As the 2016 was so good and great value, finding a few 2012s amongst the stash under the house meant another Stelvin Luxe cracked with a satisfying twist. Nebbiolo obsession fed. Much more gentle than the 16 but beautifully clean and perfumed. Pot pourri, almost musk, gentle cherry and aniseed. Fragrant but not cloying. Great balanced crunch of ripe tingly acid and fine graphite tannins. More mountain fresh than Barolo earthy. Suave you might say.
14% alcohol. Lovely screwcap. $26 from a Prince Wine Store sale.
92 elegantly poised points.
The same day as this tasty Shiraz was opened, a walk along the pier at Lorne on the Great Ocean Road found a lonely Northern Giant Petrel looking for lunch next to somebody’s thoughtless disposal of a “reusable” plastic bag. Hence the sad iPad photo. Humans are odd, some carefully grow organic grapes, others use the ocean as their rubbish bin. Happily the Shiraz was a surprisingly fresh, straightforward mouthful of very ripe berries, tar and a little mocha. Very bright, primary and forward but still shows quality fruit. None of that yeasty, doughy breath of the more extreme examples of zero sulphur addition. Really looks quite stable. Puzzling how it avoids added sulphur and looks…er..normal? Low ph and a good sterile filter maybe? Intriguing or probably not if you just enjoy a glass of wine without too much nonsense.
14.50% alcohol. Screwcap and a lightweight bottle too. $20.
40% Garnatxa, 40% Syrah and 20% Carinyena. Catalan names but close enough that you can work it out? Very ripe, dry grape skins but a glorious freshness. Cherries and raspberries ripened under a hot sun without losing their juicy tang are counterweights to an extraordinary perfume of warm slate and dry scrub. Savoury caramelised pan juices too. Acid etched rocky tannin sweeps clean. So this is what Priorat can do when it’s not over cooked or oaked? Dense fruit and a refreshing austerity. Oh Billo.
14% alcohol. Cork. $45.
Far too much Italian wine recently but the craving for tannin and acidity with rich winter grub and some lucky wins at auction means no let up yet. From the same maker as the bravely commercial Il Bastardo, this is a traditional DOCG Rufina. Sangiovese with a slug of Colorino. Dark semi dried sour cherries, tobacco, licorice and some well controlled sooty oak. Really drying firm tannins and a smack of ripe acidity. Dark, serious, desiccated skin flavour and texture point toward a hot dry vintage, perhaps? Not quite the cool, red fruit calm that used to mark Rufina. Nonetheless a clean, delicious Sangio that comes into sharp focus with warming oily, cheesy pasta. E basta.
13.50% alcohol. Cork. $20 lucky win at Langton’s, don’t you dare bid on the other two bottles!
Beautifully labelled with art by a local Langhe artist, one of whose prints brightens the living room wall. Couldn’t resist the photo. The wine itself opens nice and clean with very ripe blackberry, plums and burnt toffee. With a bit of air, there’s a touch of Piemontese soil and a bit more freshness. Thankfully the richness is buffed into shape by that mouthwatering Barbera acidity which is somehow folded into the finish and hides the warmth of alcohol. The lack of tannin helps keep the focus on the bright fruit and acid. Not sure you’d notice the 15% if the label were not so honest. Bit of a big fellow en ballet pointe.
15% alcohol, careful sips. Screwcap, yes! $24 from the importer’s own invitational website shop. Bargain.
Vino da taglio was, or maybe still is, a naughty way for higher alcohol wine from mainly Puglia and Sicily to find its way into under powered Tuscan and other northern producers’ wine. Bravo for this good Chianti Rufina producer playing with the idea and then cheekily calling it The Bastard. Seems it’s good Rufina Sangiovese “cut” with some warming Sicilian Shiraz. Whilst the thought of bastardising the purity of good Sangio is at first horrible, this turns out to be a delicious drink for not a lot of cash. Starts a bit reduced as the screwcap cracks but then opens cleanly with Sangiovese cherries and walnuts warmed by spice and darker berries. Still has that lovely pull of Chianti acid and fine tannin grabbing at some chocolate richness. If you were looking for an easy but genuine intro to Ital wine, stop here and get acquainted. Best thing is the pure Chianti accent can still be heard above the Mezzogiorno’s warm chatter.
13% alcohol. Screwcap on an Italian, bravo. $10 bargain from a Langton’s auction.
89 pizza friendly points.
Fine, clean and fresh. Sparkling cherry fruit, a little muddy freshly dug soil and something mineral. As if Corvina had been on holiday to the Côtes de Beaune, such is the svelte even fruit and grace of structure. Absolutely no bombast but just a quietly moderate purity. Creeps up gently but doesn’t let go without another sip. Can you actually taste limestone or granite in wine? Does transparent organic farming help? Idealistically, you’d like to think so. Long way from industrial Valpol.
12.50% alcohol. Cork. About $30 plus a bit, sorry forgot to pay attention.
92 extremely fine points.