What’s in the glass tonight Dec 30th


Last night L and I went to a friends house for dinner. They have a lovely home high above Korokoro with dramatic views down on to Wellington harbour.

L brought along a bottle of Spy Valley Chardonnay 2011 – $$. It was fantastic – mealy, nutty, buttery, great mouthfeel. A top chardonnay from Marlborough. 4.75.

Our hosts followed this up with a serious pinot gris. I didn’t note what it was, but I did like the ginger beer character on the palate. Yum.

And the meal of braised beef and pears, followed by a dessert of summer fruits and Kapiti White Choc and Raspberry Ice Cream was fabulous. Thanks very much!

What was in the glass this Christmas


This year I travelled up-country with LG to visit my folks for Christmas. My sister came down from south Auckland to join us. It was the first time all of us adults had been together at Christmastime for maybe 20 years. Wow.

As usual, I lined up a few bottles to enjoy over the period. Over the preceding year I deposited money each grocery shop into my supermarket’s Christmas Club to buy the feast food and some good wines and not break the bank doing it. I bought nothing at all ‘prestige’ this time, but grabbed a few new and interesting wines worth a look by both my reckoning and that of others.

We started the afternoon with a few glasses of bubbles. First up was my parents choice; Hihi Gizzy Fizzy NV from Gisborne. I knew nothing about this wine beforehand and even less after drinking it, cos it was cut with orange juice. A sparkling “blanc de blanc” made from chardonnay grapes. Nice to drink, but impossible to score.

Then I splashed out on Lindauer Special Brut NV – $. Heh. This wine is a cliché. Pound for pound, it should be claimed as NZ’s best wine if you allow for the volume in which it is produced, its uniformity of style, and price. The Reserve is better, but this always scores a solid 3. Dependable bargain bracing bubbliness, if a bit metallic.

Sister then brought out the Deutz NV – $$$. Methode Traditionale from Marlborough. Brioche and bubbles and elegant dryness. 3.75.

Then we got down to the serious business of the turkey and ham. For that I opened a Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Viognier 2013 – $$. Pale gold. 14%. Gorgeous aroma of apricots and bush honey. Dry and spicy in the mouth, with more apricots. Full on palate with ripe fruit, but restrained. Not as oily as other examples I have tasted, and better for it I think. If a wine can express a sense of a place like Hawkes Bay this one does. I can see the heat and rolling golden summertime hills in its flavours and texture. 3.75


The next day over leftover Christmas ham and salad we shared a bottle of Framingham Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – $$. My parents like savs. Fruit from the Wairau Valley. 13%. Pale straw colour.  Pungent aroma of pears. Mouthfuls of grapefruit and passionfruit. Fresh, herby, slightly sweet. Wet stone minerals. 4

Along the way I also had a few bottles of Mac’s Sassy Red beer with Dad. Hoppy and bitter; proper ale, and not sweet like the childs beer this country is awash with.

Merry Christmas to you all

My friends, thanks for reading my posts this year. I really do appreciate all your comments and support, and for welcoming me into your wonderful international community of wine enthusiasts and writers.

Thanks also to all of you who have supported New Zealand wine producers by buying our product. It is not all hobbits and mountain views down here.

Have a happy and safe holiday. And if you do drink too much, do it with a cheery heart, and enjoy the lie-in the next day.

Meri Kirihimete!

d d b

Straight to the Pool Room – December 2013

Pool Room Dec 2013

Two stellar bottles from the Villa Maria tasting of last month:

Villa Maria Gimblett Gravels Reserve Merlot 2009 – $$$ – drink 2014-2019, but not sure I can wait that long…

Villa Maria Keltern Vineyard HB Chardonnay 2011 – $$$ – drink 2014-2016. Latest in the lineage of a chardonnay I consider one of the most distinctive expressions of terroir in this country.

I’m auditioning for the remaining places in the case…



What’s in the glass tonight Dec 21st


Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011 – $$$

I have been fortunate to enjoy a few different pinots this Christmas. There was the moreish Tohu Marlborough 2011 at The Laundry bar on Cuba St (3.5) and the Urlar Gladstone 2011 at St John’s Bar (2.75). There was the Brodie Estate I posted about earlier too.

Now I get to taste a pinot from the top shelf of Central Otago. A birthday gift from my folks. From one of my favourite producers.

