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Winery in Focus – Xanadu (Part One)

Winery in Focus – Xanadu

Part One – Chardonnay

Barry Weinman: 4th May 2016

When I think about producers of Chardonnay and Cabernet in Margaret River, Xanadu must now rank amongst the best of them. This is as a result of the consistently high quality wines that Glenn Goodall and the team have produced over the last 3 – 5 years.

It has not always been plain sailing at Xanadu though. The winery went on a roller-coaster ride; starting as a small family owned winery, expanding to the point where the venture was listed on the stock exchange, before collapsing and being sold off to raise funds.

This is where the Rathbone family stepped in, purchasing the winery and select vineyards in 2005. One of the key decisions made was to appoint Glenn Goodall as Senior Winemaker in time for the 2006 vintage. Glen had been assistant winemaker since 1999, so knew the vineyards well.

Whilst 2006 proved to be a difficult vintage for the region, the string of excellent vintages from 2007, combined with a slow evolution in winemaking style, has seen their wines hit great heights, with spectacular reviews from the likes of James Halliday.

For this tasting, I focussed on the two principle varieties of the region. There are a number of wines that make up the range, including Next of Kin, DJL, Xanadu, Stevens Road and Reserve.

The DJL was the starting point for the tasting. This range is made in a style that suits earlier consumption, reflective of the price point. The oak is dialled back, and the fruit is allowed to sit front and centre.

It is once you get to the Xanadu range that the quality really becomes apparent. Stephens Road comes from a single vineyard planted by John Brocksopp in 1989. This has 24 hectares under vine, including Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot, Shiraz, Muscadelle, Graciano and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Reserve range is made up of fruit from the original Langan vineyard. Despite their relatively southerly location, Stevens Road and Langan are some of the earliest ripening vineyards in the district, reflecting the impact of microclimate.


All of the Chardonnays do not undergo malolactic fermentation and, since the 2013 vintage, undergo wild yeast ferment. Almost all of the fruit is from the Gin Gin (Mendoza) clone. All Chardonnays in the range get 100% barrel fermentation, with frequent lees stirring to give a creamy, nougat like texture.

The first vintage of the reserve was in 2008 whilst the first Stevens Road was in 2009. Both wines have undergone wild yeast ferment since launching.

Xanadu – Chardonnay – DJL – 2015. (17 – 17.5pts – $24). Clear varietal expression. Peach, subtle lees/oak influences, fine acidity. Not overly dense, making this easy to pair with food. The gentle lime and mineral notes on the finish add to the appeal. Near seamless palate transition, which is remarkable for a wine of this price point. Will fill out with a year or two in bottle, but why wait? Xanadu_Chardonnay_2014_PNG

Xanadu – Chardonnay –– 2014. (18pts – $37). Quite closed initially, but a clear step up in terms of fruit concentration and depth. The creamy oak frames the fruit adding gloss and texture without overt flavours. Peach and melon fruit notes, with texturing minerality. Again, the palate transition is near seamless, and the length noteworthy. There is an immediacy to the wine that is charming. (Estate vineyards 80% with 20% from Wilyabrup).

Xanadu – Chardonnay – Stevens Road – 2013. (18.3pts – $70). There are subtle wafts of pineapple and tropical fruit on the nose, with less of the stone fruit aromas apparent. The structure and texture are quite different, with the fine-grained oak more prominent and the fruit just a touch suppressed at present. Struck match minerality adds depth; clearly, there has been more work in the winery. Lemon brûlée to close. This really opens and builds with air. Up to 5 years in the cellar will see this really fill out.2014_SR_CHARD__XAN

Xanadu – Chardonnay – Stevens Road – 2014. (18.5pts – $70). Perfumed and almost a floral nose. The palate is creamy, textured, supple and very long. The density is a feature. Again, the oak is texturing rather than an obvious flavour. More accessible than the 2013, but just as age-worthy. A lovely wine. (Due for release on 1st June 2016).Xanadu_Reserve_Chard_2013

Xanadu – Chardonnay – Reserve – 2013. (18.5+pts – $85). Tighter and more zesty than the 2014 in a less-is-more style. This is relatively taut initially, but there is no denying the fruit quality. The minerality and acid drive on the finish is noteworthy, ensuring that this will live for many years in the bottle. This needs patience, but will reward in spades. Fantastic wine.

