2010 Escarpment Pahi Martinborough Pinot Noir

Preconceived ideas about how you like a grape variety to taste are always liable for a surprise. Over the years, a perfumed, crisply red fruited version of the mystery that’s Pinot Noir has become more appealing. Well, red fruited and lightly built this isn’t. Dark spiced berries, almost plum and licorice chocolate with a touch of fruit cake all melded by time. No flab though as there’s a perfect counterpoint of graphite like tannin and beautifully integrated naturally ripe wet stone acidity, all benefiting from time together in the bottle. A tickle of dried and sweet green herbs twists and turns the rich fruit too. Dark, complex and such an even keel that shows this most fickle of grapes can express itself in the most valid and surprising ways. Côte d’Or it ain’t but Martinborough it must surely be. Choice eh?

14% alcohol. Cork. About $60 a few years ago.

94 points.

2002 Domaine Christophe Perrot Minot Vosne Romanée Les Beaux Monts 1er Cru

Carefully carried all the way back from Paris to Melbourne surviving inept packing, baggage handling and a few years in cool storage. Research at the time suggested Perrot Minot had backed away from the mid nineties fashion of too much extraction and new oak in favour of more perfume and transparency. The helpful staff in the basement of delights at Lavinia in Paris encouraged the opinion in much better English than my French. Compared to current premier cru prices this looked a reasonable buy too. Fast forward fifteen years to Xmas eve 2019, all looks good, good fill level still, cork barely stained and removed in one piece. First sniff and a joyfully rich wild strawberry and spice fragrance, then….a musty, old hessian sack waft of, oh no, TCA. Foul language but a resigned shrug too. Life has a way of dealing with great expectations but, really, why are we still wedded to mid nineteenth century technology for our most precious drinks? Down the sink and head in the sand along with much larger issues like a warming planet perhaps?

No points just a grumpy old man who’s a bit worried at the moment.

2013 Jean Paul Picard et Fils Charlaux Sancerre Rouge

Pinot Noir from limestone and clay soils and a generous gift from the Paris apartment host’s cellar. Still a good cherry red colour and plenty of gentle red fruit hanging on. Probably preserved by the flinty acidity and graphite fine tannin. The perfume lingers, carried by that filigreed structure which is only light of body and veers towards the austere. The flavours are as much about chalky soil as they are cherry and raspberry fruit. Clean and enough weight to keep you interested though. It’s something outside the usual range of self imposed options when scouring the local wine shops. Vive la difference and thanks so much for temporarily renting us your home, cher F. Not one of those Airbnb’s depriving locals of their homes, I hope. Oh, the politics of modern travel.

13% alcohol. Cork. Wish every apartment host was this kind and as interested in sharing a drink.

92 points but much more than a number.

2013 Champagne Doyard Oeil de Perdrix Grand Cru Extra Brut

Having never stared a partridge in the eye, we’ll have to believe les gens de Champagne about the colour. Perhaps they still go out and shoot their dinner? Developed blanc de noirs or pale rosé? Research suggests it’s an old rosé de presse method to give a little colour. Anyway, there’s some aristocratic grapes in this, 75% Pinot Noir from Aÿ and 25% Chardonnay from Avise. Grand crus amongst grand crus perhaps? Fine definition of red fruit spiced with a touch of barrel that recedes as the bubbles burst. Sugar dusted raspberries, candied citrus and almost cinnamon, poised and precise, all cut into shape by pinpoint chalky acidity. Beautifully tailored, subtle, no flashy bling.

About 12% alcohol probably? Cork. Extremely thoughtful apero, thanks!

95 points.

2005 Domaine Henri Richard Gevrey Chambertin Aux Corvées

Another raid on the stuff I’ve somehow managed to keep stashed. Make use of time, let not advantage slip. Thanks, Will, for the advice. Sweet autumnal maturity creeps up indeed. Wild strawberries, sweet earth and that savoury fresh charcuterie waft. Beautifully ripe and good intensity. Good extract of fine tannin and a snap of settled acidity. Lovely shape and purity. The well mannered perfume and richness of very good Côte de Nuits. Sigh, one less bottle left.

13% alcohol. Cork. About $50 pre arrival.

93 points plus for sheer poise.

2012 Hoddles Creek Yarra Valley Pinot Noir

Another Hoddles Creek from the cellar. Such irresistible value means there’s a lot stashed away. Better get drinking then. Just like its upmarket sibling the 1er version, it opens shyly and needs a lot of air and time to peek out from the reductive wine making. When it does decide to come out and play, there’s the usual cherries and undergrowth on a light to medium bodied swell of nicely judged tannin and fresh cleansing acidity. As always it possesses a coolness that’s perhaps rare in Oz Pinot. Subtle and valuing poise over brute size. Enough fruit to balance the touch of sulky sulphide winemaking which nonetheless avoids a too bitter ending. Twenty four hours after a brutal double decant and no hint of oxidation, goodness.

13.20%. Screwcap. $20 in 2013.

92 points.

2009 Curlewis Geelong Pinot Noir

The best sort of birthday present, a bottle of wine chosen with care and stashed away for much later. Five Australian Prime Ministers later. Must admit to a bit of prejudice about Geelong Pinot. Too many blazing hot, north wind days travelling through a dry flat landscape that didn’t exactly bring Burgundy to mind. Perhaps the Bellarine Peninsular gets a bit of air con from Port Philip Bay as this looked as pretty as an Upper Yarra Pinot opened at the same time. Resolved but hanging on well. Clean perfume of very ripe strawberries and darker plums cut with some green herb and some sweet compost development. Same across the tongue with an age softened rasp of just ripe acidity and perhaps some whole bunch tannin. Just a whisper of well handled oak adds the merest touch of sweet vanilla that’s sunk into the fruit with aplomb. From a hot drought ridden year with dreadful bush fires, this is a confounding success. A lot of care and love must have gone into the growing and making. A privilege to enjoy the hard work.

13% alcohol. Screwcap.

92 points.