About Me

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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 Dún 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.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Analysis in Vienna

Well, if you're going to do a spot of analysis you might as well go to Freud's home town :)
So, last Thursday the entire Council of IMW decamped to Vienna as very grateful guests of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board. We were there to hold a Strategy Meeting and also to meet with some of our supporters and exchange views on what IMW is, where it should be going etc. Naturally, as this topic is not for public consumption I won't mention it, other than to say that we had a very good three days.

However, we combined work with a mini-trip to Austria and this was very good indeed. First, let me thank AWMB and Willi Klinger for enabling us to meet in Vienna and for helping to organise an excellent programme. Also, I would like to mention our two newest supporters who were very generous - Palais Coburg and the Esterhazy Foundation. You'll see shortly how generous they were and how being on IMW Council can vastly improve your lifestyle!

Thursday evening was spent in the delightful Wein & Co near Stephansdom in Vienna. Here, as a test/treat(?) our playful Chairman Pepi Schiller gave us (blind) a glass of 1992 Gruner Veltliner from F X Pichler. As per the now famous 2002 London tasting this was very similar to a good, aged white Burgundy and was a delicious wine.

The next day was spent in meetings at the Palais Coburg. If you haven't been here you have missed one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. On top of that, they have a very spectacular wine cellar (over 60,000 bottles, worth well over USD20 million, I think, and including 100 vintages of Yquem, a USD1 million lot of Mouthon Rothschild, wines from 1727 and so forth) which is well worth a tour. We had a lovely "buffet" lunch (three courses with very fine wines indeed) as well as a wonderful dinner in a beautifully gilt and mirrored room in the hotel itself. This sort of thing normally doesn't happen to ordinary joe soaps like us so this was spectacular. Even Pepi was impressed, noting that we got into the wine cellar without having security guards in attendance, which is the norm!

On Saturday, we visited the Neusiedlersee in Burgenland. This lake is 30 km long, has a surface area of about 320,000 KM squared but is only 1.2 metres deep! We tasted sweet wines from four producers in Illmitz and these were lovely. From Weingut Angerhof, a range of superbly varietally-true wines: Sauvignon Blanc Beerenauslese 2006 (by far and away the best SB I've tasted in years!), a Muskat-Ottonel Schilfwein 2006 (schilfwein is made from partially dried grapes), a Chardonnay Trockenbeerenauslese 2005 (one for fans of Jean Thevenet in the Maconnais!) and a Samling 88 Trocenbeerenauslese 2005 (samling is a synonym for scheurebe). The redoubtable Willi Opitz showed a Welschriesling/Scheurebe Beerenauslese 2007, a Schilfmandel Muskat-Ottonel 2004, the "Opitz One" Zweigelt Schilfwein 2007 (red wine) and a Pinot Gris TBA 2006. Interestingly, he offered morsels of food with each and the zweigelt went really well with a soft Danish blue cheese.

Then, from Weingut Stolzerhof we had a Welschriesling BA 2005, a Gruner Veltliner Eiswein 2006, a Muskat-Ottonel Eiswein 2007 and "Ambrosia" TBA 2005. The eisweine have to be picked at -7 Celsius, so those of you who feel grape picking is a fun, romantic job - well, off you go! Finally, Weingut Helmut Lang offered two Samling TBAs - 2006 and 2002 (the rich development characters in the older wine were lovely to see) - and a Gelber Muskateller Eiswein 2008 and a Welschriesling TBA 2005 (still a a barrel sample!). Overall, a lovely way to start the day.

This superb tasting was then topped off by a lovely cruise across the Neusiedlersee in a solar-powered boat owned by the National Park authorities. On arrival in Rust, home of the Austrian Wine Academy we had a gorgeous lunch in a local buschenschank (a local wine bar) whose name escapes me followed by a brief follow-up meeting at OWA. Here, Pepi gave us a 1954 GV from Winzerberg Krems which was still in pretty good nick! But, in case we hadn't had enough fun we then visited Heidi Schroek, the Queen of sweet wine, and tasted wines from her joint venture with the recently departed Alois Kracher, as well as her own wines. She is a very charming, informative woman who makes seriously good wines - only sweet but fabulous to boot.

