What’s in the glass tonight Jan 31st


Esk Valley Syrah 2011

It’s been a hard couple of days (and nights) at work. Time for a glass of Attitude Adjuster…

Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Syrah 2011 – $/$$

Syrah should be served at between 10-18deg for best results. But it has been so hot in my house these past few days (24deg), my bottle’s too warm, so I couldn’t see the florals I would expect to see in this syrah. Best put the bottle by an open window for a cooling breeze…

…worth the wait, much better: I can smell a hint of violets, blackcurrant fruit and spice now, and the 13.2% alcohol is not so dominant.

The wine is medium bodied, and a deep garnet colour. It is dry, with balanced tannins and red plums and some pepper as expected. There is some oak there too, and full MLF treatment. Varietal and delicious.

The 2010 got some plaudits; I would interested to read if this wine makes the recommended lists when wine pundits write their columns come the winter.

What’s in the glass tonight Jan 26th


Sacred Hill Sauvage 2008

Sacred Hill Sauvage Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – $$$

Another bottle from the Pool Room. I love this label. Their Rifleman Chardonnay ’07 was THE wine that turned me on to really enjoying NZ wines. I didn’t realize that wine could have such depth and complexity of flavour and smell, until I tried it. (After I recovered from the $50 cost!)

This is a bottle I have been looking forward to opening for three reasons:

1. As above.

2. To see how HB differs from Marlborough in style of sauvignon blanc.

3. To see what effect aging has on the style.

Sauvignon blancs in this country are generally produced to be drunk young. With a few exceptions. Tony Bish at Sacred Hill has attempted to make a wine in more of the French style, with the potential to handle some age.

The wine is the colour of pale straw. It has mineral citrus notes on nose, but not the brightness of fruit you might expect if it were younger. I am not sure how much of this is the winemaking, the region, or the aging. There is a complexity here that is deeper than a young wine from Marlborough, and none of the squeaky grass character I would expect.

In the mouth it is smooth, with again citrus, and melon, and not the traditional NZ acid bite. The minerality has softened somewhat, and the fruit forward has mellowed. Quite long finish for a sav. It was food-friendly and a good aperitif. Nice, but not the show-stopper I had hoped for. Probably asking too much from this variety?

I’d like to now taste a young version to see how ‘bite-y’ it might be, but I can’t see anything past the 2008 being offered through the website.

Great bottle tho – nice shape and heavy in the hand. Says ‘quality’ to me…

What’s in the glass tonight Jan 24th


Peregrine Pinot Noir 2007

From the cellar: Peregrine Pinot Noir 2007 – $$$

This bottle has a story: I rocked up at the winery back in ’08 and tasted this wine, and with typical uninformed big-noting, declared it was great! I was then informed that it was somewhat young the wine I was tasting, and it would open out over time and show it’s true quality. Somewhat put in my place, I bought a bottle, and here we are…

It was retrieved in honour of my younger sister arrived back from the UK. Deepest darkest pinot noir, tending to brown off at the edges now. The light fruit florality is gone, due to the ageing, but replaced with complex savoury notes; beguiling. On palate it is smooth, all the tannins have rubbed off; it is all soft black cherry and spice. Yum. Too bad only a 750ml bottle – for these goodies I should really have splashed out on a magnum…

Mills Reef Winery


On the drive back from a swim at the Mount, I popped in to Mills Reef Winery for a look&taste. LG stubbed her toe on the way inside and sat down on the steps for a wee cry, “Daddy, see some blood!” She was mollified with lollies and a plaster from a kind staff member.

What a lovely looking property – well mown and expansive lawns around a large cellardoor and restaurant building & winery. I tried three of the Elspeth reds and their reserve chardonnay. All fruit is grown in the Hawkes Bay and I think pressed there, but juice is brought here for winemaking.

The 2009 Merlot and 2011 Syrah (both $45) were both quality wines, but the merlot tasted a bit flabby and the syrah quite light. I rushed the tasting as I had to get back for a bike race, so probably did not give them enough time & justice.

The Mills Reef Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2010 -$$$- was wonderful however, and stood out from the rest. Rich and powerful. This will cellar well, so I bought a bottle straight for the Pool Room.

