Grape expectations: Limping, though not legless, to a tasting
A day in a wine writer's life: I get up, dress, eat my porridge then phone the Guinness Storehouse to see if they have a wheelchair. Oh dear, apparently they don't. I should maybe make it clear my request stems not from last night's over-indulgence but from a knee operation.
I grab my crutches and limp up the road towards the taxi rank. Three traffic jams later I arrive at the Gleesons Incorporating Gilbey's Portfolio Tasting. Bit of a mouthful? No, it's a lot of mouthfuls, 41 tables, groaning with wines from all over the world as well as ports, sherries, brandies and beers. Here's a flavour.
Scanning the catalogue I find lots of old familiars, known quantities. This saves me time. For instance, while I know that, say, Les Charmes de Magnol Medoc 2008 is going to be of merchantable quality, it won't excite or surprise, so I pass. The Cheval Noir Grand Vin de St Emilion 2005 (€18.50, selected independents) did surprise and pleasantly so.
On the Chateau de Sours stand I meet owner Martin Krajewski. His Petit Cantenac St Emilion 2008 (€22.50) has plenty of potential. I'm a massive fan of the wines of JCP Malthus. Area manager Myriam Carrere tempts me with Chateau Teyssier St Emilion. The 2008 promises much but the '06 is stunning.
Anne Trimbach is in Dublin to present the wines of this brilliant house. Trimbach Alsace Riesling 2009 (€15.99, SuperValu, O'Brien's, independents) is a classic of the genre. As for the Cuvee Frederick Emile 2004 (€34.99 selected independents) every wine lover should have a bottle squirreled away for a joyous occasion.
Next table, Gruner Veltliner, Austria's signature from ex-hippy Laurenz Moser. Named Singing, Sunny and Charming (€15.99-€24.99, Donnybrook Fair and independents), the wines are as beguiling as the titles. German wines are back up and bouncing, after a rocky couple of decades. Lingenfelder's Riesling and Gewurztraminer (€13.99, independents) with their engaging bird and hare labels should be sought out and bought.
Moving up the price scale, if you can find Lo Zoccolaio's Barolo 2001 for the stated €37.49 (McHugh's had some) grab the merchant's hand off; this is classic kit. The Dalmau Reserva Rioja 1985 at €85 is daft money, considering you could have, instead, four bottles of the very quaffable Marques de Murieta Reserva 2005 (O'Briens, Dunnes, Molloys) and a taxi home.
This wine, for me, wiped the floor with the popular Faustino. The Bodegas Portia Prima Ribero del Duero 2007 (€25, selected independents) is dead sexy.
Best of the budgets? False Bay Chardonnay (€9.80, Londis, independents pictured above) from Paul Boutinot, the Manchester maverick. It is clean, non-cloying, modern, more European than New World and a worthy example of the sort of Chardy that should put noisy chavs like Pinot Grigio back in their box.
Three hours spent, off I limp, kneeless, but not legless. And so it goes.