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Thursday 21 May 2015

Private Cellar 10-Year Tasting

Private Cellar's 10-year anniversary tasting at the Portland Gallery

My professional training would have me believe that the real work in running a wine merchant is in the rigorous selection of excellent wines, the technical stuff.
Increasingly, however, I'm inclined to believe the real skill is in the commercialising of a great idea, with buying as something of a commodity, albeit a specialist one.
Perhaps the true business genius lies in a combination of both - an attention to detail matched to a customer-focused approach.
In any event, there is clearly something special about Private Cellar who, despite their rather old school, elitist name were declared top independent wine merchant in the UK by Jancis Robinson and this year celebrate their 10th anniversary.
With an MW buyer, Private Cellar's wines are elegant, technically correct classics - that much comes as standard.
Perhaps their greatest asset is consistency, but not at the expense of excitement - just as I want my car both to start every time I put the key in and also be fun to drive, I've yet to try a disappointing wine from Private Cellar.
With eight wines to try, what struck me above the general quality, typicity and consistency was:

- all the wines were elegant and precise
- the Burgundies had a noble elegance and elusive, Dukedom superiority to fall quietly in love with
- by contrast, the New World wines, all equally good, seemed rather brash and look-at-me, as if they'd donned a flashy suit, Stetson and snakeskin boots
Pouilly Fume Domaine Thibault, Andre Dezat 2013 £15.75 elegant, aromatic, fullsome, creamy and flinty
Chateau Picque Caillou Blanc, Bordeaux 2012 £23.50 fresh and citrussy, lovely texture, subtle yet muscular oaking, deft
Bourgogne Blanc, Domaine Laflaive 2009 £39.50 supple and fresh, creamy oatmeal and cashew, long - plenty of life ahead of it
Joseph Phelps Vineyards Freestone Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California 2011 £39.90 New World oak and fruit, more look-at-me
Givrey Chambertin la Brunelle Domaine Joseph Roty 2007, £34.95 soft, supple, deft and elegant; still youthful and assertive
Joseph Phelps Vineyards Freestone Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast California 2011 £39.90 all present and correct, but there's a whiff of New World attention-grabbing brashness about it
La Belle Connivence, Pomerol 2010 £76 pure, fresh, precise, long, focused and mineral; incredibly poised and youthful. Not cheap, though.
Napanook, Dominus Estate, California 2009, £42 lots of everything here - fruit, oak, alcohol; makes its presence felt

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