Far too much Italian wine recently but the craving for tannin and acidity with rich winter grub and some lucky wins at auction means no let up yet. From the same maker as the bravely commercial Il Bastardo, this is a traditional DOCG Rufina. Sangiovese with a slug of Colorino. Dark semi dried sour cherries, tobacco, licorice and some well controlled sooty oak. Really drying firm tannins and a smack of ripe acidity. Dark, serious, desiccated skin flavour and texture point toward a hot dry vintage, perhaps? Not quite the cool, red fruit calm that used to mark Rufina. Nonetheless a clean, delicious Sangio that comes into sharp focus with warming oily, cheesy pasta. E basta.
13.50% alcohol. Cork. $20 lucky win at Langton’s, don’t you dare bid on the other two bottles!
Beautifully labelled with art by a local Langhe artist, one of whose prints brightens the living room wall. Couldn’t resist the photo. The wine itself opens nice and clean with very ripe blackberry, plums and burnt toffee. With a bit of air, there’s a touch of Piemontese soil and a bit more freshness. Thankfully the richness is buffed into shape by that mouthwatering Barbera acidity which is somehow folded into the finish and hides the warmth of alcohol. The lack of tannin helps keep the focus on the bright fruit and acid. Not sure you’d notice the 15% if the label were not so honest. Bit of a big fellow en ballet pointe.
15% alcohol, careful sips. Screwcap, yes! $24 from the importer’s own invitational website shop. Bargain.
Vino da taglio was, or maybe still is, a naughty way for higher alcohol wine from mainly Puglia and Sicily to find its way into under powered Tuscan and other northern producers’ wine. Bravo for this good Chianti Rufina producer playing with the idea and then cheekily calling it The Bastard. Seems it’s good Rufina Sangiovese “cut” with some warming Sicilian Shiraz. Whilst the thought of bastardising the purity of good Sangio is at first horrible, this turns out to be a delicious drink for not a lot of cash. Starts a bit reduced as the screwcap cracks but then opens cleanly with Sangiovese cherries and walnuts warmed by spice and darker berries. Still has that lovely pull of Chianti acid and fine tannin grabbing at some chocolate richness. If you were looking for an easy but genuine intro to Ital wine, stop here and get acquainted. Best thing is the pure Chianti accent can still be heard above the Mezzogiorno’s warm chatter.
13% alcohol. Screwcap on an Italian, bravo. $10 bargain from a Langton’s auction.
89 pizza friendly points.
Fine, clean and fresh. Sparkling cherry fruit, a little muddy freshly dug soil and something mineral. As if Corvina had been on holiday to the Côtes de Beaune, such is the svelte even fruit and grace of structure. Absolutely no bombast but just a quietly moderate purity. Creeps up gently but doesn’t let go without another sip. Can you actually taste limestone or granite in wine? Does transparent organic farming help? Idealistically, you’d like to think so. Long way from industrial Valpol.
12.50% alcohol. Cork. About $30 plus a bit, sorry forgot to pay attention.
92 extremely fine points.
A brief Dan Murphy’s flirtation with an own label under the name of a visiting Burgundian winemaker. Rumour at the time suggested it was made by the excellent Gary Mills of Jamsheed renown from fruit picked at the impeccably run Sylvan Vineyard. It certainly looks that way with a lift of whole bunch mulch, then some beautifully ripe dark red fruit and fine brown spices. The palate adds a fine mature draw of just right acidity and the finest silky tannins. The poise of good North End Rhône but with the extra richness of typically gentle Yarra fruit. Tenez ça messieurs!
14% alcohol. Screwcap. $19 on clearance, originally $39 and still a bargain at that!
92 softly mature and just right to drink points.
Another raid on the stuff I’ve somehow managed to keep stashed. Make use of time, let not advantage slip. Thanks, Will, for the advice. Sweet autumnal maturity creeps up indeed. Wild strawberries, sweet earth and that savoury fresh charcuterie waft. Beautifully ripe and good intensity. Good extract of fine tannin and a snap of settled acidity. Lovely shape and purity. The well mannered perfume and richness of very good Côte de Nuits. Sigh, one less bottle left.
13% alcohol. Cork. About $50 pre arrival.
93 points plus for sheer poise.
Usually a good buy for a crisp, red fruited, juicy light weight version of Piemontese Nebbiolo, this vintage has been to the gym across the river in Barolo. Bit rustic to open, not in a tangy B word way but earthy and sulphur derived perhaps. Over a few days, it cleaned up and did a convincing imitation of a Langhe Neb or a baby Barolo..esco. Red cherries, fresh bitumen and a chocolate earthiness. A bit of licorice root too. In the mouth is where things really start to muscle up. Firm acidity and those black tea tannins pull hard. Without food it’s forbidding, a slice of good pizza and that structure clears the path for the fruit to bloom. Wine from Italy, always for the table, always. That tannin’s so good for you
14% alcohol. Screwcap, luxe too. $33, bargain.
The second premier cru White Burgundy post and maybe the last unless cellardoor.co wrongly price a mixed six pack again. Very lucky to have spotted a half dozen from France for $165 which included this, a CNdP, a Champagne and three other OK bottles. Didn’t last long on the site before the sold out sign went up. Worth it too, as this opened beautifully with aromas of chestnut honey, hazelnut and…er..muesli, with a touch of lanolin sulphide. Meursault auto suggestion perhaps, honey and nuts? The same flavours across the palate with a profound cut of cool clean limestone acidity. Barely any sweet fruit flavour other than a hint of fig and quince. Enough to make you want an ancestral castle cellar full of such fleeting pleasure. Wonder if the Waughs, Evelyn and Auberon that is not the cricketers, would have wine blogged? Better prose than this.
13% alcohol. Cork. $27.50 on a very streaky average.
A cleanskin of sorts from Boccaccio Cellars and so maybe from Hoddles Creek? A wine by any other name would smell as good? Classic leafy, red fruited gentle Cabernet with some serious acidity that’s still just the right side of ripe in a Bordeaux or Loire cool year way. Not sour. Gravelly too. Good mouthwatering drink and tastes like it hasn’t been mucked around with, astonishing for $8. Not going to appeal to those used to big boy Shiraz.
13.1% alcohol. Screwcap. $8.
In theory from a very old vineyard in Great Western that’s on the Heritage Council of Victoria database. 2008 was a memorable season as the first Monday of the month hit 35 degrees and then got a degree hotter each day for a week, the promised cooler weather receding with each daily forecast. This dark and forbiddingly dense wine shows how those old vine berries hung on and still produced. For the first two days of opening, it just stayed impressively ungiving, dusty and lacking fruit sweetness. Palpable flavours of dry bushland baking in crackling heat. Dry dark rocks and road tar. The remaining half ullaged bottle then enjoyed a two hour car trip getting sloshed around tight Ocean Road bends. So, three days open, shaken and still no oxidation! In fact some sweet blackberry fruit emerged from the dark carbon steel depths. Drying oak flavours and tannin only help to emphasise the frown. Incredible tannin of dry sun shrivelled skins too and some slightly poking out acid. Probably going to live for many years in a cranky surly way. Me too, hopes.
14% alcohol. Screwcap. $60 approx.
93 dark and serious points.