Rarely but happily great wine still ends up in the glass on occasion. On the table with that Vietti Villero was my last treasured bottle from the doyenne of Chambolle premiers, Madame Ghislaine Barthod. Vietti power and Barthod grace, how rich and great the times. Cool, composed, spotlessly clean. Gracefully extracted flavours of cherry, perfect autumn raspberries and ripe squishy strawberries, like the fragrant Mara de Bois ones that the French love. Fresh and dark, perhaps destemmed and a cold soak? Fruit and sweet earth build and carry to the horizon on an extraordinary mineral, limestone like trajectory. Not sure how else to describe the controlled powerful sense of somewhere. Unlike some more brash Burgundies, there’s no jolt of oak influence. In a word, beautiful. Smitten by Charmes.
13% alcohol. Cork. About €40 at the Paris Lavinia in 2002, those were indeed the days.
From a producer who has made some clean, tasty Languedoc Roussillon bottles, often using deeply flavoured old vine Carignan, now dabbling in a cheaper single variety range. Shy and herby but palpably still Pinot on day one, it opened up well on day two. Strawberries, other red fruits and bramble undergrowth with a whole berry lift. A little washy and dilute but the settled fresh acidity shows a poise above its price point. Another of those cheerful and authentic drinks that would suit that mythical bistro carafe with a crispy confit quacker. Smart sourcing and making Monsieur Delaunay, santé.
13% alcohol. Screw cap. $13 from Oatley Wines imports own invitation web site, The Sippery, as an introductory special offer, amazing value. Email if you want an invitation.
A special time of year, well, it is when you open a Burgundy from last century. One of the original growers who took to bottling their own in the 1920s and are still making austere reductive wine from low yields with little new oak flavour. Unfortunate bad press years ago from Americans favouring sweet new oak and extract has served to keep Gouges’ prices relatively stable, thank Bacchus. This bottle opened with reservations about being shaken from its sleep and little to say at first. Despite its age, it gained momentum on day two. Deep into the mouthful, mushy ripe wild strawberry, dark sour cherries in game meat sauce, blood and almond paste; all brightly lit by a startlingly wild geology. The French say sauvage and they’re right. Amazing rocks, stones and earth. A tiny bit of bilge water old oak doesn’t detract from driving, life affirming acidity and melting finest sandpaper tannin. Fairly convincing argument that there’s something to this terroir thing.
13% alcohol. Cork. About €40 from Lavinia some years ago.
94 points eventually and maybe just how NSG is supposed to be.
Count my blessings, a place to live where the Covid numbers aren’t troubling the scorer and a bottle to remember very early days in Australian wine when they cared not for variety but made light dry reds by blending. Sadly I’ve never been privy to one of the great Maurice O’Shea blends. Despite an unreasonable prejudice for Pinot the pure, this works a treat. Perfume and cherry Pinot at hello, spice and raspberry arrive late and keep going on a bit. It was at first crack smoky and too reduced for me and needed a day’s air. Second day, there’s still some biscuity reduction, strawberry and roses at the front whilst that Shiraz has a party at the back with berries and toffee. Fine, open meld of acidity and a lick of stem tannin. Graceful in the making. So much for preconceptions, the some of the parts here is more.
13% alcohol. Screw cap. Another bargain from the wholesale clearance.
92 plus a bit for enjoyment.
Apart from the odd Bourgogne, there’s been little Burgundy buying around here since the 2005 vintage when already high prices started to get just daft. When a normally sensible wine buying friend returned from a frenzy of a wholesaler’s warehouse clearance sale buried under a mountain of bottles with a average price of about $15, it would have been rude not to accept an offer to split the spoils, just not sure where to put it all? Always had a soft spot for Jadot, who make something like 240 different wines each year without seeming to resort to much rationalist blending and industrial safety. Le Vaucrain is a single vineyard holding in Comblanchien where the Nuits Saint Georges vines give way to limestone quarries. Bit of reduction and lift to start which clear quickly. Then there’s a dark stony edge here that maybe reflects those NSG preconceptions. Dark dried cherries, over ripe wild strawberry and a whiff of roses, all cut by suave acidity and firm grape skin tannin. A touch of earthy mulch to season the cut of a mineral grip. Improving over two days, those cool soft tingles, perfect ripeness and that composed freshness which can clearly mark Burgundy are much in evidence. A delicious surprise, though a current RRP pushing $100 makes it perhaps not the best value Pinot Noir on the planet.
