Sometimes it’s a thin line between an interesting drink despite a dislike of one or two things in the making and enough pleasure to want another glass. Not knowing the maker but loving Langhe Dolcetto, I risked a small bid on a few bottles of this at auction. The first was just a bit too ripe, lacking a little fruit sweetness through the middle to buffer the tough dry skin tannins. Bit butch, extractive and trying too hard for ripeness, like they’d left things hanging on the vine too long in a hot vintage. Another bottle some time later as lubricant to a tasty Sunday night pizza treat and a happy surprise. Sure, it’s still dense and rich but there’s a swell of sweet cherry chocolate fruit to mitigate the dry cocoa tannin. Notice the producer is based in Serralunga and this certainly does nothing to diminish the village’s reputation for thunder and weight. Perhaps it’s another case of recent imports benefiting from a bit of a rest? There’s a few more tempting a bid. Decent Piemonte for $18.
14% alcohol and it shows a bit. Diam, nice. $18 at auction.
The label’s right about the “Viticultura Heróica”, I get vertigo just looking at google images of those incredible Ribeira Sacra vineyards. Looks like Dan Murphy’s have been busy sourcing some better Spanish bottles. This one is a great example of just how fine Mencia grown on those near vertical vineyards can be. Takes a while to open up in the glass but when it does it just gets better over two or so days. So clean and pure, there’s that perfume that takes me to the Nothern Rhône rather than Galicia. Violets and other florals, smoke and very ripe raspberries. Beguiling sweet minerals. Freshness and succulent balance in shape. Long pure flavours of red fruit, purple flowers and sweetest herbs bathed in a mountain stream. Great focus and evenness of ripeness carried on perfect acidity and tannin like wiping your finger across a wet slate. A weight of peerless fruit on a cloud. As a direct import it represents great value, especially compared how much a modern N Rhône would cost. Think I’ll have to go back for more, that’s two Murphy imports in a week of quality at good prices. Goodness, what’s next?
13% alcohol. Cork, alas. $27.
A negotiant bottling I think as the front label has a cryptic OT reference and the back label says bottled by Maison Tricon, perhaps the Olivier variety of Tricon? The source aside this was one of those bottles that was disappointing to start and ended up with the feeling the bottle was too small. Still a good fill level and a long firm cork with virtually no travel was encouraging. Still lightly coloured with a tinge of green gave even more hope. First sniff and taste was a let down of cheese and nuts aldehyde, sort of oxidised like Fino. Grapes with no protection from oxidation like apples cut and left to brown. First taste, crisp and fresh to start, then a cloud of the oxidative making hides any fruit through the mouth until a flicker of citrus and honey to end. Enough to stuff the cork back in and back into the fridge to see what happens with a day’s air. Kill or cure. Second day and the oxidative edge is still there but as it sits in the glass, booming flavours of beeswax, acacia flowers, honey, exotic citrus, mushrooms and that sense of stream water over cool limestone or something similarly fanciful. The aldehydic note nearly disappeared. Not sure how wine science explains that. The lessons here I think are, the 2012 Chablis vintage is very, very good and despite some old fashioned or dodgy winemaking that fruit quality will out. So wish I had some 2012s in the cellar.
13% alcohol. Cork. $48 at auction.
Started 85 points, ended up 93 days of yore points.
An unlikely looking sparkling wine bottle sealed with a beer bottle thing called a crown seal, I think? Thought I better have a try after reading a great review on Winefront and subsequent funny comments from its maker about doing what your mum tells you. Yes, mum. In the early days of Charlie Melton and his amusing translation of CNdP as Nine Popes, I must admit to enjoying Barossa Shiraz in its very primary, just fermented, squishy berried deliciousness. So it is with this no sulphur youngster. Yes, summer pudding berries, dripping with sweet juice, no hint of over ripeness. Full and exceedingly generous. After a couple of days, it just got better. Added to those berries, there’s the sweet, tarry earth and spice of quality Australian Shiraz with flickers of sage and salt bush, all bound by fresh natural feeling grape acidity and tannins like wine filtered through a layered pile of rocks. Such poise, no hint of yeasty funk or oxidation, maybe just a hint of fresh sourdough? Maybe this is the essence of quality Barossa the great RP fell for those years ago? Always do what your mum says.
13.5% alcohol. Crownseal, first for me. $35 RRP
94 maybe 95 as Winefront says, no argument here.
The label looks like all of Melbourne’s bars at the moment sadly, so many empty chairs. This blend of mostly Merlot with some Cabernet Franc from a vineyard north of Pomerol avoids the appellation naming and conventional oaky way of Bordeaux with organic growing, low intervention making and a basic Vin de France label. Rich, ripe and clean with a juicy freshness to lift. Loads of ripe raspberries, cherries and leaf flood the nose and mouth, wrapped up in that Bordeaux gravel and clay mineral thing. In fact I must confess that characteristic reminds me of pulling off a new gum boot caked in clay and soil after a winter walk in the damp English countryside. Weird how our sense of smell can evoke time and place. Succulent and soothing tannin and acidity to end. Perhaps not the cool just ripe claret of old but a delicious clean and glossy natural wine from a warm vintage.