Xanadu – Chardonnay – Reserve – 2014. (18.7pts – $85). Subtle and supple nose, with gentle fruit aromas. Reminds me of a floral garden in spring. On the palate, the balance is outstanding, with the high quality fruit gently massaged by taut oak. The finish is very long and fine, the palate transition seamless. This sits in the modern style, where the fruit has been dialled back somewhat, but still provides tremendous enjoyment now. (Due for release on 1st June 2016).

Tuscan Wine Exploration

Tuscan Wine Exploration

Barry Weinman: 24th April 2016

When I think of the wines of Tuscany, two wines typically come to mind. Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino. But as this tasting amply demonstrated, that is selling this remarkable region short. The super Tuscan wines and those from Bolgari in particular are some of the real stars of the region.

It is ironic that some of the most expensive wines from the region, such as Antinori’s Solaia carry the generic IGT Toscana appellation, due to the use of Cabernet Sauvignon, which precludes the use of the Chianti name.

In this line-up, the Tignanello from Antinori shone brightly in a group of excellent wines.tignanello-98-09_0


Antinori – Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese – Solaia – IGT Toscana – 2004 (18). Complex leather and earth notes, an almost floral fruit character and a touch of savoury plum. The palate has tobacco, hints of licorice, spice and plum like notes. Cedary oak to close and fine tannins. Developed, but not that old.

Antinori – Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon – Tignaello – 1999. (18.7). Savoury, earthy notes on the nose. With leather and licorice, there is great depth and power, with a silky, almost seamless finish that is very long. Talc-like tannins and supple acid cuts through on the finish. Fine, elegant and drinking superbly, this is a magical wine.

Valdicava – Sangiovese – Brunello di Montalcino – 2001 (18). Very different style, with distinct structural components and chewy tannins. If anything, this is still a touch closed. Excellent length to the almost cherry-like fruit. Very powerful, this will live for years to come.

Farnito – Sangiovese/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon – Camponibbio – 2005 (17.5). Freshness of fruit a highlight. Sweet, ripe and supple fruit on the palate. Silky, the textural components sit well with the fruit. Excellent length, the fruit runs right through the palate.

San Filippo – Sangiovese – Le Lucere – Brunello di Montalcino – 2010 (17.8). Youthful and vibrant, with an abundance of fine fruit complemented by supple tannins and oak. Whilst firm, there is a lovely immediacy to the wine. Souring acidity and dusty tannins to close. Great now, but will age well for years.

Nino Negri – Nebiolo – Sfursat – Sforzato di Valtellina – 2010 (17.5). A more serious effort, with depth and structure. Almost chewy, the fine tannins sit nicely with the fruit. Supple and approachable, yet there is good depth. Nice.

Uccelliera – Sangiovese – Brunello di Montalcino – Reserva – 2004 (18.5). Real depth to the fruit. Powerful, chewy, textured, structured and very long. The fruit is still suppressed now. An amazing wine that will easily live for another 10 years.

Antinori – Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon – Tignaello – 2008 (18.3). More accessible, with almost cherry notes. Savoury and spicy, with white pepper highlights. The supple textural notes complement the fruit. A delight to drink.

Frascole – Sangiovese – Chianti Rufina – 2012 (17.5). Savoury, sesame and water cracker notes. The cherry-like fruit is chewy, long and supple. This is drinking a treat.

Antinori – Sangiovese – Brunello di Montalcino – Pian delle Vigna – 1997 (17.8). Savoury, acidic, taut. Very long, but just a touch tough.

Fantini – Edizione – Cinque Autoctoni – 14 – 2012. (18.5). This might have a very complicated name, but the wine is excellent. Super sweet ripe fruit. Cedar and vanilla from the oak. Supple structure, excellent length. Remarkably approachable, given the structural components. Will live for a long time. Massive bottle is an environmental disaster, but looks great. ($47 from My Wine Guy)

Monsanto – Sangiovese – Chianti Classico – 2007 (18) What a lovely wine. The fruit is bright and fresh, but the savoury, structured nature of the wine suggests that further aging will be of benefit. Long and savoury, with souring acidity, this is a somewhat traditional style

Il Palazzone – Sangiovese – Brunello di Montalcino – 2006 (18.5). Super sweet fruit set against fresh oak that has a distinctly vanillin oak characters. The palate has traditional structural elements making this savoury and smart.

