Searsons 2012 Portfolio Tasting

I recently attended the Searsons portfolio tasting in the Four Seasons Hotel, Dublin. There were lots of really great wines on show but as I explained in a previous tasting post, I’m not going to go through them all listing the runners and riders or winners and losers but instead will just focus on some that caught my attention. As is now customary, I tried the Italian range first, took some notes and then went on the hunt for something interesting. The wines below are imported by Searsons and are available in many good independent off-licenses andd wine merchants so I’ve included the RRPs for reference.

Searsons Tasting Notes – Upon walking into the tasting, I was handed a copy of the 2012 off-trade wine list. Nothing unusual in that anyway. What did surprise me was some of the curious tasting descriptions contained in the booklet however. It was actually a really good idea because I was never going to taste all the wines but I certainly made sure to seek out the bottles which Searsons described as “the Daddy”, “screamingly camp”, and even “woof, woof”.

Bisol Prosecco – Bisol had a rep at the tasting and I tried a range of their sparkling wines. The most interesting of these were:

Jeio Rose Cuvee (€19.00)– Surprisingly ungirly; well apart from the fact that it’s pink obviously. Would go down a storm at a rugby club if everyone was blindfolded.

Jeio Procecco di Valdobbiadene Brut (€20.00) – Lovely creamy peach flavours. Seemingly very popular in Ireland and I can see why.

Cartizze Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut 2010 (€38.00) – According to the rep from Bisol, this has three times as much residual sugar as the Jeio Procecco di Valdobbiadene Brut. The slight sweetness added a lovely richness to the wine though. Right up my street.

Zenato – I’m not going to talk in-depth about Zenato as I’ve posted on their wines previously. One new wine to me was the Pinot Grigio (€13.00). No less than three staff at the tasting recommended it to me. I tried it. It was fine, but I personally wouldn’t favour it over the Zenato Lugana (€13.70) at a very similar price point.

Rey Fernando de Castilla – I drink very little sherry save for a few glasses of fino when I’m in Spain or a glass or two of PX throughout the year. Yes I know that makes me a heathen in the eyes of most wine cognoscenti but to be honest it’s just never something I’ve got into – probably because I’ve been drinking fairly average sherry. The sherries of Fernando de Castilla were the buzz of the tasting and since the sherry buffs were flocking to the table, I thought it’d be worthwhile to taste the range. I tasted the Fino, Manzanilla and the Rare Old Amontillado from the Classic range and the Fino, Oloroso and the Pedro Ximenez from the Antique range. The real standouts for me were the sea breeze fresh, ‘citrusy’ Classic Manzanilla, which at €9.15 was the cheapest of the range, and the beautiful nutty aromas of the elegant and intense Antique Oloroso at €32.55. I can honestly say I enjoyed all six sherries though, with the Antique range (pictured here) showing a level of complexity and elegance that I had not experienced with dry sherry previously. I thought at the time that perhaps this was the range that would formally induct me to the delights of sherry. So it has proven to be, as on a recent visit to the Porthouse Ibericos in Dundrum, I turned straight to the sherry listings rather than to red wine as would be the norm. This could be a worrying development for both my liver and bank balance…

Illustrious Vine – This was an easy choice given the reputation of the wines of Vega Sicilia. Searsons were showing the Valbuena Vega Sicilia 5o, 2002 (Ribera del Duero). Disappointingly, this was my last dry wine stop of the day so my palate was probably a bit jaded. Although I thought that this was a deep, smokey delight, at €142.50 it’s really getting up there in price and I just wasn’t blown away. For me, the pick of the Italians was the Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva Sergio Zenato 2005. Although a bit restrained on the nose, the palate showed lots of concentrated cherry, dried fruits and mocha with some gamey, meaty flavours on the tannic finish; a very powerful wine that lived up to the moniker bestowed on it by Searsons – “the Daddy”.

(Picture from