2017 Oakridge Over the Shoulder Cabernet Merlot

Smells of an old school pencil box, red fruit and the leafy Cabernet family. Medium weight, just, a satisfying meld of fruit and dusty, stoney earth that finishes with mouthwatering acidity and firming milky tannin. The kind of low intensity delicious flow that makes what Andrew Jefford aptly calls digestible claret. Civilised drink. Another of those right grape, right place wines. More Yarra claret, please.

13.40% alcohol. Screwcap. $18.99.

91 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.

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.

2017 One Block Yellingbo Syrah

Sweet dark raspberries, blood oranges, serious sneezy pepper and some bitter stalks. Lovely intensity of fruit poised on fine glassy acid and a brush of drying tannin. Almost a cherry liqueur richness making for gloss on the fruit. Foresty mulch and herbs too. Lots going on indeed. It will be interesting to see where it heads with time. If the fruit stays centre stage and the stalks and savoury bits recede to bit players then delicious resolution awaits. If not, things might look a bit too compost heap. Really hope it’s the former.

13.50% alcohol. Diam. About $40 from the fascinating Blackhearted folks and an unreliable memory.

94 points to come I hope.


2012 Hoddles Creek 1er Yarra Valley Pinot Noir

Six years on and this is still bound, gagged and perhaps enjoying it. Light extraction and perfumed delicacy prevail, almost to the point of wishing for a touch more concentration? Both smell and taste are as if all the fragrance and bone china fruit of Pinot have been chiseled away from anything faintly hinting at the robust. There’s still hints of lanolin reduction that take a day to breathe away to leave a very poised wine. It carries long on fine acidity and super silky tannins. If the fruit and my faculties hold on, this will be worth a look in a few more years yet.

13.40% alcohol. Screwcap. $40 in 2014 from those generous blokes at Boccaccio.

93 points


2017 Punt Road Pinot Noir

Anyone with a passing interest in the Yarra Valley and a brain knows Punt Road make delicious wine for a more than fair sum. This is bright, fresh and glossy red berries. Bit of herby stalk too pulls the exuberance into line. Not the densest concentration of fruit but that only seems to add to the immediate need for another mouthful. Flashes of minty bush shubbery and the round tobacco warmth of Oz Pinot add a sense of place. One of those when a delicious drink is more important than points or notes…er almost.

13% alcohol. Screwcap. $26 or thereabouts at Dan’s.

92 points