April New Release


April New Release

Barry Weinman: 16th April 2016

Those that know me know that I am not the biggest fan of Rosé. In general, I would rather drink a Riesling or a perhaps a refreshing Italian Moscato.

The Domaine Gavote, however, has made me rethink my bias. Here is a refreshing wine that is full of life, making for an excellent drink. This is imported direct by Lamont’s in Cottesloe and should be available for $25 – $30.

The other highlight of this tasting was the new Moss Wood Cabernet. A brilliant wine that is destined for a long future.


Xanadu – Rosé – DJL – 2015 (16.5 – $24). A really interesting wine that has a combination of sweet and savoury characters. Floral, the mid-palate fruit sweetness gives way to fresh acidity, with decent length on the close. Well balanced and great drinking cold.Cuvee Clarendon

Domaine Gavote – Rosé – Cuvee Clarendon – 2014 (17 – $30). Hints of strawberry and musk on the nose. The palate is savoury, dry and long. This is a food-friendly style that has plenty of appeal. The hint of sweetness adds flesh to the palate. An aromatic style, typical of Provence.

Deep Woods – Rose – Harmony – 2015 (16.5 – $15). Savoury, with a core of bright fruit. Long and almost chewy, with a long supple finish. A decent effort.

Sandalford – Cabernet Sauvignon – Prendiville Reserve – 2014 (18+). Sweet fruit and savoury oak on the nose. The depth and power of the intense fruit obvious, yet there are pretty, almost floral notes on both the nose and palate. Chewy and textured to close, the fine tannins fan out, accompanied by the fragrant fruit. Perhaps a touch old-fashioned, but a lovely wine now – 20 years. The best wine that I have seen under this label in recent years.MOSS-WOOD-Cab-Sav-2013

Moss Wood – Cabernet Sauvignon – Wilyabrup – 2013 (18.5+ – $120). Brilliant colour. Closed, tight and powerful, yet the tannins and acid do not overwhelm the high quality fruit. Just a baby now, this will blossom with time. Very long, silky and focussed, with great palate transition. The depth and power are noteworthy.

Cabernet Sauvignon – New Release

Cabernet Sauvignon

Barry Weinman: 18th March 2015

The wines under the Streicker/Clairault labels continue to impress. In this tasting it was the entry level Cabernet from Clairault that made the biggest impact. Whilst the Estate and Cellar-Release are both impressive, it was the value of the Margaret River Cabernet that made me pay attention.


Deep Woods – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2013 (18.5+). An appealing nose, showing red currant/berry, and a slightly herbal edge to the fruit. The tannins are slightly dusty, but very fine, with cedar notes from the oak. Long and dense, this gets almost chewy to close. An excellent cool climate Cabernet that has a long future. Trophy for best Cabernet at Melbourne Wine Show.

Penfolds – Cabernet Sauvignon – Bin 9 – 2013 (18 – 18.5). A captivating wine that ticks all the boxes. The fine, red berry fruit is silky, giving way to somewhat drying tannins. The oak adds depth rather than overt flavour. Long and relatively powerful, this evolves in the glass and the mouth. An excellent wine. Drink after 2022. ($30 from Dan Murphy). cabernet_sauvignon_image

Angove – Cabernet Sauvignon – Family Crest – 2014 (18). A remarkable wine from McLaren Vale that has depth to the ripe fruit combined with poise and charm. Whilst Cabernet may not be fashionable in the “Vale” this is an excellent example that will benefit from medium term cellaring. (RRP $24, but available for $19).

Arivina Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2012 (18). Lovely mint and blackcurrant fruit, with hints of cedar and supple spice. The palate is supple and succulent, with layers of complex fruit, balanced by fine tannins that are ever so slightly grainy. Only mid weight, with hints of coffee from the oak adding to the appeal on the finish.

Clairault – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2013 (17.9). (RRP $27). Great colour. Intense, ripe fruit on both the nose and palate. Plenty of extract and tannins, but these are remarkably fine, leaving the finish almost silky. An excellent drink any time over the next 10 years. Good value Margaret River Cabernet.

Shiraz – New Release


Shiraz – New Release

Barry Weinman: 12th March 2016

The Hollick was the surprise package of this tasting. An excellent wine that became quite compelling once it had a chance to open up. At $25 it is also excellent value.



