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.

2019 Adega Alma das Donas Roberto Flammini Viticultor Almanova Ribeira Sacra DO Mencia

The label’s right about the “Viticultura Heróica”, I get vertigo just looking at google images of those incredible Ribeira Sacra vineyards. Looks like Dan Murphy’s have been busy sourcing some better Spanish bottles. This one is a great example of just how fine Mencia grown on those near vertical vineyards can be. Takes a while to open up in the glass but when it does it just gets better over two or so days. So clean and pure, there’s that perfume that takes me to the Nothern Rhône rather than Galicia. Violets and other florals, smoke and very ripe raspberries. Beguiling sweet minerals. Freshness and succulent balance in shape. Long pure flavours of red fruit, purple flowers and sweetest herbs bathed in a mountain stream. Great focus and evenness of ripeness carried on perfect acidity and tannin like wiping your finger across a wet slate. A weight of peerless fruit on a cloud. As a direct import it represents great value, especially compared how much a modern N Rhône would cost. Think I’ll have to go back for more, that’s two Murphy imports in a week of quality at good prices. Goodness, what’s next?

13% alcohol. Cork, alas. $27.

94 points.

2012 Domaine des Héritières Chablis Montmains 1er cru

A negotiant bottling I think as the front label has a cryptic OT reference and the back label says bottled by Maison Tricon, perhaps the Olivier variety of Tricon? The source aside this was one of those bottles that was disappointing to start and ended up with the feeling the bottle was too small. Still a good fill level and a long firm cork with virtually no travel was encouraging. Still lightly coloured with a tinge of green gave even more hope. First sniff and taste was a let down of cheese and nuts aldehyde, sort of oxidised like Fino. Grapes with no protection from oxidation like apples cut and left to brown. First taste, crisp and fresh to start, then a cloud of the oxidative making hides any fruit through the mouth until a flicker of citrus and honey to end. Enough to stuff the cork back in and back into the fridge to see what happens with a day’s air. Kill or cure. Second day and the oxidative edge is still there but as it sits in the glass, booming flavours of beeswax, acacia flowers, honey, exotic citrus, mushrooms and that sense of stream water over cool limestone or something similarly fanciful. The aldehydic note nearly disappeared. Not sure how wine science explains that. The lessons here I think are, the 2012 Chablis vintage is very, very good and despite some old fashioned or dodgy winemaking that fruit quality will out. So wish I had some 2012s in the cellar.

13% alcohol. Cork. $48 at auction.

Started 85 points, ended up 93 days of yore points.

2020 Torzi Matthews Francesca Grillo Collina Calcarea Syrah

An unlikely looking sparkling wine bottle sealed with a beer bottle thing called a crown seal, I think? Thought I better have a try after reading a great review on Winefront and subsequent funny comments from its maker about doing what your mum tells you. Yes, mum. In the early days of Charlie Melton and his amusing translation of CNdP as Nine Popes, I must admit to enjoying Barossa Shiraz in its very primary, just fermented, squishy berried deliciousness. So it is with this no sulphur youngster. Yes, summer pudding berries, dripping with sweet juice, no hint of over ripeness. Full and exceedingly generous. After a couple of days, it just got better. Added to those berries, there’s the sweet, tarry earth and spice of quality Australian Shiraz with flickers of sage and salt bush, all bound by fresh natural feeling grape acidity and tannins like wine filtered through a layered pile of rocks. Such poise, no hint of yeasty funk or oxidation, maybe just a hint of fresh sourdough? Maybe this is the essence of quality Barossa the great RP fell for those years ago? Always do what your mum says.

13.5% alcohol. Crownseal, first for me. $35 RRP

94 maybe 95 as Winefront says, no argument here.