What’s in the glass tonight March 31st

Saddleback Pinot Noir 2008

From the cellar: Saddleback Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 – $$$

This is the second wine from Peregrine, a producer of one of my favourite Pinots Noir. It was given to me as a xmas gift from a supplier a few years back.

From Wikipedia:  The Saddleback or Tieke (Philesturnus carunculatus) is a previously rare and endangered New Zealand bird of the family Callaeidae. It is glossy black with a chestnut saddle. Its taxonomic family is also known as that of the (New Zealand) “wattlebirds” and includes the two subspecies (one for each main island) of the Kokako as well as the extinct Huia. All members of this family have coloured fleshy appendages on either side of the beak known as “wattles”. In the case of Saddleback, they are a vivid red in colour.

The Saddleback traditionally held a strong place in Maori superstitious belief; its cries were viewed as good omens when they came from the right, and bad omens when they came from the left. Its cheeky nature is reflected in the Maori legend that tells of how the bird acquired its distinctive chestnut saddle of colour. Fresh from his battle to ensnare the sun, a thirsty Maui (a virtual demi-god in Maori folklore) asked the Tieke to bring him some water. The bird rudely pretended not to hear his request, at which Maui, becoming angry, seized it with his still fiery hand, leaving a brown scorch mark across its back.

The wine is purple-hued ruby. The bottle age has lifted the savoury aromas, and reduced the violet notes that I would usually see in this Central pinot. The palate shows developed brambly blackberries and plums, with light spice and drying tannins. Some complexity now, with oak structure. It was superb with the roast lamb tonight,

What’s in the glass tonight March 26th

Villa Maria CS Marlb Chardonnay 2010

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Chardonnay 2010 – $$

I’ve been looking forward to this wine. Bought it last week…think ‘desert/oasis’ etc…

Right proper chardy gold colour. Long and complex and nutty and biscuity; rich weight and mouthfeel. There are ripe peaches in the glass, and butter, with a texture I would call fine-grained. I see lovely age characters coming through on the palate, and balance between the fruit and minerality.

Predominantly made from fruit from the Wairau and Awatere valleys, some hand-harvested, with 11% sourced from the Gimblett Gravels. 11 months in French oak, some wild yeast fermentation.

Bought on special. Natch. This is a definite step up from the Private Bin version.

On second glass this wine seems a bit fat? But maybe that’s cos I’ve been on lean pickings lately with my wine choices, and have lost some palate memory with all the astringent wines I’ve been supping. The fat part must come from the Hawkes Bay fruit component.

What’s in the glass tonight March 22nd

Sacred Hill Marlb Sauv Blanc 2012

Sacred Hill Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – $$

This wine has a chopped short finish, so better be quick:

Colour of pale yellow diamond. Crisp and zesty, with fresh notes of herbs and cut grass and gooseberries. There are limes and deliciousness in the mouth, very appealing. Late summer sun and sharp mornings in a bottle. A gold medal winner. Drink it young.


Straight to the Pool Room – March 2013

Added to the cellar this month:

Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 – $$ – Michael Cooper rated this as his fav white wine last Christmas – drink 2015

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – $$ – drink 2015-2017

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Dry Riesling 2011 – $$ – drink 2015-2016

What’s in the glass March 21st

Sacred Hill Chardonnay 2011

Sacred Hill Marlborough Chardonnay 2011 – $$

I’ve come down with a cold. Can’t smell or taste too well. Very interesting to see how appreciating and enjoying a wine is practically impossible when my smelling tackle is impaired.

This is wine is a 2011, so it has some age. I can smell that something is there in the bouquet, but I have no idea what it is. I can taste that there is something going on in the glass, but again I don’t know what it is.

If I was to describe anything it would be wrong. If smell or taste were a colour, I’d being seeing ecru as vermillion right now, or something like that. Still, my eyes are working fine: the bottle has a nice label. I’ll put it away and try again tomorrow…

…which is now today…

And I still have the cold, but I can smell a little vanilla and honey now. I can taste peaches and the oak influence. The wine isn’t as big as I would have expected considering the producer, but the fruit is from Marlborough which I think produces elegant chardonnays rather than malobombs. Nice.

What’s in the glass tonight March 19th

Woven Stone Pinot Noir 2012

Woven Stone Ohau Gravels Pinot Noir 2012 – $$

I have driven past the Ohau Vineyard, near Levin, loads of times on my trips north of Wellington. Often thought of stopping but the timing was never right. The property has a rep for pinot gris, not one of my favourites, so it wasn’t an urgent call. I also thought the area was quite wet and an unusual place to grow grapes. But it does get hot in the summer.

