Dolce Noir Imperial Stout; White Bay Beer Co; Balmain, NSW; 8%; $15.
What's it going to be then, eh? Sweetness and light or bitter and heavy? Empirical truths or managed reality? Linear timelines or natural rhythms? Regardless, what a time to be alive. We exist at the edge of reality. A golden moment of delicious choice anxiety not entirely exclusive to beers having been brewed inside an incredible period of sustained peace now coming to an end. History is a live event. We're rolling. I need a drink, god dammit. Something strong and bitter, but balanced, blithe and joyful. Enter Dolce Noir - that's Italian/French for sweet black. A Russian Imperial Stout by Balmain brewers White Bay. Warming, blackened-malts beset by dark chocolate, toasted coconut, hazelnuts; heady and heavy, big and rich. Total imperialism. Perfect for this bleak winter.
Two Rivers Non-Vintage; Rockend Fortified; $25 (500ml).
Before 2011 this lush 18%-alcohol fortified would have been labelled port. Now, however, the Australia-European Union trade pact of 1994 has stopped Australian winemakers using the names of EU regions - so out went Portugal's Oporto (Port), Hungary's Tokaj (Tokay) and Spain's Jerez (Sherry). From the up-for-sale Denman Two Rivers operation, the Rockend is a ruby red blend of shiraz and cabernet franc with rancio aromas, rich toffee front-palate flavour and plum, pecan pie, mixed peel and hazelnut on the middle palate. Ideal with quince paste and poppy seed lavosh, buy at tworivers.com.au, the Yarrawa Road, Denman, cellar door and bottle shops and cellar five years. The Two Rivers wine estate and brand will be auctioned in Sydney on July 30.
Marchand and Burch 2018 Cote de Nuits Villages; $78.
These wines come from a unique collaboration between a Canadian-born, French Burgundy-trained winemaker and the chief of Western Australia's largest family-owned wine company. The Marchand and Burch venture had its genesis in 1990 when Margaret River-Great Southern-based vigneron Jeff Burch visited Burgundy and met and became friends with Pascal Marchand. Producing the first Marchand and Burch wine in 2007, the multi-national partnership has thrived - as this delightful pinot noir shows. With 13 per cent alcohol, it's bright crimson and has gamey scents and vibrant raspberry front-palate flavour. The middle shows cherry, spice, peppermint and savoury oak and a dusty tannin finish. Drink with cherry-glazed roast duck and cellar six years.
Marchand and Burch 2018 Mount Barker Chardonnay $78
As a Quebec-born young man Pascal Marchand crewed on merchant ships and then toured Greece, Italy and France, gaining a passion for wine that launched him in 1983 into a vinous career in Burgundy. Now, through teamwork with Jeff Burch, he has provided Burgundian vine clones for planting in Great Southern. This classy chardonnay is from Mount Barrow vineyard in Great Southern's Mount Barker sub-region. It is green-tinted light gold and has custard apple scents, elegant nectarine front-palate flavour and pear, cumquat, mineral and vanillin oak on the middle. Slatey acid refreshes at the finish. Great with scallops, cellar seven years and buy at burchfamilywines.com.au, the Cowaramup and Denmark cellars, and wine shops.