Preconceived ideas about how you like a grape variety to taste are always liable for a surprise. Over the years, a perfumed, crisply red fruited version of the mystery that’s Pinot Noir has become more appealing. Well, red fruited and lightly built this isn’t. Dark spiced berries, almost plum and licorice chocolate with a touch of fruit cake all melded by time. No flab though as there’s a perfect counterpoint of graphite like tannin and beautifully integrated naturally ripe wet stone acidity, all benefiting from time together in the bottle. A tickle of dried and sweet green herbs twists and turns the rich fruit too. Dark, complex and such an even keel that shows this most fickle of grapes can express itself in the most valid and surprising ways. Côte d’Or it ain’t but Martinborough it must surely be. Choice eh?
14% alcohol. Cork. About $60 a few years ago.
From a farmers’ market and an affable informed producer. After an alarmingly early taste one winter morning, this seemed worth a bottle try. The bottle tasted really well over a couple of days, clean, well made, settled acidity and a lovely even ripeness at what indeed seemed to be low alcohol. At a shade over $20 if memory serves, three bottles added to the weight of fruit and veggies on the way home from the next market. Roughly five years later and this is still fresh, pure and beautifully red fruited. There’s a little ethyl acetate lift but this only serves to brighten the aromas. Raspberries and cherries galore in pristine form. A sprig of mint and a sprinkle of earthy spice, all carried along with that natural feeling acidity and fine emery tannin. Beautifully grown fruit but perhaps not much of it as the vintage label is a small one adhered to the larger producer label. Not much spent on the packaging but much care in the growing and making. Must be good, it’s Premium and Reserve!
12.50% alcohol. Diam. $20 ish.
Australia’s two dominant supermarket leviathans both dabble in direct imports with Coles’ attempts even less well organised than their competitor’s hit and miss attempts. Coles’ fine wine arm, Vintage Cellars, somehow still manage to import La Chablisienne’s lovely wines without much obvious promotion which leads to some occasional irresistible discounts. The last was a “cellar frenzy” sale with this Chablis reduced to $21.50 a bottle in a six pack purchase. Don’t think credit card details have ever been so quickly entered. There’s always an anxious wait to see which vintage turns up as something as simple as stock rotation and customer service seem just too difficult. Worry turned to glee as four 2014s under Diam and two 2017s under screwcap turned up, as unlikely and as fist pumping as a Southampton home win. The Diam’s done a proper job as there’s a touch of lanolin reduction and a pale colour as things open up in the glass. Gentle Chardonnay smells and a soft palate that seems a bit dilute, oh well, it’s a cooperative wine. How wrong first impressions can be. Second day the airing had swept away the reduction and the colour deepened. Real Chablis perfume and flavour bite. Ripe citrus, quince, stony sweet green herbals, salinity and that sour lactic yoghurt twang. Delicious basic Chablis! Next one’s going to get double decanted and patience will be a virtue waiting a day for a sip. Six bottles doesn’t seem nearly enough now.
12.50% alcohol. Diam. $21.50, Coles’ shareholders may not be happy.
92 points but a lot of value Chablis pleasure.
Carefully carried all the way back from Paris to Melbourne surviving inept packing, baggage handling and a few years in cool storage. Research at the time suggested Perrot Minot had backed away from the mid nineties fashion of too much extraction and new oak in favour of more perfume and transparency. The helpful staff in the basement of delights at Lavinia in Paris encouraged the opinion in much better English than my French. Compared to current premier cru prices this looked a reasonable buy too. Fast forward fifteen years to Xmas eve 2019, all looks good, good fill level still, cork barely stained and removed in one piece. First sniff and a joyfully rich wild strawberry and spice fragrance, then….a musty, old hessian sack waft of, oh no, TCA. Foul language but a resigned shrug too. Life has a way of dealing with great expectations but, really, why are we still wedded to mid nineteenth century technology for our most precious drinks? Down the sink and head in the sand along with much larger issues like a warming planet perhaps?
No points just a grumpy old man who’s a bit worried at the moment.
