Rhone V Barossa: a wine tasting in Dublin

Last night  at ely we made some fantastic comparisons of Shiraz, Grenache and Viognier. The original idea was to compare only Shiraz, known as Syrah in France, from the 2 most iconic producing regions. However John McDonnell of Wine Australia came up with an inspired idea – let’s look at the iconic wines of Rhone, not just Shiraz, but Grenache – the master of Southern Rhone and Viognier – the lush white grape grown across the whole Rhone.

We chose contemporary Frenchies to compete against  traditional Aussies in a battle of the Rhone Rangers!

Viognier
Yalumba Y Series Vs Ogier Condrieu

Viognier is a lush white grape with a delicious oily texture , lots of alcohol and brimming with peaches, apricots and elderflower aromas. Viognier is a tricky grape to get right, it needs perfect ripening conditions, very talented viticulturalists and gentle winemaking. It is very difficult to pick a favourite between these two, largely because they fit into two completely different price brackets. The Y Series Yalumba is fresh, retaining all the delicious aromatics that can easily be lost for a Viognier at the entry price point. I, as well as most of the winetasters, were blown away by how much flavour and depth this wine had. The Condrieu on the other hand was stunning. Costing about €25 more in the shop than the Yalumba it wasn’t really a fair comparison. The Condrieu was golden in colour with savoury spices layered over the lush ripe fruit and oaky tones. Two delicious, too delicious…

 

Grenache
Domaine la Bouissiere, Gigondas Vs Henschke ‘Johann’s Garden’

Grenache – a real floosy of a grape! Grenache is a fairly easy grape to grow. It flourishes almost anywhere and produces wines that can be any thing from light,  juicy and alcoholic to dense, peppery and (yes) alcoholic. It’s just one of those grapes!! The key thing is to make a wine of elegance and restraint. Generally it is blended with Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan and Cinsault. This comparison was probably the most interesting of the evening. Henschke’s Johann’s Garden Grenache was from the 2004 vintage whilst the Gigondas was a much younger wine from the 2008 vintage. It was a tough one to call and again the Aussie’s totally blew my expectations: Henschke’s wine had all the characteristics of the a French wine with delicate fruit flavours, earthy spice and lots of herb characters whilst the Gigondas was much more robust and pronounced with lots intense flavours of cherries and liquorice. If we were to taste these blind we would be hard pressed to tell which part of the world they were from!

 

Syrah/Shiraz
Yann Chave Crozes Hermitage Vs John Duval ‘Entity’

Crozes Hermitage, like all appellations in Northern Rhone, is Syrah. Cote Rotie is the one exception having a good dash of Viognier in it to add perfume, but the likes of Hermitage, St Joseph and Cornas are pure Syrah. The Syrah produced in Northern Rhone is unlike those produced anywhere else in the world. They are dense and yet perfectly fragrant with herbs, spice and damsony fruit. Northern Rhone wines are for grown ups and Yann Chave’s Crozes Hermitage is just that. From the exceptional 2009 vintage it has a velvety mouthfeel, ripe tannins and fresh acidity. We served up assorted meat platters during the tasting which really complimented the fruit and structure of the Crozes. We teamed this up with John Duval’s ‘Entity’ Shiraz. John Duval was chief winemaker at Penfold’s for a number of years and 6 years ago he went out on his own. The results are stunning and the wine is so good that you just want to sit down and really savour the coffee and caramel spices layered with cherries, raspberries and plums.

Rhone Vs Barossa
It’s very hard to pick one region over the other but there was one standout wine for everyone – John Duval’s ‘Entity’ stole the show! It was ‘practically perfect in every way’!

 

ely is currently showcasing the best in Aussie wines with our ‘seasonal heroes’ promo. Why not enjoy a glass Innocent Bystander Pinot Gris or Pewsey Vale Riesling on the terrace of ely bar & brasserie in the IFSC. Yummy!

For more information on tastings and events please click here.

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