Carmine colour. 13.5%. Richly floral bouquet with herby notes and wood. Dense and flavoursome in the mouth with rich cherries and black plums. Tannic. Long finish. Good on the first night, and the leftovers the following day were even better. 4

What’s in the glass tonight Dec 19th


A fun night.

First to the Wine Loft after work to meet L and her friends J and B. While there we shared a bottle of Brodie Estate Wind Dancer Martinborough Pinot Noir 2009 – $$$

This was lovely. Deep carmine. 13.5%. Ripe, soft, dense, floral. Notes of vanilla. Product of Dijon and Able clones. 4


Then off home for L’s Coconut honey and peanut butter chicken curry. Yum. She had her usual rose, while I had a glass of Clifford Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – $

DWISOTT*. White straw colour. 13%. Nose of pears and limes. Grassy and refreshing to taste; usual Marlborough varietal expression of tomato stalk and grapefruit but not too astringent.I don’t like ’em too wince-y…Good value. 3

*Does What It Sez On The Tin


What’s in the glass tonight Dec 15th

Montana HB Chardonnay 2012

Montana Hawkes Bay Chardonny 2012 – $

This is the wine L and I drank last night at the stadium while watching the Wellington Phoenix go down 2-1 to the Brisbane Roar in the A-League competition.

It is perfect stadium fare. Cheap (tho not in the stadium, by 187ml volume). Available by the decalitre. Approachable. A mass market drop. The RRP is around $2P, but I expect is usually bought by consumers when discounted to $P.

The Hawkes Bay appellation clearly speaks more of blend than terroir, when volume demands a uniformity of style over an expression of place or vintage.

Today, in glass, rather than stadium PET, it smells fresh. Straw colour.  Light in the mouth. Mostly citrus notes, a bit of creaminess. Not too much going on past that. If it were a soccer score, maybe 1-1? The tough 2012 vintage maybe pulled back the ripeness levels, which lessened palate weight, and promoted minerality.

A style of chardonnay for the sauvignon blanc market. Good value if you are at the end of the pay month, and there is a bit of afternoon sun about. 2.75


What’s in the glass tonight Dec 11th

Trinity Hill GG Syrah 2008

From the Cellar: Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2008 – $$$

James Brown sang, “Ain’t it funky!” Yes it is, yes it is, this wine…

Lots of funk on the nose. I can see in my mind’s eye the chickens lowing and the cattle cheeping in the barnyard on the floor of the forest. I wonder if it is reduction I smell?

No matter. I really like the bouquet, it sticks to my glass, and adds interest to the tasting. This wine is not as powerful as the Elephant Hill Syrah from a couple of weeks back, but it is elegant. Same deep carmine colour and 13.5%. Dense red fruits, drying off, with typical white pepper. Fine tannins. Short finish.

This wine was Regional Wines top syrah at a tasting back in 2010. It is the stablemate of one of NZs two most notable ultra-premium syrahs, Trinity Hill Homage.

This bottle might have been better consumed younger, when the fruit was fresher. But it’s still bloody interesting, and was worth the wait (and education – I have learned that little bit more about NZ syrah longevity). Danced well with my steak dinner too. 3.5

What’s in the glass tonight Dec 8th

Villa Maria CS Dry Riesling 2012 2

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Dry Riesling 2012 – $

This is my third-go-round with this beauty. I just can’t get enough. The wine just keeps getting better.

Acidic and fruity, and fresh and enlivening.

Bursting with limes and pears. Delicious.

Buy half a case and go book a beach holiday now. Outstanding. 5

What’s in the glass tonight Dec 4th

Babich Merlot Cabernet 2012

Babich Gimblett Gravels Merlot Cabernet 2012 – $

I think a cheap red should err on the side of chainsaw rather than big fat red pillow, if you get my analogy. It should be the kind of ‘mouth-drying’ wine that prevents you from being able to spit afterwards, or win a Eat Dry Weetbix And Try To Whistle race.

I don’t know when I last drank a Babich wine. This is partly why I bought this bottle, the price being another reason. It is a cheapie for a Gimblett red: the standard ‘Classics’ label. Deep ruby. 13%. Not a big nose, but some red plums and a touch of vanilla. The fruit is ripe and soft, but not complex or tannic enough to arouse much interest with me. Very merlot-dominant I guess.

It’s an approachable party quaffer, for a party where B-52s music is playing: Love shack, baby, love shack… Will suit some people; a disappointment for me (see above). 2

Babich have been producing wine since 1916, so they know how to do it. I expect their single vineyard and reserve wines would be much better that this. I will report back in due course.