Our tasting of wines from three Australian wineries: Mount Langi Ghiran, Xanadu Estate and Yering Station on Wednesday turned out pretty well, I think. Thank you to all who attended, to our esteemed guests, and to Eithne at the AGA shop for allowing us to use the showroom once again.
In the end, the number present was perfect for the AGA shop's capacity, and for the available (limited) amount of wine - we were pouring from sample bottles while our main order completes its journey from down under to up here - and we didn't have to turn anyone away at the door. I hadn't been able to come up with the right thing to say should that unhappy circumstance have arisen, so phew.
Gordon Gebbie, commercial director at Yering Station amongst other responsibilities, was unable to join us, but in to the breach at very short notice stepped Aaron Drummond, Rathbone Wine Group's global brand manager. He and Ryan Morgan gave a thorough introduction to each of the wineries and each of the wines that was educational, but not at the expense of entertainment.
Although one or two people in the audience thought that conversations popping up around the room as the evening progressed were an obstacle to full appreciation of the Aaron'n'Ryan show, I felt that there was a pretty reverent hush by wine-tasting-evening standards. While I'm sitting at the constructive criticism desk, rest assured we'll endeavour to supply, as hitherto, bread or a related palate-cleanser at subsequent tastings. Your comments were noted.
The wines all showed well on the evening, with the warmth of the AGA showroom helping to emphasize the refreshing minerality of the whites and lift the aromas of the reds as we made our way through the dozen wines on the tasting sheet.
All three wineries can be said to represent Australia's cooler climates; like this, our new acquisitions fit well into Bubble Brothers' predominantly European portfolio. Contrary to what the Irish market has been led to expect, not all wines from Australia are cheap, and Aaron's description of the often painstaking winemaking process from vine to bottle at each location - he was grateful for his visit as a break from pruning in the "ice-cream-headache"-inducing bitter winds of Victoria! - made it clear that the quality, character and value the Rathbone wines embody necessarily comes at a price. That said, our 'entry level' Australians are very reasonable at €12.90 when compared with European counterparts on our shelves, and very reasonable too in comparison with what the same money buys you from the familiar mega-brands.
I think this is the place to remind you, if you were there on Wednesday, that, thanks to the enormous generosity and all-round cleverness of LouderVoice.com, you can review any of the wines you tasted by going to the product in question at www.bubblebrothers.com, and in so doing help us persuade the doubters out there that there's more to Australian wine than mass-produced, high-alcohol jam juice.
Special thanks to Brian Clayton , Elke O'Mahony and Paul Kiernan for astonishingly prompt and comprehensive blogly assessments of the night's doings, and also to Matt Kane of Curious Wines, whose curiosity was, I hope, rewarded. You can read Matt's recent, relevant post here.
We'll be in touch, as soon as the wines are in stock, with those of you who took advantage of our special discounts on the night and made reservations. Thank you for your enthusiastic response to what you tasted.
We asked all those attending to indicate their favourites on the night in the interests of research, and for fun, in exchange for the chance to win some bottles with a first-out-of-the-hat draw.
The draw's on its way, but in the meantime here are the results, ably tabulated by our own spreadsheet supremo. (Disclaimer) I'm not going to be able to answer any hard questions about the exact calculations that produced the table you see.
Surprise surprise, the wine that was most enjoyed at our tasting yesterday was the Cliff Edge Riesling!
In second place is the Yering Station Pinot Noir leaving the Xanadu Estate Chardonnay and Yering Station Shiraz–Viognier vying for third position.
The wines were all marvellous so very difficult to choose a top three but it is interesting to look at the bottom of the table, particularly the last three wines.
I am fairly much tempted, despite the demands on our time being made by preparations for the Good Wine Show (a big, shiny, streamlined express train - and it's coming your way), to hold a tasting in October here at the Marina, so that people can see how very smart it looks after our recent improvements.
Actually, that's not the real reason. I'd like to do a blind tasting to see if y'all can really pick out the Chardonnays, which attract so much opprobrium, from a selection of wines. I don't have shares in Chardonnay plc or anything, I'm just interested. And wouldn't mind the opportunity to say Ha!