Domaine du Clos Salomon Givry 1er Cru la Grande Berge 2005

Distinctive, sharp nose that is part oak, part chalky mineral note (almost lipsticky in character). There may be a bit of sulfur still floating around in there, but the wine’s minerality seems more terroir-driven. There’s also some fruit, austerely honeydew melon like, and a bit of creaminess too. Entry is crisp and finely acidic, with fruit flavour that builds along the wine’s line. It’s almost like flavour starts to radiate out from a focused structural line, and it’s only towards the mid-palate that you realise the fruit here is actually quite intense and assertive. Flavour profile is firmly in line with the nose, in that it’s almost entirely savoury and tilted towards a funky minerality that will be, I’d wager, a matter of taste. Oak is present, for sure, but not a dominant feature. The sulfur is a bit distracting to me, so I hope some time in bottle (or even glass) will help that to disappear. Some rounded fruit emerges as the wine leaves the mid-palate, and it’s this slightly softer note that carries through the after palate onto the lengthy, and somewhat chalky, finish. I’m going to see how this goes through the evening and report back.Well, a little time (an hour perhaps) in the glass, and this wine is presenting well. It’s still a savoury, structured wine, but given this, it’s well balanced and shows good intensity with impressive length. There are also some additional fruit notes, tropical in character, that have started to peak out from under the savouriness. A really characterful wine. Clos SalomonPrice: $A37Closure: CorkDate tasted: May 2008

Meerlust Rubicon 2001

Beautifully, richly purple, my first thought here was simply “wow, so this is what a really good, ripe, New World fake Bordeaux smells like after it’s aged for a few years.”  There’s a bit of good old fashioned lead pencil, some cedar box, rich, dark damson fruit, and just a hint of dust (strangely, it reminds me of the classroom I once taught in in Germany; it was a cold, concrete room with not much to smell save for the cigarettes students had smoked before class). It also smells just a bit burnt-sugar sweet; it’s something like raspberry crème brûlée, but not overtly so.Surprisingly medium-bodied, the taste begins all red fruits, and then suddenly shifts gears to a sort of shoe-leather, tobacco-leaf earthiness with a high, violet-leaf note as well; then, it fades out slowly, with subtle supporting acidity, ending on a somewhat sweet (not sugary, just sweet) note with gentle spiciness and good length. There aren’t any aged characteristics that I can discern really; this still tastes just great seven years after harvest.This wine’s a keeper – probably the best I’ve had in a month. Great stuff! I imagine it’ll still be in great shape a decade from now – shame I only bought the one bottle!MeerlustPrice: US $25Closure: CorkDate tasted: May 2008

A new look

You will no doubt have noticed that we’ve updated the way we look here at Full Pour. We hope the site is more readable and, in general, easier on the eye. If only it were so easy to refresh one’s liver, too. Feel free to send us feedback on our new design!

Casa Madero Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

There’s a hint of boysenberry fruit leather to this wine; it seems ever so slightly stewy, but is it intentional? Is this meant to run along the lines of a full-bore McLaren Vale cabernet? Or is this a traditional claret that failed, slightly? Color-wise, it seems a bit watery at the rim, with a dark purple, orangey-red hue, relatively unusual for Cabernet; it definitely looks more Old World than New.

With some time, it has kind of a chocolate tobacco box smell to it, but again with a stewed berry component. There’s also a fair whack of something like damp earth – it’s a very earthy, loamy smell that suggests just the tiniest hint of brettanomyces. It’s not unpleasant, just subtly present.Fairly acidic and bright, the wine doesn’t taste anything like it smells, and pretty much nothing like what American wines taste like. There seems to be a tomato-leaf note here, which isn’t too bad, along with a hint of licorice; overall, it’s a bit flat, but there’s a spiciness and nerve that’s moderately appealing. The tannins are very well judged, providing firm support right through the finish; they’re nicely ripe and provide a useful counterpoint to the acidity.

Thinking about this wine a bit more, some more traditional fruit flavors do arrive, but even then, they verge on the porty and, well, confected (with apologies to Julian for saying that). Ultimately, this seems like a wine that does as well as it can given the circumstance; this is from the oldest winery in the Americas (they’re now in their 5th century of production), and it’s in what probably seems like an insane location to most winemakers: the Mexican state of Coahuila, which is improbably located well inland from the Gulf of Mexico a few hundred miles southwest of San Antonio, Texas. Given the presumably difficult climate, and given the quality of Azteca de Oro brandy, it seems like table wines might not be the best call for this area, but you know what? This wine is still a lot more interesting than many wines we produce here in California, so I think it’s worth a look. Heck, I’d love to try their high end wines – of course, God only knows where you could find them (and I’m not traveling to México City any time soon, alas).

