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Yet another lovely wine evening
in Cork, thanks mainly to a superb contribution by Australian Chris Pfeiffer.
The renowned and deservedly much honoured Rutherglen winemaker was on his favourite
subject: Australian stickies (fortified and dessert wines), and the Vine Wine
Cellar in the Hayfield Manor was an excellent venue for the tasting, delivered with
an abundance of intimate knowledge and no little humour.
Chris, as is his wont, was
representing his neighbours’ as well as his own wines, and started us off with
a NV Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato. This inviting 5.5% ABV carbonated effort “is
taking the country (Australia) by storm”
and certainly went down well at our table. Distributed by Liberty Wines, it is
widely available here.
Then came the 2010 Brown Brothers
Orange Muscat and Flora, weighing in at 11.5% or so, and also widely available.
The Brown family are neighbours of Chris: “Forty five miles away but that’s neighbours
in Australia. It is easy drinking, full of flavour and freshness and simple to
Now for the first of the true
stickies: a 2009 Pete Lehmann Botrytis Semillon (Barossa Valley). This was the “..more
classic, European style..complex..more persistent..with a delicious lusciousness
on the middle palate..” Available from O’Donovan’s, Molloys and independent Off
“Grant Burge is passionate about
fortified wines” said Chris as he introduced the 10 Year Old Tawny (Barossa
Valley). “The brandy spirit here plays an important additional role by adding flavour.
Australian wines tend to be sweeter than the Douro.” This beauty, available from
O’Donovan’s, Cellars, and Sweeney’s of Glasnevin, went down well.
I preferred the Tawny as did quite
a few but the next wine, available through and at Curious Wines, also had many advocates
including John McDonnell of Wine Australia Ireland who was helping Chris on the
night. This was the 2006 Woodstock Vintage Shiraz from the McLaren Vale, “plum pudding
and mince in a glass”.
Chris had lots of anecdotes about
the wine industry and let us know at
this point that the table wines “pay” for the fortified wines which are
regarded as “an accountant’s nightmare, because they tie up so much capital”. Fortunately,
thanks to people like Chris, the accountants don't always have their way. “Fortified
wines are undervalued...they deliver great punch for your pound!”
The next three wines were all by Chris,
all from Rutherglen. The first was the Pfeiffer Topaque (previously called Tokay).
“This is 100% Moscatel. No Botrytis here but it is well ripened and the last grape
we pick (in June). There is plenty of accumulated sugar but we don't lose the
fruit.” And this luscious flavour-full wine was well liked at our table.
Like the Topaque, the Pfeiffer Muscat
spends five years in wood. The grapes have been harvested at high sugar levels
and then the different parcels are blended to produce a youthful fresh wine.
Sweet yes, Christmas pudding was mentioned, but not cloying.
Then we had the most fantastic
bonus: Pfeiffer Grand Muscat. This expensive wine is not available in Ireland
so I made the most of our taster, taking it tiny sip by tiny sip. It is twenty years
old and has spent most of that time in barrel. “It is a very special occasion wine
(like old Cognac). It is very complex and you don't need much.”
Ballymaloe's Colm McCan and yours truly
Yes indeed. And, believe it or
not, Pfeiffer also do a Rare Muscat, four years older than the Grand. Like to
get a sip or two of that sometime.
And so this lovely stickie tasting
came to an end but we weren't quite finished yet as Chris also had some of his
bread and butter table wines to show us. Indeed, we had started on entry with a
very attractive 2008 Pfeiffer Carlyle Chardonnay Marsanne. Up to 45% is
Marsanne and 6 months contact with the lees also helps round it off. As the evening
closed, we had some very tasty nibbles from the Hayfield and sampled two
excellent easy drinking reds: the 2008 Carlyle Shiraz and the 2008 Carlyle Cabernet
The Rutherglen wines, table,
fortified and dessert, are available at and distributed by Karwig Wines. Worth
a call before Christmas!