2018 Bodega Badiola Artelan Rioja

Another month and another six random import bottles from Dan Murphy’s chosen on the basis of a bit of prior knowledge and member’s special prices. Must admit to gazing at this bottle on the shelves for a while but have shied away as basic supermarket Rioja can be a little too engineered with American oak and extraction for my precious taste. I should have got my glasses out and looked at the back label to see it’s made by Badiola whose more expensive bottles have been exemplary in terms of gently expressive winemaking, see previous reviews, particularly the blancos. This stays true to the model. Just medium bodied, perfumed strawberries, toffee and chalky length. Some would say cola? Not having indulged in a cola drink for years, I suppose my strawberry and toffee is close to the US’s gift to the world. Light touch in the making again. Gentle infusion compresses those clean, precise flavours well into an end of refreshing ripe acidity and ripe tannin of silky poise. Cool fruit from up on the Alavesa and Rioja of character not caricature. There’s a black label version of two vintages blended, I’m in.

13% alcohol. Diam. $18.10 in a six.

91 points but so elegant as Iggy would say.

Well, the Rioja was good but the squat bottle of 2019 Tinazzi Ca’ de’ Rocchi Valpolicella pictured in the six was very much less so. Opened with a reductive pong that cleared to a washy lift of spearmint and vague red berries sprinkled with a sort of cooked brown sugar coating. Fades quickly into some unappealing green acidity. Left a day and not much improved. Most of the bottle ended up cleaning the plug hole. Looking at Tinazzi’s glamorous website, they say the Ca’ de’ Rocchi range is made for those not used to the sharpness of traditional Valpol, the tech sheet says it’s got nearly 5 grams of RS. Don’t think Quintarelli or Allegrini ever needed make up to make their stuff drinkable?

13% alcohol. Diam in a very narrow necked bottle, struggle to remove, impossible to put back in. $23 down the drain.

85 points but subjectively less.

At the end of the last century, Potensac was a reliable and good value taste of Bordeaux as prices were starting to rise dramatically. Now it has a second wine it seems. So a 2017 Chapelle de Potensac which was $30 on special, down from $40. Oh well, Domaines Delon have a good portfolio it seems from the back label, so I decided to risk a Bordeaux from what seems an uneven vintage. Mostly Merlot for immediacy perhaps? Reductive with a smell like those old cap guns us kids in sixties UK used to shoot each other. They’re probably as rare as good value Bordeaux these days. Nice shape to the wine in terms of gentle just OK acidity and fine gravel tannin. The flavours dilute with cooked red berry and mulberry flickering in and out. Sweet green herb and leaf. Finally a small nudge of the sort of earthy richness that I’ve enjoyed in a limited experience of more celebrated Bordeaux. Oh well, I enjoyed the Rioja so much more and it’s much cheaper. This is so careful and polished as to be anodyne. At least there was enough to make it through the bottle. Anodyne can mean boring, dull or insipid or pain numbing. At least a few glasses were anodyne in the sense of taking off the edge off spending $30.

13% alcohol. Diam again. $30 on special.

90 points, maybe in a blind line up 88, it’s a classic label and I’m a snob at heart.

2010 Ca’ Rome Maria di Brün Barbaresco

Having opened a leaden, malty and hulking 2010 Barolo recently and read alarming reports of disappointments with the vintage, thought it time to see if money and patience had been wasted, a familiar sensation to Burgundy fiends especially. Seems this is named for the winemaker’s mum and comes from a special bit of the special Rabaja cru planted to the Michet clone. Important info thanks to importers Trembath and Taylor and their detailed website. The first small pour wasn’t encouraging, looking a bit rusty and tired but air brought a sense of relief as the colour brightened and darkened, if that makes sense? Black cherry, deep tarry earth flavours and a flicker of juicy red fruit to bring a twinkle of chiara to the profound scuro. More air and interminable swirling bring liquorice root and fennel to saturate the retro nasal canyons, intense. Ripe acidity sluices it all through the mouth. The tannins, and what tannins, throb and build and take no prisoners. Brilliant but don’t think it’s possible for wine to be any more positively tannic. Couldn’t imagine trying to drink this without something full of protein and fat to eat. Monumental antioxidant Nebbiolo. Seems there’s another in the cellar to wrestle should bottle variation and cork be kind.

14% alcohol. Cork. Was possibly about $100 or so of recklessly optimistic spending.

95 points and no arguing with those tannins.

