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Gilbeys French ranges prove best in show

At the recent Gilbeys portfolio tasting the French collection stood out from the crowd with value for money and quality

Gilbeys most recent tasting offered an opportunity to sample its hugely varied mid to premium ranges, and take note of bottles which might encourage customers to trade up. The French wines came across particularly strongly. They weren’t always the cheapest but there were labels of real interest, delivering very good value for what you got.

Borie de Maurel Nature Minervois Rose 2007 (€12.99). A blend of mourvedre, grenache and syrah; fresh and clean as a whistle, unlike some southern French rosés, with creamy strawberry flavours. A slightly upmarket offering.

Drouhin’s Burgundy wines are generally better value than the Oregon bottlings, and Volnay 2006 (€37) is nicely structured, classic Burgundy, with good intensity and finish. While the white Macon Villages 2007 (€13.99) is a good value cousin of the finer AC bottlings.

Although Burgundy is not usually known for sauvignon blanc, Chablis producer Simmonet Febvre has a decently priced Sauvignon de St Bris 2007 (€13.60) offering tasty green fruit with a gentle peppery touch.

Louis Latour Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2006 is hardly good value in the accepted sense at up to €100 retail, but its subtle aromas leading to flavoursome citrus and yellow apple notes, light nutty touches, perfect acidity, elegance and length, speak for its quality.

Latour’s Montagny Premier Cru La Grande Roche 2006, however, is a treat at less than €20.

From Bordeaux, Chateau Magnol 2006 (€22.49) is nicely structured with lots of berry and cherry; fairly priced, it will evolve for a couple of years. Chateau de Sours Rouge 2004 (€17.70) has nice elegance, with just a touch of greenness and refreshing red fruits.

From Italy, Soave Classico 2007 from family estate Suavia is around €16 and is a well-balanced white, with slightly nutty citrus and apple flavours.

Amongst New World offerings, MAN Vintners of South Africa offered decent stuff from around a tenner. Chenin Blanc 2008 was a real winner with crisp, classic apple and pear flavours and excellent concentration for the price.

Fairview Chenin Blanc 2008 was another elegant South African; the price for this was not available on the day but it’s part of a range which includes the Goats do Roam label and which was interesting throughout, though its top end is not cheap.

Wynn’s Coonawarra Estate is an Aussie label which is sometimes overlooked by Irish buyers but has always delivered well on price. The Chardonnay 2005 (around €13) has a lovely touch of age to nose and palate and would be lovely with roast white meats. There’s also a very decent Riesling 2006.

Hunters from New Zealand is a similarly consistent estate and its Stoneburn Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007 (€15) is almost joyously fruity. Though it might not totally convince the lovers of classic pinot, it offers a great introduction to the grape and a great summertime red.

Gilbeys also offered several single malt Scotches for tasting. Caol Ila 12 Year Old (€45) has a noticeably complex palate, with lovely fruitiness combined with the smoky character typical of its Islay origins. Talisker 10 Year Old (€55), from the Isle of Skye, combines notes of iodine and smoke with a low-lying fruitiness which persists into a long, balanced finish.

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