Casa Madero
$159 (about US $15)
Date tasted:
May 2008

Domaine Rapet Père et Fils Pernand 1er Cru Sous Frétille 2005

And now we begin on the 1er Cru white Burgundies, albeit those from lesser appellations. We’ve already tasted this maker’s Pernand-Vergelesses village-level wine, which was a tasty, albeit not especially refined, drop. This wine, at $A59, is $A12 more expensive. What does this extra money buy the punter?

A fair degree more refinement, as it turns out, although the character of the wine is broadly in line with the village wine. The nose shows toasty almond, caramel and soft melon fruit, which sounds sloppy but is in fact crisp and well defined. Entry is sufficiently acidic to prop up more flavours of almond paste and caramel butter, with some citrus and stone fruit, and an overall impression of baked things. I like the way the wine is fresh and well structured without being forbidding, a hint of mineral contributing to this sense of vitality. Intensity is notable, and the wine seems intent on finding every corner of the mouth and staying put. The slightly lifted after palate shows good extension through the back of the mouth, and the finish is well shaped and of good length.

All in all, I like this wine’s flavour profile and sense of style. It’s a lot more refined than the village wine, although I still wouldn’t call it the ultimate in sophistication. I should note that the other half took an instant, firm dislike to this wine’s flavours, finding them unpleasantly sharp and perhaps even volatile. I can understand that point of view, as there’s a pungent, perhaps herbal edge to the wine’s flavour profile that may not be to everyone’s taste.

Update: I left half a bottle in the fridge for two days and am consuming the remainder now. It has come together well, with flavours further integrating and becoming less angular, though it’s still an assertive, distinctive wine. Nice wine if you like the style.

Domaine Rapet Père et Fils
Price: $A59
Closure: Cork
Date tasted: May 2008

Clonakilla Ballinderry 2005

Canberra’s not known for its Cabernet-based wines, but I’ve enjoyed several vintages of this, Clonakilla’s version of a Bordeaux blend. It underwent a name change a couple of years ago but otherwise remains the same. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, more or less in equal measures.Savoury aromas that show dried blackcurrant, flowers, meatiness and cedary oak. This is certainly not a berry-driven, straightforward aroma profile. Instead, it’s a bit funky and austere, and is about definition, not generosity. The palate shows more of the same, with the oak translating to a pencil shaving note that is prominent without becoming unbalanced. Flavour through the entry and mid palate sits in the higher registers, in that the dark berry fruit is edgy and taut, intense and complex, and doesn’t relax enough to generate a sense of richness or plushness. Partly, this is due to very fine tannins that dry the mouth from a relatively early point in the wine’s line, but I suspect it’s also a matter of style. Certainly not a criticism, but rather indicative of where the wine is “at” right now. Fruit sings linearly through the after palate, and continues on to a good finish. This is a pretty serious wine of high quality that really needs some time to relax, fatten out and become more drinkable. That said, give it a good decant or some vigorous swirling, and you’ll be drinking an elegant wine that will give you something to think about if your mood tends to more analytical tasting. After an hour or so in the glass, it’s already gaining some weight and depth, which seems to indicate a promising future.ClonakillaPrice: $A35Closure: StelvinDate tasted: May 2008

Domaine Alain Chavy Puligny-Montrachet Les Charmes 2005

At $A55, this is the most expensive white Burgundy so far amongst the 2005s recently tasted by me on Full Pour, and approximately equivalent (with the dollar the way it is) in price to the Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard tasted by Chris the other day. Unlike that wine, this is classified as village-level. We’re still playing at the lower end of the price scale as far as these wines are concerned, but at twice the cost of some wines tasted earlier in this series, one could rightly expect a corresponding increase in quality.A fresh, relatively full nose of round citrus and melon fruit, and a hint of caramel. There are also powdery notes, part floral and part mineral, that add a whole layer of high toned complexity. It’s altogether very attractive, though tight and coiled too.  Entry is clean and crisp, with a lovely fresh mouthfeel and bright acidity counterbalanced by impressively intense fruit that builds towards the mid-palate. There are some subtle winemaker inputs here (a hint of butterscotch and spice) but it’s primarily a fruit-driven wine. The tasty fruit is all about grapefruity citrus flavour and, as the after palate begins, the fruit explodes out of its focused centre to coat the insides of the mouth with surprising, quite pleasing aggressiveness. The effect, combined with the wine’s acid structure, is mouthwatering. Nice focus through the finish.It’s a little austere at the moment, but this wine is clearly a good one, with a nice line through the palate and good fruit. I’d love to see this in a little while, when hopefully the acidity will have integrated somewhat and allowed the fruit to flow more liberally. Domaine Alain ChavyPrice: $A55Closure: CorkDate tasted: May 2008

