A few new French vins on the shelves of Dan Murphy’s at prices that may help the budget. Experience does suggest some may not quite please this jaded palate sufficient to empty the bottle into glassware rather than the plug hole. This one is encouraging. Fresh, clean whole berry ferment lift. A couple of days airing and it resolves to bouncy raspberry and leaf, very Cabernet Franc. A bit of cool earthiness too. Sure, the extraction has been pushed a bit hard but there’s enough fruit concentration, sweet tannin and fresh acidity to cope. In fact the fruit’s so good, it was best on day three when it looked like the sort of thing you’d love in a carafe, scoffing something good in a quintessential French bistro, one day.
13% alcohol. Screw cap, zut alors. $16.90.
Started 88 and got to 90.
Nearly a year later and with not much inspiration on old Dan’s shelves, I thought there must be a new vintage to try. No. Proves how Loire reds are still not exactly a trend. Yes, it’s still good, clean and tasty in that red fruit and leaf way of cool Cab Franc. Still $16.90 in a six. If you accept points are a brief but important measure of relative quality, then 90 for the price is very good. If not, there’s worse for the money.
I think I’d better make this post script a pre script as the difference in what my oft inadequate senses of smell and taste can tell was so different. Another bottle in September 2021 was so much riper looking it took head scratching to levels where resident small animals feared eviction. Did I get the vintage year right the first time? This bottle looked so much riper. Some sweet lime, almost green melon and a sultana skin like finish. Still a hint of Chablis salinity and tang but compared to the last bottle, pretty much lacking. Maybe the scents and poise of Chablis sunk below the ripeness as it settled in bottle? It did get the chance to explain over a couple of days. Certainly not going to argue with the perception that 2018 and 2019 were generally warm and too ripe for cool Chablis refreshment. There’s always going to be exceptions, I’d thought this was one. Could be a dodgy, old palate of course.
This time 91 point good Chardonnay.
No simpler or more evocative name in white wine for me, oh no, here he goes again. This small domain has been making Chablis of class and quality above its relative appellation for a few years now. This is shy and coiled with latent sinewy muscle but with some air, the quality of the raw materials starts to show in the form of a lingering depth. Delicious array of flavour across the scale from a top note of delicate acacia, like Australian wattle in full winter bloom, sweet Meyer lemon, beeswax, honey, sweet green herbs, to a bass of seaside iodine and old damp limestone. All pulled long on a yoghurt tang and the finest tingle of ripe acidity. Subtle power. Time will be kind, especially sealed with a Diam stopper. The problem will be keeping the paws off the other bottle.
13% alcohol. Diam. $49, in the world of white Burgundy, a bargain.
Easy 94 points, in time 95, village label but 1er cru class.
The Barossa gets a lot of attention for its unctuous, warm and generous Shiraz but for those of us seeking a bit more cut and austerity, it’s good to head north and up to the Clare Valley for some muscled Cabernet, best brightened like this with some Malbec berries. Red fruits, even and just ripe, cherries for example, spring of mint, Australian forest, hints of cocoa and a nutty thing that reminds me of old school linseed oiled cricket bats, call me bats. An evocative earthiness too. To complete the Clare experience, tannins like suede and a final tilt at a dry stone wall of firm acidity. Open for three days and it just got better. Firm muscles, sanguine attitude but a soft heart too.
14% alcohol. Screw cap. $25 ish on release.
93 points with stamina.
Anybody reading previous posts may have noticed the lack of pink wine. In short, it’s neither red nor white to its obvious disadvantage. An attempt to cook sea animals and rice, apologies to paella, to share with friends and it seemed inevitable the eminence gris of my wine loving mates would bring something as grudgingly lovely as this, just to enjoy confronting an unreasonable prejudice. Naughty boy. From high up on the biodiverse slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail, it’s a very Provençal blend of 60% Grenache, 18% Syrah with the rest made up from Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Rolle. A very pretty onion skin tinged pink colour and a nose full of fragrant peach and apricot skin with a touch of red fruit. Delicate but rich with underpinnings of woody herbs and nuts. Clean and poised in the flavour department, more fragrant red fruits carried by mouthwatering acidity and just the right amount of skinsy grip. Alright, time to own up to really enjoying this.