Last Friday afternoon I was driving back from a job at Palmerston North when I saw the cellar door was open. I thought I might pick up a sav blanc for later. I had a small tasting of the two savs (will pick up some at a later time – both were on the money), but I was knocked over by the cinnamon notes in the pinot noir. It was a hot day, and this wine looked great.

It is a bit chillier tonight when I opened the bottle I bought…

Rich pinot noir ruby. On the nose is a light florality, with elegant spicy and savoury characters; red wax; the cinnamon is gone in the chill, but complexity increases  as it opens up in the glass. I taste flavours of red cherries and cranberries and licorice, gorgeous and fruity, and the oak from part-barrel aging.

This is a great reason to buy local. It’s very young still, and would taste great in 3 yrs. Went wonderfully with my 3hr spag bol.

What’s in the glass March 14th

Vidal Marlb Riesling 2008

From the cellar: Vidal Marlborough Riesling 2008 – $$

Another opportunity to see a good NZ riesling with a bit of age. This was given big ups by The Listener back in the day…

This wine is brilliant pale yellow in the glass; with zesty limes and white blossom on the nose; fresh juicy fruit, lemon cake, hints of grapefruit and lime, and developed TDN age characters on the palate. Off dry. Long, long finish. Delicious!

A classy aperitif wine to stimulate the appetite. It edges the Vidal Dry Riesling tasted earlier.

What’s in the glass March 13th

Goldridge Gisborne Chardonnay 2010 2

Goldridge Estate Gisborne Chardonnay 2010 – $

I served this to some guests last night, but tried this myself today.

Deep gold colour, which suggests oxidation. I can smell peaches and phenolics. The tasting notes say there is some pineapple, but I can’t see it; might have been there in a younger bottle. The wine is a bit thin and backward of fruit in the mouth, but has some nutty/toasty/balanced oaky character.

It could be better warmer, both literally and figuratively, but I’ll never get to know for sure cos my slowly warming glass was knocked over in a pillow fight with LG…

What’s in the glass March 11th

Goldridge Marlb PN 2011

Goldridge Estate Marlborough Premium Reserve Pinot Noir 2011 – $

Bright carmine colour; light red fruits expression on the nose; some savoury florality. Uncomplicated raspberry and red cherry flavours to taste; soft tannins. Didn’t expect as much from this Pak‘nSave steal. It is good value, perhaps reduced as much as 50%. I read from old news stories that the label was involved in a liquidation stoush with Matakana Wines a couple of years back…hopefully it’s trading out of a bad situation and will continue.

Went quite well with the Island Bay Butchery lamb chops.

It is all very well to lie in the gutter, but must you always see stars?

Vidal Dry Riesling 2010

What’s in the glass tonight March 10th

Vidal White Series Marlborough Dry Riesling 2010 – $

The great NZ Summer of Riesling continues: Pale and greenish-tinted; light weight, with some beading on the glass. This wine has lovely ‘twangy’ aromas of limes, and fresh citrus-y flavours and green apple skin in the mouth; balanced and delicious, a short finish. It’s dry, and does what it sez on the tin.

I see by the stickers it has been lauded by the Speiglau Competition and Cuisine Magazine, but I wonder if Vidals had to pay for their lauds. Almost the equal of the Villa Maria Dry Riesling I had earlier, and great value. You can pick up a bottle for as little as $12.

I drink wines that sit mostly at this end of the price scale. I seek out specials, and that is part of the fun. I will spend more on the stuff I stash under the house, so that when I get to open one of those bottles, I am rewarded with a richer taste, bouquet and complexity than I get from my usual. And then it becomes a bit of a special occasion.

But cheaper wines are not built like that. That’s ok: I think it is often nicer to quaff something easy and approachable, and not be always faced with a pedigreed wine that deserves attention and thought (like perhaps the Black Barn syrah of a few nights back), and gets in the way of an evening. Lance Armstrong said once that it wasn’t about the wine, or something like that…

So, I am usually operating from a low base. The wines I open up will often turn out to be quite appealing for many reasons, but I worry that I talk them up a bit too much.

It is all very well, hat tip Oscar Wilde, to lie in the gutter, but must you always see stars?