2014 S C Pannell The Vale

Grenache and Shiraz and the first wine region I visited. Thirty six years ago, sea breezes and almond blossom and a vague idea wine tasted nice. McLaren Vale was a friendly place, still is, with generous cellar doors ready to pour the good things. This is generous and warm too. Opens with bottle aged old polished furniture smells, then blackberries and spiced plum jam fill the mouth. More complications like a sweet, fertile, well tended garden, quality dark chocolate, cherry liqueur as it warms verging on that childhood cough syrup and roast nuts. All sort of melted together by time. Good natural feeling acidity and chocolate tannin. Idle thought that perhaps I like most Australian red wine in its earlier years. Sometimes things just mellow and sink into each other, comfortable but better, not sure? Nonetheless on a cold winter night, this warmed the proverbial cockles.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $30 at auction, unusually shrewd bid.

93 points.

2020 Mommessin Morgon Côte du Py

In the scheme of Beaujolais crus, Côte dy Py is very well regarded it seems, particularly due to Foillard bottles. This appeared on Dan Murphy’s shelves as a $20 member’s special, about a quarter of the current Foillard, if you can find it. Certainly worth the risk for the outlay. The other Mommessin 2020s have proved great value, consistently fresh and clean. Well, pop me in a TARDIS and go back to when things were made to last with loads of dry extract, built tough to endure and difficult to make friends with in their youth. Sort of reminds me of old, hot year Burgundy. First day, event horizon lack of perfume and a full savoury dry mouthful. Something in the density and chew flickered with a satisfying clean grape skin sweetness and depth. Second day and there’s some flavours of dark cherry, fruit and nut chocolate and granite firmness. Frowning generosity. Could well surprise with a long lie down somewhere cool and dark to see if that extract flowers into fruit you can actually taste? Maybe the tree bark just flattened the fruit beyond my faculties? Maybe it’ll just dry out and become even tougher? Be fun to try another. Quite a ride for $20.

13.5% alcohol. Cork, shame lots of other Mommessin bottles choose better. $20.

90+ points or somewhere between 88 and 94, what do I know.

15th June 22. Had to try second bottle, particularly for $20. Maybe just a bit more fruit showing and a touch softer than the first. More cohesive. Whether that’s due to a few weeks more in the bottle or the first one suffering the endless and often indeterminate horrors of corks, I still don’t know. Anyway, delicious bargain.

93 points this time.

2021 Eastern Laneway Vintners Grampians Shiraz

The label says a Shiraz of genuine class and elegance. Two virtues unusual to the aisles of Aldi whence comes this bargain. Loads of fresh as a new government fruit, pepper and raspberries seasoned with a whip of herby stems. Seamless glide of fine tannin and fresh acidity. Despite the advertised 14% on the label there’s a coolness to the fruit that suggests good even ripening. A burst of 30 degree warm, sunny autumn weather seems to have been a blessing to a cool, sometimes damp La Niña season. There’s maybe a young vine washy dilution through the end but Grampians beggars must be very grateful for such a sensitively made Shiraz for not much. Probably at its best now and for the next year or so. I had to buy another, the true test.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $12.

90 points.

2020 Michele Chiarlo Palás Barbera d’Asti

It’s been a long and unexpected hiatus in a blathering on about wine. Old age could be blamed. Spending time watching the last grains drop through the hourglass and battling the cardiac horrors a declining body brings seems to have squashed the enthusiasm and encouraged some lazy pleasure. This bottle of Barbera jogged memories of tasting Italians before a fashion for power and climate change encouraged slippery ripeness. Times when a lot of Italian wine seemed out of whack in terms of tannin and acid when tasted away from the meal table. Crisp, very fresh and just ripe fruit bounces here on some bristling acidity. Too puckering until it’s sluiced through after some pasta. Then it all makes sense. Bright, clean and delicious cherry fruit, just medium weight at best, shines as that acidity leaves a craving for oily garlic scented goodness. Just a brush of ripe, skin tannin to settle. Fermented grapes to help good food go down. Nice lightweight bottle too. Nothing to boast about, just enjoy.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $19.00 Dan Murphy direct import.

90 points.