2017 Tyrrell’s Pokolbin Hunter Valley Semillon

Thanks to some high praise on Winefront and a memorable glass of 2013 Tyrrell’s Belford from the Sydney Opera House Bar, a spectacular place for a drink on a summer evening, I’ve been slowly building up a stash of a few bottles. Like good Riesling, Hunter Semillon doesn’t seem as sought out as some on Langton’s auction site. Three bottles of this for $17 each seemed a good buy. Only way to find out was to open one of them. Sweet green herbs, baby green peas and nettles. Hint of beeswax. Lemon rind oils and brisk citrus add fruit sweetness. There’s also an intriguing smell of something like dusty roads just as it starts to rain, petrichor anyone? In texture, a rainwater like softness on ripe but very mouthwatering acidity. Not the fruit power of Belford or HVD but so easy to drink. Roll on summer.

11% alcohol. Screw cap. $17 at auction.

91 shy points.

2021 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Franc x Cabernet Sauvignon Reframed

Despite TWE’s marketing department thinking a psychedelic paint factory explosion will be an improvement on a proven brand label, it’s the contents of the bottle that’s thankfully true to such good a winery. Not sure what the x means either, other than Franc is the parent of Sauvignon, thus some form of multiplication? Fashion, what’s old is new again as the idea that lower ripeness, less oak flavour and extraction seems oddly like Wynns reds were in the eighties. Nice to be back where we started apart from a bit of whole berry ferment maybe? Leaps out of the glass and straight into the olfactories with loads of leaf, raspberry and darker blackcurrant. Despite plenty of clean flavour in the weight of warm fruit, there’s a flash of savoury sweet leaf that triggers memories of the Loire. Just to remind us where it’s really from, the finish does have a cuddly, sweet earth, Coonawarra claret dimension. The acidity has a little tang but the tannins are ripe and satisfying. Good to see less artifice and more refreshment. Does the brand need yet another range? Not sure TWE know how to get the message to us?

12.9% alcohol. Screw cap. $20 at best. Dan’s $24, discounting awaited.

91 points.

2010 The Story Temperance Grampians Shiraz

The second Shiraz from the cellar for a comparison to the 2013 Pannell Jimmy Watson winner, see previous post. And another in the whole bunch, new but ancient way of making. Starts out looking much more stem influenced than the Pannell with scents of tobacco, woody herbs and some older wine leather. Must say the stems seem brown and woody rather than green and sappy. Oxygen works its changes and freshens up fruit flavours of somewhere between raspberries and blackberries, loganberry? A sweet green herb pesto underneath the bright swell of rich berries. Touch saline and savoury with age to end but the chunkiness of Grampians Shiraz still stands firm. Structure being as important as flavour in wine, once again The Story scores well with a twist of ripe skin and stem tannin and comfortable acidity to leave space for another sip. Not exactly articulate but yum.

13.5% alcohol, some sort of temperance compared to Parkerised monsters. Screw cap. $25 ten years ago I think?

93 points.

2013 S C Pannell Adelaide Hills Syrah

The 2014 Jimmy Watson Trophy winner no less and a measure of how the pendulum of Australian Shiraz fashion swung away from muscled ripeness on the limit dressed in coconut and vanilla. My memory could well be failing but perhaps this was on the shelves at King and Godfrey in Carlton before the RM show results were announced? I remember a floor stack priced at something like $26 a bottle which then went up to full RRP of $30. Not exactly profiteering. Time to open one and see if age has wearied it. Not much it seems. A waft of dusty bottle age, then fresh dark berries, spice and tarry earth come bounding from the glass. Rich in fruit held by a glide of velvet tannin. Second day and really up on its toes. Fresher dark berries and bright cherry fruit light up the middle with spice and white pepper. Perfect middle weight. The brown woody stems fit seamlessly into the settled acidity. All good things folded into each other. So neat and tidy but delicious. Syrah or Shiraz notwithstanding, it’s still one of the best new wave efforts to find its way into my glass. Glad I bought a couple.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $26 if memory serves.

Started 93 points but rose to 94 and then 95 perhaps.

