Mataro, sounds so good spoken with Australian vowels, a lot better than my horrible attempts at a Clouseau like Mourvèdre. Lovely to see a MW using the local name for his own wine and what an interesting drink it be. Sweet meaty roasting pan juices, sort of soy sauce savour, squishy over ripe blackberries and plums, spices, saltbush, tar and that Barossa coal dusty earth flavour. The structure holds the brooding dark with a fog of rich tannin and perky acidity, all well mixed. There’s a chiaroscuro, lovely word, lightness of sweet floral smells to brighten the twilight of the darkening fruit. You can see why Mataro so often brings an anchor of bass notes to the sweet charm of Grenache and Shiraz. I thought I did well to get my bottle at auction for $30, only to find a six pack for $22 a bottle available on the Caillards’ website. Quite a bargain for such a labour of love. The label artwork completes the package.
13.6% alcohol. Screw cap. $29.50 at auction.
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.
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.
Another from the super value six pack from Rory and his Story. It’s not breaking news to say it was apparent to grape farmers a long time ago that something was awry with the weather as their crop was on average ripening a bit earlier each year. I’ve heard candid comment about the sustainability of getting Shiraz flavour ripe in its most revered old vineyards from those who earn their living there each and every year. Happily for some there’s always been Grenache and Mourvèdre planted to thrive in those once were infrequent very hot years. The Grampians used to struggle to ripen Shiraz some years, now there’s interest in varieties that cope with the heat and need less water in an area where it’s always been less than abundant. Super G to the rescue perhaps? Early days but this may be the future. Medium weight, bright as a ruby in the sun, fragrant smack in the chops of roses, Turkish Delight, cherries, plums, spice, meat juices and earth. Just bottled primary fruit sweetness cut by stem sap and savour. Good gloss of fruit, a blend more than the sum of its parts perhaps? I like, super good.
13.5% alcohol, seems a recurring story. Screw cap. Part of the six for $150.
An old favourite from the 1990s and rarely sighted in recent years. When a single and lonely bottle appeared on that desperately addictive auction website, well, budget be damned, here we go. Luckily, the label’s not as sought after as some and it came in under my bravest bid and normal retail. Initial impressions were good, nice new smart label, great vintage and sealed with a Diam. First sniff was off putting, horrible stink of sulphide and maybe some of the dreaded B word? Only thing to do was to stuff the better than a cork closure back in, put it in the fridge for twenty four hours and hope. The next day and all’s well. Now clean and sprightly smells of vibrant red fruit, a touch of balsamic lift, an attractive sweet herby spike, chocolate and plums add dimension. Profound and resonant in the mouth with a great depth of bright fresh fruit, a tar and earth richness and a tug of garrigue, a warming sense of place. Finally a firm but softly ripe flood of tannin and life extending acidity, the wine’s not mine, although it’s good to hope. Must say there’s an extraordinary freshness and no sense of tired old browning Grenache to prevent this staying a long and delicious course. Maybe it’s the unusual 15% Cinsault giving acidity helped by 14% Syrah which did so well in 2015 and the 1% Mourvèdre, a tiny bit going a long way? The 70% Grenache tastes extremely good though. Sad it was just a singleton.
14% alcohol. Diam. $65.
95 points but definitely not on opening.
The domaine’s top of the range label, still at retail for less than most CNdPs, is normally a blend of 60% old vine Mourvèdre with equal parts Grenache and Syrah making up the rest. It’s always with some trepidation that I risk a bid at auction for something well past its tenth birthday but here’s a well cared for bottle. No ullage, good cork of some length, always a relative term, no leakage and no taint, phew. Starts off with those dusty old bottle of wine smells, no surprise, swirl and air, then gloriously clean plumes of old leather couches, sweet kirsch cherries, blackberries, garrigue and spice, all deep, warming and rich. The fruit power and sweetness backed by an umami glycerol blanket of game meat pan juices, all those caramelised delicious bits. An earthy bass line of clay soil broken up with chalky stones, really. Remarkably all that richness is cooled by perfect fine pixel acidity and the ripest sweet tannins. The label may not be cutting edge fashion but this is great natural wine, biodynamic, no additions apart from some sulphur, I think and so clean and pure. A smile on the face of old Bacchus and me too.
