The Ely Big Tasting is now something of an institution on the Dublin wine scene, giving interested wine drinkers a chance to try a wide variety of wines from Ely’s suppliers. Some of them are already established favourites and some are shown to gauge interest from punters. Over the several events that I’ve attended (Spring and Autumn each year) it has been interesting to see the camaraderie and some good natured competition between the importers.
Here are six of my favourite whites from the Autumn 16 event:
D’Arenberg “The Money Spider” South Australia Roussanne 2010 (13.2%, Febvre)
Roussanne is one of the most important grapes in France’s Rhône Valley and Languedoc-Roussillon. Innovative McLaren Vale producers d’Arenberg decided to plant white Rhône varieties given how successful the Rhône varieties Shiraz/Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre are in the Vale. And the theory paid off! Nutty and peachy, it’s full of interesting flavours that you just don’t find in the usual supermarket suspects of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. Seek it out!
Ingrid Groiss Gemischter Setz Weinwiertel 2015 (Wine Mason)
Lovely field blend of 17 different varieties. These vines are all planted in the same vineyard and are harvested and vinified together. When Ingrid took on the family vineyards she had to rely on her grandmother to identify which variety was which!
The result in the glass is both complexity and drinkability – what more could you want?
In case you were curious, the varieties are:
Chardonnay, Müller Thurgau, Welschriesling, Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Grauburgunder, Pinot Blanc, Frühroter Veltliner, Neuburger, Zierfandler, Rotgipfler, Sämling, Roter Veltliner, Grauer Vöslauer, Hietl Rote, Weiße Vöslauer and Silberweiße.
More info here.
Trimbach Alsace Vieilles Vignes Riesling 2012 (13.0%, C+C Gilbey’s)
This Vieilles Vignes (“Vee-ay Veen”, Old Vines) Riesling is a step above the standard Riesling (which I like) and slots in below Trimbach’s premium Cuvée Frédéric Emile. The VV is only made in certain years (2009 was the release previous to this 2012) so my guess is that Trimbach only decide to make it when they have more quality fruit than they need for “Fred”.
Ther fruit is sourced from the lieux-dits (named vineyards) Rosacker, Muehlforst, Vorderer Haguenau and Pflaenzer. Being old, the vines yield less grapes than in their youth, but the resultant wines have more intense and complex flavours. This wine is mainly available in bars and restaurants (such as Ely!) rather than wine merchants and is worth calling in for on it own!
Lucien Aviet “Cuvée des Docteurs” Arbois-Jura 2011 (13.0%, La Rousse)
The Jura region – nestled in the hills between Burgundy and Switzerland – has been making wine for a long time, but has only recently stepped into the limelight. The area’s Vin Jaune has been regarded as an interesting diversion but now the table wines are receiving lots of attention – due in no small part to Wink Lorch’s excellent book.
Whereas Vin Jaune and some other Jura wines are deliberately exposed to oxygen during their production, this Chardonnay is in the ouillé “wee-ay” style – the barrels are topped up to prevent a flor forming or major oxidative notes. It’s therefore much more my cup of tea – or glass of wine! The wild yeasts used are reflected somewhat in the wild flavours, so this isn’t for everyone, but every wine enthusiast should try it at least once.
La Fief du Breil “La Haye Fouassière” Muscadet Cru Communal 2013 (12.5%, Wines Direct)
Anyone who has holidayed on the Atlantic coast of France and has enjoyed the seafood there is almost certain to have tried Muscadet, from the western reaches of the Loire. It’s a wine while is often maligned outside of an accompaniment for oysters, and if we take the average quality of all wines produced then that’s probably not too unfair. However, some producers are very quality conscious and can make some fantastic wines in the region.
This cuvée spends 14 months on the lees, giving a very creamy texture, but remains refreshing thanks to vibrant acidity. It will partner well with seafood but is just downright delicious on its own.
More info here (downloads).
Brookland Valley “Verse 1” Margaret River Chardonnay 2015 (13.5%, Liberty)
Compared to most of the producers above, Brookland Valley is a newcomer – they were established in Margaret River in 1983 (compared to 1626 for Trimbach!) While heritage and history are nice, at the end of the day it’s what’s in the glass that counts. Verse 1 is their “entry level” range, with Estate above that and Reserve at the top.
This Chardonnay is a cracker, still young perhaps but full of flavour. Racy grapefruit and lemon are set against brioche, vanilla and nuts. It’s well balanced with a long finish. If drinking in the next year or so then decant for half an hour before drinking, if you can.
More info here.