2000 BRANDER Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Heavy brick, good sediment. Gorgeous tertiary with a spicy fruit center, a core of licorice and mint and still-bright lavender-tinged charry. Ridiculously polished in the mouth, but still with a verve of bitter angst. This was their first cab reserve, and an absolutely STUNNING wine. Showing FAR better than the 2004 at same pouring. 2017 version alongside was all bright young fruit, very hard to see the seriousness exemplified in the 00 and 04 in the 17, but it could be purely psychological.

2014 AU BON CLIMAT ‘Isabelle’ Pinot Noir Clear garnet. Massive nose reeking mud and briar and toasted almond and burnt marzipan and wet chalkboard and the buttery ghosts of a thousand chocolate-covered cherry pits. Equal parts airliner and nursery, the smooth, perfectly engineered bouquet of caramel fruit and honey-dipped cardboard play delicately against the churlish briar. Buttery, nutty pinot monstrosity in the mouth, a sweet nectar of polished brash never letting go of that youthful girlishness while filling impressive curves with a wry smile. Tannic and acidic through-and-through, the deep fruit holds on for ever and ever.

2017 DELMORE Syrah Cloudy pink ruby. The kind of fruit rising out of the nose that would stop a priest. Cranberry and plum and natal plum and gardenia and ripe tomato, salted and drizzled, consternated with the sort of smoky hot-fire non-smokiness with dripping beef not quite letting anything caramelize. Erudite fruit, at once simple and then again a complexity of poivre blanc and fat dessert and cold mountain stream flowing through warm meadow. In the mouth, that pink rim brings your boysenberry sweetness to the front of the class, embarrassing it by making it read its love-notes aloud. Once again, kinda shocked at the lack of tannin here. But hey, this is not something we’re going to take marks off for.

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