Clos des Lambrays tasting

I recently attended a tasting of Clos des Lambrays with a selection of vintages spanning 1990 to 2010. Thierry Brouin, longtime oenologist at Domaine des Lambrays, was a charming (though jetlagged) host and humbly provided a view of the domaine’s history and its evolution under his stewardship. This was my first time tasting Clos des Lambrays and I can’t think of a better crash course.

Clos des Lambrays 1990
Defiantly tertiary with a range of old red wine aromas: mushroom, leather, spice. Despite this development, it retains a vibrancy of aroma and is certainly not past it. In the mouth, light bodied with a seamless line, this tastes saucy in the brown sense. A light dusting of tannin arches over an elegant finish. There is still lively acid and freshness. Charming.

Clos des Lambrays 1993
Noticeably more full than the 1990, this wine’s stylings are more masculine and chunky. The flavour profile is quite developed but with an underlying fruit weight missing from the older wine and a sense of minerality that underlines the fruit. Structurally, a bigger, more prominent wine, with more tannins and less exposed acid. At first this dipped through the after palate but some swirling saw that right.

Clos des Lambrays 1995
A really distinctive aroma that shows a pine needle (Thierry suggested camphor) note missing from the other vintages tasted. Light, fresh, with bit more primary fruit, this also came across slightly closed. In the mouth, more masculine than expected with dark berries and a litheness of line, perhaps a bit simple but hugely drinkable and attractive.

Clos des Lambrays 1999
This has a heavy brow, much more inclined to brood than any of its older siblings in this tasting. Dark fruit notes dominate an aroma that is the first of the tasting to seem mostly primary in character. In the mouth, very structured, tannins still prominent and drying, great concentration of dark berry fruit. Oak is also a noticeable influence.

Clos des Lambrays 2006
Very primary, this shows a lighter shade of fruit, spiced oak, heaps of minerality and a slightly raw vibe. The aroma is heady, oak-influenced and quite intoxicating. Exciting. The palate unfolds with cherry essence, vanilla, luxurious richness and chewy density in a framework of powdery tannins. This is fresh, structured and was quite my favourite wine of the tasting.  I wish I had some in my cellar.

Clos des Lambrays 2008
There was quite a bit of burned rubber on opening that never quite blew off, though it did become less prominent after about fifteen minutes of swirling. Once past this, there’s a light, red fruited aroma profile that is pretty and delicate. On the palate, fleet of foot, fruit seeming sweeter here and red rather than black in character. Not sure if this is typical.

Clos des Lambrays 2009
This seemed a favourite amongst the group and I can understand why. Very dense and dark on the nose, but expressive too, and almost a little rustic in its lilt. In the mouth, prickly mineral acid, coffee spiced oak and dark fruit. Also a meaty, umami-esque edge. Quite tannic in a surprisingly loose-knit way, and with very juicy acid, this is screaming for more time, though it’s already reasonably generous. Thierry suggested this vintage clearly expresses the Clos des Lambrays terroir.

Clos des Lambrays 2010
Very tight for now. Even so, there’s great purity of fruit on the nose, along with nougat oak and a dose of adolescent brooding. In the mouth, structure is predictably raw, acid sizzling away and tannin equally firm, flavours tending as much towards coffee oak as dark fruit. Quite hard to assess but, despite its youth, seems of beautiful form and line to me, perhaps more refined, if less obviously characterful, than the 2009. I liked this very much.

Offcuts: as we approach Christmas

Although drinking season is upon us, I’ve been remiss in my note taking. No matter, the more interesting wines recently consumed tasted linger in my memory and are noted below.

Grosset Springvale Riesling 2012
To describe our dry Riesling styles as precise is a cliché, but more importantly it misses the point; the joy of this wine is in how its precision serves the most exuberant of flavour profiles. It’s expressively floral and shows a poise in the mouth that is surprising in such a young Riesling. Excellent.

Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2009
I tasted this alongside a 2006 Pierre Amiot Clos de la Roche. Although the Burgundy showed greater complexity, this shone for the purity of its fruit and in some respects was the more delicious wine. Pure plum fruit, minerality, sap and a seamless line. Texture is especially fresh and fine. This is a wine of great sophistication.

Ridge Geyserville 2007
I love the Geyserville for its familiarity as much as anything else, so smelling this gave me much pleasure despite it seeming less focused than some vintages I remember. No matter; typical Zinfandel fruit cake and spice, cut with other purer fruit notes. Not too big in the mouth, this delivers lazy satisfaction and the cuddliest of flavours. A chesterfield lounge of a red wine.

Traversa Sori Ciabot Barbaresco 2007
I’m looking forward to my next bottle of this, as the first went down much too quickly. This has the sort of funky complexity I look for with this style; it’s not overtly challenging but has edges of savoury herbs alongside sweetly floral fruit, nuts and spice. It’s quite a flirtatious flavour profile. Structure is a highlight, the tannins fine and long. Not a blockbuster, but so pleasurable.

Clayfield Grampians Shiraz 2006
In the last few days I’ve tasted a few Clayfield wines; this one as well as the two 2010 premiums. The younger wines are somewhat unsettled and in need of air and patience, while the 2006 is starting to drink beautifully. Oak, often a feature of young Clayfield wines, has folded right back into the fruit, adding further dimensions to the fruit’s already spiced flavour profile. It’s prickly and bold and expressive.

Tyrrells 4 Acres Shiraz 2007
My first tasting since its release. This has barely moved in that time except to show a slight mellowing of acid. The flavour profile remains primary, which is in no way a bad thing. The wine’s depth of flavour was very much in evidence on this tasting, as was its fundamental prettiness and the seamlessness of its line. It remains a subtle, balanced wine that will provide rich rewards to those who grant it the benefit of patience.

Offcuts: Shiraz benchmarking

I recently attended a very well-run tasting put on by Sommeliers Australia, which focused on Shiraz from various parts of the world. Lots of interesting wines and quite a few surprises. We tasted semi-blind: we knew what was in each bracket, but not the order in which wines were served.

Comparative tasting can be so cruel to wines yet is always such an education to the drinker. The notes below, on wines I found interesting for one reason or another, should be read in the context of the tasting environment, and are as true as I can make them to my impression of each wine before the reveal.

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2010.
Floral and spiced, with bright red berry aromas and vanillan oak. In the mouth, medium bodied and freshly acidic, but lacking some fruit freshness, coming across as slightly simple and confected.

Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Shiraz 2009.
Nice wine, this one. Apparent stalks, spice, meat, with relatively rich plum fruit. Structure is firm and satisfyingly tannic. The wine is long. One of the wilder wines of the tasting, not including some horse-drawn Rhônes.

Greenstone Shiraz 2009.
Quite a bright wine, with oak a tad obvious at first. The flavour profile shows red fruits and florals. Acid is firm and fresh. A more subdued style than I would expect from Heathcote.

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2010.
Much cooler smelling than the preceding wines, by which I mean it has a green streak, not unripe so much as succulent, floral and fleshy. This continues on the palate, where there are also blue fruits, all of which leads to a fresh after palate and finish.

Shaw and Smith Shiraz 2009.
Gentle and composed, this tastes slightly less youthful than its vintage suggests. Tannin structure is a highlight, and the wine is firm and long; overall it’s just beautifully balanced. Excellent wine.

Jim Barry The Armagh 2007.
A big red wine for big red wine lovers. Liqueur and fruit cake, firm and slightly disjointed acid, the whole is structured and weighty. I think this needs time and may never be an elegant wine (nor, perhaps, does it need to be).

Brokenwood Hunter Shiraz 2009.
Instantly identifiable as Hunter; it brought a smile to my face. Hunter Shiraz really is a world apart. A good example of the style, this shows typical turned earth and red berries, and some brown spice. Medium bodied with more acid than tannin, structurally.