Meerea Park The Aunts Shiraz 2003

One from the cellar. As an aside, the first bottle I had of this wine was tainted with a strikingly unpleasant mercaptan rubber cabbage stink, and was replaced courteously and promptly by the winery. All subsequent bottles have been clean as a whistle.More than a dash of smoky, sweet oak; it’s prominent but also complementary to the fruit’s aroma profile, which is ripe, dense and savoury. There’s almost liqueur-like black cherry and some Hunter earth, maybe even a hint of cured pork, dark and slightly brooding in character. Entry is flavoursome, with good immediacy and some interesting textural complexity. There’s nice mix of silkiness and powdery phenolics. Full bodied, the wine’s mid-palate is still quite focused and primary, sweetly oak heavy as per the nose, and strikes me as resembling adult bubble gum (if such a thing existed). Nice presence on the after palate, where the wine lightens a little and prepares for a finish of excellent length and deliciously ripe tannins. It’s not typically Hunter in style, but that’s neither here nor there, as the wine is coherent in and of itself. Overall, the impression is flavoursome and rustic, but never obvious or clumsy. Try this wine with equally assertive food — a tasty dish of pasta and rich ragu would be perfect.Meerea ParkCost: $A25Closure: CorkDate tasted: May 2008

Casella Wines [yellow tail] Cabernet Merlot 2007

It’s tempting to write about this wine in terms of how important it is to Australia’s wine industry, or perhaps to express curiosity regarding what such a cheap wine actually tastes like, as if it were the vinous equivalent of a trip to the red light district (ie something that other people do). In reality, I’m a big fan of cheap wines for purely practical reasons. Firstly, I can’t afford to drink top or even middle tier wines every day. Secondly, there are few things more exciting to a wine lover than finding an excellent cheap wine. Thrift and pleasure, a top combination in my books.A hit of clean, sweet red and blue fruit on the nose. It’s easy, simple and, to me, screams of industrial winemaking. The palate is surprisingly acidic (though balanced) and this helps to pull the sweet, somewhat cloying fruit flavours back into line. There’s a lot of blueberry and a little spice on the palate. Quite flavoursome but not identifiably varietal. I can’t really detect any tannins. Its character pushes the boundaries of what I understand to be wine, and suggests a simpler beverage altogether. Having said that, it’s very well made, and I’ve no doubt it succeeds in being what it’s supposed to be. I can imagine someone who otherwise disliked wine, especially red wine, may find this surprisingly delicious, as it avoids the more challenging aspects of most other styles (savouriness, tannin, etc). It responded neutrally to food, and its sweet flavour profile didn’t seem to either enhance or detract from the roast beef meal with which it was served.For me, though, this wine holds limited interest, even as an everyday quaffer. It doesn’t communicate a sense of region or style, and instead seems intent on suppressing its individuality. Even in a very inexpensive wine, I like to taste where the grapes have come from, and hopefully to feel like the wine is communicating to me as an individual and not as a demographic. Perhaps my notion wine is overly romanticised or naive, but I do know there are cheap wines on the market that, to me, better encapsulate their origins.[yellow tail]Price: $A8Closure: StelvinDate tasted: May 2008

Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru, Clos des Murees 2005

A coworker suggested I buy a bottle of this, so I stopped by the local grog shop (Vintage Wines Ltd.) on my way home from work. Good thing I did; I so seldom drink Chardonnay that I’d forgotten what a good Chardonnay experience can be like.At first I was certain I was smelling the distant smoke of a sagebrush wildfire drifting over Coronado Bay, but then it moved more transparently towards a salt toffee, butterscotch note. On second thought, it could be hazelnut biscotti; it’s lovely, toasty, and smells like it more properly belongs in a bakery.In the mouth, the flavor lazily bounces between an acidic, almost kiwifruit aspect, a sort of rich sage honey, and a sort of almost gritty, stony minerality. Most interestingly, none of it feels forced or overworked; although I’m sure that some of the texture and smell here is likely due to winemaker intervention, it all feels entirely appropriate. The finish lasts for a good half a minute, and eventually suggests hazelnuts, fresh buttermilk biscuits, and something almost like pickled watermelon rind. In fact, this sort of milky earthiness almost reminds me of a cloudy rice wine; it’s a fascinating effect, coming to the foreground only after the initial acidic shock of the bright, crisp fruit fades away.I’d drink this sort of wine more often if it didn’t totally blow out my wallet, alas.Domaine Fontaine-GagnardPrice: US $55Closure: CorkDate tasted: May 2008