Wine review — Pol Roger, La Chablisienne, Madfish, Clos Pierre & PHI

Pol Roger Champagne Brut NV $54-$65 & Vintage 1998 $80-$100
As the world’s most famous wine region struggles to meet demand for its product – around 330 million bottles annually – the Christmas scene remains wonderfully competitive, if volatile. Last week, for example, the value buys, to my taste, were Pol Roger NV and 1998 vintage at  $53.90 and $79.90 respectively, down $10 to $20 a bottle on their regular prices. The NV is slightly deeper coloured than the vintage version, with round, soft palate and delicate, crisp finish. The pale, bright-coloured 1998, though, captures all of Champagne’s magic – a unique combination of intense, delicate flavour, balancing pinot noir’s power and backbone with chardonnay’s ethereal elegance.

La Chablisienne Chablis 2005 $29.99
& Chablis Premier Cru Cote de Lechet 2002 $47.99

Like the Champagne region, Chablis offers just one, highly distinctive regional specialty. In Champagne, at a cold 49-degrees north, it’s delicate bubblies made from pinot and chardonnay; in Chablis, just two degrees to the south it’s bone-dry, delicate chardonnay – perhaps the most recognisable chardonnay in the world. It’s the northernmost point of Burgundy but, thankfully, its whites don’t fetch the heady prices of those made to the south. In this pair from the La Chablisienne cooperative we see two brilliant variations on the regional theme – the fresh, textbook-Chablis 2005 and the slowly maturing, deeper, more complex version from the Cote de Lechet vineyard. Imported by Coles and available at 1st Choice and Vintage Cellars.

Madfish Western Australia Pinot Noir 2006 $19
Clos Pierre Reserve Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2006 $29.99
PHI Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2006 $54

It’s not hard to find a good Aussie pinot these days. And it’s such a wonderful Christmas drink. But the starting price for good examples is a little higher than it is for shiraz or cabernet. Two sub-$20 versions that measure up are DeBortoli Windy Peak Victoria 2007, and a tad more mature, Madfish WA 2006 (available only at cellar door). For another $10, Close Pierre Reserve 2006, made for Woolies’ Dan Murphy outlets by Burgundian Pierre Naigeon, is twice as good, in my opinion, and an absolute bargain. Kooyong Mornington Peninsular Estate 2005 is exciting at around $40 and PHI 2006 at $54 is one that grows in interest with every sip.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007