Hollick – Shiraz – 2013 (18.2) The deep purple colour in the glass is almost impenetrable. Quite closed on the nose, with hints of licorice and blackberry. There are plum characters on the palate, with a chocolate-like edge. The finish is firm and structured, courtesy of the fine oak and tannins. An impressive wine with a degree of richness to the fruit. Will benefit from a few years in the bottle. Fruit from Wrattonbully (RRP $25).thumb_lge_document_4_1

Leeuwin Estate – Shiraz – Art Series – 2013 (18). Opens with attractive cedar/pencil shavings notes from the oak, over a core of quality fruit. The palate has licorice, spice, fennel and ripe plum notes, all wrapped in a lithe, medium-bodied structure. There are hints of eucalypt/mint to close. An attractive wine of some charm. (RRP $38).

Bird in Hand – Shiraz – Two in the Bush – 2014 (17.5). (RRP$23). A richer style, with roast meats over dense plum-like fruit. There is a touch of eucalypt/mint to add interest. The palate is quite fruit-forward, with decent palate weight. That said there is enough structure to make this a decent drink.


Chardonnay – February New Release

Barry Weinman: 25th February 2016

When it comes to Western Australian Chardonnay, Leeuwin Estate’s Art Series has long been the benchmark by which others are compared. The newly released (1st March) 2013 vintage is yet another great wine under this label.

With a recommended retail price of $96, the wine may not appear cheap, but when put into the context of the great wines of the world, it is a real bargain. Its ability to age for decade or more adds to the appeal.

Over the last decade wines from the likes of Vasse Felix (Hetesbury), Cullen and Cape Mentelle (to name a few) have risen to the challenge, albeit in differing styles. In this tasting, Woodlands demonstrated just how far they have come with the variety.

The quality of the 2013 Chloe is outstanding. The big difference for me though, is just how approachable the wine is now. There is an immediacy to the wine that is arresting.


Woodlands – Chardonnay – Chloe – 2013 (18.7). Rich, powerful style, with no rough edges, slowly building stone fruit characters. The finish is deceptive, as whilst not overly dense, the flavours linger and taper to a very long close. Actually, the length is outstanding, with the very fine oak adding a sheen to the palate, without imparting obvious flavours. Outstanding drinking now. (RRP $75, but the winery had now moved onto the 2014 vintage).Woodlands Chloe 2013 198 wide

Leeuwin Estate – Chardonnay – Art Series – 2013 (18.7). Intense nose that has fragrant stone fruit. The palate is sublime, with great depth and power to the fruit, and mouth-feel that is supple and very fine. Lemon, peach, nectarine and almond meal characters build in the glass, with the flavours lingering for some time. The balance elevates this beyond the ordinary. An arresting wine that will be at its best around the end of the decade. (RRP $96).document_610_1

McHenry Hohnen – Chardonnay – Burnside Vineyard – 2013 (17.9). A bigger, more forward style that has plenty of appeal. There is pineapple, stonefruit and melon notes on the nose. There is good length, but the palate is a touch one-dimensional right now. Give it a year two to fill out. (RRP $40).

Howard Park Chardonnay

Howard-Park_2015_Flint-Rock_Chardonnay smallHoward Park Chardonnay – 2015 Vintage

Barry Weinman: 21st February 2016

Jeff and Amy Burch have been involved with Howard Park winery since 1993, overseeing a significant expansion, which included the establishment of the Margaret River vineyards and winery.

As production grew, Howard Park was joined by the Madfish, and Marchand & Burch labels under the overall banner of Burch Family Wines. Marchand & Burch is a collaboration between the Burch family and Pascal Marchand (formally from Domaine Comte Armand and Domaine De La Vougeraie).Marchand&Burch_2015_Porongurup-Chardonnay small

Interestingly, Marchand & Burch have two distinct ranges of wines:. one from Western Australia and the other from some of the great villages of Burgundy.

Locally, winemaking is overseen by the highly talented Janice McDonald, who joined in time for the 2011 vintage. Prior to this Janice worked at the likes of Deep Woods and Stella Bella.

All wines reviewed were from the 2015 vintage and were bottled in December. For wines that are relatively young, they have come together well, with the Flint Rock from Mt Barker drinking very well now.

