2016 Te Mata Awatea Cabernets Merlot

Perfect way to celebrate Bastille day eve with a Kiwi that’s better value and probably a bit cleaner than some more illustrious Bordeaux, which was already an expensive dabble thirty years ago when the bug bit. Not that price stopped a reckless love of Burgundy instead. Probably as many disappointments too. Anyway, unlike nearly every other NZ producer, Te Mata are as nineteenth century traditional as the Bordelaise in the choice of stopper. Happily the expensive looking tree bark here didn’t spoil a seriously delicious wine. Just medium in body but achingly fragrant. A perfect mix of marginally tart but ripe fruit and a savoury anchor. Black cherry, cassis, sweet green leaves and seasoning of black olive and cedar oak, all in elegant proportion and driven long. Hint of that grounding claret gravel too. No grunt, just harmony. Anyone on either bank of the Gironde able to guarantee the same quality to price rapport? Could default to a predictably not funny….. choice, eh bro?

13.50% alcohol. CORK! C’est quoi!? $28 from what Dan’s questionably call a rationalisation which means they won’t stock it at my local. Happy to take the below cost discount to clear it though.

95 points.

2018 Black Sheep Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

A cleanskin of sorts from Boccaccio Cellars and so maybe from Hoddles Creek? A wine by any other name would smell as good? Classic leafy, red fruited gentle Cabernet with some serious acidity that’s still just the right side of ripe in a Bordeaux or Loire cool year way. Not sour. Gravelly too. Good mouthwatering drink and tastes like it hasn’t been mucked around with, astonishing for $8. Not going to appeal to those used to big boy Shiraz.

13.1% alcohol. Screwcap. $8.

88 points.

2017 Terrason Cabernet Franc

A stuck record belief, well vinyl is trendy, that the Yarra Valley’s a proper place for the Cabernet family and a bit of a fascination with the Franc member led to this. Opens with a blast of smoky whole bunch, fresh green leaves and dark raspberry to blackcurrant fruit. Across the palate it’s at once light of being and then rich of fruit. Terrific mingling of acid, stem and skin tannin carry the fruit to a medium weighted finish. Special mention to the beautifully crafted oak inclusion which adds a delicious seasoning of savoury spice and a hint of chocolate. If there was just a bit more intensity to the fruit weight and this would be Cabernet aristocracy. For the money though, very good indeed and a bit cheaper than Cheval Blanc.

13% alcohol. Diam. $28 and well recommended by the Fish at Blackheart and Sparrow.

92 points.

2010 Dalla Mia Finestra Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Small production, great value and gets more delicious from leaving somewhere cool and dark, all good. Opened fresh and clean, blackcurrant, leaf and fruit, a touch of mint and a savoury gravel cut. The texture is a delicious mingle of freshness and ripe, soft and cuddly tannin. Shows all the things that make the Yarra Valley a good spot for the Cabernet clan, softening the grainy edges and grumpy tannins. Oddly difficult to find good examples in Melbourne’s wine shops outside of the famous ones established in the 70s and 80s which fetch very good prices; itself an encouragement for growers perhaps? It’s easier to grow than Pinot they do say.

13.50% alcohol. Screwcap. $23.

94 points.

2017 Punt Road Cabernet Sauvignon Napoleone Vineyard Block 3

Lovely balance of bright leafy red fruit and gravelly texture. Quite like the Oakridge Over the Shoulder version from 2017 but just that bit more dense and full. It possesses the delicious fine tannin and well settled acidity that can make Bordeaux so suave and inviting but at a price point where that bit of the old world would struggle for such depth and cleanliness. Drinking at its best on day two when the sparkling red fruits shone and dazzled. Perhaps best in the shorter term as there’s not the blackcurrant depth or power of a warmer year. That’s just as likely to be proven wrong as many old Yarra Cabs have shown a lot less wrinkles in old age than this blogger. Quality fruit from the beautiful valley.

13.50% alcohol. Screwcap. $28.

93 points.

2017 Oakridge Over the Shoulder Cabernet Merlot

Smells of an old school pencil box, red fruit and the leafy Cabernet family. Medium weight, just, a satisfying meld of fruit and dusty, stoney earth that finishes with mouthwatering acidity and firming milky tannin. The kind of low intensity delicious flow that makes what Andrew Jefford aptly calls digestible claret. Civilised drink. Another of those right grape, right place wines. More Yarra claret, please.

13.40% alcohol. Screwcap. $18.99.

91 points.

2016 Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny

Another clean, svelte and tasty red from the Loire. Cabernet Franc in all its raspberry leaf and bright red fruit. Tangy berries and some sweet green herbals show just over the line ripeness. There’s no sourness to the green flavours and the well mingled tannin and acid are mouth-wateringly ripe. A lovely compact palate, fruit and texture held tight and more interesting after three days of oxygen exposure. Great pedigree.

13% alcohol. Cork. $48.

93 points