Straight to the Pool Room – April 2013

Pool Room April 2013

Vintage is underway in Marlborough. All weekend the roads have been filled with mechanical harvesters driving from site to site. Grape boxes have been stacked up at the end of the rows. Trucks filled with fruit have been driving slowly to the wineries. This summer has been a pearler, and every indication is that this year’s vintage will be a great one, all over the country. Buy up in 2014/2015!

So, L and I visited a couple of Marlborough wineries on our way back to the Cook Strait ferry after the Graperide. I recommend visiting them.

We were given a very warm welcome at Fromm. We worked our way through a tasting of their sav, chardy, syrah, malbec, a couple of pinot noirs and a dessert gewurtz. The chardonnay was very stylish but I picked up a bottle of a wonderfully fragrant pinot. James Suckling awarded 95 points to this:

Fromm Brancott Marlborough Pinot Noir 2009 – $$$ – drink now – 2014

Then we moseyed over to Cloudy Bay. The company’s success at introducing the world to fresh Marlborough sauvignon blancs has been invested into building a spacious and stylish cellar door complex, with many enthusiastic staff to take us through the tasting process. It was particularly endearing seeing a bunch of little kids, in matching Cloudy Bay black T-shirts, running around the barrel room. Apparently it was ‘take your children to vintage day’.

What did we have? Their eponymous sav, riesling, chardonnay, Te wahi pinot noir, pinot gris, late harvest riesling, and this true NZ classic oaked sauvignon blanc, another 95-pointer:

Cloudy Bay Te Koko 2009 – $$$ – drink 2014-2017

And for completing the Graperide last year, Dr John Forrest gave all riders a bottle of:

Forrest Estate 100 Virgins Pinot Noir 2012 – drink 2015-2016


What’s the the glass April 5th


From the cellar – Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 1998 – $$

No pic for this old drop bought at auction last year. I knocked the top off the bottle at the traditional pot luck dinner with my cycling mates the night before the annual Forrest Graperide. My fifth time racing, and first time I did the 101kms in under 3hrs. Big smile on my dial crossing the finish line!

The wine the night before was not such a great result…too old, past it’s best. I kinda expected that, as the vineyards vines were relatively young at the time, so were never likely to produce a wine to last 15 yrs. Still, it wasn’t poison, and wasn’t off. The wine was deep and dusty and tannic, with some jammy characters under the complexity and funk; the fruit had dried off, and with it the florality. It was fun to try, and I managed to get half way through the second glass before trading up to a younger model…

What’s in the glass tonight April 3rd

Ngawaka 3Paddles Sauvignon Blanc 2009

From the cellar: Ngawaka Three Paddles Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – $$

A big Graperide cycling weekend coming up with friends. Got a rich pasta bake meat sauce cooking on the stovetop for the Friday potluck dinner. Yum. Not the best aromas to have wafting around when tasting a wine like this, but here goes…

A Pool Room wine: Light green-gold. Nectarines, touch of honey on nose. No grass or bright herbal characters which is common for Martinborough savs. Bright varietal crispness has softened with age with reduced fruit forwardness; there are still passionfruit hints and appealing bitter chalk/herb/home-made hokey pokey to finish; dry, long.

Left alone a bit too long. Very interesting wine to unwind nonetheless.

Back to the cycling: what better race starts and finishes at a vineyard? Ha! John Forrest at Forrest Estate is very generous to allow the race to operate out of his property.

What wines will I come away with from the weekend in Marlborough? Last year it was Framingham rieslings and the Graperide’s own 100 Virgins Pinot Noir. Perhaps a Fromm chardonnay or pinot?

What’s in the glass tonight April 1st

Villa Maria CS Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon HB 2010

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – $$

It was really lovely to have LR and C come over to eat with Little Girl and I, and share this bottle.

Belinda Jackson sez this wine was from a ‘whopper’ HB vintage, and will happily keep a few years. All good news as I have a few bottles sleeping in the Pool Room…

Another Speiglau 2012 gold lauded wine. Deep, dark plum colour. Merlot dominant, so the wine is at first sip smooth and easy-going, but the cabernet sauvignon arrives to provide backbone and intensity. Depth of fragrance on the nose, with boysenberries and black plums and fruitcake long in the mouth, and oak, and supple textural tannins. It went fantastic with the red wine, orange and star anise lamb shanks tonight.

The meat was braised in stock and wine from this bottle:

Selaks HB Merlot 2005

From the cellar: Selaks Hawkes Bay Merlot 2005 – $

Two years ago I bought a few of these Merlots from Pak ‘n Save cos they were old (2005), and cheap ($8). I tried the first two and they were rubbish. Spoiled and dank was all I could say about them, from memory. Yuck. As Eric Idle said in the Bruce’s Sketch from Monty Python, “This is a bottle for laying down and avoiding.” But maybe cooking with?

I splashed half a bottle in the lamb shanks, but thought I’d better taste this horror again. And it wasn’t bad. Don’t know what happened. Did I strike a good bottle? Had it settled down in my cellar?

The wine is brick red, fading off on the edges as you would expect. The nose is old meaty savouriness, pleasant, and fascinatingly strays into pinot noir territory. There is the merlot smoothness, with very fine tannins, dark berries, plums and dark fruit jelly. Medium-bodied but with depth. The age has created something good out of something modest.