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A Tale Of Two Tastings

We interrupt this post for a short public service announcement.

It appears that I’ve been nom, nom, nominated in the blogger category for the Entertainment.ie Annual Awards – woohoo! I’d be honoured if you voted for me here.

Thank you. We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

“It’s nearly midnight”.

Myself and KD were skirting close to that cinderella time of night, when it was best to leave before turning into something less than beautiful. We had spent the previous several hours at a lovely New Zealand wine tasting arranged by the good folks at Curious Wines. Guiding us through our suppage was Joyce Austin of New Zealand Boutique Wines, as we worked our way through 11 wines and played guess-the-grape and describe-that-taste (with, it has to be said, mixed success – frankly I blame the chili I had for dinner). We were very diligent about drinking everything that was poured for us, though, to the point of there being much giddiness at our table. Luckily, though my recall might be hazy, my notes tell me that the two which most appealed to my palate that evening were a 2008 reisling and 2006 pinotage, both from the Muddy Water winery. My wine horizons, I feel, continue to expand.

It's like this - you swirl the wine, then keep a firm grip of your glass lest anyone try to make off with it

It's like this - you swirl the wine, then keep a firm grip of your glass lest anyone try to make off with it

Fast forward a few weeks and we same two were back in the tasting saddle at this week’s Wine Australia event, organised by the ever-enthusiastic John McDonnell. The aim of the game was to glory in the favourite Australian wines of Irish Times wine writer, John Wilson. All 70 of them.

Yup, 70. Seven-oh (or perhaps seven-uh-oh, depending on how many of them you drank). Midnight was starting to look like an optimistic finishing time.

Still, we managed to exercise some degree of restraint, even to the point of occasionally using the spit buckets, and not because we didn’t like the wine. And I satisfied myself with just a fraction of the 70 (though admittedly it was a rather large fraction of same). All sorts of styles, from fizz to port, and all sorts of prices, with the fabulous Penfolds Grange 2001 – which would set you back just shy of €200 a bottle – included in the mix (and, yes, the clever people went straight to that table).

Penfolds Grange

Penfolds Grange? Don't mind if I do

Fortunately, I also found plenty to like in the much lower price brackets. I would particularly like to thank the lady who pointed me towards the Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2007 – at around the €14 mark, it would be a much easier buying decision than the Penfolds Grange. I left whites behind and sipped through the pinot noirs, finding Yering Station and De Bortoli to my liking, and finally got to where I feel most comfortable, surrounded by bottles of shiraz. The Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz 2006, among others, hit the mark for me.

Grosset Gaia 2006

KD's fave

As for KD, in the brochure listing the wines for the evening, she had simply written FAVOURITE across the description of the Grosset Gaia cabernet blend. Capital letters ‘n’ all. She was a bit concerned that, at just under €40 a pop, she might be in danger of developing an expensive habit. She had a point, though it could have been worse – it could have been the Penfolds Grange, for which an even larger wallet would be required.


  1. OysterCulture

    Woohoo! I am voting just after I type this – how awesome! Jumping up and down.

    Great read, love Viognier myself, but they all sounded so good. I may have to try a taste testing like that to see if I still feel the same.

  2. Natasha - 5 Star Foodie

    Wonderful wine tastings! On my way to vote for you!

  3. Shiela

    Ah, Penfolds Grange is one thing, but did they have any Perth Pink (as immortalised in the Monty Python Australian Table Wines sketch – “this is not a wine for drinking, this is a wine for laying down and avoiding!”): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4GvN4wGUZI

  4. Daily Spud

    OysterCulture: Jumping up and down most appreciated, that should count for extra votes :) On the wine front, viognier is something I’m just discovering myself – there were so many wines, I think I’d need at least 2 or 3 sessions to really savour everything that was on offer!

    Natasha: thank you! it really was a very enjoyable tasting indeed :)

    Shiela: no Perth Pink (or Coq du Rod Laver for that matter!), I should suggest a special tasting of same to the Wine Australia people :D

  5. Chef E

    going over to vote for you, and Penfold’s is always a good choice for a mid-range wine if you want to impress your friends, or surprise them with a gift during the holidays…

    Glad you had fun…

  6. Tangled Noodle

    If ever KD tires of these wine events, give me a ring and I’ll hop on over to be your wine-tasting partner! Penfolds Grange is more like ‘Grail’ – it’ll be a long while before we’ll be able to afford a bottle of that. But in the meantime, hubs and I enjoy Penfolds Koonunga, which has a much more accessible price (around $12 range).

    Now, what exactly constitutes a ‘fraction’ of 70? The fact that your notes were still legible is testament to your restraint! ;-) (BTW, Captcha code is “of wobbling”- of which I would do plenty were I to attempt a 70-wine tasting m’self).

  7. Daily Spud

    Chef E: fun was had for sure and I’ll be trying more Penfolds in future, maybe not the Grange, though (unless I win the lottery, that is… :) )

    Tangled Noodle: I would be more than happy for you to join me as a wine-tasting partner – we could prop each other up when it got to the wobbling stage :D As for the fraction of 70, let’s say more than one third and less than half – not a bad showing!

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