What’s in the glass tonight Nov 28th

Te Mata Awatea 2005

Hammer Time: Te Mata Awatea Hawkes Bay Cab / Merlot 2005 – $$$

This is one of the ‘05 Awateas I bought at the recent Dunbar Sloan auction.

I’ve been looking forward to opening this. Awatea ‘05 is a blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 43% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. It is the lesser stablemate of Coleraine. It’s also a wine made for aging; up to 10 years according to the producer.  Let’s see what this 8yo is can do…

I’m taking my time with this one. Dark garnet in the glass, quite clear, no visible brick colouring to the edges. 13.5%. Black fruits aged bouquet, with medicinal hints, earth, wood,  and fruitcake; quite lovely when it opens up to the air. I love the nose.

Light tasting, at first I thought almost frail in the mouth, but over time I see there is more going on than that. Fruit weight has retreated from first release, licorice, some white pepper, and refined mature flavours. The tannins have softened but it is still ‘tacky’. I think it holds together well. Good length. A fine wine. 4

What’s in the glass tonight Nov 20th

Saints Chardonnay 2011 2

Saints Gisborne Chardonnay 2011- $

Back on Jan 3rd I wrote my second-ever post about this wine: $10 on special, but then, it is often offered at this ‘special’ price. [ ] The winemaker sez, “rich, full-bodied chardonnay…lifted stonefruit and citrus flavours…elegantly styled…creamy texture…spicy oak…complexity…”. I don’t know what batch they were referring to when he/she wrote this (this wine is probably made by the cubic metre), but my bottle tells me something different…

[ ]…I like the crisp acidity, and light fruit aroma. Buy 2011 if you can choose from 2012 bottles…There seems no MLF to scare the easily-scared horses, and ALSO it is from Gizzy, a GREAT chardonnay producing region – think Millton, Thornbury, Kirkpatrick et al. An easy drinking style, for sitting in the sun and drinking a budget wine when you have to be on a budget.

Here I am drinking another bottle from the same vintage, for much the same reasons, and I was wondering if my tastes and expectations have changed in the interim…

…Nah. Still the same price, acidity, light bouquet and ripe stonefruit. Light gold. 12.5%. Not much oak, and not much depth either. But for $10 do you expect a wine for the cellar? It’s much better than the competition at this price. 3

Plug pulled on flagship NZ wine


Back on Nov 10th I blogged about Te Mata Coleraine 2007. This is a complimentary story by Roger Moroney from HAWKES BAY TODAY:

For the first time in 20 years Te Mata Estate winery at Havelock North has pulled the plug on its flagship wine Coleraine due to the tough 2012 growing vintage.

Coleraine had become widely regarded as New Zealand’s finest red wine and was first bottled in 1982 and since then become a sought after collector’s line.

But as Te Mata Estate director Nicholas Buck explained, the 2012 season was “challenging” with only 20 per cent of the normal Coleraine volume being produced.

“That left us with a tough decision – what do we do?”

He said a limited run of Coleraine could have been produced but that would have introduced speculative forces when it came to purchasing as the wines were in such demand.

The smaller number would have sold quickly and many people, who were regular annual purchasers of the variety, would have missed out.

“We had to weigh it all up. Do we disappoint some people or do we be fair to everyone?”

So the decision was made to declassify the entire 2012 Coleraine production into the winery’s second most recognised red – Awatea.

“It hurts us financially to make that decision and we do not take it lightly – but if it only happens every 20 years we can live with that.”

Mr Buck said it was more important to ensure quality and integrity was maintained.

While Coleraine lovers would miss out on a 2012 vintage they would benefit in that due to the non-appearance previous vintages would step up in value.

“And of course our Awatea 2012 customers will be the winners.”

The last time Coleraine failed to make it to the shelves and cellars was as result of lower than average summer temperatures in 1991 brought about by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.

However, fans of the fine red will be buoyed by news that the 2013 Coleraine was well under way after one of the best vintages in decades.

“Oh yes – there will be a 2013,” Mr Buck said.

Of the fledgling 2014 vintage now on the vines Mr Buck said the indications at this stage were it would be plentiful and was looking good.

“Size levels are good and so are bunch numbers,” he said.

The warm spring and good moisture had created good bud burst, and indications from across the region’s vineyards was that it looked “very promising” Mr Buck said.

What’s in the glass tonight Nov 13th

Penthouse Chardonnay 2009

Hammer Time: Palliser Estate Pencarrow Chardonnay 2009 – $

It’s not often I get another go at an old(er) wine I have reviewed before. But I have the opportunity with this one, courtesy of my recent auction win of a brace of bottles.

Earlier I posited that this wine had jumped the shark. Having another look now, I can confirm that it is still a mature wine. But oxidation is not evident in this bottle.

