2021 Leo Buring Clare Valley Riesling

A new vintage with very good early words. Despite coming to the conclusion that Clare Rieslings only start to taste something like wine in the new year after vintage rather than yeasty fermented grape juice, a 95 point review from an eminence gris of Australian wine writing persuaded me to crack the cap. Oh well, what do I know, this is an inscrutable mess of yeasty smells, not much else, maybe something like Sauvignon Blanc. Nice even flow across the tongue though, fine mouthwatering acidity. Beyond that I’m not much wiser. The second day brings more. Big swell of elemental lime juice and herbs, still a lurking green Sauvignon B ending. Noticed the 11% alcohol but not a huge amount, if any, of residual sugar which does make me wonder if the fashion for picking everything a little less ripe has spread to Riesling in Australia? The weight of fruit and fine acidity are alone more than enough to put a couple away for warmer summer days. Hope the critics are right, crystal balls on the line as it were. A warm dreamy summer evening and a cold glass of mountain stream fresh Riesling are one of life’s affordable joys.

11% alcohol. Screw cap. $14.50 in a six at Dan’s.

Pick a number between 90 and 94 and hope sort of score.

2016 Frédéric Mabileau Les Roullières Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil

Cabernet Franc from a modern producer who made wine still with a great sense of place. Sadly, Frédéric was killed in microlight plane crash last year. This was made, I think, just using stainless steel to ferment and rest, none of the dodgy old oak which can so often mar Loire red wine. Terrific freshness, there’s scents of crushed sweet green leaves, raspberries and sweet strawberry juice. So fresh, it seems like a season frozen in time. Only just medium bodied but rich in the mouth with loads of just ripe red fruit, focused well by mouthwatering acidity and a brush of just so skin tannin. Focus and precision. Lovely Loire.

12.5% alcohol. Cork. $32 from auction.

93 points.

2017 Benjamin Laroche La Manufacture Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre Pinot Noir

The Chablis from Laroche were always a very good and reliable choice but don’t seem as common on retail shelves these days. They also were among the first French producers to use screw caps. When this lonely bottle appeared on the auction website, a quick check confirmed the family connection to the Chablis producer. Happily for me, not many bids. Spotlessly clean but not sterile. Fragrant and flowery. Top note of dew fresh raspberries with wild strawberry and cranberry crisp harmonies. Succulent acidity and fine limestone tannin bring things to a long and refined close. Considering the theoretically humble appellation there’s quite a swell of just ripe fruit. Looks like it comes from a fancy Côte d’Or address.

12.5% but just so ripeness. Diam, nice. $36 at auction. Current vintage about $44 on the importer’s, Airioldi Wines, website.

93 points.

2017 Derwent Estate Riesling

Don’t often buy Tasmanian Riesling but when I do, I always think I should pay more attention. Longer days ripening and cooler places do seem to coax more flavour. Opening with some developed scents of green pineapple, touch of vanilla and sort of petrol but not quite the deep kerosene of sun burnt skins. Rich in extract and flavour in the mouth, limes, honey and more of those exotic developing tropicals. The sort of sliding weight Alsace seems to do. Ends well too. Sweetly ripe acidity and a lingering perfume. Maybe a smudge of residual sugar or just deep sweet fruit weight, not sure. There’s the trick.

13% alcohol. Screw cap. $18.30 from auction, nicely done for once.

93 points.

2018 Mommessin Morgon Côte du Py

Having convinced myself 2018 Beaujolais is largely over ripe and far too chunky, I saw a Dan Murphy’s member’s special of $20 for what looked like a new vintage 2019 on the shelf and quickly grabbed one. Opened it and thought it good and fresh but very ripe, only to look at the label to realise I’d ended up with 2018. Attempting to objectively look at what’s poured, there is a dark, purple red colour more like N Rhône Syrah than BJ and lots of currant and plum. Ripe cherry flavour too with a follow up of fruit and nut chocolate. Glossy and sweet like something from a newer world. The richness cut by chunky ripe acid and dry grape skin tannin. Not the perfume, life and grace of cooler years but still delicious and proof of a site hanging on well in the heat. Must go back and find a 2019 with my reading glasses on.

13.5%. Cork. $20 bargain.

92 points.

2019 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Siding Cabernet Sauvignon

Thank goodness for Winefront. An Australian Cabernet for $12.95 would not normally rate high on the scale of potential buys but a good review and a discount at Dan Murphy’s which makes a mockery of the letters RRP and why not? Proper savoury and tart fruited Cabernet here. Opens a bit sweaty, clears to earth and gravel, black olive and iodine, leaf and tart red berries. Almost that come hither savoury invitation of dare you say, Bordeaux. Over three days it looks far more Australian, particularly Coonawarra as scents of minty Australian shrubbery and that distinct smoky salinity emerge. Shouldering their way through the savoury are just ripe red fruit and hints of black currant. Good even brush of ripe acid and sandy tannin. Yet more evidence of Wynns producing large amounts of commercially important wine that still resonate place and season. Might just have to upgrade to a bottle of the 2019 Black Label which would be the 34th vintage to find its way into my glass. Creak.

