What’s in the glass tonight March 30th


From the Cellar: Sacred Hill Rifleman Chardonnay 2009 – $$$

L and I worked like mad over the weekend sanding the timber floors in our house ready for staining and clear finishing. Hard back-straining work. But the result was worth it. I’m stoked.


To celebrate I knocked the top off one of my best wines.

Deep bright yellow. 14%.  The smell and the taste all bound up together in a complex intellectual drop.

It is mature, a bit hot even. Very toasty. Oily. It seems tainted by oxidative notes but hang on, I’ve been here before and maybe this is how this wine is meant to taste? I like it muy grande.

Mouthcoating. Long, long. 4+

Te Mata Showcase 2014 Tasting


Wow this annual tasting rolled around fast. I invited along my mate MM who likes a drop.

New venue. No Coleraine (bad season), but the Bullnose Syrah was back.

We were welcomed by Nick Buck, CEO, on arrival, and got warmed up with these welcome wines during the initial mix’n’mingle:

Te Mata Estate Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – typical HB version of this varietal – not as herbaceous as down south. Little winemaking artifice. 3

TMEV Chardonnay 2013 – Ripe grapefruit notes. 3

TMEV Gamay Noir 2013 – Fresh juicy fruit expression I recall most. Serve lightly chilled. 3+

TMEV Syrah 2013 – I liked this. Aromatic. Lightly spiced. Very young still (3 weeks in bottle!). Will cellar 3-5 years. 4

Te Mata Zara Viognier 2013 – very integrated wine, lovely, mouthfilling. Not as hot as previous versions. 4

Then it was on the main room for the formal seated tasting of two flights of four wines…

First flight – ‘07’s:

Cape Crest 2007 (Sauvignon Blanc)– Light straw. This was drinking superbly. Been a fav of mine for a while. One of the two best things they do I think…powerful nose, I see paint-thinner, but in a good way, and brand-new socks, weird…sweet and acidic and fresh to taste. Hint of vanilla from the eight months in French oak barrels, carraway seeds, any lime has mellowed. Additional of 13% semillon cuts through the directness of the sav. 5

Elston 2007 (Chardonnay)– Pale lemon colour. Smooth ripe nose, buttery, dry rolled oats. Peachy in the moth. Perfect level of maturity, lovely balance, ripe lemon, full-flavoured chardy. Burgundian style, full malo. 4+

Awatea 2007 (Cab Merlot Franc Petit Verdot) – dark magenta, browning on the rim. Notes of soap and boot polish, primanry fruit on the nose is fading. In the mouth I tasted preserved fruit, figs, prunes, and blackberries and cherries. Herby also. Structured tannins. It is mature and dry-ish, but holding on well. 4

Bullnose 2007 (Syrah) – dark ruby, browning on the rim. Attractive red berry, pepper and muscovado sugar flavours, with allspice and cinnamon. Not as structured as the Awatea, as you would expect. Lovely easy drinking. Dark caramel toffee at the finish. 4.

Second flight – ‘12’s

It was easy to see the difference in the development between the two sets of wine…

Cape Crest 2012 – Pale green. Only 9% semillon this time around. Fresh gooseberry – typical NZ savvy, hint of pencil shavings. Salty taste, with fresh fruit and refined tomato stalk flavours. Needs to settle down. The structure will let it sleep a while. 4

Elston 2012 – Pale lemon colour. Not so nose-y this version. Toasty background . Complex in mouth, dense weight and balance. Acid rush, cleans out the mouth, good with food I think. Should age 5 years. 4

Awatea 2012 – this is where I got distracted by a ‘fresh box’ smell I was getting off the glasses that were used in the tasting. I couldn’t see much past this when smelling the wine. In the mouth it was grippy, with cherries and choc. Not so enamoured with this one. 3

Bullnose 2012 – MORE FRESH BOX. Soapy, grippy, fruity. Not much to go on. A disappointing way to finish. I’d rather drink the cheaper Estate version, thanks.  3

Of the lot, the Cape Crest shone through, and the Elston. The reds were not so good this time in comparison.

Fast forward to the 2015 Showcase when we’ll get to try the potentially great ’13’s…

PS Congrats to Alistair from Regional Wines for being appointed as a Director of Te Mata. Please keep the prices down, Alistair.


What’s in the glass tonight March 26th

Villa Maria CS Marlb Chardonnay 2012

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Chardonnay 2012 – $$

I feel the blogging year doesn’t get into the swing of it until I have written about a Villa Maria wine. I just love what these guys do.

No exception here. Bright yellow. 13.5%. Gorgeous nose of ripe peaches and tropical mangoes. It is buttery and mealy and toasty-pinenutty to taste. Well balanced with an delicious citrus edge. It disappears in the glass in an instant…

A full-flavoured Chardy at a compelling price, esp. when on special. 4+

Squeaky-Bum Time


I blogged last year about me taking a punt on two 2010 Bordeaux wines en primeur.

One of them was the second label of Ch. Gruaud Larose. I chose it cos it rated highly with RP. It turns out that the Big Sister wine has just been voted top 2010 Medoc Cru Classe by Decanter Magazine. That was a lucky break! It might just not be muck, after all.

