Gilbey’s gathering still a highlight

Checking grapes for ripeness at Murrieta's Rioja vineyard
Checking grapes for ripeness at Murrieta's Rioja vineyard

Gilbey's annual trade tasting is a stand-alone affair, writes Helen Coburn



14 May 2012

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During a period of shake-up in the wine trade, Gilbey Wines was among the agents at the coalface, when it finally merged with Gleeson Group. The annual trade tasting, though, is still a standalone affair and one of the highlights of the wine year. This year, as usual, there was a huge crowd at the Guinness Storehouse for the event.

Gilbey’s is one of those traditional merchants that continues to have a large French selection and, given the paucity of decent French wine tastings in recent years, I headed straight for those tables and was surprised to find a brace of Beaujolais among the tastiest offerings. Two of these were both from Chateau de Chenas and first up was the Beaujolais Village 2010 (€98 per case) label – it was decent, well structured, with a lovely summer fruit twist. Fleurie 2010 (€143) was more serious stuff, with nicely supporting tannins, berry flavours and good acid balance.  

From Bordeaux came Frank Phelan St Estephe 2007 (€400). This had some unripe notes with an intriguing menthol hint; some would find it a little austere and, perhaps, in need of a little more concentration for its price but it was elegant, with well defined fresh blackcurrant flavours and I suspect it would blossom very nicely in the glass, once poured. Interestingly, Chateaux Lacroix 2007 (€157) also showed that menthol kick as did Chateau La Lagune 2007 (€540). Lagune 2006 (€502) was more generous, with softer berry and blackcurrant and ripe tannins. Chateau Loudenne 2006 (€173) was in classic style, with soft autumn fruits and hints of leather; it was just a little dry at the end and, as usual with the Bordeaux classics, price would be a factor for some customers.  

Moving to Alsace and the wines of Trimbach, which rarely disappoint, we found Pinot Blanc 2008 (€109) nicely ready to drink and it would be great with a chunk of monkfish. Riesling 2009 (€127) was classic, balanced and had decent intensity to its green and citrus fruit flavours. For Trimbach fans the iconic Cuvee Frederic Emile was offered in 2006 (€305) vintage. It was delicious, with hints of honey, toast and subtle spice laid over ripe apple and lemons – a wonderful wine for roasted white meats.  

Checking grapes for ripeness at Murrieta's Rioja vineyard

Checking grapes for ripeness at Murrieta’s Rioja vineyard

Of Italians, Villa Bizzarri Primocerchio 2009 (€100), made from the native pecorino grape, was in very decent, almost chardonnay-like style, while the ever good value Castello Monaci Piluna Primitvo (€94) from Puglia offered a chunky, hearty 2009, great for roasts and barbequed meats.  

From Spain’s Rioja, Marques de Murrieta and Faustina together offer a broad selection in terms of price points. The classic white, Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva 2004 (€177 per six) was toasty, with oxidative elements and beautifully balanced texture, and full of ripe citrus flavours. The Reserva Red 2005 (€168) had soft fruits with hints of chocolate; a hint of dryness suggested that this may not be the most long-lived of its vintages but it’s drinking very well now. Over at Faustina, the Reserva 2005 (€132) had to impress on grounds of value; just beginning to peak but with lots of primary fruit at mid palate, this was hugely enjoyable.  

Australia’s Grant Burge had Barossa Moscato 2010 (€60 per six); this was a sweet wine, but not too sweet, with just 8% alcohol, and it made a beautifully fresh dessert wine. Another Grant Burge speciality is its fortified 10 Year Old Barossa Tawny (€88 per six). This is lovely stuff, just a tad sweeter than a traditional tawny port and none the worse for that. Petaluma Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2004 (€103 per six) showed a hint of Burgundy in its nicely evolving citrus fruits; ready to drink now and very moreish. Stonier Pinot Noir 2005 (€115 per six) from Australia’s Mornington Peninsula was very youthful for its age with lots of berry fruits while the 2009 (€83 per six) vintage, also on offer, was juicy with flavours of summer fruit and strawberry. 


Prices are per 12 unless otherwise stated and are rounded to the nearest euro. Prices for premium wines may vary according to vintage and order size. For details of all these wines, and many more, email 



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