What’s in the glass tonight May 28th

Sherwood Stoney Range Chardonnay 2011

L and I went to a great birthday party Saturday night. I wildly overindulged in a Spanish red, so it’s been a few days before I could even face looking at a glass of wine, let alone taste one for fun.

On the day of the fateful night, I tried this little number at a supermarket tasting. The very helpful staffer was just setting up her stand as I wondered past with my trolley, so I hung around scanning the shelves, filling in time, much like a 16yr old boy in a DVD store hangs around the manga’s while he waits for the R18 section to empty of customers.

I remembered tasting tried their Stratum Chardonnay earlier this year (WITGT March 8th). I liked this one standing up, so I brought a bottle back home.

Sherwood Estate Stoney Range Waipara Chardonnay 2011 – $$

Hmm, the website sez this is their new UK export/domestic std label, but I wonder if this is the Stratum ’11 re-labeled.

It’s bright straw in the glass. I like the refreshing fruit acidity in the mouth. There is the typical pears and light citrus notes you get in approachable kiwi chards, but only a hint of oak. Biscuit too. Nothing heavy; very appealing, and the age is about right. This wine deserves to be appreciated sitting in a sunlit summer courtyard rather than sheltering indoors while Wellington’s first winter storm roars in the darkness outside.

3.5. Bottom’s up.

What’s in the glass tonight May 24th


Makaraka Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 – $

I’m ‘in charge’ of shopping online for my company’s weekly office supplies, and that includes the Friday wine and chippies. So on the website I see a Maori name, Makaraka, it sez ‘Reserve Pinot Noir’. I remember seeing a red label somewhere and an image of a pohutukawa flower, it sounds safe, so I press, ‘add to order’…

…the wine arrives. It is Product of Chile.

Grrr. Now I am sure Chile produces some fine wine. But this isn’t one of them.

Red cordial. No nose. Sweet. Fruity. Flabby.

The computer sez 1.5

…But then L came to the rescue…over dinner of Chicken Risotto with broccoli and courgette she fronted up a bottle of The Natural Wine Co Gisborne Organic Chardonnay Viognier 2012.

It went a treat with the food. Light gold, medium weight, lightly fragrant. The unoaked chardonnay provides a level backbone of fruit, while the viogner adds spice. Very interesting. Tastes a bit like pinot gris, and there is ginger ale (without the fizz) in there as well! 3

What’s in the glass tonight May 23rd

TK Chardonnay 2011

Chardonnay Day?

Te Kairanga Martinborough Estate Chardonnay 2011 – $

I like chardonnays from Martinborough (actually I like most things out of Martinborough!).

I reckon they are a touch softer and rounder than their cousins from the Bay a few hours drive north.

This one conforms to type: pale straw; on the nose there are pears and citrus; in the mouth it’s smooth and mellow and peachy. Not a huge lot going on, and backing off from a big malo taste. It supported the spicy chicken L and I ate ok.

3. There. Fin.

Straight to the Pool Room – May 2013

Poolroom May13

Following a recent couple of tastings, and recommendations, the following bottles of goodness will be ushered into the dark recesses of the cellar. Easy may they sleep…

Palliser Estate Martinborough Riesling 2012 – $$ – drink 2017

Escarpment Pahi Pinot Noir Martinborough 2010 – $$$$ – drink 2015

Kumeu River Coddington Chardonnay 2010 – $$$ – drink 2015

Trinity Hill The Gimblett Merlot Cab Hawkes Bay 2010 – $$$ – drink 2017-2020

Craggy Range Te Kahu Hawkes Bay 2010 – $$ – drink 2017-2018

What’s in the glass tonight May 20th

99Rows Pinot Noir 2008

From the cellar: 99 Rows Te Muna Rd Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008 – $$$

Hoorayday, payday! This wine matches my mood…

It’s cherry red in colour; light and fragrant. There’s ripe cherries and particularly strawberries in this second label from the Julicher Estate on the Te Muna Rd river terrace just outside of Martinborough.

I see ypical pinot savouriness and spice here that I like, and oak, but the fruit is slightly backward from being held perhaps a year too long. Just look at the label…

Good with the Shepherd’s Pie dinner tonight.

3.5 out of 5

What the hell do I know?

I think I’ve blogged on about 60-odd New Zealand wines since I started in January, not including tastings. I’ve enjoyed some real cracker wines, and suffered some disappointments. I am getting a good idea about how this whole wine-tasting bizzo should work for me, and just have fun with it.

Thusly, I’ve decided to take it up a level, and start awarding some unscientific ratings to the wines I blog about. I have to warn you that I’m going to be making it up as I go along:

Rating scale out of 5:

5 – Outstanding – I’m thinking about you, that Clos Ste Anne Chardonnay from last summer, and the Wild Earth Pinot Noir a month back.

4 – Very Good

3 – Good

2 – Okay I guess

1 – Cooking Wine – I’m thinking of that horrible Corbans White Label thing. Yeah, I see you hiding at the back.

Expect margins of error in these ratings, a lot of it will do with the mood I’m in, and the company I’m keeping.

It’s still about the buzz: he konei ra.

