern Rhone, 1982
Way lighter looking than I expected. Nose a little faded. Beautifully savoury, still fruity. Heavy sediment. Structured, gorgeous; what a wine. Jaboulet was sold to a Swiss investor in 2002.
Courtesy of the very generous Mark Wilkinson, maybe €200

10. Vina Ijalba, Reserva Seleccion Especial, Rioja, Spain, 1994
Dark and murky.  Fruity, almost jammy. Cool, well-integrated tannins. Will last another while. Very nice. 50% Tempranillo, 50% Graciano. 12.5% alc
Gleasons c. €45

11. Vega Sicilia "Valbuena", Ribeiro del Duero, Spain, 2001
Lively dark, leggy red. Huge farmyard nose. Nice tannins and lots of fruit; quite restrained and complex. Cedar, orange peel.Valbuena is the second wine of Vega Siciliano. Rodney pointed out that although 2001 was a stellar year a serious frost caused them to make no Unico that year so, in essence, this was their first wine! Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) 67%, Cab Sauvignon 25% and Malbec/Merlot 8%. 14% alc. A stunner.
BBR €85

12. Gemtree Vineyards “Obsidian” Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia, 2004
Really dark red.  No fading. Interesting if indefinable (to me) nose. Huge fruit, alcohol sweetness, big leathery but smooth tannins.More fruit gums than pastilles, if you remember the sweets of your childhood. Very nice but not as refined as the company. From the Butery family and Mike Brown, winemaker.
Papillon €35 - 39

13. Half a Dozen Krachers, Made in Austria, 2005
This is a smashing botrytised Beerenauslese by Alois Kracher from somewhere south of Vienna near the Hungarian border. 20% Riesling and 80% Chardonnay it shows honey, citrus, geat acid.  12.5% alc. Lovely.
Searsons €16 per half-bottle


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