2018 Guímaro Mencia Ribeira Sacra DOP

From the most vertigo inducing vineyards I’ve ever teetered upon, it seems 2018 was particularly good in north west Spain for getting Mencia nicely ripe. This is wild but clean, so smoky, nutty and dark sour cherried. Blood orange both in flavour and mouthwatering acidity. Backing chorus of sweet dried fruit and fine dark chocolate. Gets a bit balsamic after twenty four hours but such is the natural wild edge, it all gets pulled back into delicious shape by that mineral acidity. Worth risking your neck to pick grapes this good. I think this is what terroir and natural wine means, done proper.

13% alcohol, perfect. Cork, not so perfect. $40 RRP.

93, perhaps subjective 94 points.

2015 Jim Barry The Veto Riesling

Riesling loving neighbours to dinner, fine taste in wine and generous too. The veto seems to refer to the Barry patriarch trying to keep some control when his two clever sons took over the business. Based on recent deliciousness, he should leave them to it. Rich and dry with an appealing savouriness. Mandarin, limes and stones of good weight for the lively acidity which dances on light feet. I get the feeling this is going to be extra good in time. It’s starting to loosen up but the power’s there for that rich lime marmalade on toast built on ancient chalk soil to emerge in many years to come. Wish I was as confident in my own outcome.

12.5% alcohol. Screw cap. Thanks for sharing your last bottle, D and Y.

92+ points.

2019 Bodegas Pirineos Principio Moristel Somontana DOP

Moristel seems a rare one, indigenous and limited to Catalonia and a tiny bit of Aragon. It’s also becoming popular around here. Well, this is the second bottle of Moristel reviewed, coming from the cool foothills of the Pyrenees, the other from the dry hot plateau around Catalyud. This one shows it’s cooler abode in pristine hedgerow berries and brambles as England summers would make, cherries and some sweet earth. Sparkling tart but ripe acidity and a brush of sweet grape skin tannin. Sort of cru Beaujolais from a fresh cool year, maybe a comparison? Just got better over two days, impeccable balance and making, just the essence of grape, summer in a bottle. The label also carries the Barbadillo brand. For such a large enterprise, they’re increasingly producing wine of place and heritage, all the way from Jerez to the mountains now. Moristel might be difficult to find but not so rare as a Pinot Gris or Viognier review here.

13.5% alcohol. Cork. $30 RRP.

93 points.

2019 Thistledown Summer Road Old Vine Grenache Shiraz

It’s quite sobering, metaphorically thank goodness, to find that your supposed astuteness in seeking bargains is stuffed. This has a RRP of $75, so scoring a couple of bottles for a lot less at auction meant self congratulation until it turned up on the Vinomofo site for $25, what do I know? Nonetheless, probably a lot less, this is still a finely crafted bit of what McLaren Vale does best. Warm brown spices, stems? Sooty dark berries, purple flowers, don’t mind me, raspberries all flow on good ripe skin tannin and settled acidity. Made with discretion, a tickle of greener stem tannin emerges to stop things being too fruit sweet. Lovely to drink, cheerful and honest, notwithstanding price or a particularly heavy glass bottle. Wish the sensitivity of touch extended to the packaging.

14.5% alcohol. Screw cap. Price, well, variable.

93 points.

1999 Domaine Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle Musigny Les Charmes 1er cru

Rarely but happily great wine still ends up in the glass on occasion. On the table with that Vietti Villero was my last treasured bottle from the doyenne of Chambolle premiers, Madame Ghislaine Barthod. Vietti power and Barthod grace, how rich and great the times. Cool, composed, spotlessly clean. Gracefully extracted flavours of cherry, perfect autumn raspberries and ripe squishy strawberries, like the fragrant Mara de Bois ones that the French love. Fresh and dark, perhaps destemmed and a cold soak? Fruit and sweet earth build and carry to the horizon on an extraordinary mineral, limestone like trajectory. Not sure how else to describe the controlled powerful sense of somewhere. Unlike some more brash Burgundies, there’s no jolt of oak influence. In a word, beautiful. Smitten by Charmes.