What’s in the glass tonight May 18th

CJ Pask Cab Mer Mal 2006

From the cellar – CJ Pask Gimblett Road Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot Malbec 2006 – $$

Super yay. This is another great bottle from one of my favourite producers. I should really just shut up shop and only buy from winemaker Kate Radburnd and co.: job done.

The wine is dark dark dark dark purple red in the glass. On the nose: lifted savoury vanilla and baking spice. In the mouth: fruity and firm and silky, with doris plums, licorice and dark choc. It’s a ripe and ready red, with strength and depth and bottle age. Very moorish. The wait was worth it.

I could have opened one of their ’06 Syrahs, but I thought this would go better with Jamie Oliver’s 15min Sausage and Rosemary Fusilli I made for LG and I tonight. It may be an imported recipe, but I am feeling good about using the rosemary I grew in my garden and the tinned Hawkes Bay tomatoes I chose over the cheap Italian toms that the supermarket crowd on their eye-level shelves.

Rather than decant the wine, I used a cool toy that L gave me for Christmas. It’s a moulded clear plastic tube thing with a wide funnel mouth and narrow spout, with several small air tubes moulded into the side of it that connect to the central funnel. You hold it over your wine glass, and pour wine into the top.  When the wine is poured in and it flows down the tube, the liquid draws in fine air bubbles from each side as it passes, and is aerated before it falls into the glass below. There is a rushed gurgling noise as the thing works. Quite odd.

But I think it airs the wine well, and mimics decanting without me acting like a poseur. The one I use is designed for red wine, and there is a white wine version. It’s NZ-designed and made, but I threw away the box and can’t recall what it is called, alas. ‘ Wine-something’, I expect.

What’s in the glass tonight May 13th

Mission HB Syrah 2012

Mission Estate Hawkes Bay Syrah 2012 – $$

A dependable winter performer for  low $.

Dark crimson looking at me. Light bouquet of dark berries. The wine is fruit-filled to taste, but lacking a touch of ripeness (it was a tough season), with allspice, pepper and hint of aniseed. Soft and fine.


What’s in the glass May 11th

A cold wet morning in Martinborough. Perfect for a slow lazy start to the day, then breakfast, and a drive out to walk the beach on the coast at Lake Ferry. The surf was huge, the wind, cold and blasting. After a coffee at the characterful Lake Ferry Hotel we drove back to the village to buy a phone charger (no luck), and taste a few wines (lots of luck)…

Tasting at Martinborough is great. There are quite a few vineyards all close to each other and easy to get to. The staff are friendly and welcoming, and if there is a tasting fee it is only $5 and it’s waived if you buy wine.


Palliser Estate

I wanted to go there to read a tasting note for the ’05 pinot we drank the night before. They produce a primary label (Palliser) and a second label (Pencarrow). I’ve enjoyed both in the past.

Bruce our host was good value for information and history of the wines. He took us through a tasting of the Palliser Methode 2008, Riesling 2012, Pinot Gris 2012, Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Chardonnay 2012 and Pinot Noir 2010; and the Pencarrow Sav, Chardy and Pinot. I thought the following were outstanding:

Palliser Methode 2008 – yeasty, toasty, nutty, citrus-y, complex,

Palliser Riesling 2012 – fresh lime tropical and zesty

Palliser Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – elegant, restrained, with bright passionfruit

Palliser Pinot Noir 2010 – rich and textured, another couple years, dynamite

The Pencarrows were nice – more approachable, and cheaper. The 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was good value at the winery, but a summer purchase for me.

L really liked the floral Pinot Gris with varietal pear flavours.

They have an attractive cellar door complex. I like the entrance pictured above (from the Net).

Murdoch James

Murdoch James Vineyard

Next up was a trek back down the Lake Ferry Road to Murdoch James. I wanted to try their pinot noir again. We did, along with a sav, a rose, a gris, an apertif white blend, and a syrah.

Our tasting host Neil was very loquacious, and he gave us some really interesting background facts about the wine production. I would write some down if I could remember them…

The pinot noir wasn’t the same as the one I had at the bar. Don’t know what happened there. I didn’t see the same florality or savouriness as before. Was the glass too wet from the previous wines I had tried, spittooned, and rinsed out? Maybe I was suffering ‘tasting fatigue’ but nothing much grabbed me.

The best wine for me was the MJ Syrah 2011 – nice florality, balanced fruit, and white pepper at the back of the throat. Again L liked the pinot gris, but she bought a bottle of the Rose and a couple of the Blue Rock Trafalgar – a late harvest riesling and sauvignon blanc blend…an interesting wine which I’d like to figure out better if she lets me have a glass…

Nevertheless, the property is gorgeously landscaped, and very well sited. Well worth a visit for that alone. There is a restaurant there, and they do vine-to-winery tours. A group of overseas investors have bought the concern, and are selling container loads of wine into China. Good on them.


Back at Parehau we opened a bottle of Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011 to have with the remains of the antipasto of the previous night: Yummy butter, mealy, nutty characters, smooth and rich and honeyed.

At dinner at the Martinborough Hotel (beetroot and walnut salad; parmesan and tomato tart; risotto; duck confit leg; affrogato; pecan pie) we split a bottle of Craggy Range Te Kahu 2010 – another top drop.

We wuz spoilt!