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Dublin, Ireland
Hi, I'm Dermot Nolan, and I became a Master of Wine (MW) in 1997, and resigned from the Institute of Masters of Wine in 2023 after being an MW for exactly 26 years. I opened a wine shop in DĂșn Laoghaire, Ireland, called The Wine Library, which closed in 2018, and this is my personal wine blog. I will do my utmost to be fair and responsible in my posts – please read my Who Pays article in re the ethics of wine trips and writing. I have worked in wine education, retail, and consultancy since 1990. I was a Director of the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) from 2008 to 2014 and was also a member of the Events Committee, founder of the Trips Committee, and member of the Governance Committee. Having had problems with potentially libellous comments from unidentifiable posters, I now require that if you post a comment, you must identify yourself properly or it won't be published. Please note that I do not review products or services on request so kindly don't ask. I value my independence and I believe my readers (few that they may be) do so also.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Heaven, I'm in lickoffable heaven...

By the end of this tasting Kerri Thomson, of K T and the Falcon fame, stated that she was scared of my tasting notes... but what goes on tour stays on tour! This was a great way to finish the week. Even though we were rushed, due to time pressure, the wines shown and their fantastic individual character made this a real treat.

Fortified wines I love them, especially the classic Australian wines. No longer able to use terms such as Sherry or Tokay, we tasted some Apera (sherry-style, presumably from aperitif), some Topaques (the new word for Tokay) as well as Muscats, Vintages and Tawnies.

We had James Godfrey as our guest tutor and he was an excellent guide. He works with Seppeltsfield, a company with an amazing range of wines in its portfolio. They have an unbroken range of wines dating back to 1878 (yes!) which means anyone in the world can get an actual wine from their birth year, if they're wiling to pay the prices!! More of which anon.

We started easily enough with two Aperas: Morris of Rutherglen Show Amontillado and Seppeltsfield Museum Oloroso DP104. These were both lovely wines, with the Morris showing some quite noticeable flor character, as any good Amontillado should. The Oloroso was quite rich and deep with a real nutty dryness on the finish. These two were as good as anything of similar style from Jerez itself.

Then a Vintage and two Tawnies plus a gem. The Seppeltsfield 2005 Vintage was a really gorgeous wine, with really perfumed youthful fruit notes and great depth on the palate. Amazingly rich in style we were astonished to learn that tannin had been added to the wine - it felt so smooth!

Then A Seppeltsfield DP90 Rare Tawny and a Grant Burge 30 Year Old Tawny. The former was a really elegant wine whereas the latter was really yummy and luscious. I had stopped spitting out at this stage as these were just too damn good to waste - and I've expectorated at Chateau d'Yquem!

The gem was The Penfolds Great Grandfather Series 1 was just an amazing wine - I have wine friends who will understand the reference in the title and this was a perfect example.

Then three Topaques. Campbells of Rutherglen's Isabella Rare, Seppeltsfield's Paramount Rare and Morris's Old Premium. Muscadelle, the grape used and which is now called Topaque instead of Tokay, gives a somewhat less fragrant character than muscat and has a malty, cold-tea character, as well as raisin notes. These were gorgeous and luscious (if you have any problems with blood sugars then these wines are not going to be good for you! The average sugar levels would be about 450 g/L!!!) and had lovely burnt fruitcake notes.

Then three muscats: McWiliam's Show Reserve (from Riverina fruit), Morris Old Premium and Campbell's Merchant prince Rare. These showed brilliantly - each had that classic floral orange note that muscat has but with rich, dense dark fruits, bitter chocolate overlays and, again were extremely luscious. One of the amazing things about these wines is their elegance even though they are so rich and viscous!

Then three absolutely amazing wines - Chambers Rare Muscadelle, Morris 1928 Liqueur Muscat and Seppeltsfield 1909 Para. Yep - one from 1928 and one from 1909!

Well, the Chambers was incredible: rich, syrupy (the glasses stained amber as you left them to settle), plum and burnt fruitcake nose, with coffee and chocolate notes on the finish.

The Morris was even better - black and amber colour, quite a spirity nose, initially, with dark orange chocolate notes, the palate was like treacle with beautifully evolving raisin, orange and caramel notes.

Then the 1909 (which is the current release - yep, they only release this wine after 100 years! Yes!! That's right!!!). The nose was quite volatile and yet this blew off after a few minutes. The palate was drinking 100% cocoa chocolate but with really rich sweet sugars on top and finished amazingly dry - it was hard to believe you'd just tasted a wine with huge amounts of sugar! It changed every time you went back to taste it - bitter orange fruits, with chocolate and burnt fruit flavours. Really, just astonishing. If you want to try this for yourself, then it's a snip at AUD1,000 per half bottle - AUD10 a year!

By the end of this tasting the whole room was really excited - Jamie Goode confessed that tasting the Morris 1928 almost made him want to cry and I can well understand this. These wines were truly, truly amazing - if the words seem to be repeated a lot it is because I do not have the vocabulary to really do these wines justice.

Finish on a high - we really did.

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