2017 Terrason Cabernet Franc

A stuck record belief, well vinyl is trendy, that the Yarra Valley’s a proper place for the Cabernet family and a bit of a fascination with the Franc member led to this. Opens with a blast of smoky whole bunch, fresh green leaves and dark raspberry to blackcurrant fruit. Across the palate it’s at once light of being and then rich of fruit. Terrific mingling of acid, stem and skin tannin carry the fruit to a medium weighted finish. Special mention to the beautifully crafted oak inclusion which adds a delicious seasoning of savoury spice and a hint of chocolate. If there was just a bit more intensity to the fruit weight and this would be Cabernet aristocracy. For the money though, very good indeed and a bit cheaper than Cheval Blanc.

13% alcohol. Diam. $28 and well recommended by the Fish at Blackheart and Sparrow.

92 points.

2012 Hoddles Creek Yarra Valley Pinot Noir

Another Hoddles Creek from the cellar. Such irresistible value means there’s a lot stashed away. Better get drinking then. Just like its upmarket sibling the 1er version, it opens shyly and needs a lot of air and time to peek out from the reductive wine making. When it does decide to come out and play, there’s the usual cherries and undergrowth on a light to medium bodied swell of nicely judged tannin and fresh cleansing acidity. As always it possesses a coolness that’s perhaps rare in Oz Pinot. Subtle and valuing poise over brute size. Enough fruit to balance the touch of sulky sulphide winemaking which nonetheless avoids a too bitter ending. Twenty four hours after a brutal double decant and no hint of oxidation, goodness.

13.20%. Screwcap. $20 in 2013.

92 points.

2009 Curlewis Geelong Pinot Noir

The best sort of birthday present, a bottle of wine chosen with care and stashed away for much later. Five Australian Prime Ministers later. Must admit to a bit of prejudice about Geelong Pinot. Too many blazing hot, north wind days travelling through a dry flat landscape that didn’t exactly bring Burgundy to mind. Perhaps the Bellarine Peninsular gets a bit of air con from Port Philip Bay as this looked as pretty as an Upper Yarra Pinot opened at the same time. Resolved but hanging on well. Clean perfume of very ripe strawberries and darker plums cut with some green herb and some sweet compost development. Same across the tongue with an age softened rasp of just ripe acidity and perhaps some whole bunch tannin. Just a whisper of well handled oak adds the merest touch of sweet vanilla that’s sunk into the fruit with aplomb. From a hot drought ridden year with dreadful bush fires, this is a confounding success. A lot of care and love must have gone into the growing and making. A privilege to enjoy the hard work.

13% alcohol. Screwcap.

92 points.

2018 Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Bush Vine Grenache

Comfortable, cuddly and a generous girth but balanced on nimble feet. Reasonably darkly coloured. Gentle but expressive wafts of plum and soil. The palate comes to life with deeply poised dark musky berries, SA coal black and dark chocolate. Structurally this really scores. Beautiful drag of firm ripe tannin that sort of feels a bit whole bunch but could be old vine small berry skins? The acidity’s well settled into the tannin too, yum. So at ease with itself and proud of where it comes from.

14% alcohol. Screwcap. $20 special offer for Dan’s members, normally $30 and still a bargain.

93 points.

2009 Karra Yerta Eden Valley Riesling

Cost and value are often out of whack. Only 128 measly cases of this from 80 year old dry grown vines planted up high on a hill, yet it didn’t sell. The business sadly decided to close and out it went at $150 a dozen plus freight. Ludicrous value for little cost. Starts off with toast and lime as you’d expect but there’s still a freshness and the extra depth of luscious waxy stone fruit. Terrifically long and the poised balance of clean, mountain clear acid. Australian Riesling doesn’t get much better than this, believe me, had my fair share.

13% alcohol. Screwcap. $13!

95 points.

2005 Domaine Pierre Amiot et Fils Gevrey Chambertin 1er cru Les Combottes

After this producer’s 2005 Morey St Denis 1er cru being very good but not great, it seemed a good idea to take this along to one of the three good BYO places within walking distance. Friday night noisey conviviality may not be the best place for lengthy wine pondering. Turned out the $20 corkage is a bargain as the wine was better than expected. Not only the food’s deliciously wine friendly but the owners of The Recreation have very acute palates. Half a glass blind and a confident stab at Burgundy was their verdict. OK, they know their stuff! Good Gabriel stems showed off the lovely perfume of really ripe wild strawberries and an earthy, ferrous, sweet charcuterie thing that Burgundy can do so well. Swirling around the mouth showed the same clean fresh fruit, some impeccable oak and silky tannin melded with delicious acidity. Perfect with The Recreation’s duck. Glad there’s two more stashed away.

Great to be able to drink something such good food deserves. Thanks, The Recreation Bistro + Bottle Shop, Queens Parade, North Fitzroy in inner north, dangerously left wing Melbourne.

13.50% alcohol. Cork. Was about $75 pre arrival, direct import.

95 points.

Pair of Wendourees. 2006 Shiraz Malbec and 2009 Shiraz Mataro.

The most elderly first. The mail out said 52% Shiraz and 48% Malbec from 1898 Central and 1919 Eastern vineyards. Youngest vines are now centurions, happy birthday. Like the best 2000s Wendouree vintages this took a while to unfurl. That unmistakable mossy, minty and eucalypt menthol lift with dark cherry and berry fruit and a puff of lemony oak. Builds on the tongue as Wendouree does do with more Clare dark cherry and an anchor of fair but firm skin tannin and natural ripe acid. There’s also something wine gum dark and mysteriously spicy too. Beautiful grapes and place no mucking about.

13.50% alcohol. Cork. $48 from the mailing list.

94 points.

Now the younger. 65% Shiraz and 35% Mataro from 1893 Central and 1920 Eastern vineyards. The first Wendouree vintage sealed with screwcap, a posh Italian one too. If the mid 2000s started to show a bit less extraction, then by 2009 things are becoming positively elegant! Fragrant with menthol, anise, cherry and dark plum. Just a seasoning of nutty oak. Probably just imagination but this seems so fresh and pure, could it be the change to screwcap? Fine mid weight wine in the mouth that once again builds and then builds more flavour as it travels through. Fruit as above plus some earthy tar broods darkly. Such different poise and balance compared to Wendouree from last century. Must say I’d like a Tardis to try those young vine ones from before and between the world wars. Still very positive tannin but perhaps finer and more melting? Do enjoy telling those not aligned to Wendouree who ask how to join us to check out the Brady’s extensive social media presence. Rude cheek of a grumpy old man.

13.80% alcohol. Screwcap! $50 from the mailing list.

95 points.