Pizzini Rubacuori Sangiovese 2005

Self-appointed benchmark wines perform an interesting function in our wine scene, especially when made from varieties still considered “alternate” in Australia. Unlike wines that sit atop the tree of our few truly indigenous wine styles, wines like the Rubacuori seem to inevitably prompt comparisons, both stylistic and pecuniary, with their Old World counterparts. However, I prefer to see these wines as arguments for local expressions of their varieties, ones that are, in this case, joyously Australian in their richness and generosity.

This opens with a lot of oak, but give it some time in the decanter and it rebalances most pleasingly. The aroma blossoms with a whole pantry full of notes – bitter almond, white flowers, sawdust, broom cupboards, dried fruits, even a bit of mint. Pretty evocative, then. It’s a changeable aroma profile that benefits from slow contemplation rather than hurried evaluation.

The palate is remarkable for its slap of intense fruit within a dense, medium bodied frame. The mid-palate simply lights up with pure, clean red fruit, then splinters into an array of notes as the wine drifts towards the back of the mouth. Here it settles in its fragmented beauty, intensifying as abundant tannins release seemingly unlimited reserves of fruit and texture. Length is most definitely a highlight. Flavours are sweet and savoury, texture alternately silky and velvet.

A truly delicious, fine wine.

Price: $A110
Closure: Diam
Source: Gift

La Cantina Dry Red NV

This wine stood out on the shelf as an oddity: a non-vintage red table wine made from the pressings of miscellaneous (and unspecified) varieties, proudly advertised as unfiltered and preservative free. All this strangeness for $10.15 — now that’s value. According to its website, La Cantina is a family-run producer in the King Valley of Victoria. Its range includes a number of very reasonably priced labels made from predominantly Italian varietals. This wine is the baby of the range.

A dark, dense colour, apparently garnet/ruby, some flashes of brilliance. The nose is immediately offputting and, initially, I thought the wine was tainted with brett. As I smell it more, though, its savoury funk translates to a slightly vegetal note that, in the end, is moderately attractive in its way. Certainly not a clean style, though. On the palate, more surprises. The nose’s savouriness is