2008 Minière Symbiose Champagne

Opened with a blast of fruit, seaside ozone and caramelised yeasty pastries in the background. Deep fruit flavours of icing sugar dusted raspberries for width and crystallised citrus for length. Finishes with deliciously mouthwatering acidity and a gorgeous touch of sweet brown spices. Perhaps that’s the oak? Not sure it’s noticeable if you didn’t know it was there? Really clean and full of impact from the first sip. Just got better as the bottle disappeared. The sort of natural fruit richness that’s starting to make tasty globally warmed Champagne seem a good deal.

12.50% alcohol. Cork. Not sure how much, generous friend indeed.

95 points.

2010 Giant Steps Gladysdale Vineyard Yarra Valley Pinot Noir

After some lacklustre cheapies from the big chain it’s good to spend time with something that looked great at the cellar door. Interesting to see just how the warm glow at the tasting bench fares in the cold light of a much later day. At first this was dusty, with a bit of lanolin reduction. Double decanted and a bit more fruit emerged with fennel and herby stalks pulling it right into line. It took twenty four hours for the sweet, ripe, dark cherry and squashed strawberry to surface above the neatly folded acid and whole bunch tannin. Doesn’t look like it’ll improve any further, it just still needs a lot of air to overcome a shy heart. Now to try and get that Police song about Giant Steps on the moon out of my head.

13% alcohol. Screwcap. $45.

94 shy and retiring points.

2017 Stoney Rise Pinot Noir

Lovely fresh red colour and smells. There’s some genuine tart berry perfume of good flavour ripeness without heaviness or green shrubbery. Only the acidity seems a bit too firm at the finish. Rather that than the higher PH and duller colour of warmer sites. The mid mouth flavour of ripe strawberries and raspberries with real freshness is just so delicious and for this drinker quite rare in lower latitudes. Ripe fruit, just, at low alcohol, woohoo…

12% alcohol! Screwcap. $30.

92 points

2014 Mayer Close Planted Yarra Valley Pinot Noir

The label looks…er…familiar, a homage perhaps? Pine, herbs, cactus sap and sweet stewed raspberries and wild strawberries. Nice balance of fruit, drying stalk and a drag of slate acidity. Rounding out well with some time in the bottle. Some of that autumnal smoke and leaf litter emerging. Medium bodied, proper Pinot with fragrance, detail and enough fruit to carry the stalks which in turn prevent it being too sweetly fruited, ist gut!

13% alcohol. Diam. $55

93 points.

2018 Arfion Yarra Valley Spring Pinot

A favourite and very informed importer of some extraordinary Champagne mentioned one of the characteristics he loves in good wine is tension. Not so much anxiety but more a tasty paradox perhaps. Some fruit richness but lightness of structure. Fresh raspberries and strawberries pushed forward by some whole berry ferment but a darker earthy grip. So it went with this Pinot Noir over three days. No loss of interest, just a delicious balance of immediately drinkable sweet fruit and an earthy cut of savoury structure with a tiny tweak of sulphide. A calming tension.

13% alcohol. Screwcap. $30.

92 points.

Simple dinner for three..

Two halves and one full bottle made for a tasty and almost moderate dinner, sort of…

NV Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Premier.

Delicious from the gentle phttt of the cork. Rich but fresh. Older honeyed pastry and hazelnuts mixed perfectly with crystalline candied citrus and pale red fruit. Mouthwatering and appetite whetting likes no other drink. If NV’s job is to be full of delicious impact from the perfumed start, then this is the bee’s knees.

12.50% alcohol. Cork I think, maybe Diam, failing memory. Another generous share.

94 points.

2013 Comm. G B Burlotto Barolo.

Clean, expressive and so savoury from the start. Perfect cherry red fruit, almond paste and stones. Just got fresher and deeper. Not the deep dark of Serralunga or Monforte but all the drive, brightness and perfume of the more north westerly bits of Barolo land. Somehow seemed much smaller than 375 mls. Alarmingly quick disappearance.

14% alcohol. Cork. Thanks for sharing.

95 points.

1999 Domaine Tollot Beaut Corton Bressandes.

Dark, extractive and still a bit oaky. Got a bit fresher and deeper fruited as it came up for air. Rich red fruit conserve and darker clay and chalky earth. The rear end filled out well with dark cane fruit depth. Still some life in the tannin texture of both skin and cocoa oak buoyed by a gentle acid rasp. Shame the remains tired so quickly the next day.

14% alcohol. Cork. About $100 on release.

93 points.

1999 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits St Georges Les Pruliers

Seasonal treat from the dungeon. Wonderful clean freshness for an oldie. Good red colour, gloriously red fruited with an almost austere tug of great tannin and acidity. Remington Norman’s Burgundy book mentions the extremely low yields the Gouges favour and this bears that out. Dense, round and deep. Untrammelled by any new oak. Paradoxically succulent and firmly spartan, ballerina poise. All my golden russet autumns in a bottle and there’s a few of them now.

13% alcohol. Cork. Was about 35 euros, contributing to a very heavy carry on before the 100ml limit. Them were the days.

96 points.