Henschke Hill of Grace 2006.
Tough wine to enjoy in this lineup, as its flavours were quite different and noticeably tertiary, though the wine is anything but old. Very savoury, with a touch of dried fruit in amongst its red and black berries. Tannins are abundant and will benefit from more time to settle.

Clape Cornas 2006.
Very correct, with potpourri and red berries the dominant flavour components. Tannins powdery and a bit random, this wine lacks finesse in its palate structure. Nice wine, but others showed better on the day.

Rostaing La Landonne 2007.
Vindicates Tim Kirk’s efforts in a way, as this bears a clear stylistic relation to the Côte-Rôtie inspired Clonakilla. I thought the French wine showed better in this tasting. Nuanced in flavour and elegant in countenance, this wine tastes correct but is interesting for so many other reasons besides. My only niggle is a sense of bright, lifted simplicity of fruit through the after palate. Joyous to some, perhaps, but I would have preferred complexity from start to finish.

Cuilleron VDP des Collines Rhodaniennes Syrah 2010.
One of the more enjoyable wines of the tasting, if not the most sophisticated. A lovely, accessible flavour profile of dark fruits and spice. Decent complexity of flavour, its relative lack of structure the clearest indication of its humble intentions.

Clonakilla wine dinner

At a certain point during the evening, quite a few wines in, Tim Kirk took flight. Talk of poetry and music filled the air, gestures became broader and more animated, and I’d like to think those of us who were present were a little, or perhaps more than a little, swept up in the passion of the moment. While a winemaker’s enthusiasm doesn’t inevitably translate to the finished wine, there’s something addictively glorious about seeing someone’s inner life blossom so charmingly before your eyes. As it happens, the excellence of the evening’s wines justified every moment of Tim’s rhetoric.

I don’t make a habit of attending wine dinners, but I jumped at the chance to taste a bunch of Clonakilla’s key styles in mini verticals. Bookended by a glass each of the current Viognier Nouveau and a pretty Auslese style Riesling, three vintages each of the Riesling, Cabernet Merlot and Shiraz Viognier were presented. There was not a bad wine amongst them, although inevitably the room was split on which version of each — newborn, young adult, fading groover — was drinking best on the night.

Brief impressions follow.

Clonakilla Riesling 2012
Primarily floral on the nose and clearly a very young wine. Aromatics are all high toned powdery goodness. The palate is surprisingly generous, showing more weight than I expected. A cut apple flavour suggests oxidative treatment? Nicely textured too.

Clonakilla Riesling 2005
My pick of the Rieslings, this shows clear primary and tertiary characters. The acid remains prominent, contributing a fantastic texture to the palate. Delicious.

Clonakilla Riesling 2002
Flavours are quite developed and the wine has transitioned from edgy youngster to mellow sage. It’s far from falling apart, but it is most certainly starting to glow with age. A very beautiful wine. I’m very happy to have some in my cellar.

Clonakilla Ballinderry 2011
Bright, slightly raw aromas of red fruit and tobacco pre-empt a palate that is acid-driven and still settling. Too young to drink without a very good airing, this nonetheless showed some pure, attractive flavours.

Clonakilla Ballinderry 2005
Another amazing 2005. Considerably more stuffing than the 2011, this showed delicious umami flavours in addition to its plush berries. Tannins a highlight, with texture generally feeling bright and attractive.

Clonakilla Cabernet Merlot 1997
All about umami. At this stage, texture has softened considerably, with the wine showing less palate weight and impact than the 2005. Tannins still present and drying, however.

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2011
Fine black pepper, blueberry fruit and spice. So put together, but fruit a bit simple at this early stage.

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2005
A step up in complexity and subtle textures, this feels strongly shaped in the mouth. Plenty of blue fruit and a multitude of other flavours besides. Lovely.

