...there's both eatin' and drinkin' in it

Just Call Me Jammy

The plan was to stay for no more than an hour.

Four hours and a lot of wine later, I was still there. Oops.

The event was Gilbey’s 2nd Annual Portfolio Tasting in the impressive Guinness Storehouse and I hadn’t expected it to be quite so… big. We’re talking 300-wines-and-a-table-full-of-whiskeys big.

I mean, good grief. What are these people trying to do to me? And at 11 o’clock in the morning, no less. They must know that my camera does not have an angle wide enough for that amount of wine, to say nothing of my palate.

Gilbey's 2nd Annual Portfolio Tasting

Wine glasses at the ready, deep breath and off we go

I needed a strategy if I was to survive the session and quick. It went something like this.

(1) Go for bottles tagged with ‘Must Taste’ labels
(2) Or bottles that were super-expensive (because, let’s face it, when else am I going to get the opportunity)
(3) Remember to spit – spit as if I were spitting for Ireland

A Gilbeys Must Taste Wine

Helpful signage for the bewildered and overwhelmed

I won’t say that I was completely faithful to the strategy, but I did at least manage to leave with a head that was somewhat clearer than it had been after the last monster tasting event I attended.

I also figured out that my wine-to-cost compass is hopelessly awry. There were wines that retail at €120 a pop that left me cold, wines within my less-than-€20 grasp that charmed me – I’m thinking especially of the Lingenfelder rieslings from Germany – and wines like the €45 Musella Amarone della Valpolicella 2005 that I liked twice as much as wines that were twice the price. Wine, in the end, is about what you like – and if you can find something that appeals, and not have to spend a small fortune on it, then so much the better.

My education continued by way of a masterclass with Jonathan Maltus, a winemaker with operations on three continents, no less. He clearly knows a thing or two about vine juice, having produced wines successfully in Bordeaux, Napa Valley and the Barossa.

Masterclass Tasting

At the Maltus Masterclass:
I'll just start at this end and work my way up, then, shall I?

I learned, for a start, that he makes some beautiful wines – I particularly liked his Australians – perhaps not a huge surprise, as that’s the way my tastes seem to roll. I discovered that grenache – which he called the wine maker’s most hated variety – can actually have a bit of body to it (or, rather more bluntly, that I’ve been drinking the pissy stuff up until now). As a variety, grenache can be prolific in its production of grapes which, it transpires, is not always a good thing when it comes to making wine. If you want to make great wine, the man says, you don’t want to be greedy about it. Less, in this case, is definitely more.

And speaking of more, there was just one more thing.

As I left the tasting and checked my email, I read something that made my heart skip several beats. I received confirmation of an invitation to jet off to Argentina and Chile to visit the vineyards at Dona Paula and Carmen.

Did you hear that?

Argentina and Chile, people. In two weeks time. Nine days. Two vineyards. One Spud. (And, yes, a few other people as well).

I think I may justly be accused of leaving the best wine ’til last.

Map of Argentina and Chile

(image from www.aesu.com)


  1. Kevin

    I find its definetly very hard to restrain your self at a wine tasting.
    Hope you have a great time in your upcoming South American trip. The wines of Dona Paula are fantastic in particular, I’m sure you will agree.
    I’m still devastated that Woodford Bourne ceased importing them, and my stash of 2007 Malbec was wiped out in the Nov09 flood in Cork City.

  2. sippitysup

    You are Miss travel girl! Get me invited. GREG

  3. jenn

    11am wine tasting?! I guess they like to start the party early, know what I mean? hehehe… Looks like a lovely selection of wines though.

  4. Phoo-D

    Wow! How totally exciting. My better half would give his left arm for that opportunity (the gigantic tasting and the trip). Can’t wait to read along, you lucky duck!

  5. sweetlife

    How fun and excitng, 11am is a little early..but when in Rome..


