What’s in the glass tonight June 28th

 Forrest The Doctors Reisling 2009

From the cellar: Forrest The Doctors Riesling 2009 – $$

I bought this bottle from the vineyard cellar door at the Graperide a few years back. It won Champion White at the Auckland Easter Show so I thought it might be a goody.

Blonde greenish straw. 8.5%. This is the lightest alcohol wine I have ever had I think. Lovely fragrant aromatics: mandarins, rockmelon, hint of TDN peeking through. Yummy.

In the the mouth the first thing I get is that typical Riesling spritzy freshness at the front of the palate. Then very ripe and luscious full fruit flavours of apricots and mandarins and honey kick in. Medium sweet. It lasts and lasts. So damn tasty.

A fantastic wine for an aperitif and went surprisingly well with L’s sticky prawn noodles. I don’t normally go for a sweet Riesling tho aficionados prefer them. I should soften my stance and drink more of these – the flavours are just too good. 4+


NZ and Aussie Winemakers Showcase June 2014


L arranged tickets for us to attend a showcase for Kiwi and Australian winemakers at the Michael Fowler Centre last Thursday, arranged by Negociants. I didn’t know what expect, but when we arrived in the room, and I saw the stalls of 20-odd producers spread around the walls, it felt like a adults version of a kids candy store. I didn’t know which wines to try first…

well, that indecision didn’t last long…first up was Mt Beautiful, from north of Cheviot in North Canterbury. I enjoyed the quality and poise of their noted Riesling ( I didn’t take any notes as we toured the room, so I can’t really confirm any vintages or scores), and rated their Pinot Noir a contender. We then took in Brokenwood from the Hunter Valley in Australia and I just loved the Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz they were showing – the 2010 was outstanding, dense and complex and mouth filling.

L being Australian, she was keen to press on and try some D’Arenberg Shiraz’s from Mclaren Vale, but the crush and clamour around their table drove me away, tho I did come back later and try the Laughing Magpie Shiraz and The Dead Arm Shiraz, neither of which struck me as anything but functional.

I was drawn to Martinborough’s Dry River stall. Now I rarely, and I mean rarely, have the Fistful of Dollars in my pocket that is required to buy their bottles. So I was pleased to have the chance to try first their latest Riesling – delicious – and their Chardonnay which appealed for its purity and restraint (no malo), but what I was there to try was their famous Pinot Noir: and it didn’t disappoint, tho it seemed more like the Brokenwood Shiraz than a Pinot due to its power and peppery spicy density. Quite peculiar in its way, but thought-provoking.

From there to Fromm, from Marlborough. Heh. I loved the previous release of their Brancott Vineyard Pinot Noir and was keen to try this years model. Not as intensely aromatic as last years, but still showed florality and fruit weight and black cherries.

Things were now getting a bit more Partytime in the room than serious Wine Judge-y. After the crowd had all tried a few wines and settled down a bit, we all then noticed all the people we each knew in the hall, and the conversation levels went up in volume. And I started to lose a bit of my attention span. I did tip a lot of my wine out, but I also swallowed a bit by then as well, and that stuff has a cumulative effect…

Luckily I was still compos mentis when I came across two of the highlights of the evening:

I was fortunate to meet Kevin Judd, winemaker of Greywacke (ex-Cloudy Bay winemaker), and taste his collection of Marlborough wines. My sister gave me a coffee table book of NZ wine terrior photos that was co-authored by Kevin. The wines confirmed to me why he is so well regarded. His wild ferment Sauvignon Blanc was outstanding – uniquely flavoursome, sensitively oaked, with restraint and punch, if you can have such a combination. Then I tried his Chardonnay. Stinky. Wonderful. Again outstanding fruit flavours and palate weight. Finally his Pinot Noir, and it was floral, great intensity of fruit, red cherries, balanced, long, delicious. My Pinot of the night, or so I thought…


Next stall over from them was Langmeil wines of the Barossa Valley. We all know where that is. Their Jackomans Cabernet and Valley Floor Shiraz were just wonderful, and wonderful: Rich. Deep. Cocoa. Pepper and plums. Mouthcoating. Savoury. Yum. Buy. I wish.

We followed that stellar effort up with a nice gewurtz from Vinoptima, out of Gisborne. Soft, spicy, sweet, rich, fruitful.

I had to try a pinot noir from Rippon, who are blessed with one of the world’s best vineyard outlooks, over Lake Wanaka and Ruby Island.  Very Central with light, herbaceous, spicy characters.