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2002
Holding on without any struggles, this still tastes young, with rich chocolate notes over spice and primary berry fruit. The tannin structure is still firm and a real feature. A slight whiff of game not distracting.

Offcuts: Blue Poles dinner

Wine dinners aren’t something I make a habit of; at least, not those run by producers. It’s not an in principle objection – I simply prefer, most of the time, a wider range of wines with dinner than might be offered by a single maker. The temptation of back vintages and verticals, however, can be strong, as can the promise of highly amusing company. Mark Gifford from Blue Poles Vineyard is most certainly that, so it was with pleasure that I attended the recent Blue Poles dinner in Brisbane.

The boutique producer’s dilemma must seem intractable at times: what to produce? How to get noticed? Whose attention to court? I won’t venture to suggest I have any answers, but I know I respond to a focused portfolio that communicates identity and intent rather than a wide range of wines that, together, lack coherence. Although it contains a highly drinkable Viognier and Shiraz, the Blue Poles portfolio stands out for its beautiful, uncompromising Bordeaux-inspired wines, as well as a quirky Teroldego.

Dinner was the first time I have tasted all the Blue Poles Reserve Merlots side by side, and they really do justify the praise I and many other wine writers have given them. The 2007 is by far the richest of the three and is starting to show an aged character that meshes superbly with its primary fruit. Very Bordeaux-like, this one, and quite mouthfilling. The 2008 and 2010 are both very tight, still, and it took about half an hour of swirling to coax from the 2010 more than the aroma of iron filings. When it did start to unfold, I felt it was the most precise wine of the three. The way it lands in the mouth, articulating its flavours with such clarity, is truly impressive. They keep getting better, these Merlots and, although there isn’t a great deal of competition, they are surely amongst the best of this varietal made in Australia.

The Allouran, a Merlot Cabernet Franc blend, is a lighter wine, less masculine than the straight Merlot. Both the 2007 and 2008 seem quite primary, with fresh fruit and bright, acid-driven structures. I can see these being overlooked in favour of the Merlot, but for my taste their flavour profiles show a light and shade that is subtle and attractive. Quite unforced as a style.

There was some discussion regarding the clear influence exerted by Bordeaux on these wines. Blue Poles has never been shy of admitting this stylistic lineage, and is far from the only producer to explicitly claim Old World wines as a starting point. However, what is emerging from the portfolio over time is a coherence on its own terms. These wines don’t taste like imitations of something else, despite strong nods to classic models. I look forward to further releases and the ongoing conversation between style and terroir.

The new release Teroldego is a fascinating interpretation of the “drink now” red wine. What often typifies this category of wine is a simplicity and fruit-forwardness the Teroldego almost entirely lacks. Its argument, rather, is one of chewy tannin, charismatic masculinity and an apparent absence of fruit. To be sure, dark berry fruit underlines the flavour profile, but it’s so joyously secondary that one is drawn immediately to other aspects of the wine. Despite this, it’s highly drinkable, a term not often associated with primarily structural wines. A contradiction, then, in all sorts of ways, and one I look forward to drinking again.

Offcuts: one bottle at a time

Friday evening saw a reconvening of Brisbane’s own single bottle dinner, the first of which I wrote about back in May. Quite by chance, August’s line-up was considerably more eclectic, and I must eat my words regarding Cabernet: the wine that caused the greatest stir was clearly a 1996 Stonyridge Larose.

But first to some of the earlier wines, which also provided much pleasure. A fruit-shy, breathtakingly acidic 2010 Domaine Belluard Vin de Savoie Blanc Gringet Le Feu ushered us into the evening. Quite a mouthful of a name, so lucky for us it was first up. This wine showed a range of delicate fruit notes in a higher toned, floral spectrum. I felt it lost a bit through the after palate, perhaps a function of the acid seeming to truncate the fruit’s expression. In need of some time, maybe?