Both the Howard Park and the Marchand and Burch really need 2 – 5 years to open up, though there is no denying the underlying quality of the wines.


Howard Park – Chardonnay – Flint Rock – 2015 (18). Taut, restrained and bristling with vitality. The palate is delicious, with lemon and melon over creamy oak, cashew nut and subtle stone fruit. Long and refined, with excellent mouth-feel and complexity. Not as much depth as its big brother, but a great drink now. From Mt Barker (RRP $28).Howard-Park_2015_Flint-Rock_Chardonnay small

Howard Park – Chardonnay – Miamup – 2015 (17.5). A modern style, where the quality fruit is enveloped by subtle structural notes. Long and taut palate, with fresh acidity and a lemony tang to close. Needs a year or two to show its best. From Margaret River (RRP $28).Howard-Park_2015_Miamup-Chardonnay small

Howard Park – Chardonnay – 2015 (18.5). Taut and unyielding at first. A thoroughly modern wine. Aromas of stone fruit and subtle tropical fruits build with air. There is a degree of viscosity on the palate, with excellent length and high acidity. The oak sits very much in the background. Needs a few years to show its best (RRP $54).Howard-Park_2015_Chardonnay small

Marchand and Burch – Chardonnay – Porongurup – 2015 (18.5+). A lovely wine that straddles the stylistic boundary between the taut and richer examples. There is fresh fruit (grapefruit and nectarine), with fine oak and acidity carrying the finish. Near seamless, this will be even better in a couple of years. (RRP $73).Marchand&Burch_2015_Porongurup-Chardonnay small

Red Burgundy

Red Burgundy – Part Two

Barry Weinman: 10th February 2016

The panel looked at a few of the Red Burgundies imported by Lamont’s in Cottesloe.

With a number of producers and villages represented, there are a variety of styles available. They vary in price and quality, but are worth trying. If John Jens is in the restaurant, you may be able to try one or two by the glass.IMG_0865


Domaine Des Beaumont – Pinot Noir – Morey Saint Denis – 1er Cru – Les Millandes – 2013 (18.5+). Closed on the nose. The palate is dense and powerful, though it needs some time for the fruit to build into the structure. A masculine wine, with cherry, plum and real purity to the fruit. Impressive. (RRP $180).

Pierre Morey – Pinot Noir – Pommard – 1er Cru – Grands Epenots – 2012. (18.3). (RRP $200). Quite deep smelling, with floral notes and hints of roast meats. There is depth and power to the fruit. The palate is long, dense, savory and powerful, with supple cherry and spice. Superb drinking now, but will age well in the short term.

Domaine Bzikot – Pinot Noir – Volnay – 2013 (18). (RRP $80). Bright and fresh, with vibrant fruit and acidity. Mouthwatering and succulent, this is long and expansive. Builds in the glass. Good Value! Crying out for roast duck or other rich dishes.

Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon

Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon – New Release

Barry Weinman: 6th February 2016

When it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, either alone, or in combination with Semillon, I prefer the styles that are loosely modeled on the white wines from Bordeaux.

Typically a portion of the blend is fermented in barrel and then left on lees to gain texture and complexity. This may only be 5% – 20% of the total blend, but it is enough to add depth and texture to the final wine.

The 2013 Wallcliffe by Cape Mentelle is an excellent example, and worth seeking out.

Semillon is rarely made on its own in Margaret River. After trying the 2015 Moss Wood, it is clear that it is capable of making fine wine, albeit in a different style to those made in the Hunter Valley.

The commercial reality is that blends are easier to sell than straight Semillon. Vasse Felix, for example have stopped production of their excellent example.


Cape Mentelle– Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Wallcliffe – 2013 (17.8). Pineapple and tropical notes on the nose over complex barrel ferment/lees characters that suit the fruit perfectly. The flavours match the nose precisely, with bright acid and textural components carrying the finish. Delicately handled. (RRP $45).

Moss Wood – Semillon – Wilyabrup – 2015 (17.5). Lovely nose with a touch of lantana and grassy fruit. Bright palate with lemon myrtle and crunchy apple. The long, savory finish is complemented by complex barrel-ferment characters. I like this style and it works brilliantly with food. (RRP $38).IMG_0867

Chateau Martinon – Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc – Entre-Deux-Mers – 2014 (17.2). Lemon Brulee and home made lemonade on the nose. Really refreshing and interesting, with honeysuckle and gentle spice. Long, supple, mouth-filling and delicious.

