From the Spanish DO of Almansa on the south east edge of the La Mancha plateau. Looks like another bit of Spain where Grenache or at least its progeny thrive in dry harsh conditions. It seems this is roughly 80% Garnacha Tintorera or Alicante Bou(s)chet which Jancis’ indispensable Wine Grape bible reports is a cross between Grenache and Petit Bouschet, itself a cross between the notorious Aramon and a Tenturier which gets a bit lost in ampelographical obscurity, phew. The rest is boring old Syrah. Notwithstanding any anorak grape obsession, this is simply clean, deeply flavoured and rich yet balanced. Bright rich raspberries, plums, sweet spices and a rocky drag. Stayed amazingly fresh and unoxidised over four days. Terrific poise between fruit, acidity and just ripe tannin. Not fantastically subtle but so drinkable. In such a dry climate organic viticulture must be an economic proposition, as this is not much more than $20 imported into Australia with all those ludicrous ad valorem taxes. About the same price as mineral water in Spain perhaps?
13% alcohol. Cork. $22.
A twinkling bargain amongst some astronomically priced Australian Shiraz. That’s nearly exhausted the bad space puns. Clean smells of brown woody spices, bay leaf, sage, little bit of mint, dark raspberries, plums and a touch of tar. All carried through the mouth by comfortable acidity and fine stem and skin tannin. Just a bit reticent at the moment. A year or two may allow the berry fruit to shine. A touch more fruit concentration and the label would need charity status. Difficult to find such flavour for twenty terrestrial Australian currency units these days.
13.80% alcohol. Screw cap. $20.
Forty four years after John Carpenter’s whacky space film and a bit longer since the Grateful Dead’s epic psychedelic inner universe exploration comes a flavour adventure with its feet firmly planted in the southern granite soils of Heathcote. Mint, sage, Australian bush after rain and bright red fruits blast off into a balanced orbit of settled acidity and fine graphite flavoured tannin. Nicely medium weight, it gains from gathering oxygen from our terrestrial atmosphere over 72 hours. Perhaps one of those blends that’s more than the sum of parts? Grenache looking good for landing on Metcalfe’s little bit of Heathcote? One small step for right grapes, right place…
13.20% alcohol. Screwcap. $28.
Now is the winter of Nebbiolo contentment, again. Pristine bright sugar dusted raspberries and tangy red cherries. Rose perfume lift and almond paste. Really pretty and demanding of another sip, eggs you on with crackling acidity and for Nebbiolo just a drift of fine ripe tannin. Joyful drinking ensues.
14% alcohol. Cork. $49.
Having never stared a partridge in the eye, we’ll have to believe les gens de Champagne about the colour. Perhaps they still go out and shoot their dinner? Developed blanc de noirs or pale rosé? Research suggests it’s an old rosé de presse method to give a little colour. Anyway, there’s some aristocratic grapes in this, 75% Pinot Noir from Aÿ and 25% Chardonnay from Avise. Grand crus amongst grand crus perhaps? Fine definition of red fruit spiced with a touch of barrel that recedes as the bubbles burst. Sugar dusted raspberries, candied citrus and almost cinnamon, poised and precise, all cut into shape by pinpoint chalky acidity. Beautifully tailored, subtle, no flashy bling.
About 12% alcohol probably? Cork. Extremely thoughtful apero, thanks!
A new Barolo producer for me and one to follow further if this is representative. Clean and bright. Pure smells of dried rose, almond, red cherry and no surprise, tarry roads. Medium weight and just the right amount of those ripe firm Neb tannin. Very much in the red fruit and almond range of flavours which the Piemonte cognoscenti suggest is typical of La Morra. Almost the heft and fruit of Barolo proper. Good modernist version without the small barrel intrusion.
14% alcohol. Cork. A lucky $29 auction gamble.
Sometimes a cork does what it should, horoscopes align, it’s a fruit day or it’s luck. Whatever the reason when a Wendouree is this good, it can take its place amongst the great. Not least as it’s a quintessential wine of place. Profound depth of menthol, wintergreen, damp Australian forest, rose oil and sun warmed blood plums. Great weight and stately Rolls Royce power but no heaviness. Length disappearing into the far distance. Perfect ripe melting tannin and a completely natural buoyancy make it hard to believe it’s already thirteen years since harvest. Great wine and big thanks for opening, decanting and generous pouring.
13.50% alcohol or thereabouts. Cork. Generosity beyond money.
Definitely 96 points. Possibly 97.