14% alcohol. Screw cap, chapeau. Nice contribution to the table but don’t make a habit of it.
94 very pink girly points.
The Laurent part of the partnership has been notorious for extreme barrel action over the years and this does nothing to mitigate opinion. A haze of nutty vanilla oak floats high in the aromas but lurking below is some beautiful summer pudding fruit pushing the vanilla back to a mere seasoning. Then that over used French word terroir comes roaring through in blasts of smoke, rocks and minerals. Great depth and composure, no hard edges just round deep fruit, refreshing minerals, mouthwatering acidity and emery fine tannin. In the battle between timber and grapes, the latter take a comfortable win but why get in the fight in the first place?
13% alcohol. Long fancy cork. $50.09 at auction.
An admission, after a thirty year love affair with Riesling from the Clare and Eden Valleys this is my first bottle of Florita from a Watervale vineyard planted in 1946. Despite several years in a bottle, the first sniff was one of surly reduction in the form of that odd gum derived Indian spice, asafoetida. As it clears with air the curious direct memory link between nose and brain elicited a familiar warm pleasure without being able to put a name to recognised parallel smells. As limited intellect coped with the sensory input, things like lime, wax, old stones came to mind. Leaving half the bottle for a second day proved a good move. Any shyness gone, a glorious example of all the best Clare flavours, chiseled and distilled on the freshest laser beam of pristine fruit, all controlled by the most mouth watering of perfect ripe acidity. No raw power, just precision. What have I been missing all these years?
12.3% alcohol. Screw cap. $50 or so.
Started 94 on day one, 96 day two!
From one of the five newish AOPs in Languedoc recognising special wine places, La Clape’s an area near Narbonne very close to the sea and a theoretical maritime cooling influence. This version is 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre which seems pretty typical of the AOP’s permitted varieties. Starts very Mediterranean with a warm herby shrubiness which becomes recognisably sage, lavender and bay leaf with time. Lots of spiced red fruits and lots of chewy extract with a tail of hot year dark prune, rich and smoothly ripe. Plenty flowery perfume to balance the chunky fruit, maybe violets from Syrah and roses from Grenache. Good drag of drying skin tannin and roast meat add a clean finish. Safely made with a polish but still has real character. Delicious now rather than later perhaps? This La Clape deserves infectious applause.
14% alcohol. Diam. $19.90 direct import from Woolworths.
Started 91, then got better, 92 perhaps.
Second bottle a good six months later and time has been very kind. Without seeing the label, easy to believe this could be a ripe Northern Rhône at twice the price. Really good. 93 points
So very Australian to be on the long road to Gundagai, now bypassed, once a stop on the interminable drive from Melbourne to Sydney. This was a fine drink when released five years or so ago. Some turning up at auction for about the same as the original discount price gave reason to see how age treats the stems and all style of modern Shiraz from a good vintage. Well, there’s certainly mulch and undergrowth but time sweetened red fruits of some purity and good ripeness build well. Tar, pepper and spice too. Lick of old oak. Settled acidity mingles well with the stalky tannin. Probably at its zenith but not going to fade that quickly. Seems a good spot for Shiraz, the warm climate tempered by cool nights at altitude. That odd ode about dogs sitting on tucker boxes still makes me wonder if its owner ever got to their sandwiches.
13% alcohol and nicely ripe. Screw cap. $24.50.
92 points, almost more for that just right fruit ripeness.
The 2018 was so good that when this 2019 appeared on a local online auction site, difficult not to bid. Writing about the lovely 2018, I was completely wrong to think the maker’s name was one of those family name first Italian formals, in fact it’s the two family names involved. Research is a useful thing for those who think they know of which they write. Anyway, this is just pure and delicious. Like falling face first into an Italian market fruit stall in late summer. Squished berries, brambles and that sort of slightly burnt fruit stew that can lurk in really ripe Barbera. Some Piemonte sweet soil underpins the exuberant fruit and it’s all swept up and clean by the sort of mouthwatering acidity that makes another sip unavoidable. So clean, so carefully made but so true to the soil of La Morra where the land lends a beguiling scent to its fruit, well maybe, or just a half a bottle down fancy? Delicioso they say.
14% alcohol. Diam. $38