2019 Callejuela Las Mercedes de Callejuela

An extraordinary bottle I forgot to post. Reading the Australian importer’s passionate notes about the Callejuela brothers’ and Jamie Goode’s enthusiasm for the nothing short of a revolution in Sherry world makes me think a quick copy and paste will say it all. But no. The flavours and texture here just make me want to blether on too. Sophisticated tang of slight oxidation adds richness to chamomile, almost straw and muesli and yellow peach on a grand scale. The flavours would almost be overwhelming on the slippery viscosity were it not for the flow of pure mouthwatering acidity and a pleasing bitterness from what may be flor, just make you go back and see if the flavours were as dense and interesting as they seemed. Yes. Challenging and rewarding. All at 12 percent alcohol. What was nearly lost in the bulk industrial fortifications of mass Sherry seems to be clawing its way back into the world of good wine. It would be great to go back to the margins of land and ocean influence, feel the contrast of east and west winds and stand in the bright reflection of light from the chalk, sand and clay. And drink these single pagos without need of added alcohol.

12% alcohol. Cork. $66 RRP but savagely discounted last year as the pandemic hit hard. Wouldn’t have strayed here otherwise. So, thanks TSA.

95 points, mundane as they are.

2020 Domaine Denis Race Petit Chablis

A pre arrival offer from Randall’s, a local Melbourne importer of good things, and some great reviews from Bill Nanson’s Burgundy Report made buying irresistible at the sort of prices we are warned won’t last. The increasingly earlier vintages seem to bring flavours and structure to Chablis which aren’t perhaps exactly typical. Recently, if I hadn’t known what’s in the glass, my first guess would have been more Yarra Valley Chardonnay than Chablis in a couple of cases. Wondering why, a bit of…er…my own research found accounts of early seasons more like the Yarra in timing where the tartaric acid remains firm with little of the malic acid which of course turns into that mouthwatering lactic tang I love in Chablis. Isn’t science good? Thus, it was a joy to stick my nose into this and think Chablis. More ripe citrus and sweet green herbs than stone fruits and then that invigorating marine scent of oyster shells and chalk. Gloriously refreshing. Perhaps more of a firm grip than a luscious tingle but still impossible to put down. Tremendous depth of fruit for the humble bottom of the Chablis pyramid. So clean, fresh and head first into a cool ocean. Didn’t buy enough.

12.5% alcohol, nice. Diam, hooray, the difficulty of getting one back in the bottle won’t be a problem here. Currently $33 in store. Hope there’s some left.

93 points, as many as the richer, more powerful 2019 1er cru on the table at the same time.

2016 Caillard Mataro

Mataro, sounds so good spoken with Australian vowels, a lot better than my horrible attempts at a Clouseau like Mourvèdre. Lovely to see a MW using the local name for his own wine and what an interesting drink it be. Sweet meaty roasting pan juices, sort of soy sauce savour, squishy over ripe blackberries and plums, spices, saltbush, tar and that Barossa coal dusty earth flavour. The structure holds the brooding dark with a fog of rich tannin and perky acidity, all well mixed. There’s a chiaroscuro, lovely word, lightness of sweet floral smells to brighten the twilight of the darkening fruit. You can see why Mataro so often brings an anchor of bass notes to the sweet charm of Grenache and Shiraz. I thought I did well to get my bottle at auction for $30, only to find a six pack for $22 a bottle available on the Caillards’ website. Quite a bargain for such a labour of love. The label artwork completes the package.

13.6% alcohol. Screw cap. $29.50 at auction.

93 points.

2018 Bodega Badiola Las Parcelas Rioja Viura

There’s been some good things in the glass for the past weeks and I’ve been far too lazy to post anything apart from the odd added comment to bottles worth another look. Mainly thanks to Dan Murphy’s quitting loads of Spanish Grenache as a two for one members’ special. Yes, Navarra Garnacha for $6.50 a bottle, just wonderful for the budget. This, however, is so incredibly good it would be silly not to share with those daft enough to read this. Initially tense with flowers, sort of chamomile, a Spanish thing perhaps, yellow stone fruit and a serious depth of stone and perfect acidity; the second day it took off on a wave of controlled power. It’s odd but there was something in the energy and mineral power that bought to mind fruit from limestone or chalk, faint memories of white Burgundy or proper Sancerre? Looking up the maker’s web pages and it is indeed from grapes grown on such rocks. I know science suggests grapes tasting of the earth whence they come is nonsense at best, but… Whatever or wherever, this is still the most exciting white I’ve been lucky enough to drink for some time. A couple for the cellar. Alas, it seems I’m not alone as there wasn’t any left on the shelves when I last checked. Blown away by Viura, who would think it? One day, a Lopez de Heredia blanco perhaps?

13% alcohol. Diam. $37.00

96 points.

