2018 Lyons Will Gamay

From the Macedon Ranges where lions will find it a bit chilly but Gamay may thrive judging by this bottle. Fresh as spring water, mint, Australian forest smells, washy raspberry and strawberry. Crisp and so easy to enjoy. Never going to be bombastic enough for seekers of raw power but there’s something in the finish like licking wet granite, oddly delicious, that suggests there may be something special about the site and how happy Gamay is to be there. Vine age and time will out.

12.5% alcohol. Diam. $37.

91 and very interesting.

2014 Dalla Mia Finestra Cabernet Sauvignon

Budget friendly Yarra Valley Cabernet of quality, good oh. Starting to benefit from a rest in the bottle. Opens with the warm friendly smell of polished timber, black currant, leaf, mown lawn, mulberry and sweet green herb. Gentle but firm tug of just about ripe tannin and fresh natural feeling acidity. Maybe a little green if you like warm hearted, traditional Australian Cabernet, maybe quite ripe if you like Bordeaux before global warming started a market for reverse osmosis machinery? Plenty of pleasure and flavour for the price though.

13.5% alcohol. Screwcap. $24.

92 points.

2012 Wendouree Malbec

Authenticity is a funny concept, not exactly hilarious but odd when applied to wine and place. Just how do a bunch of grapes represent the place whence they come? The sort of daft question that distinguishes the wine obsessed from more sensible humans. In terms of the flavours a place can transmit through the simple ferment of sugar into ethanol, then old Wendouree does it better than most. Sure, climate change, method, style and fashion have had their way but the smell and taste of those old vines stay staunch. Malbec planted in 1898. More medium of body than twenty years ago, there’s still that wintergreen, mossy, mint and eucalyptus lift but only as a background to dark cherries and soft summer berries of profound depth. Flickers of rose perfume, spiced Dutch biscuits and fresh supple vanilla pod. The kind of chiseled acidity and tannin only the great vineyards produce, no room for excessive flounce. Wendouree seem to have added grace and subtlety to raw power. Very good of them to make things more approachable earlier as some of us run out of waiting time.

13.8% alcohol. Screw cap. $40 in 2014 on that precious mail out.

95 points.

2017 Mas Doix Les Crestes Priorat

When something from Priorat pops up at auction, there’s got to be an optimistic bid. Sometimes you win. This one opened well and just kept getting better. 80% Grenache, the rest equal bits of Carignan and Syrah. Rich, bright, soft, perfectly ripe dark berries, that quintessential sooty, warm rocks Priorat thing. Dry furry plum skins. Undertones of dark exotic chocolate and the flavour of those caramelised bits round the edges of sweet roast lamb which would be an impressive food match. Spotlessly clean, luscious but sculpted into shape by dribblingly good acid and velvet tannin. Ying and yang. Pretty much at the top of the list for areas to visit next, so far for the moment but so close in the glass. It’s going to be worth the brain aching language confusion of Catalunya.

14.5% alcohol. Cork. $46.60 auction.

94 points.

2019 David Bouland Morgon Corcelette

Despite what appeared to be another hot summer, 2019 may have finished up even tempered enough to produce grapes with some balance in the acidity department; remarkable having read of heatwaves, hailstones the size of pétanque balls and drought. Great effort this, deep flavour, firm acidity and sweet tannin. Dark dried cherry, plum and some flowery perfume, almost a sort of dried cranberry thing. Assuming it was made with stems and all, there’s little toughness or frowning, just a twist of a savoury roast. Hardly the most slinky and fragrant of cool Beaujolais but concentrated and friendly. Resilient.

13.5% alcohol. Diam, I think, forgot to check. $50.

94 points.

2019 Famille Bourgrier Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil Les Cailloux

A few new French vins on the shelves of Dan Murphy’s at prices that may help the budget. Experience does suggest some may not quite please this jaded palate sufficient to empty the bottle into glassware rather than the plug hole. This one is encouraging. Fresh, clean whole berry ferment lift. A couple of days airing and it resolves to bouncy raspberry and leaf, very Cabernet Franc. A bit of cool earthiness too. Sure, the extraction has been pushed a bit hard but there’s enough fruit concentration, sweet tannin and fresh acidity to cope. In fact the fruit’s so good, it was best on day three when it looked like the sort of thing you’d love in a carafe, scoffing something good in a quintessential French bistro, one day.

13% alcohol. Screw cap, zut alors. $16.90.

Started 88 and got to 90 by day three.

2019 Christophe et Fils Chablis

No simpler or more evocative name in white wine for me, oh no, here he goes again. This small domain has been making Chablis of class and quality above its relative appellation for a few years now. This is shy and coiled with latent sinewy muscle but with some air, the quality of the raw materials starts to show in the form of a lingering depth. Delicious array of flavour across the scale from a top note of delicate acacia, like Australian wattle in full winter bloom, sweet Meyer lemon, beeswax, honey, sweet green herbs, to a bass of seaside iodine and old damp limestone. All pulled long on a yoghurt tang and the finest tingle of ripe acidity. Subtle power. Time will be kind, especially sealed with a Diam stopper. The problem will be keeping the paws off the other bottle.

13% alcohol. Diam. $49, in the world of white Burgundy, a bargain.

Easy 94 points, in time 95, village label but 1er cru class.

2012 Skillogalee Basket Pressed The Cabernets Clare Valley

The Barossa gets a lot of attention for its unctuous, warm and generous Shiraz but for those of us seeking a bit more cut and austerity, it’s good to head north and up to the Clare Valley for some muscled Cabernet, best brightened like this with some Malbec berries. Red fruits, even and just ripe, cherries for example, spring of mint, Australian forest, hints of cocoa and a nutty thing that reminds me of old school linseed oiled cricket bats, call me bats. An evocative earthiness too. To complete the Clare experience, tannins like suede and a final tilt at a dry stone wall of firm acidity. Open for three days and it just got better. Firm muscles, sanguine attitude but a soft heart too.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $25 ish on release.

93 points with stamina.

2017 Chêne Bleu Le Rosé

Anybody reading previous posts may have noticed the lack of pink wine. In short, it’s neither red nor white to its obvious disadvantage. An attempt to cook sea animals and rice, apologies to paella, to share with friends and it seemed inevitable the eminence gris of my wine loving mates would bring something as grudgingly lovely as this, just to enjoy confronting an unreasonable prejudice. Naughty boy. From high up on the biodiverse slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail, it’s a very Provençal blend of 60% Grenache, 18% Syrah with the rest made up from Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Rolle. A very pretty onion skin tinged pink colour and a nose full of fragrant peach and apricot skin with a touch of red fruit. Delicate but rich with underpinnings of woody herbs and nuts. Clean and poised in the flavour department, more fragrant red fruits carried by mouthwatering acidity and just the right amount of skinsy grip. Alright, time to own up to really enjoying this.

14% alcohol. Screw cap, chapeau. Nice contribution to the table but don’t make a habit of it.

94 very pink girly points.

2016 Tardieu Laurent Saint Joseph Vieilles Vignes

The Laurent part of the partnership has been notorious for extreme barrel action over the years and this does nothing to mitigate opinion. A haze of nutty vanilla oak floats high in the aromas but lurking below is some beautiful summer pudding fruit pushing the vanilla back to a mere seasoning. Then that over used French word terroir comes roaring through in blasts of smoke, rocks and minerals. Great depth and composure, no hard edges just round deep fruit, refreshing minerals, mouthwatering acidity and emery fine tannin. In the battle between timber and grapes, the latter take a comfortable win but why get in the fight in the first place?

13% alcohol. Long fancy cork. $50.09 at auction.

94 points.