What’s in the glass tonight August 23rd – Côtes du Rhône


Les Gemarelles CdR 2013

Off Topic: Les Gemarelles Famille Quiot Côtes du Rhône 2013 – $

A run-out special from RW. 13.5% alc. Bright carmine.

Subdued nose. Pepper and Vegemite.

Bright fruit entry with some pizzazz. Somewhat spiky, with crunchy tannins. There was softness on the mid-palate, with a dried-fruit finish. It died in the glass a little over time, so showed not much extract or concentration.

A low-price foreign quaffer that exhibited commensurate personality. Alas, it died in-bottle completely by the 2nd day.

80 points

What’s in the glass tonight August 22nd – Chardonnay


Spy Valley Chardonnay 2014

Spy Valley Chardonnay Marlborough 2014 – $$

One of my favourite Chardonnays which I don’t get to drink nearly enough because it isn’t sold in my local supermarket. This latest vintage was rated in the top 5 of a Chardonnay tasting hosted by Dish Magazine earlier this year. I bought a couple for the Pool Room and another for the table…

Pale gold. 13% alc.

Mealy and refined nose. Touch of burnt match, flint. Lemon, pear & apples. Quite lovely.

Fresh and lean and intense in the mouth. Quite linear, just enough fruit to avoid being thin. Zesty citrus grapefruit. Austere and minerally, and mouthcoating. A long finish.

Overall there is a hard edge to this wine, but I say it is terrific, and will be very special in a few years time.

92 points

Straight to the Pool Room – August 2016


Pool Room Aug 2016

More whites – a sister for the Savvy I bought last month, and a brace of Chardonnays that were highly regarded by the tasting panel at Dish Magazine earlier this year…

Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$ – Drink 2019-2024.

Spy Valley Chardonnay Marlborough 2014 – $$ – Drink 2018-2020.

 

What’s in the glass tonight August 13th – Chardonnay


Bogle Chardonnay 2014

Off Topic: Bogle Vineyards Chardonnay Clarksburg California 2014 – $$

Pale lemon gold. 13.5% alc.

Quite a barnyard nose, but not oxidative or reductive. A leggy hot chardy. Nice flavours and acid balance. Simple mouthfeel and texture. Apricots and ground almond notes. Reasonably long and pleasant aftertaste. Nice enough.

85 points

What’s in the glass tonight August 19th, in the snow – Chianti


Snow 2

L and I and the kids had a fabulous weekend up the mountain. Glorious weather, great snow conditions, a race to compete in, then a night-time torchlit ski procession to honour the memory of a ski-field pioneer. Couldn’t ask for anything more!

Santa Cristina Chianti 2011

From the Cellar: Santa Cristina Chianti Superiore 2011

I drank this up at the ski-club. Hard to trust my palate at altitude, but here goes…

Deep magenta red. 13% alc.

Floral, dusty and savoury red fruits. I saw dried berries, licorice and brown paper. Nice complexity and interest.

To drink, the wine was full bodied and round. There were generous flavours of plums and currants. Grainy tannins. A licorice finish with spice.

91 points

Snow 1

The next day we lit the slopes. I claimed the position of Lantern Rouge for the skiclub in the Haensli Cup, but the scenery made it all better!

snow 3

The view from The Knoll T-Bar top station at Whakapapa, looking over the Valley at the Pinnacles.

 

What’s in the glass tonight August 9th – Chardonnay


Gibbston Gold River Chardonnay 2012

Gibbston Valley Gold River Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2012 – $

I am always a sucker when I see an older wine for sale on the shelves of my local supermarket. This one bore a 60% reduction in price, which indicated there may be a  problem here, but I took a punt on it nonetheless. The producer has a good reputation.

Golden yellow colour, looking developed. 12.5% alc.

It smelled like it was almost on the turn, with oxidation on the nose, and showing in the colour.

Some acid to taste, butterscotch and almonds, apricots and peaches and lemons. Perhaps a bit soft on attack, but it got leaner and crisper through the mid-palate and finish. Below average. I must avoid heavily discounted older wines…

80 points

Birthday Dinner Wines


CSL 25th dinner

L and I went up to Auckland for a birthday dinner at the Grove Restaurant on Wyndham St. A very nice restaurant. A very special meal with a great bunch of people!

