From a pretty limited experience of things Alsace, the attraction was Jancis Robinson choosing this as wine of the week a while ago. JR seems a bit knowledgeable about what she describes as the world’s greatest white grape. There was also a bottle of the deluxe Cuvée Emile in the past that was very delicious and helped the leap into the land of pickled cabbage. Dry, balanced and a good amount of pithy fruit weight in this, the most basic in Trimbach’s range. A welter of fruit flavours in fact, all sorts of citrus, apples, white peach, something like green mango too which gives a slightly sour cut and cues the sweep of cleansing acidity. Nestled amongst the fruit are some beeswax and vanilla savour and some baking spices which are typical of good Alsace it seems. La doyenne is right on.
13% alcohol. Screwcap, how Riesling loves you. $27.
A very polished and finessed version of Gevrey, perhaps a bit Rousseau like if I’d drunk enough of that hallowed producer to really say. Sweet essence of blood orange, dark wild strawberry, wet potter’s clay and slightly cardboard yeasty lees. Glides well on a chiselled, very fine acid base and a rustle of tannin aristocracy. It’s that density of ripe fruit built on a filigree of the finest carving that marks the posh middle of the Côte d’Or’s slope. Feels like you have to dress up for it.
13% alcohol. Cork. Very nice birthday present some years ago.
There’s no fancy wine making polish here. Nebbiolo from around Barolo as it was, still sometimes is and, Bacchus willing, will be. Smells typically of red cherry, liquorice root, pot pourri, dusty roads and a haze of old oak. No messing with shorter time in contact with those tannin rich skins after ferment, the thump of traditional Barolo tannin pulls a rugged dryness through the mouth. Irish breakfast tea left to stew. There’s enough red fruit weight and earthy depth to buffer the scaffolding but only just. Without animal protein, it’s a challenge but at the table it makes sense. Nothing wrong with tradition that a bit less musty oak wouldn’t cure. Nothing wrong with some modern techniques that wouldn’t miss a bit less new oak. Happy to explore, oh yes.
Another value direct import from Woolworths. A whiff of sulphurous reduction to start which airs away to allow flowers, cherry preserve and a slap of sweet leather to emerge. Not huge or deep but gentle and pure in flavour. Over a couple of days, things cleaned up even more and some Southern Rhône shrubbery smells popped up amongst the very ripe fruit. 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah with the former’s ability to hang on to natural acidity very much on show, refreshing and binding the fine tannin. Such value imports are becoming the best reason to visit the shelves at Dan’s. The cheerful and good natured frontline workers braving retail every day in such times are another.
Spain’s certainly a place for great value. This is apparently hand picked, turned into wine, bottled and put on the shelf at Dan Murphy’s for a measly $10 or $9.50 in a mixed six, incredible. Clean whole berry ferment smells on opening. Medium weight flavours of sweet strawberry and toffee which I particularly like in Tempranillo. An admission, the telltale cola character is not an easy one to spot for me but lots of tasters say it’s unmistakable. There’s a good flow of flavour and some satisfying ripe acidity and firm tannin which is something recognisably good about Tempranillo. Yes, satisfying indeed. Thank Bacchus, the continuing importance of wine at the Spanish table keeps prices traditionally low despite beer now being the most popular social drink. Not sure I’d like to work in those sun blasted La Mancha vines for what they pay. Happy to enjoy the result though when it’s this delicious.
13.5% alcohol. Diam. $9.50 for good grapes, no artifice and real wine.
Musical metaphors or analogies are maybe one of the ways to communicate smells and tastes. If you were alive in the seventies and were a bit offended by punk, then the safe melodies of Christopher Cross or Loggins and Messina would have floated your boat or yacht more appropriately. This is yacht rock Grenache inasmuch as it’s polished to a gleaming sheen, bright raspberry and cherry with a backbeat of McLaren Vale chocolate and old fireplace dust. Sweetly ripe fruit swells up in the middle and nicely swept up on a wave of mouthwatering acidity and a tug of canvas tannin. Completely delicious. Easy FM listening but enough authenticity to keep the Grenache nut on course.
14.1% alcohol. Screwcap. $16.50 on the Oatley owned Sippery website.