2021 La Línea Mencia

From a meagre range of two samples, both from La Línea, it seems Mencia could be right at home in the Adelaide Hills. Such is its obscurity still that it only took an average bid of $15.80 each to win three bottles of different vintages at auction. Hope it doesn’t catch on. This bottle is spanking fresh and deliciously so. Evenly ripe with bright whole berry fruit, there’s violet florals, stewed strawberries, blueberry, almond and a darker twist of fruit and nut chocolate. Cool and composed, the structure has a mouthwatering cut of rocky acidity and skin tannin. Sort of invigorating like those Spanish versions. Love the cheeky location reference in Spanish on the back label.

13% alcohol. Screw cap. $15.80 at auction including delivery. Wish all my bids were so good.

93 points for a beautiful grape variety.

A 2019 and the last from the three different vintage bottles from auction just goes to show how idiotic generalisations are in wine. More dilute and lacking the just so ripeness of 2018 and 2021. Looks a shade or two away from the succulent. Bit of that Australian supermarket strawberry that’s a bit sugary but hasn’t developed the warm in season fragrance of summer. Dried herb and a bit of toffee leads to an end that’s teetering on a green edge, not quite there. In its defence, great to see the season writ in the making rather than submerged.

89 points.

2029 Xavier Vignon Côtes du Rhône Grenache Vieilles Vignes

Say bonjour to M. Vignon from Avignon, maybe not from there really but close enough. There’s a natty photo of him on the web wearing a very stylish pink shirt with the classic French écharpe or foulard looped and the ends pushed through. Trés chic. Certainly a brand with an eye to self promotion. I do wonder which of those two words word do the French use most for scarf? Seems wearing one is de rigeur from September to June, so they must buy a lot of them. The label claims organic and vegan. Dead little yeast beasties and vineyard insects notwithstanding of course and by the look of him, I bet you M. Vignon’s not a vegan. The last of July’s Dan Murphy direct import random buy and again it’s no disaster. Spotlessly clean, fresh and bright. Lots of dried woody herbs, crunch of red berries and cherries, peanuts and that garrigue on a warm day thing. Second day and it’s a bit quieter but there’s good tart red fruit still, verging on rhubarb. The ripe stalks are more prominent, a touch of sourness rubbing up against the fruit well and carrying the end with a pleasant but firm astringency. Not quite a repeat buy but the bottle emptied at a steady rate with some good food. Didn’t wear my scarf though.

14.5% alcohol and not too prominent. Screw cap. $20.90.

90 points but probably 91 day two.

2020 Cavallotto Dolcetto d’Alba Vigna Scot

Location indeed. Not the beautiful, politically sensible bit of the British Isles but between Bricco Boschis and Monprivato as they buttress the rise to Castiglione Falletto. To find Dolcetto in such real estate is good. To have it then grown and turned into wine by Cavallotto is better. I’ve read they make it in roughly the same way as Nebbiolo to extract good tannin and avoid the reduction which can afflict Dolcetto. It surely presents thus in the glass. Austere smells of rocks, sweet earth and those Piemontese cherries. All quite strict and quiet until the end where there’s a pleasing dance of pure sweet fruit, firm but melted skin tannin and acidity of perfect ripeness. No lush fruit explosion just confident refreshment, sort of like old school claret. Second day and it changes gear with a purr like an old Alpha. Fresher, richer and deeper but paradoxically more severe. Uncompromising tannin and ripe acidity blast through the beautifully detailed, tartly sweet depth of fruit. Challenging you to find something deliciously Italian to eat. Then the structure makes perfect sense. Probably not as good with haggis but I haven’t tried.

13% alcohol and such poise. Cork albeit a first grade sort. $50 and value still. Think I’ll have to buy another.

93 points but I wouldn’t argue with 94 the second day.

2016 Paitin Sori’ Paitin Dolcetto d’Alba

Probably said it many times but The Winefront is probably the most useful resource for we who chase honest pleasure from our purchases. When this scrolled up on a Langton’s auction, the fine review made a bid obligatory really. Spot on the review is too. Goodness I love good Dolcetto, sort of austerely sophisticated yet generous and yum at the same time. Here be dark, tartly ripe cherries, sweeter blackberry, the tang and depth of blood oranges, aniseed and an anchor of good Langhe dirt. The fruit’s so good, it’s freshness frozen in time, just smoothed a little by age. I wish. So delicious with umami rich veggies and tomato sugo. Great surge of chocolate ripe furry tannin and a lick of acidity to finally clear up my dribble. Seems those Piemontese take pleasure at the table very seriously. Take your time, chew thoughtfully, sip and reflect. Sloowww fooodddd.

13.5% alcohol. Diam. $40 at auction.

93 points.