Maison En Belles Lies L’Étrange 2016

With its Gothic equilateral arches it reminds me of Darth Vader. . . inside the liquid is Burgundy, but not as I know it. . . a blend of pinot noir, gamay and chardonnay - it's fast, slippery, sappy and absolutely delicious. Red fruited, musk and spice; a Morgon nose. Floral and beautiful, pixie like - small and delicate but intense. Sour and edgy, terrific acids, just the right side of jagged. #Yes.

One Block Shiraz 2014

A pair of Yarra Shiraz (both 13%) from One Block. On the left - Glory. The image like a beetroot hand axed. . . Deep in colour and scent, mulberries, a bristle of alcohol and black cardamon. Full and warm, for a moment cream and vanilla, it's more diffuse and tubby than expected.

Yellingbo. The gem more like a lozenge. . . A damp, luxurious nose - black currant and a hint of flint and smoulder. It seems sweeter and broader. . . like burnt toffee.

Partida Creus SM 2014

Sumoll (late ripening, large bunched varietal from Catalunya Spain). 11%. Cork. Spain. Approx $A45.

My first bottle from this small but well known label; a pair of ectopic Italians making lo fi wines with indigenous Spanish grapes. . .

Pale and lively; savoury, quite elusive, wild, salty, very delicious. . . A funky nose, animal and woody herbs, bark. . . but it also seems green and sappy - like a fresh cut star fruit. Dry and meaty, but playful acids and sharp edges; the technical taster in me finds brett - but at an acceptable level.

Pierre Cotton Régnié 2016

12%. Cork. Beaujolais. Gamay.

Feels like home; raspberry and stems, it's currently pure but who knows what creatures tomorrow will bring. . . playful, familiar. . . toffee apple and no shadows. . . Bright, tart, ebullient and after many hours the faintest suggestion of uncleanliness.

La Maison Syrah ‘When the devil takes his horns out’ 2016

Yarra Valley, Shiraz. Diam. $A35.

No words on the label, but from my order history and the iconography I deduce. . .

I prefer this to the last bottle (an 88 vs a 92) the shape and flow seems more convincing. . . Deep; spice, stone and fruit in harmony. Green pepper and for a fleeting moment - curry leafy and smoulder. A milky, creamy core, but it feels less abrasive and the tannins are silky. It seems more aerodynamic. . .

An unrelated but recently refreshed tasting note.

One Block Moonlit Forest Syrah 2016

13%. Diam. Yarra Valley. $A25.

On a whim (after seeing an Instagram post) I decided to purchase six bottles of wine from this small Yarra Valley producer. This bottle complete with naked nymphs was the cheapest. . . I love the packaging, each bottle has a clever label, the more expensive and older bottles are numbered and signed by the maker - Jayden Ong.

Suave and deeply scented - musk and skins, spice and mulberries. . . gum leaf. . . I keep thinking there's a milk chocolate edge, but it's far more assertive and stern. A wine of sinew more than comfort. . . Inky slightly smudged tannins.

Pira Barolo Serralunga d’Alba 2013

14%. Nebbiolo.

In short. Ready and approachable; raisins, lavender and soft leather. Super tannins - fine, supple, front to back; long and surprisingly gentle.

Later. I can still find same elements on the nose - but it seems more rounded. . . fruitcake with an inky undercurrent. Worn and rustic, fennel and small goods. My tongue has grown used to the tannins, they pause now before showing their hand, I notice the acids more clearly - they are poised, shapely, adding to the impression of open softness.

Ganevat Y’a bon the Canon 2016

13%. Cork. Jura and Beaujolais. Gamay et al.

Argent, enfariné, béclan - gros and petit, isabelle, peurion, portugais bleu. . . a host of Jura unknowns blended with familiar gamay. It's immediate and seductive. . . bright (? spritz and acid), punchy - fruit driven with sour cherries and rhubarb; rose petal and perfume and for a fleeting moment a hint of animal. . . it seems to become cleaner with time (at least on day one). . . vibrant and fresh, lovely shape with chewy, meaty tannins.

Jean-Paul and Benoît Droin Vaillons 1er Cru Chablis 2015

13%. Diam. Approx $A85.

An excellent wine and an excellent Chablis. Evocative, layered, stinging in the right places. . . beautiful texture and poise. Pure and typical. Flint and white pepper; citrus oil to open, but later it seems more pear like. Essence and terpines - white flowers, petrichor, zest. Mineral in the mouth, the sensation of smooth pebbles. . . fatty with no sugar, unrepentantly dry, thick and textured; but stinging acids, a hint of nuttiness and bitter pith to conclude. A+

Mid year meditation

My walking became more fevered and deliberate late last year; triggered by a short trip to Melbourne  and reinforced at the start of this year with a visit to Singapore. . . I've been counting steps, walking late into the night transfixed by audiobooks and podcasts. . . I've enough insight to recognise it as my obsessional personality rather than the onset of illness.

Inevitably I've been a return visitor to the ideas of Buddhism - I've been pushed and pulled by notions of desire and suffering for years. I can follow the chain of causation from sensation and awareness to feeling and emotions which leads to desire (to have or avoid) which then begets suffering. Meditation is the supposed answer allowing non judgmental insight and eventually non causation, a clumsy term which implies some control and interruption of the cascade. 

I feel calmer for the information, though I'm ambivalent about going too far down ...

Georges Descombes Saint-Amour 2016

13.5%. Cork.

I'm slowly working through the different villages of Beaujolais, the only one missing after this is hard to find Chenas. I think I'll stop my search, it seems the correct and healthy thing to do, plus I think I can infer from all the other bottles what I might find. . .

Like most natural wines this exudes impermanence - its fleeting and elusive, what I write one moment seems incorrect the next. . . It's evocative, brittle and high toned. . . acetone perhaps. . . I can smell rice paper and rhubarb, raspberries. . . it grows earthier with time. Plush with distinct and delicious tannins - tobacco leaf and tea, ink and flowers. Film like and very fine.

Assorted notes

The silhouette of rock climbing tourists armed with mobile phones. . . poorly lit and snapped on a whim with little preparation, much like the following holiday tasting notes. . .

Snake and Herring Corduroy Chardonnay 2016 - an old school butter bomb, golden in colour. Peaches. It seems slightly attenuated. 16/20

Snake and Herring Higher Ground Porongurup Cabernet Sauvignon 2014. Black wine. Pyrazine nose - rich, fully scented, eucalyptus, a raisin edge. . . creamy and spiced in the mouth, zip and leather , very ripe, like a Christmas cake at times. I can see the appeal, but I'm not a convert. 17/20

Lot 80 Reserve Chardonnay 2016. Similar shape to the first Snake and Herring wine, more nougat and apricot, very flavoursome, cream and sourness in even measure, once again butterscotch and pulled punches. 16/20

Cape Lodge Chardonnay 2017. Unexpectedly tropical, quite sharp, piercing and charming. 16.5/20

House of Cards Chardonnay 2017. Flint ...

Postcard: Chow’s Table

A plate of steamed prawn dumplings from Malcolm Chow's sparkling new Margaret River dining room. The food is a flavoursome and bold spin on some well known Asian classics. It won't please purists, most the plates have some issue - the skin of these dumplings thick and hard in parts; but each dish has something interesting and worthy too - the chilli oil and black vinegar sauce was so good it was kept on the table as a dipping sauce.

Somewhat related.