And I got to try some new fine wines…

We started with an aperitif of  2006 Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Epernay, very pleasant with fine bubbles and flavour. I tasted a very big, expressive 2014 Peregrine Chardonnay Central Otago with my entree . I enjoyed a 2013 Mount Edward Pinot Noir Central Otago with the lamb, and was pressed to try the 2013 Kennedy Point Syrah Waiheke. A wow wine to finish up, so savoury and aromatic. Yum. Recommended. There was a sticky with the dessert, but I passed on that. Too replete!

MS Tasting – 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape


Magnum CDP 2007 1

I recently attended another much-anticipated Society wine tasting, this time of a selection of 2007 Chateauneuf du Papes

The first and only CdP I have tasted thus far was done so only a few weeks ago at the Game of Rhones. So I had a lot to learn.

AE hosted the tasting, and compiled the excellent accompanying notes. I was tapped up to provide the supper, and thus prepared boeuf bourguignon avec grillés purée au fromage, et pain avec fromage. I was glad to receive all gold scores for the supper, thanks…

AE writes, “John Livingstone-Learmonth notes that the Southern Rhône’s seductive 2007 vintage has been rapturously received, with merchants trumpeting its wares. The wines are good, but do they have the structure to age.

Most of the experts agree. Robert Parker notes that the 2007 vintage shows purity, extraordinary concentration and remarkable freshness – despite the fact that the wines are big. He commented that these factors have resulted in very aromatic wines of laser like focus, and amazing purity as well as depth. Parker stated that 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape was “the vintage of a lifetime” and even suggested that, it may be the most compelling vintage of any viticultural region he has ever tasted.

He says further, it is important to recognize how much has transpired in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation over the last two decades. When he first began tasting Châteauneuf-du-Pape seriously in 1978, there were no more than 8-10 estates making world-class wines. Today, there are 60-75 doing so, and several new estates arrive with each new vintage. The newer generation of winemakers has greater appreciation of the terroirs and they also possess a more worldly view concerning the competition they confront. Consequently, they have raised the bar of quality dramatically.

Parker gave 100 points to two of the wines we are tasting (RPscore below)! But then, Jeb Dunnuck also scored all these wines between 96 and 100.

So what has made 2007 so special? The great vintages of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are like great vintages anywhere in the world. Full phenolic maturity is achieved over a long period of time, not retarded or rushed by excessive heat, but built slowly and incrementally. The factors in Châteauneuf-du-Pape that can change maturity include excessive heat as well as how many days the Mistral winds blow, and whether the nights in August and September were cool. In fact, 2007 had more days of Mistral during September than any other year except 2001, 1990, and 1978, three other years which produced superb wines. It was also a drought year, but some of the most stunning statistics are that while the average daytime temperature was well above average, the average night-time temperature, when the grapes have a chance to recover and develop aromatics, was among the lowest of any vintage measured in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, particularly for the month of September. That month also had a record number days of Mistral.

This weather scenario produced a vintage with depth of fruit, brightness, and exceptional purity. In short, it was a hotter than normal year overall, but it was also a much cooler than normal year in terms of night-time temperatures. Moreover, despite being hotter than normal, the year rarely had any days over 30 degrees Celsius. For example, in 2003, during the critical months of July and August, there were 55 days where the temperature exceeded 30 degrees Celsius. In 2001, there were 37 days, in 1998, 39 days, and in 2007, there were only 24 days, again dramatically less than in any other vintage. Moreover, in the month of September, 2007, there were no days above 30 degrees Celsius, which was the first top vintage since 2001 where this occurred. The other characteristic is that 2007 set an all-time record for hours of sunshine during the course of the year. It was also a record year in terms of the lack of rain in both August (none) and September (just over 2 inches). In contrast, 3+ inches fell in both 2001 and 2000, 4.5 inches fell in 1998, and nearly 3 inches fell in 1990. Only 1989 had less rain in the month of September than 2007.

Châteauneuf’s success, like that of Bordeaux, has traditionally been due to its age-worthiness and the fact that, as a blend, the traditional mix of grapes can balance out any unevenness in the wine, but things have changed. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is still permitted to use all 13 grapes in the appellation in their wines but many Châteauneuf producers are taking the easy way out and making blockbuster-style, Grenache-based reds that can be easily over-oaked, high in alcohol and one-dimensional that disintegrate with age. Some are just there to be massive and impressive early on, and to score points. But do they age as well as more traditionally made styles?