13.5% alcohol. Cork. Thanks D and finewineco.com for such a bargain.
93 very suave points.
Producing good Pinot Noir seems to need the close attention only a dedicated, hands on producer can provide. In this case, naked bodies immersed as well according to reports. Still a good bright red colour for an Aussie Pinot, fragrant with tart berries, rose oil, wild strawberry and that sort of incense like mystery that does nothing to stop the obvious comparison to things from the Côte d’Or. There really is a flavour ripeness you don’t often see in Australian Pinot, energy, focus and poised between the herby and the brown sugar sweet. Mouthwatering acidity and a lick of iron filing tannin. Spotlessly clean too, as you’d hope the pigeage was too! Must be a good place to grow Pinot.
13% alcohol. Screw cap. $30.
After months of sensible pandemic restrictions, the joy of being allowed to cook dinner for a dear neighbour was doubled when they turned up on the doorstep with such luxurious bubbles. Something like 70% Chardonnay, the rest Pinot Noir left on lees for nine years before disgorging and goodness, some impact and power. Starts a bit reductive and green but with the dense bubbles tickling the nose, there’s a richness of spice, caramel, butter pastry, crystalline citrus, barley sugar and aniseed. Lingers with a deep flavour of ripe Chardonnay and still fresh chalky acidity. Not exactly subtle but a powerfully balanced mouthful. Splendid Australian sparkling wine of its own merit. What a great way to celebrate our lockdown patience and true neighbourliness.
12.5% alcohol. Diam. Thanks.
A spoil for a very quiet dark Saturday night in Melbourne under curfew. For once the cork was still firm, taut and came out in one piece. Good omen. The contents of the bottle? Very ripe wild strawberries like they sell in those small punnets in French markets. Some rich cherry extract and a good amount of sweet autumnal leaf litter from the twenty years slumber. All very of the essence with no sweetness, each sip leaving a haunting perfume in the retro nasal canyons. Sometimes a good sized nose is a blessing. Great adult flavours built on a firm but lithe backbone of austere chalky acidity and powder fine tannin. Just beautiful.
12.50% alcohol, size it not everything. Cork. 593 gms of glass. Maybe about €40 years ago in Paris.
There’s not many 1999s left now in the cellar. This one from the shelves of Lavinia on Boulevard Madeleine. Happy days. Still red in colour and oaky in smell. Lots of new oak does seem to lead to strong colours and a sanitary outcome, lots of furry tannin disrupting the finish too. As well as the oak which it must be admitted is very good, those Burgundians know how to choose being so close to the best coopers, there’s loads of other evocative smells and flavours. Something like an old English pub, worn leather, a smoky open fire and a background of warm alcoholic haze. Buried under the oak and extraction are deeply meaningful notes of kirsch, strawberry liqueur, dark blood orange juice, cocoa powder and an indescribable essence of a fine autumn evening. So pure, dense and achingly sweet. Amazing fruit from a vineyard a road width’s away from Chambertin itself. The nineties were a time when maximum extraction seemed the goal all the way from Central Otago to the Côte d’Or. Some grapes survived the thrashing better than others.
13% alcohol. Cork which broke and crumbled of course. Need more practice with old Burgundy! Memory fails about price but I can remember a €100 limit.
St Hubert’s has been a confused brand in the TWE empire of labels for quite a while now. When their friends and family direct sale website had a mystery six pack for $75, I must admit I jumped in. When six bottles of St Hubert’s turned up, they stirred some early memories of Yarra Valley joy before the Penfolds marketing department got their hands on one of the valley’s originals. This bottle was a bit subdued on opening, stalky, brown sugar and spice. As the air got to it, dried strawberry and raspberry preserves with a fleeting whiff of rose oil amongst the woody stalks. Nice use of whole bunches to lift what seems a little awkward ripeness. Although 2017 was thought a later, cooler year, the ripeness here does provoke thought about climate change and just how Pinot Noir will cope in the warmer valley floor sites. Looking forward to some Grenache grafting perhaps?
13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $12.50 in a six pack!
90 points for some deft winemaking.