2010 Giant Steps Gladysdale Vineyard Yarra Valley Pinot Noir

After some lacklustre cheapies from the big chain it’s good to spend time with something that looked great at the cellar door. Interesting to see just how the warm glow at the tasting bench fares in the cold light of a much later day. At first this was dusty, with a bit of lanolin reduction. Double decanted and a bit more fruit emerged with fennel and herby stalks pulling it right into line. It took twenty four hours for the sweet, ripe, dark cherry and squashed strawberry to surface above the neatly folded acid and whole bunch tannin. Doesn’t look like it’ll improve any further, it just still needs a lot of air to overcome a shy heart. Now to try and get that Police song about Giant Steps on the moon out of my head.

13% alcohol. Screwcap. $45.

94 shy and retiring points.

2010 Pauletts Polish Hill River Clare Valley Riesling

More Thai food and another Riesling from the pile of cartons. Nice balance of toasty development with a bit of petrol and some fine and rich, linear, lime fruit. Some crisp but not chunky acid carries it along with just a touch of residual sugar maybe or is that just dense, ripe fruit? Polish Hill River seems to sometimes combine the fat of Clare and the lean of Eden. Pauletts do this with style and little fanfare. This blows their trumpet pitch perfectly.

12.50% alcohol. Screwcap. Was about $20.

92 points.

2016 Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico

Somehow Iggy Pop and the Wild One spring to mind drinking this. Dark and growling, terrific energy, some bits flying off at odd angles but compelling. Lifted new leather, walnut and sour cherry Sangiovese, vividly fresh and vibrant, some cedar oak, a bit of wild game verging on not perfectly clean, mouth clearing acid and tannin. Didn’t notice the alcohol percentage until uploading the photo. There’s also some sweeter blackcurrant fruit which may be explained by a percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Rampolla was a star in the early 90s for its Cabernet blends. The fruit sang a rugged harmony to a good pizza. Kept my shirt on though.

14.50% alcohol. Cork. $50.

92 points depending on your acceptance of wild things.

2012 Eldredge Clare Valley Riesling

Thai nosh and limey Clare Riesling, there’s a match. This Eldredge is gently resolving with lime marmalade on toast, a hint of green mango and enough richness to stand up to a curry. The acidity is nicely firm but not hard. Good Thai by Melbourne standards and byo is one of life’s affordable joys.

12.50% alcohol. Screwcap. About $20 in 2013.

91 points.

2016 Domaine de Blayac Minervois

Seriously, this is probably the best under a lobster* Woolies’ import ever. There, bold statement. Probably a love of old vine Carignan from Languedoc Roussillon sways the claim. The blend is Carignan, Grenache and Shiraz but it’s that sweet, caramelised roasting pan juice character that drives this spotlessly clean, softly delicious mouthful. Somehow there’s a ripeness level where the bright red fruit and clunky acidity of Carignan turns dark, mysterious and soft. There’s also dark, dark berries and velvet tannin. If quality is judged by how quickly the bottle empties, two of us were looking for the last drops as we mopped up our pasta sauce, all gone…

*in the unlikely event of a reader from outside Australia, a lobster is slang for a twenty dollar note and Woolies is one of our big, dominant supermarkets. Currency colours as brash as us.

13% alcohol. Cork. $14.30 in a six pack.

93 points but more pointedly, delicious.

2016 Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny

Another clean, svelte and tasty red from the Loire. Cabernet Franc in all its raspberry leaf and bright red fruit. Tangy berries and some sweet green herbals show just over the line ripeness. There’s no sourness to the green flavours and the well mingled tannin and acid are mouth-wateringly ripe. A lovely compact palate, fruit and texture held tight and more interesting after three days of oxygen exposure. Great pedigree.

13% alcohol. Cork. $48.

93 points

2016 Jean-François Mérieau Cent Visages Touraine Côt

F100% Malbec or Côt as they say in the Loire Valley. Pungently clean perfume of Turkish delight, woody spices veering into star anise, startlingly so. Below are some bright cherries and berries. Terrific flow of spiced fruit with silky tannin and acidity. Floats in the mouth, leaving a gentle waft to linger. Fine and whistle clean. Those lovely obsessives at the City Wine Store certainly know how to tickle my fancy.

12.50% alcohol. Cork. $41.

93 points.