A 2019 version was equally tasty. Perhaps darker fruited, more spice and earth complexity. Sweetly fruited, technically spotless perhaps but still shows how good Grenache and the McLaren Vale can be together.
Without doubt the Yarra Valley’s best red varieties are from the Cabernet family. One day the fashion business that’s Australian wine will again trend in Cabernet’s direction, one day. In the meantime you can still buy a cleanskin with a dodgy photocopy label for under $10. It’s from the shelves of Boccaccio Cellars, the food and wine epicentre of Melbourne’s leafy suburban Balwyn where expensive German autos circle the supermarket car park and a long display of Barolo fills a shelf. This Cabernet probably comes from the vines at Hoddles Creek in the cooler altitudes of the Yarra hills and it shows with crisp red cherry and mulberry, a smidgeon of blackcurrant and a leafy edge. Despite the cool, there’s ripe tannin and a good pull of acidity. The ripeness is still there in a sort of Loire Valley way that builds length of flavour rather than width. It’s a long way from the grainy sour green of unripe Cabernet from warmer climates where sugars rise well before flavours develop. Well that’s one view, some will still see green. Still plenty here after ten years. Good honest Yarra Claret for the price of two coffees. The 2018 version still wears flares amongst the floor stacks of discounted no labels.
A blend of Shiraz, Cabernet and Tempranillo from Bendigo in Central Victoria. The photo above is another shameful steal of a background from Max Allen’s great book, The Future Makers, who succinctly describes Pondalowie’s wines as having ‘exceptional sturdiness of character’, no argument here. This is the cheapest bottle in the range but it could never be described as dilute or lacking. Heaps of dark blue and black fruit, a whiff of new leather, sandalwood and menthol power through the nose and imposing mouthful. Extracted like a long stewed pot of tea without the bitterness, just loads of furry ripe tannin and settled acidity. It’s sweetly resolved rather than developing any dusty bottle age. Those tannins deserve a piece of good Victorian grass fed steak. Max goes on to tell how the maker worked in the Douro and the satisfying depth here would look at home in that dusty valley. Such a good, deep drink, probably more for carnivores than vegans.
14% alcohol. Screwcap serves this so well. $20 or thereabouts at the time.
If the choice was limited to only one Australian red wine producer, then it would have to be Wendouree. Even in the most unloved of vintages and 2011 certainly qualifies so far for this millennium, those old vines produced a wonder. Since the change to screwcap, there’s been a move to the less extractive and the more chiseled in shape. The 2011 dampish vintage only emphasises this. Opens like it’s only a couple of years old with fresh red fruits perfumed by roses. Only with considerable air do the more typical mint, Australian bush and mossy background appear. Appropriately for Easter, this was still very much alive on the third day, palpably at its best. The increasing depth of flavour wasn’t short of gobsmacking. The change in style and the cool year give the fruit an astonishing clarity and fragrant charm. Built more on fine acidity than rumbling tannin, although they’re still there and gently ripe. It’s like the Aussie muscle car chassis has been unbolted and replaced with that of a taut Italian two seater. Imagine the rich fruity essence of Wendouree built on the cool savour of a good Barbaresco, not in flavour but in structure. Modern Wendourees may not please the traditionalists but they’re an expletive worthy expression of vintage and vine. Depth and clarity, say it again, what a treasure.
13.5% alcohol. Gualia screwcap. $45 ish on the snail mail list.
95 finessed points, Wendouree and finesse, say what?
Something like the thirty third vintage of this to have ended up in my glass and making me feel quite vintage too. Opens dark and rich, certainly warmer and more upfront than the 2017, with road dusted blackberries and spiced plum with a nudge of noticeable mocha vanilla. It does however avoid simple fruit sweetness with some earthy, saline Coonawarra dirt. Nice fruit tannin and the acidity isn’t ungainly unlike some large production Australian Shiraz. Enough oomph over a couple of days to suggest a rest somewhere quiet, cool and dark won’t do any harm. Good old Wynns.
13.6% alcohol. Screwcap. $10.40! Charitable Woolies pricing a favour to the wine budget if not the brand so much.