2013 Can Blau Montsant

The complication of different names in Catalan and Spanish, or probably more correctly Castellano, gets very confusing. The label here says a blend of Mazuelo, aka Cariñena or Samsò or Carignan, Syrah and Garnacha, aka Garnatxa etc… Why they chose the Rioja name for Carignan, who knows? Maybe it’s because they’re trying to emulate the full whack oak barrel, very ripe Riojas popular in some markets? Despite the aspiration, there’s balsamic lifted dark cherries and sweet roasting pan juices riding soft tannin and acidity verging on the succulent. A sooty rocky depth lurks too. Somehow making it balanced despite the lemony oak and generous ripeness. Some place, some grapes.

14.5% alcohol. Cork. 724 gms of glass to impress. $30 at auction.

92 points.

2012 Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz

Heritage on a week night budget. Still fresh as the air hits, a little age seems to have rounded the fruit and softened the bones. Complete sweet spice box, lots of very ripe fat plums, dark berries, tar and a regional hit of mineral water salinity. Tannin ripe and soft. It’s just amazing how such broad acre, economy of scale production produces something so authentic and tasty for so little cost. It’s been a long time since the 1986 vintage that first won my heart.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. 584 gms of glass. $15 Dan’s cellar special.

91 points.

2018 Serra i Barcelo Aucalà Garnatxa Negra Terra Alta

Yes, yet more Grenache. This from the rugged country around Priorat again. Spotless, bright Spanish Burgundy by inadequate comparison. So fragrant with a red fruit that’s sort of like ripe cherries, deep dark raspberries and wild strawberry whizzed up with some floral perfumes. All cut into shape and kept lip smackingly tart by stony acidity and fine powder tannin. Must confess to writing whoo hoo at the end of my scribbled note. Well, it’s got such energy and stayed delicious over three days, it made me squeak with pleasure.

14.5% alcohol. Cork. 593 gms of glass. $27.

92 then 93 just medium weight points.

2018 Bodegas Borsao Tres Lagunas Garnacha

May have to change the blog’s name to the Grenache Chronicles. Another from the Campo de Borja and one of the wine world’s great value producers. Just medium weight, all the rose and musk of Grenache and truck loads of sweet cherry fruit and smoky rocks. Quite pretty for the Campo, reminds me of one of those new wave Barossa Grenache but with just a bit more of that savoury cut typical of the Spaniard version. Sparkling fresh acidity. Such a reliable producer, very clean, modern in making but still full of character. Hung on well over three days. Still making a claim for the best value producer with a heritage.

14.5%. Screw cap. 555 gms of glass. $19 direct import from Woolworths.

92 points.

2016 S C Pannell The Vale

Going back to the blends of Grenache and Shiraz that would have been labelled Burgundy last century, this one shows itself more than the sum of its parts. Spiced poached cherries, dark brandy soaked fruit cake, tar, aniseed and chocolate. Plums galore as it sits in the glass, not for long though, delicious. The structure seems naturally grippy and large enough to handle the generous ripe blast of fruit. Big heart, broad shoulders, firm handshake and no artifice.

14.5% alcohol. Screw cap. 593 gms of glass. Clearance special at Dan’s for $27.88

93 very solid points.

2015 Renato Corino Nebbiolo d’Alba

Inviting straightaway, lots of ferrous stony stuff, sweet dried roses, cherry stones, all brightly lit and chiseled with tense acidity. Touch of toffee warmth to end shows the warmer vintage maybe? Second day, it’s just as sweet and ripe, for Nebbiolo relatively speaking. More rich dried cherry skins, those sweet rose perfumes and a sort of roast pistachio in muscovada sugar thing. All running up against a wall of rocky acidity to help the pasta go down. Not quite the drive or austerity of the long lasting years as it started to fade on the third day but delicious and so well made. A La Morra Barolo from this address would be something to try.

14% alcohol. Diam, good. 495 gms glass. $36 at auction.

Started 92 points, calmed down to 91 but lovely to drink.

2016 Celler Cecilio Negre Priorat

60% Garnatxa Roja, normal Grenache not Alicante Bouchet I think, and 20% each of Caranyena, or Carignan, and Syrah, thought the Catalans would have their own name for that too? Opens a bit sulphur reductive which never completely clears lending a not disagreeable meaty edge, not too bitter. It’s in the mouth though where things really take off. There’s what seems to be typical Priorat kirsch and sooty fireplace, all so soft and comfortable. Sweet roasting pan juices, some woody herbs and a twist of liquorice too. It’s the rich but not leathery fruit and the cushion of cocoa tannin on a bed of juicy acidity that makes these wines from the near unpronounceable llicorella soil so good and full of character. What I can say, delicious.

14.5% alcohol. Cork. 416 gms of glass. Not sure of the price as it was part of a multi bottle swap, sadly not cheap but compared to Bdx and other Bs relative value.

94 points.

2005 Château Tour St Bonnet Medoc Cru Bourgeois

Whilst I can grasp the basics of the leviathan that’s the Bordeaux wine business, the sheer volume of options and some scary pricing often steers the buying choices elsewhere. If I knew enough to regularly buy something this good, I’d be a lot more willing to explore. Of the last two experiences, one was too leafy, underripe and a bit feral, the other leaden with over ripe deadened fruit and oak. Neither escapade worth sharing. Research suggests this is from 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and the rest a bit of Malbec and Petit Verdot. The cork was in good nick. Once opened, scents of iodine and old wood sweetened by some raisined bottle age. Once the air got to it, some solid cherry and mulberry fruit plumped up the middle with a whiff of cassis to follow. All clean and nicely extracted. The ending marked by a glorious almond and hazelnut paste savour. The ending of the ending controlled by mature fine tannin and still fresh and clean acidity. If I drank enough of the stuff, I’d be bold enough to say proper claret. Simply delicious.

13.5% alcohol. Cork. 536 gms of glass. $31 at auction.

92 points but a big plus for sheer class.

2019 Mitchell Watervale Riesling

A little reduction to start, clears quickly but there’s still some just made and bottled yeasty savour. Below there be masses of lime cordial, fresh lime and kaffir lime zest, lots of lime really. Some green apple juice and steely flint. A power of fruit floats on ripe, succulent and mouthwatering acidity. Generous Watervale and looking forward to one in the heat of February next year when it settles and thence for years more. Dry grown, organic principles, hand picked. Cellar, bargain, winner.

12.5% alcohol. Screw cap. 589 gms glass. $19 Dan’s members’ special.

93+ points.

2018 Guillaume Gonnet Le Hardi Côtes du Rhône Villages

Opened ready to go, bright and clean. 80% Grenache, the rest Syrah. Overlay of peanuts, crisp red cherry, pomegranate, woody herbs on a firm bed of acidity and tannin that’s maybe a bit stalky. Medium of body, astutely avoiding over extraction. Deepened after twenty four hours, very squishy ripe raspberries and some chocolate made dark with a soupçon of bitter sulphide. Enough good fruit, particularly with food, to dream of Châteauneuf du Pape. Bit of a bargain really.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. 532 gms of glass. $17 Dan Murphy’s member special.

Solid 92 points.