I then had my pinot, and wine,  of the night, care of Allan Johnson of Palliser Estate. Their latest 2013? Pinot Noir was just outstanding. Intense, flavoursome, poised, all the aromatics going on that I love.  Would drink this all. the. time.

What a good night! A sweet shop for grown-ups. Thanks L!


What’s in the glass tonight June 22nd

Stoneleigh Chardonnay 2013

Stoneleigh Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 – $

Continuing the theme of cheap ’13 Chardonnays, but this time from Marlborough: L & I have been rocking a few bottles of the middle-tier Stoneleigh Latitude Chard 2013 this past week, which have been great drinking and showing interestingly dense ripe fruit, mealy and buttery characters, so I thought best see how the bottom wine compares…

Firstly I see a nice yellow colour in the glass. 13.5% alcohol, where The Latitude is 14%. Ripe fruit, peaches and light oak on the nose. Very ripe and luscious in the mouth, lipsmacking. A hint of creaminess. Not the complexity of the Latitude Chard, but freshness is the key here, with generous fruit weight on palate – not forced or thin. A very tasty quaffer. 3+. It could handle a few years sabbatical as well.

Some of these 2013s are starting to shape up well..

What’s in the glass tonight June 27th

Sileni HB Chardonnay 2013

2013 Cheap Chardys: Sileni Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 – $

Pale gold. 12.5% alcohol. Light nose of pip fruit. Not much weight in the mouth. Ripe enough, but a little thin, with citrus. Again, uninspiring in such a vintage as this. There are better examples out there to be had at the same price. 2+

What’s in the glass tonight June 25th

Selaks Reserve Chardonnay 2013 2

2013 Cheap Chardys: Selaks Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 – $

Light gold. 13.5%. Warm, rich, round and spicy nose.

Quite dense and ripe on palate. Lots of golden stone fruit and sunshine in the glass. Tasty. Not a great deal of complexity, but this wine still tends towards the educated end of the I’m-affordable-drink-me-now wine spectrum. A great effort and really good for the price. 4.

Worth the Cuisine recommendation and some cellar time.

What’s in the glass tonight June 23rd

Esk Valley HB Chardonnay 2013

2013 Cheap Chardys: Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 – $

Light gold in the glass. 13.5% alcohol.

Bouquet of typical golden stone and pip fruit. Young ripe pears in mouth. Citrus and minerals. Sweet also. Light mouthfeel. I see not near as much extract as the Stoneleigh of earlier.

Have to say it’s undemanding, and somewhat forgettable in such a vintage as this. I expected more. 3

Straight to the Pool Room – June 2014

Pool Room June 2014

Continuing the collecting of sub-$20 Chardonnays from the great 2013 Hawkes Bay vintage with cellaring potential…

Selaks Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 – $ – drink 2016-2018 – this wine was given the Best Buy recommendation by a popular foodie NZ gourmet magazine a couple of months ago, so it is probably worth a punt on a long sleep-in. I have a bottle to test for poison later, so I hope I am not embarrassed.

What’s in the glass tonight June 19th

Pencarrow Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Pencarrow Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – $

A confession: I like the work of the team at Palliser Estate. Alas I find their wines a bit outside my weekly budget for everything but celebratory quaffing, so I often revert to drinking Pencarrow wines, their second label.

Here is this years sav blanc, at a ridiculous discount down at my big-box grocery retailer, with such a label on it. How could I refuse?

Pale green straw colour. 12.5%. The local sav blanc character is softer and rounder than the varietal you see from the Awatere or Brancott Valley’s in Marlborough. Not so much acidity or ‘bite’. I like that for a change, especially when the nights are cooler. There are still herby characters on the nose, and red capsicum and grass and gooseberry and the usual Kiwi suspects, but they are suspended in a softer framework of ripe fruit, and dare I say, some oak (I smell vanilla)? Very ripe in the mouth. The age (2012) helps again to take the edge off the blade, but I wouldn’t keep the wine any longer lest it relax to flabbiness. I like it right now! 4

and a funny thing, a few days later, I get to try Big Sister…


Palliser Estate Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – $$

This one smells fresher and riper and claener than the Pencarrow. Quite sweet in the mouth, but with softness and major ripeness of fruit. very clean flavours. Light red capsicum notes. Love it. 4+


What’s in the glass tonight June 18th

Giesen HB Chardonnay 2012

Giesen Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012 – $

This wine was a nice surprise. You can see I liked it cos the glass is empty. Can’t say I recall ever having a Giesen Brothers wine before. This one impressed for value at a supermarket tasting (I can be waylaid by many things, and one of those is definitely a supermarket tasting…)

Pure pale yellow. 13.5%. Leggy. I liked the creamy oat-y buttery characters in this budget wine. Pleasant fruit weight, sweetness balanced with citrus, some elegance; expresses vine ripeness, and punches above it’s weight. It rewards with further development in the bottle if you can leave some in the fridge for a couple of days. 3+


Can fine Chardonnay cellar for 30-45 years? A nutty tasting for dinkum Chardonnay lovers


In May, once again, Geoff Kelly presided over one of his famous library tastings of wines plucked from his own cellar.

