2021 Bodegas Biurko Rioja Tempranillo Biurko

My inbox gets a bit clogged by all the retail wine shops, wholesalers, reviewers and wineries I seemed to have invited to send emails. A favourite importer, The Spanish Acquisition, happily offer some irresistible, and perhaps Monty Python inspired, unexpected discount clearances. Six packs of your choice of colour for $90 was too good to miss. Thanks to a good friend and fellow wine nut some good things landed on his veranda to share. This is just the sort of energetic blast of clean fresh joven that scratches that need for red wine itch. Tempranillo seems to cover the soft spice and aroma of things like Shiraz with the grunt of Cabernet all in one go. Bursts forth with just picked red berries, very ripe strawberries and a bit of blueberry. Flicker of nutmeg spice. Lots of extract and some depth. Richness cut by mountain sparkling acidity and bristling skin tannins. A lick of savoury sulphide bitterness too that might get a bit too noticeable with time in the bottle but so good for now, why wait? Yet another dream of one of those Spanish bars, a glass of this and a tapa of Iberico, one day.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. Normally about $26 to $30 but for $15 brilliant.

91 points.

2020 Famille Sambardier Cuvée des P’tits Jean VdF Gamay.

More from the random Dan’s six. The 2018 was worth a review, didn’t seem to be trying too hard, and prompted a look at a new vintage, albeit nearly twenty percent more expensive. Opened with the same edgy lift as 2018, some leafy smells worryingly into mulch and decomposition. Air was its friend again as some attractive tart raspberry and cherry fruit battled through the compost aided by good crisp acidity. There’s an authentic feel as it doesn’t look mucked about with in the making. As it’s now over fifteen of our Australian dollars now, the Mommessin and Fessy alternatives maybe look a better option at Dan’s but it drank well, particularly with a bit of something to eat.

13% alcohol. Screw cap. $17.10 in a six.

88 points

2021 Michele Chiarlo Palás Barbera d’Asti

The 2019 was such a good, straightforward bright and light crunchy fruit effort. This new vintage is even better. First day and it looked as simply delicious as the 2019 but given 24 hours of oxygen and there’s good indication of how 2021 may justify the early praise. Such a pretty red purple colour in appearance and flavour if you can taste colours? Freshly squished berries, bramble jelly, wine gums and that sort of gently caramelised jam Barbera brings to mind. Not much tannin but a whoosh of tart and ripe acidity cleans out the mouth and leaves it watering for more. Such a good foil for pizza that it’s far too easy to eat and drink and repeat till it’s all gone. Simple pleasure indeed.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $19 in a Murphy’s six.

91 points.

Of the others in this month’s Murphy trials….

2019 Cantina di Montalcino Rosso di Montalcino

Volcanic amount of sulphury reduction that didn’t really let go over two days. Underneath the smoke and bitter swell there’s some good acidity and Sangio tannin but it would have been good to actually taste it

14% alcohol. Diam. $26.60

87 points.

2018 Guillaume Gonnet Monsieur Grenache VdT

Oh dear, this is what happens when a lot of H2S turns into mercaptan. Filthy and undrinkable.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $13 member’s special.


2018 Julien Schaal Schoenenbourg Grand Cru Riesling Gypse

Jancis Robinson has been a favourite longer form writer for over thirty years. Her prose has an uncanny knack of making me want to go and search out a bottle. Prose which always flows well without cliches, worn figurative language and over used idiom. This maker’s stuff got effusive praise for great fruit and value. Googling, there were a few bottles at auction. Snagged one and here we went. Rich in petrol, sour apple and sweet pineapple at first, it turned into one of those brilliant whites that just get fresher and more even in the glass. A driving ozone freshness took control of bright Pink Lady apple and white peach. The structure supremely balanced between flowing positive acidity, pithy phenolic ripeness (time on skins?) and a glycerol glide. More glorious complications from a sense of powdery chalk and earth. Gypse is gypsum I think, auto suggested no doubt. Over three evenings, nothing budged, just deep complexity and power on pin point refreshment. Completely smitten, oh Jancis.

Just to add more surprise to the story, further googling showed this was available as a direct import from the Melbourne based on line shop that’s Vinomofo who are better known for clearing secret Shiraz at deep discounts. Sadly all the Julien Schaal had sold out. Looks like I’d better pay more attention.

13% alcohol. Diam, seems to fit those long neck Alsatian bottles well. $47 at auction.

95 points pushing 96.

2014 Eden Road Gundagai Cabernet Sauvignon

A quick break on the road from Melbourne to Sydney is perhaps not the terroir you’d expect to produce interesting Cabernet. Always alert to this producer’s wine, when a bottle came up at auction a quick search on Winefront and a great review prompted a bid. Took a while to shrug off a sleep in the bottle, then things flowed well. Just medium bodied, cool blackcurrant, sweet cherry and mulberry all controlled by dry, almost austere crushed rock skin tannin and a savoury ferrous twang. Lovely lacy acidity. A bit of fine dark chocolate too. No fruit bombing but proper dry claret. Sits well in my tucker box.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $31 at auction.

94 points. They’re good those Winefront people.

