2014 Stoney Rise Pinot Noir

Producing good Pinot Noir seems to need the close attention only a dedicated, hands on producer can provide. In this case, naked bodies immersed as well according to reports. Still a good bright red colour for an Aussie Pinot, fragrant with tart berries, rose oil, wild strawberry and that sort of incense like mystery that does nothing to stop the obvious comparison to things from the Côte d’Or. There really is a flavour ripeness you don’t often see in Australian Pinot, energy, focus and poised between the herby and the brown sugar sweet. Mouthwatering acidity and a lick of iron filing tannin. Spotlessly clean too, as you’d hope the pigeage was too! Must be a good place to grow Pinot.

13% alcohol. Screw cap. $30.

94 points.

2017 Hervé Souhaut Syrah

Time seems to pass so quickly, the first vintage of this quintessential natural wine that won my heart was 1999. A discovery at that Paris haven of real wine, Caves Augé. Some years later and it seems as if the wine making just gets better and the results appear finer, more perfumed and poised. There’s that floral, smoky raspberry thing typical of the Northern Rhône and perhaps also characteristic of whole grape Syrah ferments? Amazingly perfumed, that typicity plus brown baking spices, a riot of autumn berries and rocks. Rich fruit floats on supremely ripe but crisp acidity. Tannin to support, gently. The essence of flavour ripe Syrah on featherweight frame. Just so clean and focused, brilliant craft. Low alcohol too, liver approved.

12.5% alcohol. Nomacorc Green Select. $40 at auction which was good as the RRP is rising most unfairly.

2015 Wynns Coonawarra Estate V and A Lane Shiraz

Well, the WordPress platform can be odd. I tried using an ampersand between V and A as it appears on the label and when it saves it turns into & …..bizarre. So, “and” it is. Conjunctions aside, this is an elegant, for want of a better word, fresh and sort of subtle Shiraz, an antidote to the high alcohols of the late nineties and early two thousands. I can clearly remember a 1980 Leconfield Cabernet drunk in the nineties that was the essence of sweetly perfumed pillow softness and somehow this echoes the memory. Starts with noticeable oak, albeit not too raucously so, then in sweeps pepper, spice and just ripe red fruits that last and perfume the mouth. Soft but positive tannin and acidity match the composed flow of flavour. Even after a couple of days oxygen, it stayed tightly bound, suggesting a future of slow resolution in the best tradition of great claret wherever it’s made…..and no buts about it.

13.1% alcohol, AND better for it. Screw cap. $35 Dan Murphy clearance, thank you very much.

93+ points.

2009 Stefano Lubiana Grande Vintage

After months of sensible pandemic restrictions, the joy of being allowed to cook dinner for a dear neighbour was doubled when they turned up on the doorstep with such luxurious bubbles. Something like 70% Chardonnay, the rest Pinot Noir left on lees for nine years before disgorging and goodness, some impact and power. Starts a bit reductive and green but with the dense bubbles tickling the nose, there’s a richness of spice, caramel, butter pastry, crystalline citrus, barley sugar and aniseed. Lingers with a deep flavour of ripe Chardonnay and still fresh chalky acidity. Not exactly subtle but a powerfully balanced mouthful. Splendid Australian sparkling wine of its own merit. What a great way to celebrate our lockdown patience and true neighbourliness.

12.5% alcohol. Diam. Thanks.

94 points.

2005 Domaine de l’Oratoire de Saint Martin Cairanne Haut Coustias

The domaine’s top of the range label, still at retail for less than most CNdPs, is normally a blend of 60% old vine Mourvèdre with equal parts Grenache and Syrah making up the rest. It’s always with some trepidation that I risk a bid at auction for something well past its tenth birthday but here’s a well cared for bottle. No ullage, good cork of some length, always a relative term, no leakage and no taint, phew. Starts off with those dusty old bottle of wine smells, no surprise, swirl and air, then gloriously clean plumes of old leather couches, sweet kirsch cherries, blackberries, garrigue and spice, all deep, warming and rich. The fruit power and sweetness backed by an umami glycerol blanket of game meat pan juices, all those caramelised delicious bits. An earthy bass line of clay soil broken up with chalky stones, really. Remarkably all that richness is cooled by perfect fine pixel acidity and the ripest sweet tannins. The label may not be cutting edge fashion but this is great natural wine, biodynamic, no additions apart from some sulphur, I think and so clean and pure. A smile on the face of old Bacchus and me too.

14.5% alcohol. Cork. $33.80 bid.

95 points.

2017 Bodegas Costers del Sió Petit Siós Costers del Segre

Costers del Segre is a fairly recent addition to the DO scheme of things Spanish. Spread over two or three main areas, it sort of borders the more famous Priorat and is firmly Catalan it seems. This bottle contains a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon. Opened with a whiff of smoky sulphury reduction. As it quickly cleared, some clean medium weight dark cherry and berry, pretty suave really, all modulated well across a balanced mesh of settled acidity and firm ripe tannin. I scribbled, won’t frighten the horses but has an easy charm. Quite a surprise three and four days later to find it not only hanging on but more interesting. Sweet, round and ripe but not overly so. Almost Australian sunshine ripeness over the firm push of Spanish geology. Sweet damson which I think I remember from childhood, dried fig, sage and something rocky like wet concrete. Such lovely acidity. Tempranillo from a humble bottle does it again.

13.5% alcohol. Diam, good. $13.92 at auction, pat myself on the back, if I could.

Started a solid 91 points, pushing 92/93 later.