So, could the day get any better? Well, after that we visited the Esterhazy winery fora quick taste of 18 Blaufrankisch wines. Now, I should warnm you that if you dislike firm, chunky tannins with crisp acidity then blaufrankisch is not the grape for you. There were some lovely wines, with Paul Achs's wines being very god (he also makes excellent pinot noir). This was a prelude to a visit to Schloss Esterhazy in nearby Eisenstadt. The Esterhazy family is Hungarian family with a long history in the region, especially benevolent. The family suffered terribly during the communist era but the Esterhazy Foundation (our newest sponsors) carry on the family's work. We were treated to a private viewing of the crrent exhibition on Josef Haydn (he lived and worked at Schloss Esterhazy for 40 years) and then had, in the courtyard, a private recital by a very talented string quartet. This was followed by a lovely dinner with doe (a deer! a female deer) on the menu. All in all, some day and fun all the way through.

Sunday, you would think, would have to be special to follow that and, given that we had to rush the day in order to make flights the omens were not good. Yet Pepi managed to deliver a superb send off. After a drive to the Wachau region we started with a tasting at Domane Wachau where the Domane (the renamed Freie Weingartner Wachau or Wacha Wine Coop) showed wines, as did Rudi Pichler (Oz Clarke's doppelganger), Johannes Hirsch and Fred Loimer. The theme was riesling and terroir. Riesling is not the strongest grape in Austria, GV is, but still produces some excellent wines and these producers from Wachau and Kamptal showed how good it can be. From DW we had 2 Kellerberg Smaragd (2007 and 2008) and 2 Achleiten Smaragd (also 2007 and 2008). From RP we had 2 Steinriegl Smaragd (2005 and 2007) and 2 Achleiten Smaragd (2005 and 2007). Rudi's 2005 Achleiten was excellent. JH showed 2 Zoibinger Gaisberg (2006 and 2007) and 2 Zoibinger Heligenstein (2006 and 2007) while FL offered 2 Seeberg (2006 and 2007) as well as 2 Steinmassl (2006 and 2007). This was a lovely tasting of rieslings with minerality, depth, fruit and well-balanced acidities. Lunch then followed in the Domane's property, looking out over a lovely vinescape on the banks of the Danube.

Then, a mad rush to Weingut Sepp Moser, to taste GV - four top notch producers with their take on gruner veltliner. GV is Austria's most important grape and, while not yet widespread throughout the world, has so much to offer. Crisp and peppery in youth it has an astonishing ability to morph into chardonnay as it ages. Along with minerality on the palate this all combines to mean that GV is one of the great food varietals as V wines match many different foods.

We had a Gebling 2008 from Moser - an astonishing burst of fresh black pepper on the nose - followed by a Schnabel 2008 - mineral and firmer - and then a Breiter Rain 2002 - rich and ripe. Then the great Willi Brundlmayer with a Kaferberg 2007 - very elegant pepper style - followed by a 1994 Lamm - lovely and round - with a 1992 Lamm (oak fermented and matured) showing almost like a fine old Burgundy. Wow! Then Stadt Krems, the winery owned by the town of Krems, showed a 2008 Wachtberg - lovely apple-blossom notes - and a 2003 Wachtberg - still youthful but with lovely peppery notes - and then a 1971 Wachtberg. This wine was spoiled by the cork sufficiently for it to show some dullness but underneath there was a fabulous wine which still had some primary fruit character.

Markus Huber from Traisental region then showed a 2008 Alte Setzen - clean, youthful apple notes - followed by a 2006 Berg - seriously good, intense and ripe - and then a 2002 Berg - mineral, pepper and fruit all in one glass.

To wrap up, Nikki Moser then showed his 2007 "Minimal" - a wine made with no sulphur treatment, one and a half years on lees with batonnage, racked once, bottled unfined and unfiltered. I have to say i found it odd, having a deep yellow colour, an almost banana fruit nose, with a soft orange toffee character on the palate. Still, a worthy wine to say auf wiedersehen!

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