14.5% alcohol. Cork. $33.80 bid.
Mataro by another name would still be Mourvèdre. From the dry hinterland behind the horror of the Costa Blanca comes a suave, clean version of the grape that’s doesn’t mind a bit of sunshine itself. Dark cherries, honey biscuits and sort of maple syrup without the sweetness of course. Under the gentle extraction lurks a little of that Spanish iron ruggedness. Upon the second day, there’s more heft. Dark dried fruit, soot and dry scrub, sweetened by cherry, liquorice and new leather. Tannins and acid well judged for somewhere so apparently dry and hot, no bull in the ceramic outlet. Bit of a sexy beast really, innit.
14% alcohol. Diam. Bargain as part of the wholesaler’s clearance.
Started 90 ended 92 points.
Proper Australian names for a Syrah Mourvèdre blend. Smells of old linseed oiled cricket bats, that’s also something the French might not recognise, polished walnut and leather in an old Rover motor, blackberry and damson preserves. Old England without the airfare. Second day, there’s some nougat oak which sinks into bright nutty cherry red fruit bowled up on a good length. Background notes of darker fruit, licorice and dried woody bush land. Typical firm Clare acidity and furry ripe tannin close the deal. It’s that full whack shiny, almost honeyed, red fruit that proves its value. Pretty label, real wine.
13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $26 at Langton’s on line store, good value.
Wine is a never ending opportunity for the pedant. Do you have to use the accent grave on the first e of Mourvèdre or can we drop it for ease in English? Weirdly my spellcheck thinks it should be there. Then there’s that old thorny question of Mourvèdre’s innate flavours and their similarity to those from the spoilage of a nasty organism known as Brett for short. Well, this does smell a bit old oaky and a little wild. Likewise, as it warms in the mouth. But wait, there’s still delicious tarry and deep flavours of black cherry, with sweet roasting pan juices that swell nicely as this goes down. All helped along on rich velvet tannin and fresh acidity. There’s still the hint of the farmyard though. Brett can thin the flavours out through the palate and this Mourvèdre has those deep bass notes but not much top end or middle range which seems typical of the variety. It also has a slightly grubby spice note like our unwanted friend, Brett. Grape or bug? Such flavour confusion and a moderately baffled drinker. Still very enjoyable and a long way from the commercial fruit sweetness of the mainstream and wildly interesting for this pedant.
14.50% alcohol. Screwcap. Was about $26 on release.
92 points of pleasure and intellectual confusion.
The most elderly first. The mail out said 52% Shiraz and 48% Malbec from 1898 Central and 1919 Eastern vineyards. Youngest vines are now centurions, happy birthday. Like the best 2000s Wendouree vintages this took a while to unfurl. That unmistakable mossy, minty and eucalypt menthol lift with dark cherry and berry fruit and a puff of lemony oak. Builds on the tongue as Wendouree does do with more Clare dark cherry and an anchor of fair but firm skin tannin and natural ripe acid. There’s also something wine gum dark and mysteriously spicy too. Beautiful grapes and place no mucking about.
13.50% alcohol. Cork. $48 from the mailing list.
Now the younger. 65% Shiraz and 35% Mataro from 1893 Central and 1920 Eastern vineyards. The first Wendouree vintage sealed with screwcap, a posh Italian one too. If the mid 2000s started to show a bit less extraction, then by 2009 things are becoming positively elegant! Fragrant with menthol, anise, cherry and dark plum. Just a seasoning of nutty oak. Probably just imagination but this seems so fresh and pure, could it be the change to screwcap? Fine mid weight wine in the mouth that once again builds and then builds more flavour as it travels through. Fruit as above plus some earthy tar broods darkly. Such different poise and balance compared to Wendouree from last century. Must say I’d like a Tardis to try those young vine ones from before and between the world wars. Still very positive tannin but perhaps finer and more melting? Do enjoy telling those not aligned to Wendouree who ask how to join us to check out the Brady’s extensive social media presence. Rude cheek of a grumpy old man.
13.80% alcohol. Screwcap! $50 from the mailing list.