Hammer Time


I attended another fayne wayne auction at Dunbar’s today. I had my eye on picking up an old Te Mata Coleraine.

I ended up sitting next to a mature gent who was intent on buying up all the Coleraine on offer. This wasn’t looking good I thought. Still, I held my nerve and outbid him on one bottle of Te Mata Estate Coleraine 1990. So there. And I didn’t really pay much more than I would have for a new one.

Afterwards, while up at the counter when paying, I started talking to him. Turns out he is one of the directors of Te Mata Estate, and he was at the auction buying the Coleraines to plug gaps in the estate’s wine library. Funny.

I showed him mine and said it was for drinking, soon.

I also won an old Te Mata Awatea Cab Merlot 1992 for $20. The gent told me that was made in the Pinatubo year (when that volcano exploded and cooled global temperatures) and they didn’t make Coleraine– it all went into the Awatea. So he reckoned it might be a bit green. I reckon it will more likely be just old.


Straight to the Pool Room – March 2014

Pool Room March 2014

We received some cracking gifts of wine at our housewarming. Thanks friends!

I also bought a couple of trophy winners:

Palliser Estate Martinborough Pinot Noir 1993 – gift from MH – drink now. Looking forward to this!

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2012 – gift from K&D – drink 2015-2017. This scored 94 in Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine. Having tried it last year, I agree completely

Carrick Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2011 – gift from M&G – drink 2015. I tried the second label Unravelled last year and enjoyed it, so looking forward to this too.

Mudhouse Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 – $$ – drink 2015-2016. An Air NZ gold medal winner and Champion Commercial Red Trophy wine. Worth a swig.

BTW, in the house renovation the lurvely curtains are going…



What’s in the glass tonight March 23rd

The Edge PN 2013

Escarpment The Edge Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013 – $$

Here is the second label of Larry McKenna, who makes wonderfully fragrant and dense pinots from his vineyard on the escarpment just to the east of Martinborough. I have been lucky to attend a tasting with Larry, and I was just blown away by his Pahi single vineyard pinot noir. Others think his Kupe pinot is one of the finest expressions of Martinborough’s signature wine, and of NZ.

This is a quaffer. The nose is of light red fruit, not pronounced. The mouthfeel is soft, with sweet ripe red cherries. The wine is dense and concentrated. Tannins are subdued.

I would have liked a bit more angularity in the mouth, and message from the nose. 3+

It drank well with the dinner of slow-cooked beef shin and barley.

Wine bloggers, eh? Wadda they know?

Pool Room June 2013

I’ve been at this wine blog game for over a year. Yeah! And in this shallow, fast-paced world we live in, I guess this now makes me a Subject Matter Expert. Heh.

This is how it works. Least for me anyway. Buy wine, drink wine, think about wine, scribble it down. Add a pretty picture. Make sure I check the alcohol content before I biff out the bottle.

I am running out of adjectives that I haven’t used. Most wines I am trying are pretty ok, and they tend to blend in with each other. Only the really bad ones, and the really good ones, stand out, like Malcolm Gladwell’s outliers.

I was talking to a guy the other night at a tasting, who said he was a wine judge. I said I could never be a wine judge, as I couldn’t tell them apart. He said I’ll let you in on a secret – neither can we!


So what is the point of me sitting here, stroking my chin like a hipster at a barista competition, thinking that this wine should be a 3.25 and that one a 4 and so on. Really. What do I know?

So I’m gonna take the guesswork out of it. I’ll tweak my scoring system to create what I feel is a more generic and intrinsic system of comparison than my too-definative, and frankly inconsistent, current model.

New Rating System, out of 5


5 Outstanding

4+ Better than Very Good

4 Very Good

3+ Better than Good

3  Good

2  Just Ok

1  Cooking Wine


We’ll see, then…

What’s in the glass tonight March 11th, 17th, 21st

Marlborough Sav Blanc’s ‘Deathmatch’

Here are another three wines left over from the Housewarming. All Kiwi Marlborough Savs. Who will be champion?


Alpine Valley Marlborough Sav Blanc 2012

Light straw colour. 13.5%. Fresh tomato stalk on the nose. In the mouth I see the sweeter style of Marl sav, less acidity than others in the ‘hood. Round, ripe, may tip over into drabness if kept another year. A solid 3.


Eradus Awatere Valley Marlborough Sav Blanc 2012

Crikey. More tomato stalk. 13.5%. Grassy, pronounced citrus, involved grapefruit. Fresh, bracing. A good ‘un. 3.75


Saint Clair Family Estate Vicar’s Choice Marlb Sav Blanc 2013

The juvenile of the bunch. Bright white straw colour. 13%. Lively. Crisp grapefruit and passionfruit, yet more tomato stalk in the mouth. Drying. Good food wine. 3.25

The tomato wins by a clear length…


What’s in the glass tonight March 10th


Kahurangi Estate Heaphy Series Nelson Pinot Gris 2012

A left-over from the Housewarming. A big title for a lightly-flavoured style of wine.

But it fits.

Bright yellow gold. 13%. Attractive nose of pears, ginger and spice. Sweet white stonefruit to taste, with more ginger, light spice, and golden delicious apples.  Nice one. 3.75