Please indulge a travel fantasy. Along the esplanade in Sanlúcar de Barrameda there are restaurants serving seafood including the sort of chargrilled octopus with smoky pimenton potatoes as good as only Spain can. A glass of this unfortified old clone Palomino would do, particularly as it’s named after an old Sanlúcar pier. It would be a bit of a challenge to pronounce Muelle properly, Moo..eh..ee..eh, perhaps? Matured under Sherry flor yeast, this has all the flavours of Jerez I love without the dank oak and fire breath of fortifying. Single vineyard as is the wine world’s fashion from the Pago Carrascal, it really tastes of dirt, in the best way. Ripe yellow fruits, broad, creamy textured, citrus blossom, chamomile, finally a touch of green olive and warm sea spray. All wrapped up in mouthwatering, fine polished acidity and a proud grown up dryness. Such a special place that bit of Andalusia that sticks out into Atlantic breezes.
14% alcohol. Cork. $40 RRP.
Move over expensive Bordeaux, this polished 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot and 14% Petit Verdot is mellifluous. It harmoniously passes the checklist of what’s to like in Cabernet blends, perfumed, middle weight, soft ripe tannin and seamless natural acidity, finally a touch of vanilla pod oak just needing time to find its way to integration. The extra depth of cassis, berries and leaf push the quality into the Yarra Valley’s best examples. Even better, there’s a sweet black currant edge, lightly minted, that perhaps says Yarra more than anywhere else. Glorious touch of gravel and cedar emerge with time. Complete and focused. The highly pictorial Giant Steps website has a lovely photo of the Sexton Vineyard perched next to a sizeable expanse of water, sort of like Bordeaux.
14% alcohol. Screw cap. A ridiculous brief discount to $20 a bottle from a rrp of $55. Social media suggests the new owners are more interested in Pinot and Chardonnay and are quitting the Cabernet blends. Social media can be wrong, can’t it.
94+ points. Come back in a few years.
Château Neuf du Pape may get all the tourists and good prices but when it comes to hanging around the southern Rhône the smaller villages like Cairanne and Rasteau get my vote. This great producer has been a favourite since last century. Now biodynamic, this is the property’s entry to its range of Cairanne made up with 80% Grenache, the rest Syrah. Opens with clean aromas of balsamic infused berries, kirsch and the most attractive bits of that Mediterranean scrubby garrigue. Smoothing out with age but still crisp and for want of a better word, smooth, maybe suave even. Just a glide through with just ripe tannin and enough acidity. Real depth of fruit. Great clarity and focus. Warm and generous too. Really ripe in line with hotter and hotter Rhône summers but in no way porty or leathery. It’s entirely subjective but there does seem a better definition to organic and woo woo biodynamic wines. Maybe it’s just more time and care in the vineyard or it’s humans working with the biosphere rather than against. This result is just delicious.
14.5% alcohol. Cork. $39 at auction.
Along the Ribera del Duero it’s Tinta del Pais, one of the many names for the grape we all know as Tempranillo. Sensible, or for wine nuts into bad puns, a Cencibel decision to stick the name we all know and enjoy. Sorry, don’t think puns work well in obscurity. Nonetheless a Tempranillo as I do like it, joven as the Spanish say, not over done with oak. This one’s a tasty smack on the nose of sarsaparilla, cherry, pepper and strawberry. Straight ahead fresh and crisp. Such is the volume of flavour Tempranillo can cram into a sip, there’s toffee, lavender and sage too. As it sits, some extra ripeness in leather and tar. No complications in shape, just a good bump of firm tannin and acidity. Flavours enough to dream of Spain again and a cool glass and a tapa in one of those cheerful bars where there’s always a Tempranillo or two.
14% alcohol. Screw cap. $19 in a six at Dan’s, value.
91 points. It wavered between 90 and 92.
From one of the originals of Macedon and the nicest, most thoughtful vignerons around. Syrah from Heathcote, a bit further north and quite warmer than those chilly hills, picked earlier than some for bright bouncy fruit and gastronomic, nice word, pleasure. Clean smells of Australian forests, some bay leaf, whole bunch sap, a passing whiff of smoky reduction and steaming up through the detail, a bright sweet red berry plume, so typical of Heathcote. Just as it is to sniff, so it is in flavour. Nice mesh of fine tannin and settled acidity. Time has knitted it all together without losing the raspberry, plummy richness. It’s not enough for Bindi to make some of Australia’s most understatedly intense Pinot and Chardonnay commanding thoroughly deserved prices, there’s graceful Shiraz for us cheapskates too.
