2018 Félix Solis Caliza Gran Seleccíon Tempranillo

Spain’s certainly a place for great value. This is apparently hand picked, turned into wine, bottled and put on the shelf at Dan Murphy’s for a measly $10 or $9.50 in a mixed six, incredible. Clean whole berry ferment smells on opening. Medium weight flavours of sweet strawberry and toffee which I particularly like in Tempranillo. An admission, the telltale cola character is not an easy one to spot for me but lots of tasters say it’s unmistakable. There’s a good flow of flavour and some satisfying ripe acidity and firm tannin which is something recognisably good about Tempranillo. Yes, satisfying indeed. Thank Bacchus, the continuing importance of wine at the Spanish table keeps prices traditionally low despite beer now being the most popular social drink. Not sure I’d like to work in those sun blasted La Mancha vines for what they pay. Happy to enjoy the result though when it’s this delicious.

13.5% alcohol. Diam. $9.50 for good grapes, no artifice and real wine.

89 points.

2012 Pondalowie Vineyard Blend

A blend of Shiraz, Cabernet and Tempranillo from Bendigo in Central Victoria. The photo above is another shameful steal of a background from Max Allen’s great book, The Future Makers, who succinctly describes Pondalowie’s wines as having ‘exceptional sturdiness of character’, no argument here. This is the cheapest bottle in the range but it could never be described as dilute or lacking. Heaps of dark blue and black fruit, a whiff of new leather, sandalwood and menthol power through the nose and imposing mouthful. Extracted like a long stewed pot of tea without the bitterness, just loads of furry ripe tannin and settled acidity. It’s sweetly resolved rather than developing any dusty bottle age. Those tannins deserve a piece of good Victorian grass fed steak. Max goes on to tell how the maker worked in the Douro and the satisfying depth here would look at home in that dusty valley. Such a good, deep drink, probably more for carnivores than vegans.

14% alcohol. Screwcap serves this so well. $20 or thereabouts at the time.

92 points.

2006 R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rioja Reserva

Resolutely traditional Rioja which research suggests this vintage is 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 10% Graciano and 10% Mazuelo or Carignan. The first day of opening it was so staunchly stoic it was frowningly unenjoyable. Second day a ray of bright but mellow strawberry and cherry fruit was poking above the battlements. Still lots of old highly polished furniture, camphor, old cupboards and indelible acidity. Only some sweet Iberico jamon greased the scaffold enough for the fruit to slide from within. Not sure if this will ever be for the hedonist. The 2005 was a lot richer but if curiosity gets the better as it did and you want to see how wine was made when it would be left in clean old oak for 5 years or more for the sulphide to waft away and the shrill ph to stop shouting, then here you doth go. The only new world equivalent that’s come close is one of those old Tahbilks from pre 1990. A pride in austerity nearly lost.

13% alcohol. Cork and a long one too. 27 euros.

93 ye olde points.