  6. Chef E

    Can you say palate fatigue, or watch your step since I am so clumsly he he

    We miss these kind of tasting in Dallas, my palate was so worn out back then, now I miss them so…

  7. sarah

    What an amazing event! The venue is HUGE!

  8. OysterCulture

    What fun! We had a similar wine tasting event – just Italian wines at Fort Mason – and any spitting for the US was not remembered. What a venue, I am surprised they had it there, but were all the wines associated with Diagio?

    Congrats again on the upcoming trip. I could only be more excited if I was going myself. Have a grand time and I look forward to hearing the details on your return!

    And Sippity, I’m first in line, I already offered to carry her bags.

  9. George@CulinaryTravels

    What an amazing event.
    Congrats on the forthcoming trip, do enjoy!

  10. Daily Spud

    Kevin: I’m looking forward to it immensely (goes without saying, really) and certainly looking forward to getting to know Dona Paula.

    sippitysup: I’ll work on it, though the queue is getting quite long!

    jenn: I know, very early start to the party indeed :D

    Phoo-D: I’ll be reporting in full :)

    sweetlife: well, when in Rome, indeed…

    Chef E: it results in some kind of fatigue, that’s for sure, lol

    sarah: yup, it’s not for the easily daunted :D

    OysterCulture: These days, Gilbey’s are part of the Diageo group, and the event covered the range of wine that Gilbey’s import – which really come from all over; still felt slightly strange to be having the event in a brewery, though! And your offer to carry bags is, once again, duly noted :)

    George: oh I will enjoy, that is definitely part of the plan!

  11. Lori

    How exciting about your trip! That is one thing we didn’t get to while living in South America, a big wine tour. We’ll be back though for sure. I’m really looking forward to your recap. This looks like a fabulous event. I can see why you decided to stay a little longer perhaps a bit out of necessity as well, sobering up and all. Ha, ha! Happy travels!!

  12. Janice

    I have a first trip to Santiago coming up next month. This got me fired up!

    (by the way- your captcha words were ‘teachers groins’.. nice touch)

  13. Daily Spud

    Lori: Thanks – it is hugely exciting! I’ll endeavour to report on all of the interesting stuff :)

    Janice: well thank you for dropping in – I can’t promise that the captchas will always be up to that high standard, but I’ll do my best :D

  14. Tangled Noodle

    If ever I find myself invited to one of these fabulous tastings, I will keep your strategy in mind. With 300 wines and some whiskey to boot, going in without a plan is madness (but sweet, sweet madness!) I would have some difficulty with the spitting part – my mother/etiquette drill sergeant did her job very well – but it would be worth it to be able to taste such a wide range of wines.

    As for your upcoming trip, I would be gnashing my teeth in envy if it weren’t for the fact that I’m absolutely thrilled for you. As this post demonstrates, you’re wonderful at sharing your experiences with us, so I can hardly wait to hear/read about your South American adventures.

  15. Daily Spud

    Hey TN, I still have plenty of difficulty with the spitting part myself :D And I do, of course, plan on sharing plenty about the trip, so stay tuned!

  16. Paul

    Kevin Indeed Dona Paula produce lovely wines and I’m a big fan of Malbec when well made. Edward Dillon are now distributing a fuller range including their single vineyard Seleccion de Bodega.

  17. Jenni

    Isn’t it nice when big bucks doesn’t always equal “I love you, wine!”?

    I’m impressed that you were able to more or less hold to your Spit for Ireland strategy. You were indeed faced with a daunting task.

  18. Daily Spud

    Paul: looking forward (as you know) to finding out more about Dona Paula and well-made malbec at first hand

    Jenni: Isn’t it just – I find it quite a comforting thought really! And, believe me, I was just as impressed myself with the level of spitting accomplished :D

  19. The Duo Dishes

    Don’t you need two young, American kiddies to attend one of these tastings with you? Don’t forget us!

  20. Daily Spud

    How could I forget the Duo?! We just need to live closer so that we can go to these tastings and such together :)

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