2019 Pala i fiori Cannonau di Sardegna

A friend who’s much more energetic when it comes to battling those free retail tastings thoughtfully emailed his view of a Prince Wine Store event in deepest South Melbourne. The theme was wine from the European islands. What about Grenache from Sardinia I demanded? Seems there was some Cannonau as it is called thereabouts I was corrected. They included a not too bad one from a maker named Pala. New one for me I, my failing memory blanked. That’s two memory lapses about very important wine things. I should also pay more attention to bids at auction. Amongst them was this bottle from Pala, a welcome sort of coincidental memory fart for once. Just medium weight, a little developed, there were cherry syrup and red fruit things. A good clean crunch of, here we go again, rocky earthy minerals. I’m heartened proper describers of wine sometimes resort to those vague words. The earthy combination of flavour and texture seemed nicely sweet too. Lower acidity and glycerol smooth gave the feeling of gentle but still strong fruit quality. Nonetheless, a savoury tilt and those rocks made me think more of Spain than the Rhone or South Australia. Time for more Grenache journeys.

13.5% alcohol. Nomacorc sugar cane seeking closure. $22 at auction which is a bit less than retail. Phew.

91 points.

2020 Castillo de Aresan Tempranillo Toro Vino de la Tierra de Castilla

Another six bottles from Dan Murphy’s. Trying to find something untested is getting difficult. Time to resort to a Tempranillo from Spain as there’s no new Mencia or Garnacha. Very clean, quite extracted with chunky ripe strawberry into plum fruit. Made in the technical text take no risks way. The shape carries the method with a good thunk of Greek coffee like silty tannins and firm acidity with no room for anything wild. There’s grace in the way of some well grown fruit quality flickering in the making. Certainly a notch up from the $12 or thereabouts basic Tempranillo imports. The sort of Joven you’d be happy about served cool in the glass in one of those much missed Spanish bars. Maybe a bit like some of those Nero d’Avola made in the same way. Good mouthful of simple fruit, a firm bit of muscle but not a lot of complication. Could be an unmerited quibble. What was I expecting for $15 on special? Happy to finish the bottle, a recommendation perhaps. Five more bottles to go.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $15.20 member’s special.

89 points.

2021 Yangarra GSM

A favourite McLaren Vale winery that makes consistently measured and delicious wine. Earlier vintages could be a bit rustic but things are increasingly clean and beautifully made.The label now puts the Blewitt Springs sub region front and proud, good idea as Grenache does seem to like it in those sandy soils. The back label is full of useful info for the wine interested, 53% Grenache, 33% Shiraz and 14% Mourvèdre together with soil type and method. This vintage just bursts out of the glass and all over the olfactory bits. 2021 looks so good in a lot of places. Starts with sweet nut paste, red fruit, fine chocolate and earth. Fresh and crisp, especially for McLaren Vale. With time and air the fruit gets denser and sweetly weighty. Some musky exotic perfume almost into lavender overlays that intense sugar dusted raspberry fruit. Could be cloyingly fruit sweet for some but it shows genuine unconfected fruit richness that’s cut and balanced by natural feeling grape skin tannin and juicy acidity. Must admit to some uncertainty as to how it’ll develop with time. Will the fruit calm or get too jammy? Only one way to find out, buy another and wait. Thanks to a kind friend in the business, there’s advantage to be taken from a staff and friends online buying site that makes the experimental outlay less foreboding, cheers.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $35 RRP but worth shopping around.

92 to 94 points depending on ideas about fruit sweetness and time?

2018 Charles Joguet Chinon Les Petites Roches

Despite some horrendous memories of this producer’s wines from the early nineties, they taught me a lot about dirty barrels and mercaptan, I followed up an enthusiastic recommendation from a talented taster who values clean winemaking when choosing their imports. Crikey, they’re right, this sparkles brightly with deep and pristine fruit. The smell of pencil cases adds a savoury note to sugar dusted raspberries. Rich almond paste too. All controlled by ripe, mouthwatering acidity and a brush of fine grape skin tannin. Essence of tart Loire Cab Franc that’s taken a holiday in the sun. Absolutely delicious is all I can add apart from another hearty recommendation.

14% alcohol, not something you would have seen in the Loire last century. Cork, oh well. $46 RRP but worth searching for discounts.

93 points but maybe 94 for pleasure.

2002 Domaine de Chassorney Nuits Saint Georges Clos des Argillières 1er cru

Bitten by the Burgundy bug in 1989 after staggering out of the Marché aux Vins in Beaune, having swallowed every sample from one of those ridiculous silver tastevins, little did I realise the torture ahead. There was a lot of self serve bottles open in those days too, ouch. Navigating the Côte d’Or needed direction and the bible was written by Clive Coates MW who left us this year. Prolific, rigorous and firm in opinion, his writing was the guide. Better off friends who subscribed to The Vine were bothered for the latest good word. Towards the end of the nineties the first vins naturals were arriving on the shelves of favourite Paris wine shops where prices were good and the hand luggage home was very heavy. Frédéric Cossard and Philippe Pacalet were sought after as makers of clean, fresh and perfumed Pinot in the new natural way. So, to my only bottle of the cult of Cossard’s Chassorney. From Caves Augé in 2004 when the risk of checked luggage was by then the only choice. Opened with old furniture odours of bottle age and clouded by remaining sulphur reduction, smelling like an egg sandwich. As the sulphur cleared over a patient hour or two, the colour livened from brick to red. The aromas freshened too, a puff of faded roses, sweet wild strawberry compôte, a bright blood orange crunch too both in flavour and energetic acidity. Then that final flood of sweet earthy richness and ironstone like mineral that you hope for from good Nuits? Not sure how else to describe those stony flavours us wine fiends treasure. Ineffable maybe? Or f’s sake, that’s good? Cleaned up with gently powerful emery board tannin. Probably could have saved a lot of words with a simple Clive Coates’ very fine plus.

13.5% alcohol. Cork. The budget was about €50 a bottle in those days for Paris holiday bottles.

94 points.