Domaine Rapet Père et Fils Pernand-Vergelesses 2005

Temperature makes such a big difference to wine. Often, of a weekday evening, I don’t take the time to carefully bring my chosen bottle to the ideal serving temperature. If it’s a white, I’ll grab the bottle straight from the fridge, quietly congratulating myself on having been so organised as to have put one there in the first place.  I’ll open it right away, pour a glass, and sniff. Usually, as with tonight, the wine smells of nothing. But, if I’m lucky, a conversation will start as the wine warms a little. Little wisps of aroma emerge, then more, until it reaches full operating temperature. This white Burgundy, for example, smells increasingly of vulgar white flowers, melon and (the slightest bit rancid) butter. It’s not an explosive nose, but it shows an attractive (if slightly outré) character and good balance. It’s getting better as it warms. Entry is an éclat of flavour and acid texture. More rockmelon, caramel and butter spreads over the tongue as the wine slides through the mid-palate. The malo influences are obvious but they don’t rob the wine of freshness, thanks to assertive acid. Intensity is unexpected after the nose, and there’s enough complexity to keep things interesting. Texture is also remarkable, being tingly and rough and chalky in turn. This is a rustic wine, with bright, ripe flavours that are all slightly larger than life. Intense fruit continues to sing through the after palate, and the wine’s finish is decent and tasty, if perhaps attenuated due to acid.At $A47, this isn’t an especially cheap wine in absolute terms. I might reasonably expect more sophistication and refinement in a local wine at this price. But there’s no arguing with this wine’s drinkability and character. It’s very tasty and went extremely well with chicken salad.Domaine Rapet Père et FilsPrice: $A47Closure: CorkDate tasted: 2008

Chardonnier Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin Saint-Véran 2005

Another $A28, village-level white Burgundy from a lesser region, this time the Mâconnais. A pretty green-gold colour, slightly watery. On the nose, prickly, fresh and delicate fruit, almost grapey, with an edge of creamy nuttiness. No great impact but a sense of depth and subtlety that is alluring. The palate takes a definite step up in intensity. Entry shows acid that is both lively and fine, counterbalancd by a somewhat viscous mouthfeel. There’s good fruit flavour on the mid-palate, quite generous and soft, with some creamy flavours and textures that do not detract from the wine’s freshness. Fruit is mostly grapefruit/white stone fruit in spectrum, again quite delicate. Good presence through the after palate and finish, the wine ending up on a dry yet flavoursome note. It’s almost aperitif-like in character, and is lean enough to fill this role admirably.I like this wine. It’s not especially remarkable in any one area, but has a sense of sophistication and poise, without resorting to excessive leanness, that appeals to my taste. Responded very well to bacon and onion tart.ChardonnierPrice: $A28Closure: CorkDate tasted: May 2008

Domaine Ninot Rully La Barre 2005

We’re on a Chardonnay-fest here at Full Pour, with a mix of French, Californian and Hunter Valley wines to taste over the coming weeks. Alas, Chardonnay isn’t a pauper’s hobby, which is part of the reason I’m so fond of Riesling and Semillon. Nevertheless, I’m sure there are “value priced” Chardonnays that can be rewarding to drink, and the state of my wine budget demands I seek them out. This village-level wine is from a region of Burgundy generally considered of “lesser” quality and interest: the Côte Chalonnaise. At $A28, it sits at a highly competitive price point in the Australian market right now.Quite a rich hay colour, excellent clarity. I served this way too cold and it smelled of nothing for about half an hour. As it warmed, aromas of vanilla cream, lightly fragrant peaches and honey emerged delicately from the glass. I’ve been sitting with it all night and it’s never going to be a slap in the face sort of wine. In fact, I’m still having to work pretty hard to get a sense of its aroma, but what’s there is delicate and pretty. The palate is more generous. Entry is quite focused, with a tight, acid-driven flow over the tongue. Tight, savoury grapefruit-like fruit dominates the mid-palate, which sizzles with freshness but remains subtle overall. This isn’t an especially worked style, although there’s a roundness to the middle and after palate that suggests some winemaking tricks. Quite satisfying length. This is a pretty, well made wine that shows good balance and clean varietal character.  With the vogue for tighter, less “fat” Chardonnays in full swing, this wine fits right in. My key criticism is that it lacks significant intensity of flavour (and the satisfaction one derives from it). Still, with cheaper Chardonnays often a carnival of vulgarity, I’m not going to complain too much.Domaine NinotPrice: $A28Closure: CorkDate tasted: May 2008

Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Napa Valley 2005

Light scents of pineapple and Bosc pear drift out of the glass; the color if the wine is a sun-dappled, honey, golden straw. This is exactly the kind of a wine a prop manager could use for an 80s soap opera: imagine the reflection on the shoulder pads of the protagonist’s pantsuit, and you’re almost there.There’s no yeastiness to speak of, but there is a certain creaminess to the smell of the wine that’s very well judged. On the other hand, the wine seems to tends towards tropical fruits that don’t seem quite right for (what’s mostly) Carneros grown fruit; something smells like it’s been manipulated just a bit too much here.In the mouth, the first impression is of a wine that’s a bit flabby, but there’s jarring acidity somewhere in there as well; it’s all just slightly off balance. It seems bigger than it ought to be, with sort of a dead fruit effect: on the other hand, there are distinctive hints of good quality winemaker taste in there, presumably due to bâtonnage, barrel fermentation, and other tricks. On the whole, my best guess is that this is focus grouped to death. There are traces of a really lovely wine in here, to be sure, but on the whole it seems to have been teased out to more closely match the (bestselling) style guide that’s used to make stuff like Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve chardonnay… and I find that really depressing, because the elements for a strong, traditional California chardonnay are here: good fruit, well judged oak, and ripeness. The problem is simply that they appear to have tacked on the stuff they think will sell well (a certain sucrosité, a certain broadness), and it really doesn’t belong here.If anyone knows what this wine was like before the Canandaigua takeover, I’d love to know about it.Robert Mondavi WineryPrice: US $14Closure: CorkDate tasted: May 2008

Roger et Didier Raimbault Vielles Vignes Sancerre 2005

For all the explosiveness and fashion of New World Sauvignon Blanc, it’s tempting to expect all wines made from this grape to be high octane styles. It’s one small step to view impact as the key indicator of quality for these wines. If you’re of this mindset, here’s a wine that may change your perspective.

Fine, balanced aromas of crushed sea shells, honey and ripe, pale tropical fruit. Despite the light, high toned aroma profile, there’s a sense of depth and complexity that draws one back. The entry continues this theme, with more crushed shell creating a dry, slightly austere impression. Fruit fills out a little on the mid-palate, but does not overtake the flinty dryness, so the wine remains a chiselled experience. Intensity isn’t especially remarkable, but it’s the excellent balance, as well as a dry, slightly chalky mouthfeel, that generate satisfaction here. A nice lift through the after palate, before the wine finishes with adequate length.

I can imagine this wine disappearing in a line up of more extroverted styles, but I like it for its poise and sophistication. I’m about to tuck into a Chicko roll and I’ll bet it’s a good combo.

Roger et Dider Raimbault
Price: $A35
Closure: Cork
Date tasted: May 2008

Dog Point Pinot Noir 2006

I loved the 2005 vintage of this wine, and remember it as a generous, wonderfully regional Pinot of utmost deliciousness. Hence, great expectations for this wine.Somewhat hazy ruby colour. Intense, not-quite-funky aromas of sour red fruit and sweet spice (cinnamon/nutmeg, etc), perhaps some autumn leaf as well. There’s quite a lot going on in there, but it’s seductive, not intellectual. It’s also a bit reserved at this stage. An entry with impact, partly due to a flavour profile that registers as sweeter than the nose suggests. Acid moulds the wine’s flow quite assertively, and this creates some textual interest while adding a bright, edgy quality to the fruit flavour. A deeper, plummy note emerged as the wine sat in glass for a couple of hours. There’s a nice sense of widening as the palate progresses, and the finish shows excellent continuity, with ripe, slightly grainy tannins. Oak is notably well balanced.Compared to the rather lush 2005, this shows as a tighter, more controlled wine, perhaps needing some time to relax and unwind. For my taste, it’s just a tad brash for full satisfaction right now. One to revisit in a year or so, perhaps.Dog PointPrice: $A35Closure: CorkDate tasted: May 2008

Saddleback Pinot Noir 2005

Peregrine’s second label Pinot, composed of Central Otago and Marlborough fruit. I’ve noticed this blend of regions in a few Central Otago producers’ lesser wines. It’s an interesting mix in theory, with both regions having quite distinctive Pinot flavour profiles in their own right. Second tasting of this wine, with more positive results this time around.Initially stinky and somewhat unattractive, with stale spice notes dominating a nose of disjointed fruit flavours. After a few minutes, though, the wine is cleaner and more delicious. The Marlborough influence is evident, with a tamarillo-like note in amongst the more Central Otago cola and plum flavours. Good intensity and enough complexity to make it worth smelling repeatedly.Good, flavoursome entry that shows more bright, moderately sweet fruit flavour alongside slightly smokey, spice notes. Certainly prominent acidity, but not overwhelmingly so. Entry continues to a fruit-driven, medium bodied mid-palate of tasty tamarillo and red fruits. Moderate intensity of flavour, and although flavours are bright, they are also dense enough to be mouthfilling. Mouthfeel is quite velvety and sophisticated. The fruit intensity drops off rather precipitously through the after palate, and the finish is consequently a bit hollow.Perhaps not a wine for regional purists, as it’s neither here nor there when it comes to communicating a sense of place. If you can get past that, however, you’ll find a tasty wine of distinctive character and reasonable price. Try it with pork.PeregrinePrice: $NZ25Closure: StelvinDate tasted: May 2008