Yet another Yarra Valley Cabernet, this one from under the floorboards. Still a crimson sort of red colour, as usual with Cabernet from the Valley, age is kind. Those distinctive smells of ripe blackcurrants cut with leafy green and a twang of truffle and tinned sweet corn. Little bit of blackberry to add richness. The structure has resolved, throwing a good layer of deposit on the side of the bottle. The gentle fine tannin and ripe sweet acidity that make Yarra Cabernet so attractive are there in good proportion. Sometimes a divisive set of flavours for those who find the green savoury notes difficult but for me there’s more than enough sweet fruit pushing the tang to one side. As the Pretenders sang, special, so special.
13% alcohol. Screwcap. About $30 sometime over a decade ago.
Forthright ripe red fruit bursts from the glass quickly chased by a toffee warmth, then a crunch of firm acidity. A big bowl of strawberry, plum and a few blueberries. Not surprisingly there’s an overlay of floral smells like violets and roses, Fleurie after all. In between the dense fruit and popping up again to finish is a mineral pull, licking rocks again. Bold, warm and positive but detailed and composed too. Just to prove it’s maker’s place amongst the minimalist interveners, a yeasty edge suggests low sulphur. All the parts came together well over two evenings. Definitely not Beaujolais Nouveau.
13% alcohol. Cork. $42.
93, maybe 94 points.
If you google map Blackstone Paddock, the closest you get is a suburb in Launceston Tasmania called Blackstone Heights. Marketers do love to invent hills, gullies and now paddocks. The back label reveals more, a blend of grapes from Pipers River, sort of near Blackstone Heights, and from Coal River, down south near Hobart. Whatever the source, it’s a convincing effort for well under $20. Smells of Pinot Noir, thus strawberries, cherries, wet green undergrowth, rhubarb and a sprinkle of oak spice. Nicely light to medium weight, not trying too much. The only reservation on day one was a lifted waft of something like feline Sauvignon Blanc, some mint, pine needles and a note of sour green acidity jarring against the warm red fruit. Some over and under ripeness in the blend? Happily, after a day left to compose itself, the blended parts got a lot more comfortable in each others’ company and the acid softened. In fact it carried the flavours to a nice fresh end, tickled by a titchy bit of tannin. Bit cobbled together maybe but it avoids being overwrought, unlike this review.
13.5% alcohol. Screwcap. $15.95 I think from those oddly arranged Aldi shelves.
89 points, sort of 87 first day, 90 second, rounding up the average.
A favourite Tasmanian Pinot producer who seems to get proper flavour ripeness whilst keeping a good freshness. This one does just that with poached strawberries, cherries and a bit of aniseed. A terrific tug of cool acid and fine tannin gives the end a succulence trimmed by that stone like character that seems to be both flavour and texture. It seems to avoid those mint and pine needle flavours of under ripeness and the dark over extraction of the too ambitious. The label provides some good advice about accompanying things, including hare, doo wop, and lovers. Cheers.
12.5% alcohol. Screwcap. $29.
Older bottles of Burgundy can certainly be a test of your patience, even after they’ve been carefully left somewhere cool and dark for over a decade, waiting. First the cork was a dreadful piece of tree bark. Carefully turning a good quality corkscrew only led to the middle of the cork collapsing into fine particles and dust. Fifteen minutes of patient digging got most bits out, leaving a small plug that dropped into the neck. Good thing it was so reductive it needed a double decant through a strainer to get the last bits. The first sniff and sip after leaving it to air was, as Billy Connolly once said, like a fart in a space suit, a particularly sulphurous one too. Quite a bit of spritz as well from dissolved CO2. Oh well, not tonight then. Twenty four hours of more breathing and then muttered expletives. Still a little smoky but an incredible density of warm ripe Pinot Noir heaven. Intense, fresh wild strawberries, cherries, liquorice, and chalky earth that bounce around the olfactory bits for what seems a very long time. Like a stairway to heaven, it made me wonder. The sheer concentration coats the mouth with flavour and what flavour. It’s as if the best summer fruit at its most perfectly ripe has been preserved with precision until now. The tannin and acidity were, of course, the perfect foil to carry and then freshen. Once in a while a bottle makes you remember how Burgundy can touch the sublime. Even if it means even more patience.