13.6% alcohol. Screw cap. $12.95.

91 points for me, 92 for the more accurate Winefront.

2016 Pierre Gonon Saint Joseph

I must admit to googling this label to see what others may have thought and, gulp, noticed how Gonon prices have climbed in recent years. This was a great swap for some Wendouree and I don’t think there will be another looking at those current prices. Enjoy this one then. It doesn’t disappoint, deep reductive Rhône Syrah. Smoke, flowers and berries or as someone sensitive to sulphides noted on Winefront, like a fart in a wetsuit. Nonetheless a tour de force of squishy summer berries, sweet plum over glistening quartz like tannin and acid sparkle tightly bound together. Simply beautiful fruit, precise ripeness and careful making. You can see why the price escalates.

13.5% alcohol. Cork. Swap.

94 points, maybe 95.

2019 The Story Port Campbell Sauvignon Blanc

It had to happen eventually. I’ve managed to avoid drinking, let alone buying, anything Sauvignon Blanc for a very long time. The Story offered some mysterious dozens for $150 a while ago. Two bottles of this were included among the usual red favourites. Oh well, warm evenings with friends who aren’t quite as horribly fussy or even tolerate pungent SB would be a chance to rid myself of such vinous horror. Or so I thought. Finally opened one a while ago for a lovely neighbour whose only fault would appear to be actually buying and drinking the smelly stuff. Always willing to taste to just confirm my bias and goodness, it was delicious. So, the second bottle over a couple of locked down days and it would put many a vaunted white Bordeaux to shame. Sweet core of green herby things and fruit like gooseberry, you can feel the spring sap rising. All wrapped up in honeyed apricot perfumed with something like elderflower in an English hedgerow. A real density of quality grapes. A touch of caramel oak and oxidative making lift the end. Cream textured glide and mouth pleasing acidity beg another sip. Only 880 bottles it seems. Glad to have had two. Rule one of wine, never assume. What next, Australian Pinot Gris or Viognier?

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $30 RRP and a bargain at that. Part of the mixed mystery case and a steal.

93 points but 94 would be reasonable.

Barbadillo Solear Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barremeda DO lot L20 – 329

Annoyingly the just right half bottles disappeared from Dan Murphy’s shelves for a while, thereafter on return they seemed to have grown up into full bottles. The number suggests this lot was bottled last year, so still reasonably fresh under its screwcap? Indeed, enormous wafts of flor, chamomile, yellow fruits, peach perhaps, roast nuts and sea spray stuff. Huge flavours of the same, savoury and dry but held and lifted by staunch acidity. Probably the cleanest example of Manzanillo or Fino I’ve seen for a while. No bitter sulphide to spoil and a transparent example of how flor yeast works it’s magic. On the great blog, undertheflor, written by an Englishman living in Madrid, he suggests flor acts something like a chisel, exposing the chalky bones and true flavours of the Palomino fruit and the albariza limestone soil, cuddling them in its acetaldehyde derived savoury nuttiness. If that means delicious, sophisticated and brilliant with olives, nuts and salty snacks, then I’m convinced. It’s also an incredible bargain considering the time and care in the making. Quarter of the price of anything Champagne can manage for a first drink of the day. Saludos indeed.

15% alcohol, love to taste one without the added spirit. Screw cap, suits it so well. $20 for the full 750mls, bargain.

92 points and take me to Andalusia.

2017 Schiavenza Dolcetto d’Alba

Sometimes it’s a thin line between an interesting drink despite a dislike of one or two things in the making and enough pleasure to want another glass. Not knowing the maker but loving Langhe Dolcetto, I risked a small bid on a few bottles of this at auction. The first was just a bit too ripe, lacking a little fruit sweetness through the middle to buffer the tough dry skin tannins. Bit butch, extractive and trying too hard for ripeness, like they’d left things hanging on the vine too long in a hot vintage. Another bottle some time later as lubricant to a tasty Sunday night pizza treat and a happy surprise. Sure, it’s still dense and rich but there’s a swell of sweet cherry chocolate fruit to mitigate the dry cocoa tannin. Notice the producer is based in Serralunga and this certainly does nothing to diminish the village’s reputation for thunder and weight. Perhaps it’s another case of recent imports benefiting from a bit of a rest? There’s a few more tempting a bid. Decent Piemonte for $18.

14% alcohol and it shows a bit. Diam, nice. $18 at auction.

92 points.