Supplementary note: Mills Reef stopped making riesling wines after 2009 (see earlier post). No more aged bargains to come from them..

What’s in the glass tonight Jan 22nd


CR HB Chardonnay 2012

Church Road Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012 – $$

Yet another Chardonnay (blame it on the good weather!), and one of my favourite wines. I would drink more of it, but have to wait until it is offered for $15, down from the usual $25. More quality, texture, weight and mouthfeel than my usual $12 trolley-fillers – lower cropping rates and more new oak perhaps?

This is mealy and nutty on the nose, pale yellow, and with some weight and mineral/white pepper behind the ripe white stonefruit flavours, A good food wine, not so great with the roast chicken tonight – better with scallops I think.

I would drink this all the time, if I could, until the weather closes in…

What’s in the glass tonight Jan 20th


Mission estate HB Chardonnay 2012

Mission Estate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012 – $ / $$

This is another of my go-to wines. It seems a touch ‘fuller’ than other Chards in it’s price bracket. Always reliable – most bottles are worthwhile, but every now and then you get a real cracker.

The wine is pale yellow. It has a light toasty aroma. On palate I taste apricot and slighly unripe peach, and some creamy malo. Think easy & clean, and should convince the ABC’s otherwise.

I think the wine is a touch young, and will improve in bottle as the year progresses. If you can get it for $10 a bottle, and you will at various times of the year, buy a few and put them under the house for 2016.

What’s the glass tonight Jan 19th


ps-riesling 2012

Selaks Premium Selection (white label) Riesling 2012 – $

‘Approachable’ wines like this are produced to be consumed about 30mins after purchase. I waited two days to drink this bargain up at the skiclub.

I liked it. Fresh and fruity, I say more medium than off-dry, a pale yellow in the glass; it has a citrus nose, and sweet apple and pear flavours in the mouth. Easy to drink, a quenching aperitif after a days hard yakka on the work party.

Funny about rieslings. You know how they deepen in colour and oxidise and get a touch of the ‘kerosene-y’ smell and flavour as they age and develop? Otherwise known as 1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene (TDN). it is an acquired taste, and not for all. But this can lead to bargains if you like your wine old(er). My local supermarket last summer sold a whole bunch of Mill Reef 2008 rieslings for under $9. They were great drinking, but as the wine was moving towards the ‘mature’ end of the flavour profile, it wouldn’t have appealed much to the 30min crowd, so I guess out the door it had to go…

What’s in the glass tonight Jan 16th


Longridge HB Chard 2012

Longridge Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012 – $

This wine hails from the bottom shelf in the supermarket chiller where the ‘value’ wines are dominant. I haven’t tried it before, and was on bit of a budget, so put my $9 down.

The wine is pale clear yellow. Faintly metallic on the nose, and not much else, it tastes  a little thin and lacks fruit character. Perhaps heavily cropped vines, for volume over intensity, to meet a price point?

Longridge is a Pernod Ricard brand. The tasting notes on the back label seem at odds with what was in the bottle. I see from the website that those notes seem to match word-for-word what was written for the 2007 vintage. Wet and white would be only how I would rate it. I won’t be back for more.

What’s in the glass tonight Jan 14th


Kumeu River Chardonnay Village 2009

Kumeu River Villages Chardonnay 2009 – $$

I feel in a Chardonnay, Queen of Wines mood.

Kumeu River has been said to be one of NZ’s premiere cru chardonnay producers. I don’t know enough about that to comment, but I have a few of their premium wines in my cellar, and I am looking forward to knocking their tops off when the time comes. In the meantime I have been occasionally buying the Village and Estate labels when they are on special, to keep my hand in. Winemaker is Michael Brajkovich, the grapes are hand harvested, and the wine undergoes 100% malolactic fermentation.

Medium chardonnay gold, this wine has an open fruit aroma, showing a little (good) age. I taste minerally, clean peachiness flavour with a hint of nuttiness. Fine texture. A quality drop from a good vintage.

(Note – when I write ‘cellar’, I mean ‘under the back of the house’). No fancy tasting room at my place…