This was an idiosyncratic lead-in to perhaps two of the most conventional wines of the evening: a 2009 Yves Cuilleron Condrieu Les Chaillets Vieilles Vignes and a 2007 Domaine Dublere Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chaumées, the latter of which was my contribution. Both wines were lovely. The Condrieu was full of Viognier goodness – apricots and paw paw, mostly. I particularly enjoyed the mouthfeel of this wine. The Burgundy was all about drive and power, perhaps at the expense of some finesse, but still an impressive wine. It evolved particularly quickly in the glass.

A novelty bottle-oaked Riesling was followed by a considerably more conventional, quite delicious 2002 Annie’s Lane Copper Trail Riesling. There was some debate regarding the fruit’s intensity and whether it will outlast the wine’s structure, but for my taste this is drinking quite well now, as some aged notes are beginning to express wihtin the context of a soft, still quite primary flavour profile. A gentle, pastel wine with a fresh acid kick.

A couple of unusual reds were next, being a 2006 The Gran Cruor Syrah and a 2007 Domaine Duseigneur Antares Grenache blend from Lirac. I found the latter a bit straightforward and I think it suffered from following the Syrah. I was deeply intrigued by the Priorat’s unusual development, driven by fruit that seemed sun-kissed to the point of dessication. Not normally a compliment, perhaps, but I found the flavours attractive and moreish.

The Stonyridge was next and it just blew everything else away, as far as I’m concerned. Concentrated soy sauce and umami flavours, a luscious tannin structure and the sort of deep intensity that fills the mouth with each taste. This is a long way from Bordeaux but the style struck me as deeply coherent. Loved it and was grateful to have had the opportunity to taste it.

Ordinarily, the next wine, a 1994 Wendouree Cabernet Sauvignon, would be expected to hit some heights, and indeed it did, though in quite a different style from the Kiwi wine. This was Clare rusticity all the way, a choc-mint aroma profile leading into a wine that is both rough-hewn and quite perfect in form. I especially enjoyed the palate structure’s suppleness. It lacked the scale and luxe of the Stonyrise, but in its relatively austere way was a beautiful wine.

It’s a bit tough towards the end of these evenings to maintain focus, so a Dutschke Sun Dried Shiraz liqueur was perfect. Ridiculously rich in a slutty, rather than noble, way, this completely overshadowed our dessert and, for a dinner whose focus was a celebration of wine, I’m glad it did.

Tasting the Royal Queensland Wine Show

It never feels good to walk in half way through a speech.

There I was, confident I had made good time (the invitation had said 5.30pm for 7pm, hadn’t it?), making an evidently tardy entrance while Iain Riggs was in full flight recounting amusing anecdotes in front of a small, intimidatingly well dressed crowd at the RNA Showgrounds. I slipped into a corner as quietly as I could and took in the rest of the speech, which included an interesting point of view on the Queensland show’s recent conversion to one hundred point scoring.

I’ve never been to a post-show tasting before; some of my friends seem to be regular attendees, though, and through them I have formed an impression of lots of wine and an equal number of pointy elbows. Fortunately for me, I obtained an invitation to a smaller tasting of the wines entered into the show. There were perhaps a hundred very well behaved people there, and some strategically placed cheese platters, so no elbows were required.

A few impressions, then, of the wines. Firstly, the gold medal wines I tasted were without exception excellent, though I did start to understand what people mean by “show” wines. I tasted the medal winners after having made my way through the losers, and the latter never quite had the same impact as the top wines, whether as a matter of style or quality. It would be so hard for quieter wines to shine in these lineups. Nonetheless, the 2010 Annie’s Lane Copper Trail Shiraz, Grand Champion of show, is indeed a lovely wine, full of flavour and really well formed. I was especially taken with the 2010 Yalumba Signature Cabernet, which I thought excitingly pure and finely structured. Some nice Wynns Cabernets from 2010 also impressed. So no complaints in terms of the winners, at least the ones that I was able to taste.

