Eldridge Estate Gamay 2011


The facts

Gamay from Eldridge Estate on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
Purchased at auction for silly cheap. The current release (2014) is sold out but was $40.
Closure: screwcap.
Alcohol: 13% abv.

The waffle

It’s probably been well established that I love buying wine at auction. On the one hand, it is fraught with danger but if you can handle disappointment, it is also a great way of trying new producers. I’m on a good run at the moment – after my discovery of Mayford, I’m pleased to report that this wine from Eldridge Estate (not to be confused with Eldredge in Clare …) over delivers and gives me another winery to keep an eye out for.

Gamay is the grape of Beaujolais and it is not often found in Australia (Wine Grapes says around 20 producers). Generally accepted wisdom is that the wines it produces are mostly best drunk young – so a 2011 from an unknown producer required a small leap of faith on my part.

If you are familiar with Beaujolais, this wine is much more in line with one of the cru wines, than the entry level Beaujolais or Beaujolais-Villages (not that there is anything wrong with either of those). If you’ve never tried Gamay before, I recommend finding a bottle of the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages, which you should be able to find at around the $20 mark. These wines are more red fruit focussed than today’s wine, but they are a very solid and reliable introduction to both variety and style.

Elsewhere, you will find small amounts of Gamay grown in cooler climate areas, such as Germany, England, Switzerland, Oregon and Canada.

The wine

Very pale and definitely garnet in colour. On day 2 the nose is not looking quite as attractive as day 1 – but it is still pronounced, black cherry, some tobacco, leather, a touch of anise and black olive.

The palate is less fruit forward – there is some stalkiness which I personally find quite attractive – and it’s backed up with some black cherry and cassis. There’s good acidity and tannins are, as expected, very soft.

It doesn’t look as good on day 2 as it did on day 1 (hmmm, perhaps I should have been more forthcoming in sharing with Andy yesterday …) but I will most definitely be on the look-out for more wines from this producer and more Australian (nay, even Victorian!) Gamay in general.

Kooyong Clonale Chardonnay 2013


Once upon a time I drank very little Chardonnay – no idea why, but I suspect I’d jumped on the ABC bandwagon without even thinking about it. And it is true that once upon a time, much Australian Chardonnay was over oaked and one dimensional – especially the stuff that was exported. I don’t recall drinking an Australian Chardy while living in the UK – but very serviceable Chablis and white Burgundy was available for almost knock down prices, so I didn’t need to seek out the classier Australian efforts.

A couple of years ago I took part in the Negociants Working with Wine program in which one masterclass focussed on Chardonnay. One of the panellists was Sandro Mosele of Port Phillip Estate and Kooyong. I can’t recall (and I am too lazy to get off the sofa and find notes from two years ago!) if we tried the Clonale at that tasting but the event certainly put the Kooyong wines on my radar.

Since then, for me, the Clonale Chardonnay has been one of those very reliable, almost go-to wines. It is reasonably widely available and you do see it on the odd wine list. At around $25 per bottle retail it also falls into my ‘weekday drinking’ price bracket. I do realise that my tolerance for spending on wine far exceeds that of many people – but don’t worry as this wine is definitely good enough to be special occasion material.

In the glass the wine is a pale gold in colour and while oak does rather dominate the nose, there is some spice along with lemon and lime.

Don’t be put off by the oak on the nose though as on the palate there is a lot more fresh fruit evident. Lemon, lime and green apples, along with a touch of ripe pear and the oak sneaks in later. There’s good acidity and excellent structure: the palate develops really beautifully and the wine has good length.

While I do think that $25 a bottle is a more than fair price for this wine, its reliability gives it some extra bonus points. Even if you think you don’t like oaked Chardonnay this is a wine worth checking out – especially if you can just cadge a glass from a friend’s bottle!

$25 from Dan Murphy’s.
13.5% abv.