We did a blind tasting with an unusual theme – wines that for one reason or another are underrated and that we thought deserved a higher profile/appreciation level. In some cases that resulted in wine that were of little known varietals and in others wines that had for one reason or another become less distinguished than they once had been.

2019 Alpine Roots Petite Arvine – this little known varietal hails from the Valais region of Switzerland, a country that never features near the top of anyone’s list when trying to guess origin. I had very successfully brought a Syrah from the Valais which stumped the group when they guessed it as a Northern Rhone (to which I said yes) but then they went through every area in the French Northern Rhone getting negative results. They were dismayed when I told them that they never asked what country it came from, just assuming they had nailed it when they guessed Rhone. This wine was mid yellow in colour and showed a cherry nose, which tended to throw us a bit. Slightly reductive with some sulphur, decent body and a clean bright finish.

2008 Domaine Luneau-Papin Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Cuvée Médaillée – winner of the longest name award of the day. Excellent wine with a more golden colour than the previous wine and some fresh fruit in the nose – both citrus (lime?) and sweet (apple), slightly off dry at the end and with a hint of nuts in the finish. Intriguing wine and it satisfied the premise of the tasting nicely – I wonder how many of us cellar and age Muscadets.

2020 Wolff Estate Pinot Noir (Vancouver Island) – very different pinot presentation than we are used to. A medium dark pink rather than red (I swear I have seen Pinot Gris with as much colour) and a remarkable nose that featured cherries. Super dry finish and a bit short, but worth tasting just for that nose.

2014 Domaine de la Cote 'Sta. Rita Hills' Pinot Noir – garnet colour, interesting red fruit nose tinged with floral and herbal notes, bright fruit on palate, ending with crisp acidity. Nice wine.

2012 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d'Alba Francia – I am a long time admirer of Barbera and feel that most people drink it far too young. Fairly dark, with good nose of blackberry with a hint of cocoa with just a touch of mint that crept in toward the end of a decent finish. Nicely made the point that this varietal doesn’t get the attention it deserves and is too often overlooked in favour of other regional wines mostly starting with ‘P’.

2006 Oliverhill Petite Sirah – PS, also sold as Durif in Australia is not that common. This one had a warm rich sweet nose with excellent fruit (blueberry? blackberry? It changed every time I went back to the wine). Violets came out in the nose with time and the sweet fruit in the finish was quite tasty. Not a subtle wine!

2004 Domaine Tempier La Tourtine – not a secret among those that love Bandol (we made a point of visiting the winery a few years ago) this was also quite dark and had plenty of dark fruit and lots of dried herbs and some mocha, and finished quite dry and with good length. I love these wines.

1993 Rosemount Estate Balmoral Syrah – my wine, chosen both because this brand, at one time the largest such still privately owned (and a big exporter to North America) first merged with Southcorp and then was bought out by Treasury Wine Estates which shut down the winery. Wine is still sold under the brand name, but it is cheap and sometimes nasty stuff today. This one was dark, gave out an immediate whiff of dill (American Oak), some good dark berry fruit and hints of roasted meat plus a little iron/blood. Good length, long finish. Notable for being one of the few in Australia using 'syrah' instead of 'shiraz'.

1988 Graham’s Malvedos Port – from a 375 ml. Bottle I found hiding in the cellar, this wasn’t really in theme except for the fact that wines made in other than declared Port vintages can be really good (Malvedos and Vargellas are two examples). Medium red (as an antique hound I’d call it mahogany) with some nice sweet fruit – apricot and plum, maybe a bit of fig, and a sweet entry followed by a low acid smooth long finish. I still have a few full bottles and won’t be in any huge rush with them. What I would call an idea luncheon Port.