Posted on June 16th, 2008
My wife and I went along to the Taste of Dublin Festival on Friday the 13th, and was pleasantly surprised. In terms of the food, there was plenty on offer, mostly delicious (if a little expensive). However, as this is a wine blog, I thought I’d focus on the Taste of Dublin wine.
O’Brien’s World of Wine at Taste of Dublin
In the large O’Brien’s World of Wine marquee, were the winemakers presenting and talking about their wines.
While there were some 21 stands, we only got around to five:
- Chocalán Wines from Chile
- Schloss Schönborn from Germany
- Royal Tokaji Wine Company from Hungary
- Henri Bourgeois from Sancerre, Loire
- Ascheri from Piemonte in Italy
Chocalán Wines, Maipo Valley, Chile
Some really delicious and wallet-friendly wines from a family winery called Chocalán in Chile’s Maipo Valley. Aída Toro, their general manager was there to talk about their wines. She told me that Chocalán means “yellow blossom” in the local indigenous language and that the wines have received some high ratings (90 points) from Robert Parker.
In itself, this means that they’re on the international wine critics’ radar, a scenario that normally results in prices going sky high. At the moment, the two I tried are absolutely delicious and are still fantastic value.
Unquestionably, they beat the pants off all supermarket wines at the same price point.
- The Carmenère (Chile’s grape) is a gorgeous velvety smooth mocha and at €9.99 is a real steal.
- The Chocalán Cabernet Franc Reserva 2005 (€12.99), is a gorgeous Ribena blackcurrant explosion of fruit flavours.
Schloss Schönborn, Rheingau, Germany
Peter Barth, wine maker at the Rheingau estate was presenting a selection of Rieslings to suit all wallets from the decently priced Schloss Schönborn Riesling Trocken at €11.49 to the Schloss Schönborn Hattenheim Pfaffenberg Riesling 1st growth 2006 at €27.95.
These were all pretty dry, zippy, zingy Rieslings (but not as harsh as those from Australia’s Clare Valley), all typically improving as the price went up.
Good value Riesling is getting a bit hard to find, so you’ll do well to get Riesling of this quality at these prices.
Royal Tokaji Wine Company, Hungary
I tried two from here, the crisp and dry Tokaji Dry Furmint 2006 and the infamous Royal Tokaji Blue Label 2003 sweet wine. While the Dry Furmint was okay, I really liked the Royal Tokaji Blue Label. The description that best comes to mind is orange marmalade or perhaps Grand Marnier.
Henri Bourgeois, Sancerre, Loire
The tenth generation of this family produce gorgeous white whites from around the Sancerre area in the Loire valley.
Again, O’Brien’s seem to have got it right, with a very decent producer with wines at a range of price points.
Standing alone, the Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc 2007 at €11.99 is a lovely fresh and crisp. Lovely fresh and crisp minerality and far more restrained that its distant New Zealand cousin from Marlborough.
Moving up a price point, at €15.99, is the Terre de Fumée from Coteaux du Giennois. While a Coteaux du Giennois AOC, it’s a Sancerre in spirit and taste, if not on the label. It compares admirably with Sancerre’s at €20 and upwards.
Skipping up to the Sancerre d’Antan, made using old methods from low yielding old vines without fining or filtration. Fermentation happens in older oak barrels (4-6 years) followed by maturation on old lees (dead yeast) and racking (removing the wine from the lees) is done at full moon.
Yummy citrus and flintiness with everlasting finish and not cheap at €37 but there are only 7,000 bottles produced. Comparing the Sancerre d’Antan with the Petit Bourgeois reminds of the lyrics from the James song, Sit Down.
Now I’ve swung back down again,
It’s worse than it was before,
If I hadn’t seen such riches,
I could live with being poor
Ascheri from Piedmonte, Italy
Some really refreshing whites and medium to heavy reds from Piemonte in northern Italy.
The Ascheri Lange Arneis at €14.99 is a perfect summer refresher while the Ascheri Gavi di Gavi at €15.99 is another great summer wine which would go perfect with salads.
The chief winemaker, Matteo Ascheri, is a “non-interventionist”. What this means (from the Ascheri website)
In a world where wines are generally produced with the same grapes, the same technology, the same wood for ageing and above all the same consultants, our aim is to obtain a wine which is the expression of the vineyard it comes from, of the grapes it was made of, and above all of our own ideas.
The reds were all pretty decent too, but a little harsh. Perhaps a little too “young”:
- Dolcetto d’Alba Saint Rocco 2007
- Barbera d’Alba 2007
- Barolo Coste & Bricco 2004
There was also plenty of wine at Taste of Dublin outside the O’Brien’s tent.
Domaine Debray, Burgundy
While not in the O’Brien’s marquee, the Debray stand stood out for me as it was manned the charming by the winemaker himself who was delighted to have me taste as many Pinot Noirs from his Beaune vineyards as he could pour while he tried to sell me them by the case. All this in French, a language in which I am ashamedly lacking.
Teliani Valley, Georgia
Another one outside the O’Brien’s tent. I’ve seen this a couple of times, but hadn’t got around to try it before ToD. I tasted two reds from Georgia’s Teliani Valley, the first a really nice dry red, the second a semi-sweet red.
I really liked the first and I’ll seek it out over the next couple of weeks. It should be available in good Eastern European delis.
So that’s it from me on the wine at the Taste of Dublin. Taste of Cork is on from the 27th to the 29th of June, but I won’t be able to make that, my passport is out of date.