The wines that were awarded lesser medals (or indeed no medal at all) were a mixed bunch and there will be always be, I think, outliers that should have been ranked higher or lower. Simply a function of the task at hand. What I found more interesting were the trends across styles and years. 2011 Rieslings, for example, were hard work. There are still very few Australian Merlots that seem worth the effort. And who the hell is buying all that Verdelho, Vermentino and Pinot Gris (not to mention the Viognier and Marsanne)? So, fascinating to wander through each class, and across classes, looking for connections. My palate was fairly tired after about a hundred wines, and I stupidly ensured it was ripped to shreds by tasting some Rare fortifieds at the end of the evening (I simply couldn’t resist). Still, I rarely get the chance to taste through so many wines in one go, so I enjoyed availing myself of the selection. Those show judges have a hell of a job.

Offcuts: Brisbane Single Bottle Dinner

All quiet on the blog front of late, mostly due to some travels that have left little time to write. They have, however, provided ample opportunity to drink exceptionally well, and I’ve been enjoying many excellent wines. I will write some up as time allows.

Before I left Brisbane, however, I did attend the first of what I hope will be a regular series of dinners with seven other local wine enthusiasts. We were each asked to bring a bottle to share and our host arranged for the restaurant Two Small Rooms to build a matching menu. So far, so good.

I won’t go through every wine, although each no doubt deserves to be written up in some detail. Suffice to say the group were extraordinarily generous with their chosen bottles, and the food matches were carefully considered.

Although I’m realising that Cabernet-based wines are often a second choice for me, two Bordeaux provided the most intellectual stimulation of the evening. A 1970 Rausan-Ségla was still in fine shape, though not in the least bit fleshy. Instead, a beautiful old red wine, leaking mushrooms, old leather, cedar and tobacco from every pore. The palate showed firm acid and surprising fruit sweetness too. A lovely thing.

By contrast, a 1985 Léoville Barton remained a real brute of a wine, full of oak and dense, spectacularly complex fruit. I especially liked the aroma, which seemed endlessly deep and dark, and I was happy to lose myself in it for quite a while.

A tranche of sweet wines that accompanied our excellent dessert deserve special mention. We pitted a 1970 Château Suduiraut against a 1999 Ballandean Estate Sylvaner, the only Queensland wine of the night. Although I feel the Suduiraut was in all respects the better wine, and I enjoyed it a great deal, I kept coming back to the Sylvaner for its fresh, boisterous liveliness, which felt great with food and was a lot of fun.

To finish off the evening, and I suspect quite a few of us too, we indulged in a Chambers Special Tokay, which I’m positive I could still taste at the conclusion of my taxi ride home.

Offcuts: tasting Dookie

It’s a strange thing, tasting in a classroom. In a sense, it’s completely divorced from wine’s natural context: with food, with friends. I’ve long been an advocate of structured tastings, though, as the best way to learn about wine and, hence, to get more from it when consumed for pleasure. There’s simply nothing like a well chosen lineup to draw out the differences between wines and to build confidence in tasting acumen. So, although many of the wines I tasted last week as part of my wine studies weren’t enjoyable on their own terms, I appreciate their educational value.

What was truly fun, though, were the wines that just couldn’t help but bring a smile to my face, and to those of my fellow students.  These wines shone through a somewhat clinical setting and suggested the enjoyment they are capable of providing. Some of the more interesting wines tasted during the week are briefly noted below.

The 2010 Petaluma Riesling is a fairly exuberant expression of Clare Riesling, with the sort of wild, high toned aromatics and reasonably weighty fruit that can be very appealing if you’re in the right mood. It’s a broader interpretation of this regional style, for sure, and this translates to an approachable wine in relative terms. No bad thing. By contrast, the 2004 Petaluma Riesling is only just showing signs of development, which suggests it was a tight little monster on release (I don’t remember tasting it young).  Butter menthol, a bit of toast, with some youthful citrus fruit remaining. For my tastes, this isn’t in an ideal state for full satisfaction, lacking fruit on the palate but not yet showing the full spectrum of bottle aged characters. Perhaps it’ll sing in a couple of years’ time.

