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Bon voyage mea

by Tom Cannavan, 05/00

This was a small gathering in Glasgow to have a meal and a few nice bottles with Ken Ingles, publisher of the www.vinifera.co.uk Web site.

Ken has been a stalwart of the Glasgow wine scene for several years as manager of Oddbins Fine Wine. He is now off to Italy to work, so I took this opportunity to have one last attempt to convince him of the merits of Alsace wine with a stunning Zind-Humbrecht Riesling. There was also an old favourite, the Orion from Sean Thackrey, and a wee Australian sticky. I look forward Ken's reports on the Tuscan wine scene.
The tasting was not blind.

Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace) Riesling Grand Cru Brand 1994
Luscious golden colour. Fantastically potent nose with light petrolly aromas, grapefruit, lime and wax. There is a definite steely core of minerality too. On the palate immensely concentrated and rich with a wonderfully full yet clean palate of bittersweet flavours. There is powerful grapefruit and lime fruit, with a definite edge of sweetness that is quickly subdued by powerful acidity. Terrifically long and flavourful, this is terrific marriage of complexity and power.

Sean Thackrey (California) The Orion 1992
Absolutely dense, deep crimson. Gorgeous syrah nose, redolent of blackcurrant and exotic spices with dank nuances of undergrowth, leather and bramble fruit. The palate is beautifully balanced with a great raft of cherry and blackcurrant fruit, some sour damson and gorgeous warmth of tobacco and spice. Medium bodied, there are firm but ripe tannins and lovely balance. This has wonderful fruit, power and finesse. Excellent.
Really great wine and interesting to taste a mature example. I've always found new Orion to be so highly aromatic as to be almost confected: a note from 1997 on the '94 vintage said "like industrial strength tutti-frutti ice cream"! However, here the mature wine had taken on a much gamier character, yet still with that purity of fruit.

De Bortoli (Australia) Noble One 1994
Deep golden colour. The nose is dominated by cigar smoke, charred oak and honey, with deep, dark fruit emerging, nuances of spearmint and waxy exotic fruits. Thick and unctuous on the palate there is a powerful new oak vanillin streak, but a rich seem of sweet botrytis fruit suggesting fig, quince and peach. Good balance, with citrus acidity and a long, long finish. A very fine wine, improving with each tasting.