Light gold colour. Old vanilla and oak aromas. Mellow, round and creamy and quite smooth to taste. Lots of golden stonefruit and honey. I am intrigued by the smell of this wine – it reminds me of fresh bandages. Funny that. 3.5

What’s in the glass tonight Nov 15th

Mount Riley Riesling 2013

Mount Riley Marlborough Riesling 2013 -$

Spring-y nose of lemons and pears. 12%. Straw colour in the glass. Young, bright, fresh and zesty in the mouth with light lemon crisp varietal flavours. Off dry. To my taste, the absence of weight detracts to begin with, but after a short while the light touch of the wine grows on me. Gold Medal at the NW Wine Awards 2013.

For those who love Savs and Pinot Gris, drink this instead. 3.5


What’s in the glass tonight Nov 10th

Te Mata Coleraine 2007

From the Cellar: Te Mata Coleraine (Cab Sav/Merlot/Cab Franc) 2007 – $$$

This is another of my heavyweights, on reputation alone perhaps the heaviest. This is arguably New Zealand’s most famous wine. Its reputation is based on both the quality of the wine, the length of its pedigree, and the marketing abilities of the producer.

I was first introduced to the 2000 vintage at a 2010 tasting, and I was blown away. I had never tasted an old wine before (at best, most of the wine I bought aged only a couple of hours from time of purchase), and I thought the depth and richness and complexity in the mouth and on the nose was a revelation. I was sold on the concept right then and there.

This version is dark carmine in colour. 14% and leggy.  I opened it to share with L over a nice roast of venison. Deep nose of black fruits, aniseed, raisins, pencil shavings. Black plums to taste. Firm tannins, good concentration, lots of life here for cellaring on.

I thought it seemed a bit thin to start with, but as the wine opened out in the air I could see the finesse, and appreciate the length, so I suspect I opened this bottle a couple of years too soon. I have a second bottle which I’ll keep to ‘17. Lovely drop. Reminds me of the Craggy Range Te Kahu 2010. 4

What’s in the glass tonight Nov 7th

Mills Reef Elspeth Syrah 2007

From the Cellar: Mills Reef Elspeth Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2007 – $$$

It’s a first world problem.

When I first embarked on stocking my wine cellar I filled it with cheap accessible wines that I thought would develop some character and interest with age, and educate me on the evolution of New Zealand wines and wine styles. Very soon I also started buying a lesser quantity of more expensive marquee wines, the ‘tentpole movies’ of the Kiwi wine world. These latter purchases were intended to expand my knowledge of feted offerings from the finer end of the market. (It was also largely to stroke my own ego, at both the acquisition and consumption stages of the process…)

I have got to the point now where I have drunk all the easy cheap bottles from the selection ready to drink NOW, and what’s left is a solid quantity of the heavyweights. These aren’t the wines that you should knock the top off on a Monday night just cos you‘ve had a hard day. They require fine food, company, even candles. They deserve proper attention, and an engaging blog post, when perhaps I might rather drink something wet’n’forget while watching The Walking Dead…

This is one of those wines. I’m a bit tired. It all seems a bit of an effort. I really should share this one…

But, bugger it. A wine cellar is just the Second Act, sandwiched between the making of the wine, and throwing the empties in the rubbish. Best get over it.

This syrah is velvety inky blood-black. 14%. It has a rich, forward, aged bouquet, funky, a touch of pepper and spice and old shoe polish. I love wines that give such good nose.

In the mouth I see redacted black plums, licorice, toffee, forest floor. Fine schmacky tannins. Long finish. The wine is matured 14 months in French oak, but there is no obvious oak on the nose, but it is there to add shape in the mouth. The fruit quality opens up nicely as it sits in the glass. Ill drink half now, and let the rest sit in the bottle for later review. 4.5

Three days later Nov 10th: The wine handled these few days left alone very well, and emerged a little softer and delicious.

Bordeaux En Primeur 2010


I know very little about Bordeaux wines. Mathematicians would define that as non-zero.

Back in 2011 I knew even less (except that some wines labelled “1er” are quite posh, and are far too pricey to do anything stupid like actually drink them). But one night in 2011 while drunk-in-charge of a computer I bought a couple of bottles en primeur from Glengarry’s.

You know the en primeur system? Certain French wineries sell their wines in advance of their bottling, as futures, to various negociants, who onsell via local importers to punters like me around the world, with the promise that I’ll get those wines at a later date if there are any left over after they try and drink them all.

Like I said, I ordered two bottles, and then forgot all about it.

Last year an invoice for the first tranche deposit appeared in my Inbox. It wasn’t a particularly big number, but it gave me pause. The wines weren’t from terribly famous growths or anything like that, so luckily I didn’t have to extend the mortgage. I was too embarrassed to call the wine store and admit I was a numpty and cancel the order, so I paid the bill. And forgot all about it again.