Another new-old couple, the Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignons 2007 and 1997 both showed very well. The younger wine is, as expected, a straightforward expression of this quite distinctive regional style, with not-especially-varietal red and black fruits, earth and nougat. Heaps of delicious silty tannins, of course. The older wine is everything one could wish for from an older Tahbilk Cabernet, full of tobacco, leaf, surprisingly pure cassis fruit and sweet earth. It’s drinking well right now.

I was out on my own in enjoying the 2008 Shaw and Smith M3 Chardonnay. I found it a balanced drink whose fruit has relaxed back into the fabric of the wine, bringing a fine acid structure into clear focus and creating an impression of gentle elegance. Mostly, the group preferred the 2008 Stonier Reserve Chardonnay for its generosity and power, though I must admit I found its peach fruit a little blunt, its acid spiky and its oak too straightforward.

Two exceptional Hunter Semillons graced the week. First up was the 2003 Mount Pleasant Lovedale. Only just starting to show development, this wine is all potential, with lemon curd, soap and the beginnings of that most delicious waxy mouthfeel that lovers of Hunter Semillon adore. Intense, highly structure and just so shapely. I hope I get to taste this again at some stage. Even better, in my opinion, was the 2005 Tyrrell’s Vat 1, which is, for all intents and purposes, a perfect expression of this style. I remember it being fairly approachable on release and it remains quite drinkable in its adolescence, but surely one would be advised to leave it alone for a few more years yet, so that its nascent flavours of toast and honey can evolve much further.

As nice as the Lovedale was, it was equalled in its bracket by the 2008 Best’s Bin 0 Shiraz. This wine stopped the class in its tracks and seemed to be most peoples’ favourite wine of the session. Utterly typical ultra plum fruit character, plenty of complex spice and fine, chalky tannins. An excellent wine and an emphatic validation of the style.


A fair bit of tasting over the past week, though not much blogging. Here are some highlights.

The 2009 Christian Moreau Chablis AC strikes me as a lovely wine and considerably more pure than a 1er Cru from the same producer tasted the same evening. The palate structure in particular is excellent, with good flow through the mouth and impeccable balance. Not overly intense, but nicely put together. Fruit flavours firmly in the grapefruit spectrum. At the opposite end of the Chardonnay spectrum is the 2008 Eldridge Estate from the Mornington Peninsula. Quite powerful with honeydew melon, cream and funk on the nose, plus a few grilled nuts and some spice for good measure. Palate is quite big and full, not necessarily very refined, but certainly a lot of fun. Plenty of minerality on the palate and an almost-dashing silhouette, assaulted here and there by lumpy, fleshy fruit. I really enjoyed this.

Also providing a lot of pleasure is Fraser Gallop’s 2009 Estate Chardonnay. Fabulous drive and line with a good deal of intense peach and grapefruit. Despite its scale, the fruit is contained within a firmly articulated structure, so it’s never blousy. Nice minerality, nice texture, all finished with a twist of bitters towards the finish and a squeeze of orange juice acid. Nice wine.

From Mount Barker comes another excellent wine, this time from Forest Hill Estate. Its 2009 Chardonnay is a super-tight style, with the sort of nose that bristles and rears up as you approach it. Lovely detail, minerals, stink. The palate is ultra-focused and powerful, lots of complexity without being overwhelming in any way. To be critical, it’s all perhaps a bit hard, though that’s a matter of taste.

If the Forest Hill displayed some Riesling-like character, the 2001 Karra Yerta Riesling shows us all how it’s done. Never released (made instead for private consumption), I was fortunate enough to taste this through the week. At ten years of age, this is a mere pup, with utterly searing acid and typically pastel fruit notes both highlights. Not much to say other than this is definitive Eden Riesling and will go at least another ten years, if not longer. To be so lucky as to have a bottle in my cellar.