Wine: Tasting your way through old cellars

The obituary writers have been busy this year and the case is equally true in the wine world.

Recently I wrote about Louis Latour and Etienne Hugel and there have been many others I could have mentioned such as Paul Pontallier of Chateau Margaux and Giacamo Tachis, the father of many modern Super Tuscans (Sassicaia, Solaia, and Tignanello).

In May, the death of Aimé Guibert was announced, the man that virtually single-handedly changed the world’s opinion of the Languedoc. 

Formerly a glove maker, Guibert bought a small farm not far from Montpellier in the early 1970s and started a second career as a winemaker.

The Guibert family now produce a range of wines at all price levels (the Moulin de Gassac range is available from Curious Wines and Red Nose Wines) but it is the famous Mas de Daumas Gassac (first vintage 1978) for which he will always be remembered. 

The wine is usually around 70% cabernet and the remainder made up from a range of other grapes. cabernet is not traditional in this part of the world — Guibert found that his vineyard had a unique micro-climate that suited the grape — so the wine is sold as an IGP.

Earlier this week, Ireland played Sweden where the average Swede pays their government just over €400 in alcohol taxes; tonight we play Belgium where an average consumer pays less again, while in Ireland they pay €733. 

This is blatantly unfair and completely against the spirit of the European project which our government has been so keen to espouse in recent weeks as the vote on Brexit looms.

Taste of Dublin is on this weekend and you will find lots of good wine on the O’Briens’ stall, plus daily masterclasses with Lynne Coyle MW. 

The Celtic Whiskey shop also has wines and more importantly, a massive selection of G&Ts to try with at least a dozen different Irish gins.

Selections this week include Tio Pepe En Rama — effectively a barrel sample wine straight from the Gonzales Byass cellars. 

Every year since 2009, GB’s master blender Antonio Flores tastes his way through the old cellars and picks out his favourite 60 barrels and releases just a small quantity of wine to 19 lucky countries.

Best value under €15

Le Jade Picpoul de Pinet 2014, Languedoc, France — €13.99

Stockists: Curious Wines Cork and Naas and Red Nose Wines

Picpoul de Pinet has become such a brand in itself that most people would struggle to guess that it was from the Languedoc, especially given the crisp fresh style of the wine which puts more northern climes in mind. Ripe pear with a touch of under-ripe melon on the nose, fresh, and clean on the palate with good acidity and freshness, perfect warm weather wine.

Stockists: and

Chateau Festiano 2014, Minervois, France — €14.99

Chateau Festiano has been in the Ramel-Mazard in same family since 1562 and comes from a 25ha plot planted with Carignan, Grenache, and Mourvèdre. Stewed red fruits, damsons and blackberry with some wild herbs and spice, soft fruit on the palate with a wilder structured edge so best with barbecue or meat dishes.

Tio-Pepe Fino Sherry, Jerez, Spain — €10

Stockist: SuperValu

This is a shockingly good price for Tio-Pepe but it is for a limited time and everyone needs to be reminded just how good it is on its own or as a cocktail — watch for a recipe card for the Tio-Jito — Tio-Pepe with lemonade and mint. Croft Pink 50cl is also €10 and comes with a punch recipe.

Best value over €15

Chateau Bauduc 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux, France — €12.75-15.99

Stockists: Curious Wines Cork and Naas and Red Nose Wines

Ireland play Belgium this evening in Bordeaux so here is a very good white Bordeaux to mark the occasion — this is a house wine in Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants. Fine lime zest and green apple fruits on the nose — soft, almost tropical on the palate, good clean acidity and with a creamy tropical touch on the finish. At the offer price above for June.

Tio Pepe En Rama 2016 Fino Sherry — €16.99

Stockists: Bradleys, Mannings Ballylickey, Redmonds Ranelagh and

It’s back! The 2016 Tio Pepe En Rama arrived just a week or so ago and is tasting as funky and sublime as ever — creamy, mineral and brioche scented, salty, textured and complex. This is fino straight from the barrel and is completely unfined and unfiltered so is best drunk soon.

Mas de Daumas Gassac 2013, Languedoc, France — €42-45.00

Stockists: and

I had to include this wine to mark the passing of its creator. I confess I’ve not tasted the 2013 yet but I can tell you previous vintages have always drunk quite well in youth with pronounced but understated black fruits to the fore but do decant for an hour to tone down the tannins. With age the wine takes on a more baked cherry, leather and tobacco character.


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