2018 Hoddles Creek Yarra Valley Merlot

Bright purple red, inviting fresh raspberry leaf, sprig of mint and cool rain soaked forest. A mouthful starts quietly as raspberry and plum build and then are swept up in a very crisp acid and pinpoint tannin end. Just flavour ripe but as crunchy as perhaps a Loire or cool year Bordeaux. Some more used to full whack Australian richness will recoil. If this puts on a bit of fat with age, like most of us, then it’ll cut across a cut of red meat with precision.

13.20% alcohol. Screwcap. $20.

90 points.

2008 Pierre Naigeon La Reserve Yarra Valley Shiraz

A brief Dan Murphy’s flirtation with an own label under the name of a visiting Burgundian winemaker. Rumour at the time suggested it was made by the excellent Gary Mills of Jamsheed renown from fruit picked at the impeccably run Sylvan Vineyard. It certainly looks that way with a lift of whole bunch mulch, then some beautifully ripe dark red fruit and fine brown spices. The palate adds a fine mature draw of just right acidity and the finest silky tannins. The poise of good North End Rhône but with the extra richness of typically gentle Yarra fruit. Tenez ça messieurs!

14% alcohol. Screwcap. $19 on clearance, originally $39 and still a bargain at that!

92 softly mature and just right to drink points.

2018 Black Sheep Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

A cleanskin of sorts from Boccaccio Cellars and so maybe from Hoddles Creek? A wine by any other name would smell as good? Classic leafy, red fruited gentle Cabernet with some serious acidity that’s still just the right side of ripe in a Bordeaux or Loire cool year way. Not sour. Gravelly too. Good mouthwatering drink and tastes like it hasn’t been mucked around with, astonishing for $8. Not going to appeal to those used to big boy Shiraz.

13.1% alcohol. Screwcap. $8.

88 points.

2017 Terrason Cabernet Franc

A stuck record belief, well vinyl is trendy, that the Yarra Valley’s a proper place for the Cabernet family and a bit of a fascination with the Franc member led to this. Opens with a blast of smoky whole bunch, fresh green leaves and dark raspberry to blackcurrant fruit. Across the palate it’s at once light of being and then rich of fruit. Terrific mingling of acid, stem and skin tannin carry the fruit to a medium weighted finish. Special mention to the beautifully crafted oak inclusion which adds a delicious seasoning of savoury spice and a hint of chocolate. If there was just a bit more intensity to the fruit weight and this would be Cabernet aristocracy. For the money though, very good indeed and a bit cheaper than Cheval Blanc.

13% alcohol. Diam. $28 and well recommended by the Fish at Blackheart and Sparrow.

92 points.

2012 Hoddles Creek Yarra Valley Pinot Noir

Another Hoddles Creek from the cellar. Such irresistible value means there’s a lot stashed away. Better get drinking then. Just like its upmarket sibling the 1er version, it opens shyly and needs a lot of air and time to peek out from the reductive wine making. When it does decide to come out and play, there’s the usual cherries and undergrowth on a light to medium bodied swell of nicely judged tannin and fresh cleansing acidity. As always it possesses a coolness that’s perhaps rare in Oz Pinot. Subtle and valuing poise over brute size. Enough fruit to balance the touch of sulky sulphide winemaking which nonetheless avoids a too bitter ending. Twenty four hours after a brutal double decant and no hint of oxidation, goodness.

13.20%. Screwcap. $20 in 2013.

92 points.

2010 Dalla Mia Finestra Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Small production, great value and gets more delicious from leaving somewhere cool and dark, all good. Opened fresh and clean, blackcurrant, leaf and fruit, a touch of mint and a savoury gravel cut. The texture is a delicious mingle of freshness and ripe, soft and cuddly tannin. Shows all the things that make the Yarra Valley a good spot for the Cabernet clan, softening the grainy edges and grumpy tannins. Oddly difficult to find good examples in Melbourne’s wine shops outside of the famous ones established in the 70s and 80s which fetch very good prices; itself an encouragement for growers perhaps? It’s easier to grow than Pinot they do say.

13.50% alcohol. Screwcap. $23.

94 points.

2010 Hoddles Creek Pinot Noir

For well over ten years the Hoddles Creek crew have been offering the sort of value that must drive other Yarra Valley producers to mutter. Always without much wine making confection, this is still typically a bit reduced on opening. A good airing via double decanting and a tricky touch of a copper spoon drive off a bit too much sulphide for this delicate palate. Lovely savoury development of the autumnal forest floor type and then some dark cherry, tobacco and sinewy tannin. A good swell of that choc cherry fruit at the end point to the subtle class of the vineyard. Gobsmacking value both literally and figuratively.

13.20% alcohol. Screwcap. $20 on release!

92 authentic points.