13.5% alcohol. Diam. $26 at auction, quite a score.
Yet another from Blewitt Springs, McLaren Vale that is. Busy place. In the glass, there’s loads of dried herbs with an Australian bush accent. Very frisky red fruit, spices and aniseed. Good crack of bright acidity, little bit citrusy and some grip from those herby stems. Something like a lemony oak note or crashes the party a little for this fusspot. Probably won’t trouble most. In broad terms, it’s good to see the grapes picked for fresh red fruit, the Shiraz bit seems, well, almost racy. Enough depth of flavour to satisfy, still full of generous plum and pomegranate fruit. Paralian’s a good new word to add to the vocabulary for us living on the margin by the big ocean.
14% alcohol. Screw cap. 555 gms of glass which seems about average for most Australian bottles. After weighing a few, I’m going to stop, only to note those with virtuous lightness or berate those show off heavyweights. As a Campbell Mattinson Winefront review described one obese effort, “for those with more money than confidence”. This bottle was $30 at auction.
80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. Opened full of Blackforest cake and garrigue shrubbery. As it sucked in a breath of air, it lightened up to brighter red fruit and no small amount of sappy stalks. Good extras in the form of woody herbs, the old Mediterranean scrub and sun warmed earthy stuff. Cocoa powder tannin and enough acidity. Second day and the green chewy stems take up more room but the fruit’s there to cope, just. Could be a little out of whack for some. For me, there’s interest, good clean fun and value.
14% alcohol. Screw cap. 568 gms of glass. $23.80 in a six from Murphy’s.
92 points for whole bunch fiends, 90 for those opposed to shrubbery.
The back label says Agrado means “Feeling of happiness or pleasure when doing something one loves.” Like sipping a glass of this. So good, glad to have a six pack to share. Mostly Garnacha, Rioja old style, with some Tempranillo, whole berry fermented for brightness and crunch. Bright as the proverbial button, glossy sweet pomegranate syrup, all sorts of red berries, perfume of rose, touch of almost musk, jamon, olé. Some of those mineral stony flavours that wine bores bang on about. A scythe of fine grit tannin and mouthwatering acid rises up to meet the fruit, carries it long and stops any hint of mawkish nonsense. The fruit quality is such that a sweet perfume lingers long. Exemplifies the fascinating ying and yang of dry ripe fruit and savoury so typical of the best of Spain. Saw some Joselito Jamon Iberico at the market this morning for a measly $485 a kilo. How thin a slice?
14% alcohol. One of those agglomerate things with a disc of real cork on each end, they seem to be improving but why, really? 394 gms of glass. $35 rrp.
93 gobsmackingly delicious points.
Apis, Latin for a bee, the winemaker’s affectionate nick name, got it, took a while, der. It’s a mystery what lurks in the field whence it came but a search of the encyclopaedic Winefront says there’s five percent Gewurztraminer from cold, windy Drumborg in the mix. Sort of a big field but the Crawford River property is so spacious in the possession of dirt, it could extend that far. The wine’s so well made, it had me struggling to find any evidence of cloying Gewurz perfume without reading Mike Bennie’s lovely review. In the glass, a little sulphurous reduction which evaporated quickly, then bright red fruit, raspberry and strawberry type, a lift of brown baking spices, Gewurz? The shape feels more rosé than tannic red, slippery, slurpy and round. Second day and it gets better, the fruit gets rounder and deeper, glides down on just enough strawberry acidity to freshen. My guess, there’s some Cabernet Franc at work. If only Melbourne’s hospitality were open, this would be a perfect by the glass pour with all those lovely green things dripping spring juices at the moment.
13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. 365 gms of glass and a bit of aluminium of course. The lightest, enviro friendly bottle so far. It actually seems a bit small but that might just be swift drinking. $25 rrp.
91 points but thoughtful styling bonus.
Some producers are good at the whole process from plants to packaging. Massolino would be an exemplar judging by this sadly empty bottle. Dense, clean and pure fruit galore. Authentic ripe sour cherries, tar, earth and a bit of warm year woody spice. Grip and tang in harmony. Second day and the core of picked just at the right time fruit is headed into deep and meaningful territory. If you had to choose a Dolcetto to interest those learning how good Piemonte can be, this would be the place to start. Bonus marks for a Stelvin Luxe screwcap and a lighter weight bottle. The label’s a bit fancy too.
13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. 420 gms of glass. $37.
93 emphatic points.