2019 Moulin de Gassac Guilhem

Over the years this has been one of the better quality and value direct imports on Dan’s shelves. As I was struggling to find bottles to fill out a six bottle buy, it seemed time to revisit this vintage. A bottle almost exactly a year ago wasn’t quite as good as previous vintages and perhaps a reason to not bother with a scribble. As usual a SGM from the Pays d’Hérault and a year later the sweaty reduced nature of last year’s bottle isn’t there. Bit more mid weight than normal, some sweet Mediterranean red fruit with some dried cherry maybe, brown spice and some woody herbs. A little green rawness to the tannin and just ripe acidity. Certainly more composed after a year on the shelf and shows even the most basic can benefit from a short rest. The previous review was a cool year wine from Coonawarra, this looks a warm year in the Languedoc. For the price it’s still offers something more than just alcoholic soothing which is quite something.

13% alcohol. Screw cap. $10 members’ special.

88 points.

2004 Domaine de l’Oratoire St Martin Cairanne Réserve des Seigneurs

Another old bottle from a favourite Rhône producer. One of those gambles at auction, the older the wine the more the risk? Bacchus smiled on my willingness to waste $30 dollars or so and the cork came out in one piece with barely a stain. Lovely smells of old cherry liqueur and a well cared for old house, polished furniture and a recently used sooty brick fireplace. Sweet and healthy garden soil, a touch of dark chocolate and very ripe strawberries maybe. Firm skin tannin and acidity softened by balsamic alcohol warmth. Gentle decay with age which may be the best we can hope for? There’s a feel of just fading lush sweetness and softness that brings to mind Priorat perhaps. A glimpse of Rhône history as I think the Alary brothers who produced such great value over the years have retired without family willing to take over their labours. Their twenty hectares are now owned by Château Mont Redon of CNdP. Things change.

14% alcohol. Cork. $32 at auction, just in time.

93 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?

2019 Château d’Anglès La Clape Classique

Yet another of the Dan’s direct imports. 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre. The 2018 was so good, I’ve had three bottles. Keenly interested to see what a new vintage brings. Again, spotlessly clean. Big waft of woody herbs, garrigue, spice, very dark berries and good for you prunes. Same in the sipping with some blackberry jam. Very ripe, dry skin flavours all polished and contained in a brusque sweep of astringently drying acidity and furry dry grape skin tannin. The tannins maybe suggest a bit of woody stem or oak tannin, hard to tell. If the 2018 had the lithe and svelte perfume of Syrah from the north end of the Rhône, this vintage looks solidly Mediterranean, warm and spiced. Chunky in fruit, trimmed in the making, rough with the smooth. Good value again.

14% alcohol. Diam. $20.90.

91 maybe 92 points and worth another if it becomes a Dan’s member’s’ special.

2020 Guillaume Gonnet Le Petit Reveur Côtes du Rhône

It seems the most read posts here are for budget friendly direct imports from the empire of Dan’s and the odd Aldi surprise. I try and make the pilgrimage to the old Alphington barn of Dan once a month for a six or so buy in an attempt to even out the budget. It’s a shame the recently opened and more local Collingwood version is so woefully stocked. As there’s always an odd compulsion to taste the unknown, the selection veers towards the new and possibly interesting. This month I managed to find seven untried bottles from Spain, France and Italy for a meagre $132. Third from right in the above line up and it’s 85% Grenache with the rest Syrah. This little dreamer hoped Le Petit Reveur wouldn’t turn into a nightmare. It didn’t. Initially jammy ripe with cherry, plum and Mediterranean scrubby flavours, it changed up a gear with a day’s air. The ripeness still as much as you’d want but the fruit’s deeper, kirsch and chocolate, spiced and carried on cocoa tannin, all trimmed with a good swish of satisfying ripe acidity. A special mention for how clean and tasty. Definitely think it’s at its best now. Time will only make things more dull and gummy maybe. Nonetheless, another one wouldn’t be a chore and you can’t say that about all my recent choices.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $19.00

90 value points.

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.

2016 Domaine la Soumade Rasteau Cuvée Confiance

In the early 2000s, I fell for the warm, rich and fruity embrace of Grenache blends from the villages just east of Orange. The deeply ripe summer pudding fruit in Marcel Richaud’s Cairannes was love at first sniff thanks to a wine shop in Avignon not letting me leave without a 1998 version. An inevitable holiday pilgrimage luckily led to a pretty bed and breakfast in Rasteau, just up the road from M. Richaud. Soumade was a recommendation from the list in a local bistro. Too late sadly to fit in a visit but a lasting impression. When this came up at auction, a relatively modest bid led to a happy meander down the retronasal lane of memory. 80% Grenache, the rest Syrah. A little reduction was quick to clear, leaving fresh liqueur cherry, sappy mint to freshen with a dusting of fine cocoa dryness. Of a whole but many parts, fennel turning to aniseed anchored by carbon darkness and meaty pan juices. Traditionally dry tannin, just enough acid to balance and meticulously clean. Love the simple old elegance of the label too.

14.5% alcohol but not hot. Cork. About $40 at auction.

94 points.

2019 Le Grand Roi Bouches du Rhône IGP

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.

90 points.

2015 Domaine Brusset Les Travers Cairanne

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.

94 points,

2017 Domaine Bordes Les Narys Saint Chinian

A small organic producer practicing biodynamic agriculture. Looks pretty hipster, low sulphur yeasty when first opened with that distinctive aroma that Alice Feiring wonderfully described as puppy breath. A blend it seems of 30% Syrah, 30% Grenache with the rest split evenly between Mourvèdre and Carignan, it’s the Syrah that shines bright as it settled down the second day. Just medium weight, pure smoky, flowery, red berried and herby with a squeeze of blood orange over a bass of earth and roast juices. Energetic mouthwatering acidity and just a brush of powdery tannin finish it off with aplomb. Thought it too wild and volatile the first day only to be smitten the second. If you can’t hit a natural cave à manger for a carafe and plate for the moment, stay home with this.

14% alcohol. Cork. $32.50 at auction.

92 points but a bonus for a delicious, natural and edgy drink.