Howard Park – Sauvignon Blanc – Western Australia – 2014 (17.2). Smart wine. There is degree of density to the lemony fruit and a touch of viscosity. Long, chewy, textured and mouth-filling. (RRP $31).

Flametree – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – 2015. (17). Cooler region fruit, with grassy/herbaceous notes. Passionfruit and gooseberry on an approachable palate with decent texture. Hints of barrel fermentation, with refined acidity to close. A smart wine.

Cape Mentelle – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – 2015. (17). Textbook example. Refreshing and bright, with just enough texture to make it really enjoyable. (RRP $25).

Bargain Champagne


Bargain Champagne

Barry Weinman: 20th January 2016

Our “house” Champagne (the one that is always in the fridge in case a friend pops in) has varied over the years. Pol Roger has featured regularly; particularly when it’s has been on special closer to $50. The Pol Gessner has also featured, based on how well the wine has performed in masked tastings. The fact that it can be purchased for $35 has added to the appeal.

Our current “go to” wine is the Pierre Gimonnet – Cuvee Cuis – 1er Cru, a Blanc de Blanc of superb quality from a highly rated grower. I was amazed to find this advertised for $34 at 1st choice and would encourage everyone to try a bottle. Being 100% Chardonnay, it is a leaner, racier style that might not suit everyone.Henri Laurent


Whilst houses try to keep their NV Champagnes consistent from year to year, there may be subtle variations from year to year, reflecting the quality of the base and reserve wines. With this in mind, I thought it time to review some of the Champagnes that are currently available in Australia for under $50.PIPER_BRUT-o

When we unmasked the wines at the end of the tasting, there were a couple of big surprises. The first was the Piper Heidseick. The cheapest of the Grand Marques, but a wine of charm and style. This excellent wine is available for under $40.

The biggest surprise however, was the Henri Laurent NV. This is produced by J Charpentier, and is a superb grower Champagne. What makes Charpentier different to most is that Pinot Meunier makes up the majority of his holdings and makes up 80% of this wine. Even more amazing is that Vintage Cellars is selling this for $30. One of the great bargains of the moment.

Finally, I included several wines from outside Champagne to give perspective. These were readily identified as being non-champagne. The Kreglinger was the stand-out from my perspective, but polarised the group due to the different style.


Henri Laurent – Brut – NV (17.8). Pinot Meunier 85%/Chardonnay 15%/Pinot Noir 5%. Pale straw colour. Gentle red fruit on the nose, with hints of brioche and bread dough. The palate is soft and round, with lovely mouth-feel and texture. A refined, elegant wine of real charm. Not pretentious, just a delightful drink, with or without food. Quintessentially Champagne and an absolute bargain! ($35 from 1st choice, but was as low as $30 from Vintage Cellars).

Piper Heidsieck – Brut – NV (17 – 17.5). I really like the nose here. Gentle autolysis, bread dough, some stone fruit and hints of tropical fruit. The palate is taut and fresh, with excellent mouth-feel and presence. Elegant, fresh aperitif style and a good drink. ($38).

Moet & Chandon – Brut – Imperial – NV (17 -17.5). Actually quite fine. Fresh, but with enough autolysis notes to make the nose interesting. The palate is creamy and textural, with decent length. A touch of development adds interest, while the lemony confers life. A good wine.

Mumm – Brut – Cordon Rouge – NV (17). Does not give away a lot on the nose. The palate is defined by bright citrus and mineral characters, with attractive floral notes. Simple, but a good drink for the price. ($40).

Duperrey – Brut – Premier Cru – NV (17). Decent fruit characters on both the nose and palate, with a touch of perfume. Gentle lees and minerality add to the length on the finish.

Pol Gessner – Brut – NV (17). Quite straightforward, but with all of the characters of Champagne. Creamy mouthfeel, lemony fruit, supple texture, good length. ($36).

Kreglinger – Brut – 2006                  (NR). I included this wine (along with wines from the Loire and Burgundy) to provide perspective and balance. The fact that it was in a slightly different style polarised the group. Outstanding fruit quality the feature here, conferring a real presence to the wine. Refined, balanced, elegant and very long, this is an excellent wine. Deserves a place in any cellar, but do not expect it to taste like Champagne! ($40).