A work colleague of mine returned from a Christmas vacation at home with her family in Italy. She brought back some authentic Italian Ciambelline al vino, or bundt-style wine biscuits. I couldn’t resist a dunk.
Nice biscuits. I can’t say the same about the wine, however.
A trio of top wines from Mercury Bay Estate for the cellar, bought from the winery:
Mercury Bay Estate Chardonnay Coromandel 2016 – $$ – drink now-2021.
Mercury Bay Estate Red Merc Coromandel 2014 – $$$ – drink now-2019. A Pinot Noir/Syrah blend.
Mercury Bay Estate Pinot Noir Coromandel 2014 – $$$ – drink now-2019.
When we were recently on holiday, camping at Hahei Beach, L and I enjoyed a lovely tasting at a beautiful local vineyard, Mercury Bay Estate, on a gorgeous blue sky day. Heaven.
Mercury Bay Estate is situated on the hillside above and behind the beach settlement of Cooks Beach on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. My own family owned a bach at Cooks for many years from the mid-70’s. I grew to love the area, so it was really nice to come back after a long time away and bring my family.
The estate is owned by Simon & Veronica Ward and was formed from the vineyard established by Alex Morcom in 1996 (named Shakespeare Cliff Vineyard after the famous nearby landmark, and then later Cooks Beach Vineyard). The vineyard originally contained plantings of Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc, and has more recently expanded to include a block of Pinot Noir.
We opted for a shared tasting of wines originating from the Cooks Beach site alone to get a sense of place (some varieties are sourced from Hawkes Bay). We selected the current releases of Chardonnay, Sparkling Blush, Red Merc (Pinot/Syrah blend) and their Pinot Noir.
I have to say they were all very good. The Chardonnay had a lovely tautness and acidity to it which was attractive, the Blush was all strawberries and lusciousness; the Red Merc was showed for me the best with its intensity and complex flavours, and the Pinot Noir was surprisingly dense and savoury for what I imagine is a hot site, but maybe it is moderated by the sea breezes.
This producer is new to me, and is one to watch.
Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Martinborough 2016 – $$
Te Kairanga Wines has recently been acquired by US billionaire and multi winery vineyards investor Bill Foley. I don’t drink hardly any of this producers wines, don’t know why.
I didn’t record any notes for this wine specifically either, but I liked it. I recall good extract and fruit intensity in the wine, a nice spicy-ness, and a good savoury quality which is not always so apparent in Pinot Noir wines of this mid price point. Nice.
Recommended 88 Points
A trio of some favourite wines for laying down to sleep:
Elephant Hill Viognier Hawkes Bay 2016 – $$ – drink 2019-2021. A great producer.
Elephant Hill Syrah Hawkes Bay 2015 – $$$ – drink 2018-2020. A favourite Syrah for me. Delivers.
Palliser Estate Pinot Noir Martinborough 2016 – $$$ – drink 2019-2022. This shone at a recent cellar door tasting.
Fromm Riesling Spätlese Marlborough 2016 – $$
Joelle Thomson of Regional Wines writes of this wine:
Light and low and naturally so… this super concentrated Riesling is a wine of beauty from Marlborough’s warm days, cool nights and long growing season. Its low alcohol shows that winemaker Hatsch Kalberer intentionally stopped the fermentation well before the wine reached anything near to dryness, so it is a sweet style but, thanks to the high acidity of the Riesling grape, this wine finishes on a crisp, fresh and intensely floral note… its long succulent finish is juicy and delicious.””
8% alc. Pale green straw.
I thought it was stunning at the instore tasting so I brought a bottle home. Juicy and sweet, with such a lovely acid backbone. So so lovely. Such an Empress of wines, Riesling.
Highly Recommended 93 points
Kumeu River Village Chardonnay Auckland 2016 – $
Light gold colour. 13.5% alc.
Lovely elegant and expressive nose. Slighlty reductive. Crisp open lifted citris aromas, light stone fruit – unripe apricot – green apple and mint.
Lively and fresh to drink. Crips acid, tingly mouthfeel, mouthewatering, mint again, and complexly layered. Slightly bitter and spicy finish.
This is a wine that really over delivers for its price. Excellent value, just delicious.
Highly Recommended 92 points
Off Topic – E Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2015 – $$
Pale brilliant gold colour. 13.5% alc. 65% Viognier, 15% Rousanne, 8% Marsanne, balance of Bourboulenc and white Grenache
Floral nose of white peach and mandarin, with honey supporting.
Richness and body in the mouth. Flavours of apricots, the unctuousness of honey. A pure elegant and balanced wine. The weight of the Viognier is nicely moderated by the Rousanne and Marsanne.
Like a good Condrieu.
Highly Recommended 91 points
Allan Scott Generations Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015 – $$
Pale gold colour – warmer looking than your typical Marlborough Sav. 12.5% alc.
Prescence of oak on the nose. Open and fresh, complex and aromatic. Soft golden fruit aromas, with a hint of flint.
Sweet front on the palate. Full of flavour. Crisp complex acid mouthfeel and a fine fruit finish of apples and lemons and orange peel. A delicious example.
Highly Recommended 90 points
Off Topic: Dom. du Vieux Prêche Sancerre Blanc ASC 2016 – $$
Greenish pale straw colour. 13.5% alc.
My first ever Sancerre Blanc. A wine from one of the two spiritual homes of New Zealand’s most famous wine export, the other being Pouilly-Fumé on the other side of the Loire.
Flat aromatically, open steely and minerally. Curry spice and celery. Lightly fruited – apples, apple pip, exotic pip fruit, balanced acidity expressed on the nose.
Lean and flat in the mouth. Minerals. Funk. None of the ‘dash and splash’ I am used to with an NZ Sauvignon Blanc. No energy or verve in this wine, seems old before it’s time, too cautious. I don’t know enough about this wine to know whether this taste impression is authentic. It can be only confirmed by other bottles. And while I am interested to learn, life is short, and I may stick with what I know and love.
Looking at this wine in isolation, it is pleasant and moreish and drinkable. Like typical old world wines it improves on standing in the glass and with food, and opens up somewhat to show more fruit flavour, but it’s still thin. Emperors clothes, I feel, for this one.
Recommended 84 points