2017 Blackstone Paddock Limited Release Pinot Noir

If you google map Blackstone Paddock, the closest you get is a suburb in Launceston Tasmania called Blackstone Heights. Marketers do love to invent hills, gullies and now paddocks. The back label reveals more, a blend of grapes from Pipers River, sort of near Blackstone Heights, and from Coal River, down south near Hobart. Whatever the source, it’s a convincing effort for well under $20. Smells of Pinot Noir, thus strawberries, cherries, wet green undergrowth, rhubarb and a sprinkle of oak spice. Nicely light to medium weight, not trying too much. The only reservation on day one was a lifted waft of something like feline Sauvignon Blanc, some mint, pine needles and a note of sour green acidity jarring against the warm red fruit. Some over and under ripeness in the blend? Happily, after a day left to compose itself, the blended parts got a lot more comfortable in each others’ company and the acid softened. In fact it carried the flavours to a nice fresh end, tickled by a titchy bit of tannin. Bit cobbled together maybe but it avoids being overwrought, unlike this review.

13.5% alcohol. Screwcap. $15.95 I think from those oddly arranged Aldi shelves.

89 points, sort of 87 first day, 90 second, rounding up the average.

2018 Stoney Rise Pinot Noir

A favourite Tasmanian Pinot producer who seems to get proper flavour ripeness whilst keeping a good freshness. This one does just that with poached strawberries, cherries and a bit of aniseed. A terrific tug of cool acid and fine tannin gives the end a succulence trimmed by that stone like character that seems to be both flavour and texture. It seems to avoid those mint and pine needle flavours of under ripeness and the dark over extraction of the too ambitious. The label provides some good advice about accompanying things, including hare, doo wop, and lovers. Cheers.

12.5% alcohol. Screwcap. $29.

93 points.

2005 Domaine Roblet Monnot Volnay 1er cru Brouillards

Older bottles of Burgundy can certainly be a test of your patience, even after they’ve been carefully left somewhere cool and dark for over a decade, waiting. First the cork was a dreadful piece of tree bark. Carefully turning a good quality corkscrew only led to the middle of the cork collapsing into fine particles and dust. Fifteen minutes of patient digging got most bits out, leaving a small plug that dropped into the neck. Good thing it was so reductive it needed a double decant through a strainer to get the last bits. The first sniff and sip after leaving it to air was, as Billy Connolly once said, like a fart in a space suit, a particularly sulphurous one too. Quite a bit of spritz as well from dissolved CO2. Oh well, not tonight then. Twenty four hours of more breathing and then muttered expletives. Still a little smoky but an incredible density of warm ripe Pinot Noir heaven. Intense, fresh wild strawberries, cherries, liquorice, and chalky earth that bounce around the olfactory bits for what seems a very long time. Like a stairway to heaven, it made me wonder. The sheer concentration coats the mouth with flavour and what flavour. It’s as if the best summer fruit at its most perfectly ripe has been preserved with precision until now. The tannin and acidity were, of course, the perfect foil to carry and then freshen. Once in a while a bottle makes you remember how Burgundy can touch the sublime. Even if it means even more patience.

13% alcohol. Cork, foul but did its job, just. The cost forgotten.

96 points, could have gone 97 if less recalcitrant, the wine not I.

2005 Domaine Jean Claude Bachelet et Fils Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru La Boudriotte

Goodness, maybe that’s the first long French name I’ve carefully typed without a single accent or circumflex. It’s red wine too despite the deluxe Chardy address. Seems Chassagne was prime Pinot soil before vine eating bugs arrived and the world’s infatuation with white Burgundy took hold. This is deeply coloured, just starting to lose some saturation. Good fruit density with smells and tastes of wild strawberry, kirsch cherries and quality chocolate earth. Builds well as it rests in the palate before ending with fine and still fresh acidity and cocoa tannin. The only unwelcome guest in the flavour party is some oak which grates as if it’s been badly seasoned perhaps and tastes a bit of old nuts and stale spice. Delicious grapes though, les gars Bachelet.

13% alcohol. Cork. Was about $45 pre arrival direct import.

93 points.

2016 Ziereisen Blauer Spätburgunder

A Pinot Noir from a far corner of Baden near the Alsace and Swiss border. Deeply coloured for Pinot and dark, sour cherry and plum ripeness too. It’s focused though with no over or under traits, just pure dark fruit and then a liquid rock finish sweeps in, a wild shock for those used to the evenly ploughed earth of Burgundy. Over a couple of days the geology recedes and the gentle purity of fruit gains traction. A pinch of herb seasoning and ripe acidity bring freshness and there’s just a brush of the softest velvet. Cool and calm too. Worth being patient and letting the flavours unfurl. Fastidiously clean and showing great care in the growing and making. Organic too. Nice choice, Randall, the now veteran wine merchant.

12.50% alcohol but ripe. One of those good Gualia screwcaps. $38.

93 points.

2018 The Gurdies Winery The Orchid Label Pinot Noir

From the winery’s stall at a local farmers’ market at a time when offering a taste or getting too close are not a safe option. It’s a tough time to be a small producer when most people are ordering on line from the supermarkets. Not sure if a single bottle purchase is going to make much difference but it did mean a delicious discovery. From Gippsland in a damp corner of Victoria whence comes perhaps Australia’s most acclaimed Pinot Noir. Opening with fresh, clean and fragrant cherries, strawberries and sweet green herbs. Only light in body but well flavoured, those red fruits carry through to a perfumed end that got better over two days. The structure has a mouthwatering lightness of being with gentle fresh acidity and a feather of ripe skin and stem tannin. Water washed to end rather than the warm breath of alcohol. Definitely a positive. There’s a lovely painting of a local Flying Duck Orchid on the label. A ripe local Pinot Noir of such poise is just as rare.

13.3% alcohol. Screwcap and a good lightweight bottle too . $24, great value.

92 points.

2007 Domaine Tortochot Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Les Champeaux

A very polished and finessed version of Gevrey, perhaps a bit Rousseau like if I’d drunk enough of that hallowed producer to really say. Sweet essence of blood orange, dark wild strawberry, wet potter’s clay and slightly cardboard yeasty lees. Glides well on a chiselled, very fine acid base and a rustle of tannin aristocracy. It’s that density of ripe fruit built on a filigree of the finest carving that marks the posh middle of the Côte d’Or’s slope. Feels like you have to dress up for it.

13% alcohol. Cork. Very nice birthday present some years ago.

93 points