The Christmas Extravaganza 2011
Mark Downes and Laim Kelleher

Boo-hiss to austerity. Let's celebrate.

1. Wigan’ Eden Valley Riesling 2003. Peter Lehmann, Barossa, South Australia (11%)
Huge, clean, petrol nose. Great acid, hint of sweetness; lime. Dry but not too dry. Not releaased for five years. Winemaker is Andrew Wigan. Great aperitif; went beautifully with the prawns.
Jus de Vine €20

2. ‘Eroica’ Dr. Loosen 2006. Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington State, USA (12.5%) starstar
Beautiful acid drop nose. Honey background. Great acid but not as cutting as the Wigan, although with much more mouth-feel. A long, lingering finish. This is one of my favourite Rieslings so I find it hard to be objective, but it's hard to find something as good for this price.
Jus de Vine, €14-15

3. ‘Heimbourg’ Riesling 1999. Leonard et Olivier Humbrecht, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Turkheim Alsace Haut-Rhin, France (12.5%)starstarstar
A little petrol in a luscious, clean nose: Great acid, huge mouth-feel, rich, opulent; a long, luxurious finish. My first ever three-star rating. This single-vineyard Riesling is from the south of the Heimbourg vineyard in Turckheim. (I've been lucky enough to get some of the Hengst Grand Cru Gewurtztraminer 1998 and 1997 from the same domaine and it's stunning too; although the 98 is vastly superior.)
Jus de Vine, no longer available (but I keep hoping another case will be discovered)

4. Castlemaure Grande Cuvée, Corbières, 2009. France
Nose with a hint of violets. Very lively in the mouth, with enough tannin to match the fruitand a spicy, savoury taste. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan and Cinsault.
Terroirs €19.50

5. Chateau du Pibaron, 2005. Bandol, Provence, France
More violets. Crunchy tannins, great fruit, very well-balanced. Soft, with a lovely aftertaste. Predominantly Mourvedre but probably with some Syrah and Grenache. Lovely but not €50 worth.
Terroris €49.50

6. Ch Leoville-Poyferre, 2nd Grand Cru Classe, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, 1998 
This was served blind. Didn't look too aged; not a huge nise either. A classy, structured wine with fine tannins and a touch of condensed milk - indicating Cab Sauvignon (The cepage today is 65% CS (35 hectares), 25% Merlot (17 ha), 8% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc). It is wonderfully clean and, though I preferred it to the next, not by that much. Still, a privilege to be able to taste it. 
Terroirs €149 (unfortunately)

7. Vergelegen, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2001 
Decidedly a Bordeaux blend but somehow "muckier" than the previous. Complex, very herbaceous, high acidity making it fresh and zesty. Matured in new French oak for 18 months. Winemaker Andre van Rensburg. Vergelegen was founded in 1685 and in 1700 became the Cape governor's estate, when vines were first planted. 
Approx €40 wholesale

8. Craneford ‘Quartet’ 2004. John Zilm, Barossa Valley, S. Australia
Lovely zesty nose. Deep; gorgeous extract; zingy, voluptuous; yummy. Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, Syrah.
Bought for €8 some time ago! 

9. ‘Chateau de la Gardine’, Chateauneuf du Pape 2004. G. Brunel et Fils, Southern Rhone, France
Serious bottle variation. We had a small taste of the good one, which was vegetative, zikngy and gorgeous. GSM+.

10. Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial, 2001. Rioja, La Rioja Alta SA, Spain
Fruit, savour, just a little vanilla with well-integrated tannins. Still very fresh. Stunning! Close to perfection; maybe even there.And at this price.Tempranillo 70% with Garnacha 20%  and some Mazuelo and Graciano - depending on who you believe. American oak for three years. 13.5% alc. The Especial vintage was declared in '64, '73 and 2001 only.
Jus de Vine €25

11. Amarone della Valpolicella Classico ‘Campo Casalin’ i Castei 2006. Michele Castellani, Marano, Italy
Tar, prunes; velvety and gorgeous. Relatively young but approachable. Slovenian oak for three years and 8 months in bottle.
Gleesons €40 + VAT wholesale

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