Then, earlier this year, another email appeared saying my bottles had arrived, and for a small final payment they could be mine. Crikey, I thought , better get on to that. But I forgot all about it yet again.

I finally remembered about those damn mythic bottles, and went and collected them last Friday.

They turned out to be quite real.

I bought:

1 x Chateau Sarget De Gruard Larose 2010 – $$$ – Château Gruaud-Larose is a winery in the Saint-Julien appellation of the Bordeaux region of France. The wine produced here was classified as one of fifteen Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growths) in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. The wine I bought is its second label. BBR review: What a superb, delicious, decadent treat this is! It is really generous with ripe, plump, sweet blackberries and a fabulous creamy texture that is like silk. It’s obviously not quite as great as Gruaud itself but shows the essence of the Grand Vin and is a real treat. Wine-Searcher Tasting note: This is a very tannic, full bodied Sarget displaying a lot of weight and depth for a 2nd wine. This wine is typical of the 2010 vintage in its expression of vibrant fresh fruit. Violets, cedar, sweet ripe blackberries. A lively style but with enough tannins and weight to age for at least a decade or more.

1 x Chateau Siaurac 2010 –$$ – Not a numbered growth I think this. Siaurac is the largest property of the producer. Located in the appellation Lalande de Pomerol with 46 hectares of vineyards planted on clay located in the extension of the Pomerol plateau. The proprietor sez “Our wines are not technical, powerful and crafted wines in the cellar; they are the expression of the exceptional quality of our soil, and meticulous work on our vines. No rule is our rule: each year, climate controls our work.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: A sleeper of the vintage, this is the best wine I have ever tasted from this property. A dense purple colour is followed by abundant meaty, black currant, black cherry, liquorice, underbrush, and forest floor characteristics. Full-bodied, powerful, rich.

Hmm, maybe I wasn’t as stupid as I thought…into the Pool Room they go ‘til next year.

Hammer Time

DS Fine Wine Auction Oct 2013

What am I bid? Dunbar Sloane Auctioneers ran another fayne wayne auction last week, and I won a few lots.

Other bidders were after the Chateau Haut Margaux Rothschild Latour and other French filth, but I only had eyes for Olde Kiwi.

New Zealand wines back in the day typically came off relatively young vines and were made for drinking rather than keeping. There are of course exceptions, but this is as I understand it. I therefore suspected that some of the ‘second-hand’ wines on offer at the auction might well turn out to be really second-hand, so I was not prepared to pay more than $14 each.

I missed out on a few really early examples that were bought for $16 and $18 and more. Shame. I would have liked a Coleraine from the mid-80s but not at the prices they went for. The audience must have been drinking. And what was going on with those old Cornerstone’s selling for $60 a bottle…!

When no-one was looking I scored a 2003 Palliser Estate Pinot Noir for $14; two Palliser Pencarrow 2009 Chards for $10 each (forgetting that I dissed said wine from my cellar only a short time ago – I’m hoping [hoping!] these will be better…) and two Te Mata 2005 Awatea cab merlots for $$$ (I couldn’t resist)…Not as old as I’d hoped, but there is always another auction around the corner.

I’ll put one of the Awateas away in the Pool Room for next year, but everything else will go south over the next month or two and I’ll write them up.

Only one for the road


From Stuff.co.nz

The Government announced a new breath-alcohol limit yesterday, and said that drivers breached it faced fines and stiff demerit point penalties. The Government, which rejected a lower limit in 2010, has appeared to bow to public opinion, by proposing to cut the blood alcohol limit from 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood to 50mg. Drivers caught between the proposed new limit and the current one will not go to court, but will instead face $200 fines and 50 demerit points – half-way to losing their licence.

The new rules would not curb “normal social activity” because drivers could still have a moderate amount of alcohol and legally drive. Though he never consumed alcohol before driving because he had constant “dial a driver” in the form of police, Prime Minister Key said that after politics he would consume only “one beer, maybe two” and still drive.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said that how much individuals could drink depended heavily on body type, but “one or two” drinks should still be OK.”

“Beyond that you’d start to be into darkish territory,” he said.

The Cabinet wanted to strike a balance between discouraging drink-driving and determining whether offences were “at a criminal level”, he said. Research suggested that lowering the limit could save 3.4 lives a year, prevent 64 injury-causing crashes and save $200 million in social costs over 10 years. “It’s not totally compelling [but] what it does show is that if there are less drunk drivers or less people on the road impaired by alcohol, then you’ll have less injuries and less deaths,” Brownlee said.

And that’s a good thing. I drive long distances on Friday’s nights heading up to Mt Ruapehu during ski season, and I often wonder if the cars driving towards me are piloted by people have had too much to drink, and may suddenly veer across the centreline and take me out…

I’m no wowser (obviously). This affects me too. I’ll have to take it easy when I have a wine or two when I know I’ll have to drive afterwards…