2020 Château Pierreux Brouilly Réserve du Château

For a bottle from the extremely large Mommessin wine business this has character and more than enough interesting flavours, especially when it’s a supermarket duopoly direct import for $21 as a member’s special. Initially a bit stinky and reductive, oxygen is your friend here. Sun warmed, dried berries and briar with a tang of firm acidity, almost a bit too firm. Twenty four hours and it loosens up. Some very ripe berries again with a sooty, sun warmed, burnt skin spice. There’s still a zap of just ripe crunchy acidity but it suits what increasingly appears to some very intense fruit flavour. Not exactly the perfumed, lightness of being you could expect from Beaujolais of yore but nonetheless a very satisfying mouthful of some concentration. So good, I bought another a few weeks later and it seems to be getting more lush. Quite the bargain really. Maybe a product of low yields and another warm year but delicious and three more to the cellar to see what happens in a couple of years?

14.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $21, not much for such attention grabbing flavour.

Started 90, maybe 93 in time?

2018 Sutton Grange Syrah

Despite the label, from Bendigo it must be Sheeerrrarrzzz. Early journeys to the wine country of Victoria in the late 1980s led to the softest of spots for the robust, sweet minty wines from Bendigo and Hesthcote. Thirty years on and this is the best sort of memory aid. Spotlessly clean and pure. Waft of mint, suggestion of Oz forest, no more, dense with sweet ripe berries, somewhere between raspberries and blackberries, boysenberry perhaps? Dried cherry and a lick of fruitcake. Spiced nicely. The extraction and oak are gently applied letting the ripe fruit tannin and natural feeling acidity shape the wine. Power, not raw but softly insistent.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $38 at auction, normal RRP is about $60, think I did well.

94 points.

2018 Head Old Vine Grenache

Seems like this could be the best Barossa Grenache I’ve encountered. Depth, complexity and composure. Started a bit reserved and really needed its day of sucking in air. Nutty and twiggy with stalks perhaps? Haze of smoky reduction cleared to a sweep of ripe dark cherry, the Barossa carbon of a dusty coal cellar, sort of vermouth herb cut and fruit and nut chocolate. The more air and the more distinguished in its class it becomes. Beautiful fruit and sweet earth shaped by sweet skin tannin and just the right amount of refreshing acidity. Sinew and flesh. Would give the best CNdP a shove. Worthy.

14.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $38 at auction.

95 points.

2020 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz

Another year, another trial bottle of a longtime favourite label. Actually three trial bottles. The first left an impression of flabby fruit and a washy unsatisfying end, oh well. The second was a happy freebie from TWE and their Cellardoor.co subscribers’ rewards program. Wouldn’t have recognised it as the same wine. Fresh, punchy and full of raspberries with a crunch of acidity sitting a little bit high as it finished. A little bemused, I thought a third in order to see if a Dan’s sourced bottle could be as good as the second? Sort of. Rich with ripe plum, berries, spice and a hint of tar. Clean but not as fresh as the second but the acidity cleans instead of rasping and the tannin’s ripe, sweet and broad. Perhaps less of the Coonawarra mineral salt than usual. Again for the money, an extraordinary example of large scale viticulture and perhaps the variability of large volumes? Life’s a bit too short but if someone were to line up most Australian Shiraz under $20 and endure a blind tasting, I’d be betting on this stalwart to place well with its quiet composure. Depending on the batch.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $13.60 on special at Murphy’s, sometimes less.

91 points.

2015 Steve Wilbin’s Erin Eyes Pride of Erin Reserve Clare Valley Riesling

Not exactly the most on trend packaging perhaps? About as fashionable as this blog. Thanks to Winefront for again reviewing something that probably wouldn’t be a random first choice from the shelves of summer essential Riesling. Density and softness of fruit flavour suggests care, money and time lavished on hand picking and gentle squeezing. Still fresh and full of citrus, that developing lime caramelised in a warm pan and a herby sweetness of coriander and its seed, fennel and a lick of vanilla. Pillows softly but full in the mouth and caries on fine acidity. The best sort of Clare Riesling, books and covers, eh?

12% alcohol. Screw cap. $35 rrp on release, $17 at auction, lucky.

94 points.

2020 Louis et Claude Desvignes Morgon Château Gaillard

Another 2020 Morgon and a startling difference to Lapierre. Loads more extraction, concentration and tannin, different but still good. First day it looked round and fresh with dark summer berries, rose perfume, and a sweet stoney cut, spotlessly clean and sparkling. A breath of air over three days drew out a profound depth of concentrated fruit. Low yields or the mouth coating power that uneven fruit set bring in what the French call millerandage or we anglos say hens and chickens or even pumpkins and peas (for the vegans) all may have played a part in the reduced sauce like intensity. Despite after seventy two hours of oxygen, it was gobsmacking, literally, to sit with a small sip and let it reverberate through the senses, a fresh unmoving essence of great fruit. Another bottle saved for later brings a warm feeling, better than just money in the bank. It’s noted that the Desvignes don’t have a single wooden barrel in the winery, and why on planet earth would you bother with anything getting in the way of such great grapes?

14.5% alcohol. Cork with a wax cap. $45 ish.

95 points.