13% alcohol. Diam. $32 but seems it’s available for $24 on some on line stores which make it good value Bordeaux,
92 to 93 after a day or two.
A Dan Murphy’s members’ special for $9 a bottle. Not sure what a knife wielding moose in a English gent’s hunting jacket has to do with the mouth of the mighty Rhône river? Caught the eye in a strange way though. In the words of Rob Brydon in one of those Trip to…. films with Steve Coogan, my bouche is amused. This is extraordinary for the money. A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, it opened with a bit of bubblegum but the fruit emerged in an hour or so. Very ripe plum, cherry, into raisins and fruitcake. Bit syrupy and low in acidity but persistent with Mediterranean scrub and a tasty saline tannic end of surprising plushness. Some dodgy negotiant CNdP bottlings of yore weren’t as good as this, although that may be faint praise. Really quite a decent clean glass of wine. Might well be the Carignan adding character? Maybe not.
14.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $9.
A GSM with a bit of C for Cinsault and from a favourite recent vintage. Unlike a less than sanitary 2012 version the invitation to sniff and drink here is clean and full of summer berries, dark chocolate with a cloud of Rhone violets and smoke. Deepens in the glass but never teeters into over ripeness. Blueberries, particularly their chewy skins and deep cherry liqueur emerge, touched with those old Mediterranean woody herbs. The shape is pushing the heroic with fresh acidity despite the ripeness and solid velvet tannin. Good enough to be confused with a good CNdP with a good rocky crunch. Very satisfying notwithstanding the last mouthful of sediment and bits. Teach me to drain the glass without looking.
13.5% alcohol. Cork. $32 at auction, sad there was only one bottle.
Confounding bloody Burgundy. The first bottle of this was drunk fairly quickly over a meal and didn’t really excite, the layer of coffee and cedar oak a little strident to smell and gummy in the finishing shape. The second attempt looked a little more settled but still felt like it was good to open, drink, enjoy and leave the better bottles for a more special occasion, er..like opening a special bottle. Well, that was day one. As something more enjoyable was open, this languished on the table and over half a bottle went in the fridge for the next day. Utterly gobsmacked, the oak still there but now had to compete with that mid to back palate depth of fresh red fruit that Pinot from the Côte d’Or hangs onto over the years. A fine and beautiful swell of wild strawberries, kirsch cherry and something between dark cocoa and clay soil. Detailed acidity and some skin texture fight the oak to the end. Really didn’t expect a fifteen year old Pinot Noir to need twenty four hours to explain itself. There again Chassagne was originally a red grape place and this a premier cru where it’s still worth hanging on to some Pinot vines. Not sure I’ll ever learn.
13% alcohol. Cork. About $45 pre arrival in 2007, those were the days.
90 points day one, 94 day two, who’d a thought.
Sort of not so petit with large framed flavour and shape. Maybe it’s the warmer vintages? Thankfully this hangs on to some typical Chablis smells and tastes despite the rich and ripe feel. Lots of ripe lime, other sweet citrus verging into almost melon. Viscous glide full of creamy glycerol texture. Nevertheless for us Chablis fanciers there’s sea breezy saline, a hint of crustacean shell and a cut of yoghurt tangy acidity that still manage to scratch the insistent itches for which there’s only one treatment. A little broad in the beam but anchored to its sea shell bed. Lacks the detail of a premier cru in a cooler vintage but delicious and honest. Beggars and choosers as the old cliche goes.
12.5% alcohol the label says but… Diam, yes. $30 pre arrival offer from Randall the Winemerchant, nice selection.
91 but so much more for Chablis truth.
Each year this gets better. No longer do Vajra list varieties on the back label but I’d guess it’s the same Nebbiolo dominant blend with bits of Dolcetto, Barbera, Freisa and something else as past vintages. The ability to taste well enough to say for sure would be good though. Starts with a lift of that dirty, dusty old road Langhe Nebbiolo thing but it’s no more than a savoury seasoning like some of those better low sulphur natural brews. At its core is a panoply of red summer fruits, rose petals and the most mouthwatering of acidities and fresh tannin. It sparkles with life. That dirty road becomes calm and macadamed in time. Improved over three days. Probably rather drink this than more bulky aspirations of extraction. In a word, delicious, burp.
13% alcohol. Screw cap. $30 at best, normally $35 but still a relative bargain the way Barolo prices are going.
94 points influenced by sheer pleasure.