This is where I was for the past week:
Well, not right there, but just a few clicks off to the right on the beautiful NSW South Coast. Would you look at that vista (click on the photo to enlarge)? Stunning. A reminder, also, that you don’t need to go to Hawaii or some romanticised island for beautiful beaches when they’re right here on this very large island.
Anyway, as you will have no doubt noticed, the posting level has been at a low ebb over this past week and a bit as I’ve been more focused on drinking, not tasting. Birthday-celebrating. Beach-going. Bike riding. You get the drift.
There have been numerous highlights (and a misfire) though – here are just a few of them:
Stonyridge Larose 2005
What a wine. Every time I open these older Larose bottles I kick myself for not buying more before the price went to dumb territory. A Waiheke Island blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and the rest of Bordeaux quintet. This could out-Bordeaux many a wine too, yet with a mid-palate ripeness that is Waiheke all the way. Lovely wine. Still bright red coloured, bright and energetic. Obviously, Bordeaux is the inspo, but this is different. Some brick dust development on the nose, but quintessential Cab Merlot. Mid-weight, the tannins a fine dust storm that fills all the extra crevices. This enlivens you. The fruit is a downplay, but it’s perfectly ripe enough. Dark berries, bark, the only thing that you could accuse this of could be firm tannins. Otherwise a near-perfect Waiheke red. Wow. Drink now to at least ten years, likely more. 19/20, 96/100. 13.5%, I paid about $AUD70.
Torzi Matthews 1920 Single Vineyard Angaston Village 2019
Dom Torzi knows how to make textural reds. It’s a skill. His olives are also delicious by the way, and a packet came in the box with this bottle. It’s about as close to bribery as I get. Anyway, this is the top dog Torzi Matthews Shiraz and its a beauty. From the Vaughan Family Vineyard. This is a seriously rich too – I can see much of the silken palate of the Francesco Grillo Syrah but with more grandiose richness, cocoa powder oak adding more layers too. Interestingly I kept thinking about some of the top Yalumba reds, which has to be an Angaston character? Savoury, long, proudly soft and inviting, the alcohol doesn’t stick out, nor does the acidity. Lovely generous, full tilt, yet not OTT Barossan red. Best drinking: Good now, good in two decades. 18.7/20, 95/100. 14.5%, $75.
Produttori del Barberesco Barbaresco Riserva Paje 2011
All you could do wish for in a Produttori Cru in a warm year. I bought these in Italy about four years back and paid about €35. What a bargain for this sort of Piedmont charisma. Vibrant red fruit through the middle, furry, bristling tannins still a pulsating force. The ripeness remains both a boon – giving that red fruit fleshiness – yet also gives the finish some dried fruit desiccation. Years ahead still, the tannins still bulky. The life is still very much here and it’s a pretty satisfying Barbaresco. Best drinking: now to at least another decade. 18.5/20, 94/100. 14.5%.
Oakridge Vineyard Series Willowlake Chardonnay 2018
Still so taut and electric is this Chardonnay. It’s not there, a wine in progress. Fully worked nose, some struck match sulphur characters, lemon citrus fruit, all contained power. Underneath it’s extremely taut, a tight wire of acidity and then some oak tannins. It’s cool and sophisticated but a little angular too – a hyper-intelligent attack of a wine. I fully appreciate it, but not my favourite Oakridge 18 despite the obvious class. Best drinking: wait. Next year for a start. It’s going to last for five years easy. 18/20, 93/100. 13.4%, $42
Lallier Selection Parcellaire Loridon Blanc de Blancs NV
Champagne from a single 1.6ha plot in Aÿ. I’ve had a few bottles of this now, from the same pack purchased 2 summers ago. Previously it looked too linear, a common Lallier trait. But this has grown in the bottle. More waxiness, more toast and more width. Still a pretty tight, low dosage style, and given that it only spends 3yrs on lees the style here is more about purity than leesy complexity. But it works – a classy, and enjoyable, almost breezy BdB. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12%, $90ish.
Domaine du Colombier Hermitage 2010
Dug out of the cellar, and in an odd place. It’s an old school, leanish aged Hermitage, which I wasn’t expecting – it seemed much more polished and juicy as a younger wine. Leafy, mulchy, and underplayed dark fruit. After a while, the core of moderate earthen flavour grows on you, like a good Syrah can do. It’s still coming together – a solid core of tomato juice and red fruits, even if the acid/fruit balance isn’t perfect. Best drinking: I’m not sure. Not yet, perhaps, although you could also say the best years could be behind it. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%.
William Fevre Chablis 1er Cru Vaulorent 2015
This is just a bit bland and blowsy in context. Waxy, lemon citrus nose, whispers of peach too. Marzipan and lemon balm. It’s all mid palate fruit, the acidity an afterthought. It’s an ok drink, there is clearly a Chablis line to it, but inferior for both the label and cru. A bad bottle? The cellaring since release has been ace, and the cork looked fine. You could have told me this was a undercooked Macedon Chardonnay. 17/20, 90/100. 13%, $85.
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Hyams? We prefer Murrrays. Great part of the world.