Obviously no BYO at the moment, but we’re still “wining” at PDR. Lockdown may be taking its toll in other areas, but food and drink is helping us get through the endless days.

I thought I’d share some of what I’ve been tasting and drinking (they’re two different things) over the last two months. Plus, our online wine store has finally opened so you can buy some offerings from our award winning wine list for home. The brief was to put our wine list online – and that’s pretty much what we’ve done. Just over fifty wines so far, but with plenty more on the way. This project was begun during last year’s lockdown, but happily it’s now firing on all cylinders. Why not take a look?

Many of our suppliers have been sending samples in during lockdown – hey, it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it. It’s a way of keeping in touch with their customers, and means that I can stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of wine, at least to some extent.

Chalmers is a very interesting outfit. They were originally growers only, who specialised in alternative or obscure varieties, particularly Southern European grapes that are often better suited to our conditions than the classic French varieties we were bequeathed by our British Colonial settlers. Chalmers have sourced many different varieties for wineries all over Australia. Some have become familiar over the years: Sangiovese, vermentino, barbera, Aglianico to mention just a few of the Italians.

Over time, they made some wine as well. Why wouldn’t you? We’ve listed their excellent Heathcote Vermentino for a while now, so it was great to taste a sample of the 2019. They were one of the few vineyards unaffected by smoke taint in that notorious year, and the wine is fresh, clean and vibrant with more weight than I expected. Lovely fresh pear and peaches on the nose and palate, with acid in balance and nice mid-palate phenolics. I tried it over two nights, once with pork fillet in cider sauce and again the next day with classic chicken Caesar salad. Worked for me both times!

Negociants Australia provided a sample of Guigal’s 2017 Côte du Rhône rouge for a tutored tasting on Zoom last week. Excellently hosted by Brett Crittenden, this tutorial was a journey through one of the best family run wineries in the world. Guigal’s focus on quality, attention to detail, and sheer excellence in winemaking make them hard to ignore when drinking Rhône Valley wines.

The wine itself is always good. This is entry level at around $25 in the shops, but is consistently one of the top five Côtes-du-Rhône every year. In 2017, a lighter vintage, it has produced a lovely medium weight red, with slightly more Shiraz than Grenache. Incredible value for money.

Apparently, this wine is poured by the glass in over 70% of Lyon’s restaurants and wine bars. When you consider that Lyon is considered the gastronomic capital of France, that’s some recommendation!

Finally, from my own cellar I opened a bottle of newly arrived red Burgundy. The 2018 Domaine Pernot Côtes de Nuits-Village rouge imported by Il Mercante in Sydney is a great expression of Pinot Noir. It needs a little time in the glass – or better yet a decanter – but after thirty minutes or so it really blossoms. Really attractive ripe berry fruit, with forest floor and a touch of star anise. Give it some air.

I was unfamiliar with this obscure domaine prior to tasting it earlier this year. They are a small family operation based in Gevrey (not to be confused with Domaine Barolet-Pernot in St Romain). They also produce an entry level Bourgogne Rouge and a Gevrey-Chambertin, both of which I have tasted. But the Nuits is the sweet spot for value, being a step up from the Bourgogne in both price and depth, but happily a bigger jump for the latter. I bought half a dozen, thinking one per year for the next six…

Wherever you are, whatever you’re eating and drinking – make sure you do it safely. This won’t last forever, and when we’re open again there’ll be lots of lovely new wines and dishes in the restaurant, and of course many old favourites too. Until then, enjoy your wine.