A delicious Shiraz from the beautiful Adelaide hills opened the day before homes, vineyards and livelihoods were tragically lost to bushfire. Named Syrah as a signpost to the Northern Rhône and its restrained balance of fruit, spice and stalky earthy complexity. Age has smoothed things but the lively Australian fruit still has a rich red berried, warmth which is comfortably wrapped up in a nutty, stalky coat. There’s deep brown baking spice too which brings to mind Shiraz from the Canberra region, same sort of latitude, altitude and attitude perhaps? Touch of Rhône like stony incense adds detail and cuts the richness. The structure holds it all together with natural feeling acidity and ripe chocolate tannin. Hopes for some cool weather, rain and a brave recovery helped by buying a good bottle or two from those hills.
14% alcohol. Screwcap. Was about $26 in 2012.
Wine that evaporates during winemaking before bottling is often called the angels’ share, thus what’s left is for us, the living or vivants. This fresh and clean blend of 70% Northern Rhône Syrah with 20% Grenache and 10% Carignan from around Cairanne and Rasteau improves with breathing in some oxygen over a few days. Initially a bit reduced in that Northern Rhône way suggesting smoky sulphurous incense, some bright raspberry fruit breaks out in a tart just ripe way. Underneath lurks some dark chocolate, a small bite of licorice and a pinch of brown spice. There’s also that Northern Rhône smoky typical something that perhaps is sort of incense like or earthy or rocky, beyond this limited power of description probably. By days deux and trois the fruit’s pungent and the mouth’s enjoying the ripe acidity and fine tannin. Would be a fine intro to the savoury bite of good cool Syrah. Nice drink for the angels who probably need one this time of year.
14% alcohol. Cork. $38.
Not to be confused with the squinting cigar waving TV detective, M. Colombo has long been associated with a modern, techno approach to Northern Rhône Syrah including lavish amounts of new oak. Surprisingly this seems more traditionally restrained albeit nicely clean. Foresty dark red fruits, baking spices, smoke and a violet menthol lift. Resolved, round and savoury in flavour with good raspberry and cherry fading gently into crepuscular, lovely word, resolution. A quietly assured balance of fruit, savour, acid and tannin. Wouldn’t leave it much longer to linger in the cellar though.
13% alcohol. Cork. Lucky hugely discounted buy when the importer quit their remaining stock.
You have to like a wine with such a suitable imperative instruction and it was my belly indeed via a very satisfactory olfactory interlude! Well pitched smells of musky rose, whole berry ripe cherry and raspberry, woody stalk and dark carbon, all singing in harmony. A good depth of fruit develops and there’s a satisfying mid weight mouthful all knitted together by natural bright acidity and woody stem tannin. Good grapes grown in a place where they seem happy and made into wine in a sensitive and thoughtful way, what more do you want, eh belly?
13.50% alcohol. Screwcap. $35
Mainly Mencía with a bit of Arúxa which is yet another Spanish alternative name for Tempranillo. From a region in furthest south Galicia near the Portuguese border, this is a delicious joven style, unaffected by barrels. Opens up straightaway with bright whole berry ferment scents of cherry and blueberry. Over time a distinct wet rock, er…mineral fume backs up the clean crunchy fruit. Just medium weight the flavours keep up the sparkling crystal fruit and rock theme all pulled along on fine pumice tannin and fresh but ripe acidity. If you hadn’t seen the label, a good guess would be a good savoury cru Beaujolais but not quite right as there’s a sense of rugged Galician river valleys about this. Fanciful no doubt but there’s something about good wine that makes geography more interesting than it was at school.
13% alcohol. Cork. Bargain from our local importer’s bin end sale, cheers Spanish Acquisition!
Some people always bring a thoughtfully chosen and delicious bottle when they have to suffer my cooking. Great Western isn’t exactly renowned for Riesling but it’s got a long history there, particularly in old vineyards like Concongella and its ancient soil. Often broad and diffuse but not lacking a focus on some ripe lime marmalade, toast and a sweet green herby twist. All those flavours plus an old incense, almost eucalyptus perfume buried in the richness. Autumnally sun warm and still full of life. Not too fruit sweet though, a bit of a nutty savoury edge adds extra satisfaction. Perhaps it’s the influence of the big oak ferment instead of the usual clinical stainless steel? Not sure the food was as good as the wine.
13% alcohol. Screw cap. Another generous share.