13% alcohol. Cork, foul but did its job, just. The cost forgotten.
96 points, could have gone 97 if less recalcitrant, the wine not I.
Dolcetto from Piemonte deserves to be as widely appreciated as it is close to home and amongst us few who love it from afar. Those growers still persevering with it do so as a labour of love as they could make a much better return from Nebbiolo, particularly as some have it planted, like Musso, on land where Neb would be eligible for a Barbaresco label. This one is particularly clean and bright. Red cherry, bakery spices, a little of that Langhe soil and clip of something savoury to finish. Firm but fair tannin and acidity make it so typically adept at coping with a good bowl of pasta. Bright and bouncy from a warm season. Would love to see what their 2016 was like from such a good vintage for Barbaresco.
13% alcohol. Diam, hooray. $23.30, a lucky bid at auction, $35 RRP indicates how undervalued, shhh.
Goodness, maybe that’s the first long French name I’ve carefully typed without a single accent or circumflex. It’s red wine too despite the deluxe Chardy address. Seems Chassagne was prime Pinot soil before vine eating bugs arrived and the world’s infatuation with white Burgundy took hold. This is deeply coloured, just starting to lose some saturation. Good fruit density with smells and tastes of wild strawberry, kirsch cherries and quality chocolate earth. Builds well as it rests in the palate before ending with fine and still fresh acidity and cocoa tannin. The only unwelcome guest in the flavour party is some oak which grates as if it’s been badly seasoned perhaps and tastes a bit of old nuts and stale spice. Delicious grapes though, les gars Bachelet.
13% alcohol. Cork. Was about $45 pre arrival direct import.
Looking through Aldi’s less than enormous wine selection, it was a pleasant surprise to see those beloved words, Grampians and Shiraz. Despite nearly causing an avalanche in those precarious gravity driven shelf dispensers. The wine’s a tasty surprise too. Bright red fruit, lots of stalky herbs add a green overlay, pepper, spice and earth. The label says a portion of whole bunches were used in the making and they do make their presence known in the green flavours carried along on some firm acidity together with stern gummy tannin. Unless somebody’s invented a mechanical harvester that can snip bunches instead of rattling grapes, then hand picked bunches are quite a cost input for the price. Despite the herby flavours stalking the initial taste, there’s a typical Grampians flare of ripe berry and cherry fruit that builds as the wine lingers around the mouth. Maybe a bit stern and shrubby for some at the moment but it did go well over two days. Real Grampians character for not much, yes please.
13% alcohol and better for it. Screwcap. $12.99.
A wild but intensely delicious Grenache grown organically with some biodynamic twiddling and made with a lot of risk taking if the yeasty, low sulphur edge is an indication. It goes deep into raspberry, spice, cherry, rose perfume and single origin, exotic chocolate. Sits in the mouth and sort of implodes into something like a lump of limestone wrapped in velvet. Despite the feral complications, the extraordinary quality of the grapes here wins out, just. Some would be more technically pragmatic perhaps?
14.8% alcohol. Cork. About €35 from Lavinia in what seems a very far away Paris at the moment.
95 points, much less in a laboratory.
A Pinot Noir from a far corner of Baden near the Alsace and Swiss border. Deeply coloured for Pinot and dark, sour cherry and plum ripeness too. It’s focused though with no over or under traits, just pure dark fruit and then a liquid rock finish sweeps in, a wild shock for those used to the evenly ploughed earth of Burgundy. Over a couple of days the geology recedes and the gentle purity of fruit gains traction. A pinch of herb seasoning and ripe acidity bring freshness and there’s just a brush of the softest velvet. Cool and calm too. Worth being patient and letting the flavours unfurl. Fastidiously clean and showing great care in the growing and making. Organic too. Nice choice, Randall, the now veteran wine merchant.
12.50% alcohol but ripe. One of those good Gualia screwcaps. $38.