13% alcohol. Cork. About €40 at the Paris Lavinia in 2002, those were indeed the days.

96 points.

2004 Vietti Barolo Riserva Villero

If you walk along the road from Castiglione Falletto towards Monforte, on one side is Rocche, the other Villero, a dizzying bit of bitumen. Without a doubt this is the most profoundly concentrated and densely delicious wine I’ve ever had the fortune to drink. The deepest fathoms of Nebbiolo born in the Langhe, still just bottled fresh cherries, faded rose perfume and the tar of said strada in summer sun. Liquid geology in the mouth. Immortal rocks in velvet. Flashes of just picked summer fruit like lightening illuminating those hilly vineyards. How on planet wine do you grow grapes with so much flavour and most importantly definition? Gushing words and hyperbole barely grasp the beauty of this. Oh, it’s just a drink.

14% alcohol. Cork. The most generous share ever, particularly seeing the way Vietti prices have escalated.

97 points at first, then 98 of course.

2019 Abbotts and Delaunay Syrah Pays d’Oc

Another from this producer’s budget single variety range. Bursts forth immediately with heaps of red summer berries, brown baking spices and pepper, yep, it’s Syrah. Floral perfume adds detail and a whisper of sulphide keeps it savoury. Bouncy fruit of quality above its simple appellation. Crisp natural acidity and a brush of ripe skin tannin. No complications or complaints, just a good whack of deep, drink me now fruit. Again great sourcing and careful making. Winner with your dinner if it’s piggy.

13% alcohol. Screw cap. Bargain $13 introductory special.

91 points.

2019 Abbotts and Delaunay Pinot Noir Pays d’Oc

From a producer who has made some clean, tasty Languedoc Roussillon bottles, often using deeply flavoured old vine Carignan, now dabbling in a cheaper single variety range. Shy and herby but palpably still Pinot on day one, it opened up well on day two. Strawberries, other red fruits and bramble undergrowth with a whole berry lift. A little washy and dilute but the settled fresh acidity shows a poise above its price point. Another of those cheerful and authentic drinks that would suit that mythical bistro carafe with a crispy confit quacker. Smart sourcing and making Monsieur Delaunay, santé.

13% alcohol. Screw cap. $13 from Oatley Wines imports own invitation web site, The Sippery, as an introductory special offer, amazing value. Email if you want an invitation.

89 points.

2011 Cantina Antica Hiripinia Taurasi DOCG

It seems this is from the coop that made the very first Taurasi when DOC was granted, now DOCG or is now DOPG? Googling the EU enforced changes from DOC to DOP in Italy, I’m now even more confused. Seems to work for food but wine, no idea, Italians and adhering to rules? I do know this is Aglianico and a lovely word to say with that gli widening of the mouth. The flavours cover the width of the mouth too. Still fresh and bright, spiced plum skins, a swell of age softened red fruit, warm bricks, soot and an iron tang. A clean and clear message from dark brooding volcanic country. Caught it at a good point on its journey, fresh but rounding. Officially not sure what it’s called now but unofficially still what the old boot does so well, grape and flavour settled in its place. Maybe those Romans knew too?

13.5% alcohol. Cork. $35 at auction.

92 points.

2007 Heggies Vineyard Reserve Riesling

Some still think Riesling a sweet oddity, some prefer it fresh and new, some softened by age, being soft with age myself, I like it all if the grapes were good and the making careful. Thanks to the screw cap, this opened well with exotic lime fruit starting to look more cordial, in both senses, and marmalade smooth and tart. Lavender honey. Good toast for the marmalade and a pithy bitterness to cut. Acidity just right, not hard or demanding. Just lovely, ahh.

12.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $45 at auction.

94 points.