2022 Hoddles Creek Estate Pinot Noir
    13.2% Yarra Valley Victoria, RRP $26

    Decent Pinot Noir and value seldom coincide. But here’s one from the Yarra Valley that makes me pay attention. Not at all obscure, it’s from a company and winemaker (Franco D’anna) that has been making quality wines for around twenty years. Definitely not a nondescript confected throwaway; it’s ruby in colour, perfumed and brimming with crunchy red fruits, especially cherry and strawberry; abetted with a spice basket. This wine sets the challenge to stop sniffing and start tasting. Sail away on a journey of silky texture and savoury delight.  But put a few bottles aside to watch the graceful evolution  over the next few years-  its proven cellaring track record deserves that respect.

    Watch out for its bigger sibling 1er, or if your budget is tighter, the range of wines from Wickhams Road. The Hoddles Creek Chardonnays also over-deliver in the bang-for-bucks equation. No cellar door, but there’s decent distribution. You do know how to search? Duck – in almost any form- and Pinot Noir are the classic match! Really any type of poultry will succeed, with a special mention of mushrooms as a useful side.


    Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1983
    ABV 12.9%
    RRP $1000

    A boys ‘glamping’ trip to the Grampians to celebrate my good friends’ 40th birthday seemed occasion enough for him to share this bottle, gifted to him by his father for another milestone some 19 years beforehand. It’d been laying down on top of his fridge for all those years… Maybe not the best place to store one of the world’s most revered wines, and it certainly added to the nervousness that this drop may not have been able to stand the test of time; oh how I was wrong. I was tasked with the responsibility of opening the bottle and I can tell you, my hands were shaking. The cork did seem somewhat soft but also intact. With some patience, precision and encouragement, I managed to get the cork out with minimal drama, although it did break and required 3 attempts. We poured the liquid gold into a clean and seasoned beer pitcher through a muslin cloth to filter out sediment. Evenly filling each glass to within a millimetre, we stepped out into the cool May sunshine and toasted to our good fortune. I could not believe just how fruity this Grange was. Fresh ripe berries and plums, chinotto and subtle soy filled the senses upon first sip. Every single sip from then on was different as the wine was exposed to the elements since its bottling in 1985. By my final sip, I was experiencing notes of chocolate cookie, wood smoke, sauna (yes you read that correctly), pine needle, prune or date, pudding, mint and coffee bean. At the end of the day, it is just another bottle of wine. But it is an experience I’ll never forget and feel so very lucky to have enjoyed this treasure with my closest and oldest mates. Happy 40th birthday Chris!

    Pair with: Roughly broken shards of 75% cacao Ugandan dark chocolate


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