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!

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