2017 Oakridge Over the Shoulder Cabernet Merlot

Smells of an old school pencil box, red fruit and the leafy Cabernet family. Medium weight, just, a satisfying meld of fruit and dusty, stoney earth that finishes with mouthwatering acidity and firming milky tannin. The kind of low intensity delicious flow that makes what Andrew Jefford aptly calls digestible claret. Civilised drink. Another of those right grape, right place wines. More Yarra claret, please.

13.40% alcohol. Screwcap. $18.99.

91 points.

2012 Chapter Southern Heathcote Shiraz

A good mate found this had fallen behind a pile of boxes under the house. The two chaps on the label peering from the gloom. Opened well with clean red fruit, some spice and pepper and a good seasoning of Central Victoria in the form of gum tree and mint. Ripe but not overblown. Sweet gentle raspberries and compact glide to a well controlled end. Just enough rasp of glossy tannin to carry a satisfying conclusion. Developing nicely. Lovely medium weight wine of place. Think somebody better get back under the floorboards and go fishing for another?

13% alcohol. Screwcap. $22.

93 points.

5th November 2020 and another bottle from my own stash. Just as above. Still so fresh and delicious. Steady on 93 points.

NV Lilbert Fils Perle Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Champagne

Seriously delicious bubbles which are set at a lower pressure than normal according to the name Perle on the label, not that you could tell as beautiful sweet citrus and spiced fruit pastries burst across the tongue. Perfect ripeness pillowed by such poised fine acidity. Sublime tension. A bit of air reveals more chalky savoury details. Finely chiseled and dashing. Another impeccable selection, Victor!

12% alcohol. Diam. About $75 I think.

95 points.

2017 Domaine Benjamin Taillandier Laguzelle Minervois

A quick twiddle with google suggests this is a blend of Carignan, Cinsault and Syrah. Notwithstanding a yeasty, beery edge of the low sulphur, natural wine persuasion, it’s the Carignan that shows the way with savoury, sweet meatiness. The roast goat’s well flavoured with some clean peppery raspberries. Light on its feet for Languedoc as some crisp acid and emery tannin freshen things up. Good balance on the tightrope of low intervention. Lovely unblemished fruit.

13% alcohol. Diam. $30.

93 points.

2017 Tenuta di Tavignano Villa Torre Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi

You do have to watch spell check with rambling Italian names, this almost ended up as Trenitalia instead of Tenuta and Jedi instead of Jesi. Always thought a light sabre would come in useful on an Italian train. When it comes to rich green fruit balanced by good ripe firm acid, then Jesi’s Verdicchio is always a place to look when travelling the long boot. This is made in the protective manner of the strict enologist which means it’s without rustic blemish but in this case not at all boring as the fruit’s dense, fat and ripe with that gorgeous fullness of sweet acidity. Dry as this Australian summer too. Yellow plums and sweet green herbs. Sort of has the power and balance of Chardonnay from some hallowed bit of France without the outlay. Tenuous comparison perhaps but it somehow scratches the itch for some richness without too much fat. Maybe just a grape at home?

13% alcohol. Screwcap, hooray. $25.

91 points.

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.

93 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 $20 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…

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

93 points but more pointedly, delicious.

As a post script, I’ve bought and drunk both the 2017 and very recently the 2018 vintages of this. Sadly neither has the life or interest of the 2016. Both looked a bit dead fruited, mostly full of prunes, dry skins and lacking freshness. Maybe very hot weather or just left hanging too long. Really hoped this would be a regular buy, sad. There’s one 2016 left, let’s see.

Post script to the post script. Opened the last of the 2016 and the original note still holds true. Just as delicious, with a core of dark but still sweetly fresh berries. Perhaps more 92 than 93 but relieved to see some consistency in both the wine and an old dodgy palate.