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.

2016 Domaine la Soumade Rasteau Cuvée Confiance

In the early 2000s, I fell for the warm, rich and fruity embrace of Grenache blends from the villages just east of Orange. The deeply ripe summer pudding fruit in Marcel Richaud’s Cairannes was love at first sniff thanks to a wine shop in Avignon not letting me leave without a 1998 version. An inevitable holiday pilgrimage luckily led to a pretty bed and breakfast in Rasteau, just up the road from M. Richaud. Soumade was a recommendation from the list in a local bistro. Too late sadly to fit in a visit but a lasting impression. When this came up at auction, a relatively modest bid led to a happy meander down the retronasal lane of memory. 80% Grenache, the rest Syrah. A little reduction was quick to clear, leaving fresh liqueur cherry, sappy mint to freshen with a dusting of fine cocoa dryness. Of a whole but many parts, fennel turning to aniseed anchored by carbon darkness and meaty pan juices. Traditionally dry tannin, just enough acid to balance and meticulously clean. Love the simple old elegance of the label too.

14.5% alcohol but not hot. Cork. About $40 at auction.

94 points.

2020 M & C Lapierre Morgon

One of the original Gang of Four Chauvet disciples and the first from the legendary Lapierre for me. Opens with that unmistakable nutty, yeasty breath of a very low sulphur natural wine. The rush of pristine fresh berries and granite glistening across the whole olfactory equipment push the funk well and truly into a mere seasoning. Essence of cherries, strawberries and earth. Dense but so light on its feet. Mouthwatering acidity and high definition fine tannin in a just medium sized body only make me wish it was a magnum. The sort of dedicated grape growing that’s probably good for our Earth and a way of making wine that’s changed our perception of fermented grapes for ever. It’s alive I tell yer.

13.5%. Cork. A well chosen swap, thanks Fish.

93 points.

2019 Trediberri Dogliani Bricco Mollea

Another of those beautiful Gallina labels. Dolcetto from one of two DOCGs especially given for Piemonte’s under rated quotidian joy. Spicy cherry compote, stones, fresh and crisply mouthwatering. Not as rich as some Dogliani but suave and nuanced with that bramble caramelised jam note that maybe whispers Dolcetto? Lovely structure but perhaps a little washy verging on dilute compared to the best. For the modest tariff, no complaints here just sad to see the bottle empty.

13% alcohol. Diam. About $30.

91 points.

2019 KÁRMÁN Rioja

A few weeks without a post. Laziness most likely but the release from pandemic lockdown was a curtain lifted on a forgotten world of friends across the table, modest travel and a bit of discombobulation with the whole thing. There was also an accumulation of bottles that were good enough the first time round to warrant a repeat, often just as good as the first review suggested. Maybe the best measure of how good something tastes is best calibrated by how keenly another bottle is sought. This one almost gets there. Well, it is mostly Grenache grown in Rioja of which there should be more. A bit of Tempranillo too. It’s fresh, bright and clean. Pot pourri, red fruits and peanuts. Rich but only medium bodied with whole berry brewing lift. Warming pepper, cut with a touch of meat and smoke reduction all nicely bound together with juicy acidity and fine grape skin texture. The Kármán line is the theoretical boundary between the earth’s atmosphere and space, funny what you learn on back labels these days. The front label cheerfully reminds me of the spaced out adventures available in Spain these days.

14.5% alcohol. Diam. Probably not stratospherically priced.

90 points but joyful.