Now to the wines…

Magnum CDP 2007 2

2007 Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf du Pape – $69.99 – RP96 – Dark brown carmine colour with garnet rim. Smoky nose, green wet earth, savoury funkiness. Hint of dirty antiseptic, dark red raspberry fruits slightly stewed. I saw a quite lively attack, jammy flavours, salad lettuce leaf, mayonnaise finish (oddly). 92 points

2007 Vielle Julienne Châteauneuf du Pape – $115.00 – RP96 – Dusty dark brown carmine colour. Aniseed on nose, lean with jasmine florals. Dense deep flavours, secondary complexity emerging, strong aniseed, and quite alcoholic. Spicy, hot and soapy. 92 points

2007 de Cristia Chateauneuf du Pape VV – $145.00 – RP96 – Dark brown carmine colour. Medicinal nose, powerful, with depth and tension. Aniseed again, with wild flower scents, cherry plum and chocolate. It was quite sweet to drink, delicious, complex, concentrated and muscular. 94 points

2007 Clos des Papes – $130.00 – RP99 – Dark brown carmine colour. Medicinal again. Sweetness. Vanilla.  Funky.This was a challenging at first but I have rarely met a wine I didn’t like (at least a little). Very ripe in the mouth. Port-y. HOT. Jammy. Intense. 89 points

2007 de la Mordoree Châteauneuf du Pape Reine des Bois – $89.00 – RP96 – Dark brown carmine colour. Perfumed, sweet, with honey, very appealing. It was a heavy wine to taste. Big big big! Ripe red fruit, herbal, black olives, powerful and intense. 95 points

2007 Usseglio Châteauneuf du Pâpe Mon Aieul – $165.00 – RP100 – Dark brown carmine colour. Lean and somewhat dumb in this company. That medicinal undernote is apparent, aniseed and leather. Sweet and involving to drink, which was a surprise. I saw cinnamon. It was long, and oaky, with tannic heft, and a drying finish. It turned out very lovely. Very complete. 96 points

2007 Janasse Châteauneuf du Pape Vielle Vignes – $155.00 – RP100 – Dark brown carmine colour. This was a classic wine to finish. Complete, poised. Layers of subtle scent, violets. Powerful. There is a hit on the palate of intense fruit, bright acid, savoury over sweet, and long. Quite dazzling and intoxicating…(but as all the wines were very hot, this effect may have been cumulative)…My WOTN (wine of the night)… 96 points

Well, that was a fascinating look at a range of top Chateauneuf du Papes. My fellow tasters were in agreement that the style is evolving in a disagreeable manner. Getting hotter. Becoming alcoholic fruit bombs. Losing the CdP terroir typicity they were used to. Is the the result of Climat Change?

Me, I saw some gorgeous, distinctive, hot and flavoursome reds that go remarkably well with rich cheeses, roast chicken and stewed meats.  Get over it. The Aussies have. No problems at my end.

Hurrah!

What’s in the glass tonight August 5th – Chardonnay


Spy Valley Chardonnay 2011

From the Cellar: Spy Valley Chardonnay Marlborough 2011 – $$

Over the past few years this wine has been well rewarded in the Under-$25 New World Wine Awards. I have been collecting these wines since 2012. The latest vintage is no exception, and I’ll be acquiring a brace for the Pool Room in due course.

Blond straw colour. 13.5% alc.

The wine smells refined, poised. A fine bouquet. Aromas of oatmeal, golden stonefruit, and nutty almonds.

Great depth of fruit and acidity. Just what I want in a Chardonnay. Not too big or malolactic. Nice lemon sharpness and grit. Some secondary flavours starting to emerge like spicy ginger, butterscotch and bitters. Crunchy, lively and so expressive. Great stuff!

93 points

What’s in the glass tonight August 4th – Chardonnay


Awatere Valley Chardonnay

Awatere River by Louis Vavasour Chardonnay Marlborough 2014 – $$$

Blond straw colour. 13.8% alc.

Smells honeyed, reductive and flinty. Very composed.

Bracing bright acid in the mouth. A lean, clean, fresh and linear Chardonnay. Some butterscotch flavours, and lots of lemon. Short. Punchy. Mouthwatering. Very stylish. Even tho some of the reduction extends to the palate, I still thought it excellent.

91 points