2017 Pyren Vineyard Earthscape Franc

Pyren caught my attention in the early 2000s with a couple of bottles that were much less bombastic than the high alcohol and extract reds that clamoured for our attention then. Charm more than muscles. A six pack of this didn’t attract a bid other than mine at a recent no reserve auction, so I ended up with half a dozen for less than $70, thank goodness a good friend is willing to share the spoils for better or worse. This won’t help the relationship if he doesn’t like the bitter herbs of serious whole bunch action. Day one the scribble reads, Northern Rhône stemmy smoke, herbs and flowers, sour cherry preserve, then the herby alpine meadow blast takes over with a bitter, sour edge. Goodness though, the fruit fights back the whole way, good acid and surprisingly melded tannin considering the stalks. The day two note reads, the whole bunch and nothing but the bunch, well almost. Reminds me of an old Bannockburn without the mucky barrel edge. As with Bannockburn you have to admire the conviction to the whole cluster. Once more though the fruit quality holds its ground convincingly. Good different as that annoying ad suggests. Can’t help thinking though that perhaps Cabernet Franc has enough naturally leafy bits without recourse to more green complexing. A tiny glass left on day three suggests this might smooth out with time locked away until it behaves.

13.5% alcohol. Screwcap. $11.32 auction, that’s a lot of interest for not much.

Sort of 92 with stems, 94 without, maybe?

2015 Blue Pyrenees Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Not the most fashionable of labels but the evidence in the bottle looks like a proper Cabernet just ripe enough to balance some gravelly savoury flavours. Not incredibly concentrated but enough weight of red fruit with some background blackcurrant to keep it interesting. Smidgen of regional mint and oak. Good firm tannin and firmer acid. Tastes like it’s made without unnecessary artifice from not too ripe grapes. Hooray. Good value.

13.50% alcohol. Screwcap. $18 at Dan’s.

89 points.