2016 Adaras Aldea Garnacha Syrah

From the Spanish DO of Almansa on the south east edge of the La Mancha plateau. Looks like another bit of Spain where Grenache or at least its progeny thrive in dry harsh conditions. It seems this is roughly 80% Garnacha Tintorera or Alicante Bou(s)chet which Jancis’ indispensable Wine Grape bible reports is a cross between Grenache and Petit Bouschet, itself a cross between the notorious Aramon and a Tenturier which gets a bit lost in ampelographical obscurity, phew. The rest is boring old Syrah. Notwithstanding any anorak grape obsession, this is simply clean, deeply flavoured and rich yet balanced. Bright rich raspberries, plums, sweet spices and a rocky drag. Stayed amazingly fresh and unoxidised over four days. Terrific poise between fruit, acidity and just ripe tannin. Not fantastically subtle but so drinkable. In such a dry climate organic viticulture must be an economic proposition, as this is not much more than $20 imported into Australia with all those ludicrous ad valorem taxes. About the same price as mineral water in Spain perhaps?

13% alcohol. Cork. $22.

92 points

2018 Gravity Dark Star Heathcote Grenache Shiraz

Forty four years after John Carpenter’s whacky space film and a bit longer since the Grateful Dead’s epic psychedelic inner universe exploration comes a flavour adventure with its feet firmly planted in the southern granite soils of Heathcote. Mint, sage, Australian bush after rain and bright red fruits blast off into a balanced orbit of settled acidity and fine graphite flavoured tannin. Nicely medium weight, it gains from gathering oxygen from our terrestrial atmosphere over 72 hours. Perhaps one of those blends that’s more than the sum of parts? Grenache looking good for landing on Metcalfe’s little bit of Heathcote? One small step for right grapes, right place…

13.20% alcohol. Screwcap. $28.

93 points.

2018 Yangarra Noir

Nothing noir or darkly foreboding about this bright, fresh and dashingly red fruited bottle of joy. 40% Grenache, 21% Mourvèdre, 14% Shiraz, 12% Cinsaut, 11% Carignan and 2% Counoise proudly listed on the back label with acknowledgement how well they combine in their Mistral swept valley home. Here they all meld to make a seamless mix of raspberries, plums, tar, dark bitter chocolate swept along by startling natural settled acidity and fine tannin. Would have been fascinating to be around as the blend was worked out, bit of this or that? What a delicious direction for local warm climate grape growing and wine making ideas. Sort of a quantum leap, organic too, excited.

14% alcohol. Screwcap. $28.

92 thoughtful and clever points.

2017 Blai Ferré i Just Billo Priorat

40% Garnatxa, 40% Syrah and 20% Carinyena. Catalan names but close enough that you can work it out? Very ripe, dry grape skins but a glorious freshness. Cherries and raspberries ripened under a hot sun without losing their juicy tang are counterweights to an extraordinary perfume of warm slate and dry scrub. Savoury caramelised pan juices too. Acid etched rocky tannin sweeps clean. So this is what Priorat can do when it’s not over cooked or oaked? Dense fruit and a refreshing austerity. Oh Billo.

14% alcohol. Cork. $45.

93 points.

2010 Domaine de la Renjarde Massif d’Uchaux Côtes du Rhône Villages Reserve de Cassagne

Opened with a little trepidation as it approaches its ninth birthday, only to be surprised by a still vigorous red colour and a satisfying freshness. 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah with perhaps a touch of oak barrel, this looks more like a CNdP than a CdR. Really lovely soft kirsch and chocolate fruit, only a hint of scrubby herb and well melded tannin and acid. A little judicious pepper seasoning. Very much a polished version of a rustic Rhône but no less delicious for the haircut and a bit of education. No superfluous bling, just well brought up sense of place. Very happy to have a few more.

14% alcohol. Cork. Can’t remember exactly how much but a ludicrous bargain in the wholesaler’s annual clearance sale. Wish they still did them!

93 points but especially a good thing.

2012 Grant Burge The Holy Trinity Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre

Appropriate bottle for Easter. Bright raspberry, cherry and spice with a touch of seasonal chocolate. Nice mid weight balance and some length carried on acidity and tannin which are tucked comfortably into the generous fruit. Cooler year freshness has kept this tidy perhaps? Not much Barossa coal dust or leather, more pure gentle ripeness. This makes a formidable argument for the benefit of blending those Rhône companions. Probably not a good match for sweet choccy eggs though.

14% alcohol. Diam, which looks like it did good. Thanks for sharing!

93 points.

2015 Lavau Côte du Rhône Villages

A blend of half Grenache and half Syrah from a brilliant Rhone vintage which, as Jancis so astutely noted, produced some great Syrah. Opens with some briar and spice from short bottle age and perhaps a bit of oak. Over three days this savoury edge gave way to lots of clean, dark cherry and plum conserve. Not really jammy but more like a fresher cooked fruit flavour. The spice mellowed into Rhône herbiness and fine allspice with some dark cocoa powder. The quality of the vintage is pretty obvious. Good to see a relatively large producer make something that’s typically Rhône whilst keeping it clean and screwcapped. Good game of Rhônes, sorry, over done pun already.

14% alcohol. Screwcap, hooray! $20, bargain.

91 points.