In his words he intended to present “a tasting for people who love the smells and flavours of good oatmeal, cashews, hazelnuts, brazil nuts and even a touch of walnut maybe. It is not a tasting for those who derive their pleasure in finding faults in wines, where more positive people would see complexity.

In New Zealand the conventional wisdom is that Chardonnay can be cellared for 3-5 years, maybe 8 years at the outside. In this tasting we will explore whether really good chardonnay can cellar for longer. The youngest wines will be 28 years old, so there will be no florals, and precious little stonefruit….the good ones will taste and smell of the attributes listed above…such wines can be [ ] very satisfying, if they have the body to be sustaining.”

I love NZ Chardonnay, and have been pushing the age boundaries of cellaring these wines myself. With mixed results. I was looking forward to this evening. I was fortunate that L could come along and experience it with me.

As before, Geoff presented all the wines blind, and decanted them into bagged bottles. He selected the lightest colour wines if he had more than one bottle to hand. They were arranged in order stylistically so that the wines followed each other in the most complimentary fashion possible.

The single bottles were then passed from hand to hand around the room for us participants to measure out 27.5ml quantities, via wee plastic jelly-shot glasses to a level marked, and pour into our tasting glasses. We were asked to examine the wines at leisure, then discuss our impressions, and vote for our best and worst wines, and guess what region they hailed from.

What I write below is collated from what I thought of them, and what others thought, before and after the wines were finally identified.

*                                             *                                             *

1986 Mountadam Chardonnay High Eden, SA – Light gold colour; lightly aromatic, flavours of burnt cashews, fresh citrus, lovely bright fruit notes, light and cool; notes of dried peaches, minerals, mealy, taut, it grew in the glass.

1986 Rosemount Estate Show Reserve Chardonnay, Hunter Valley, NSW – Gold colour; aromatic, leggy, good body and quality, lovely aftertaste; solid, good extract, some dessicated coconut, tropical fruit.

1969 !! Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet Clos du Cailleret Premier Cru – From a great vintage – Deep gold colour; notes of butterscotch, caramel; almost port-y in character, tawny. Amazing. Oxidative of course. Brown in the mouth, old; has some charm due to it’s venerable age; still got body.

1979 Sterling Vineyards Chardonnay, Napa Valley, CA – Deep gold; aromatic with aromas of liniment and medicine cabinet; the body is thin-ish on palate, bright enough citrus and fresh, still; good fruit tho receding, hazelnuts, some tartrate on the cork.

1969 !! Lichine Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru – From a great vintage – Brown gold; tawny and porty bouquet; very biscuit-y and angular; I see a lot of warmth on the back of the palate; long finish; others see maderization, new oak, and body.

1976 Latour Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru – Green gold; more medicine cabinet bouquet; thin, austere, herby, oxidative again; but I like its brightness and heft. Perhaps corked? Perhaps I am over-thinking it.

1974 Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur – Light gold; a sav blanc nose? Herb hints and thyme? Herby and light in the mouth; the tough crowd saw reductive characters; noble sulphides; bathroom; lanolin; old Chablis but it WAS old ChablisToo bad. It was a Valmur after all, and I couldn’t afford a new one.

1986 Bannockburn Chardonnay, Geelong, VIC – Light gold; smells round and soft and warm. Lovely fruit taste, good body and length, balance of fruit and nut, and fresh; mealy, nutty, fresh yet savoury; flint; admirable palate weight, oak and density.Yum. 5

1971 Lichine Meursault Genevrieres Premier Cru– Darkest gold. Piss. Medical room. Sardines. Malt extract. Pass. What a shame, really. I once had a Meursault at Gordon Ramsays in Chelsea that made me swoon, and I was hoping to reacquaint myself with the sensation…

1986 Morton Estate Chardonnay Black Label, NZ – From John Hancock; Dark gold; fruitful bouquet, lifted, elegant. Very leggy; good body and length, and mouthfeel. It’s a food wine; would be marvellous with Chicken soup I think; harmonious; grapefruit; honeysuckle and some botrytis? Very good, this. 4+

1976 Latour Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru Les Demoiselles – Gold colour; nice balance of fruit, acid and biscuit; oaky-framed richness; appreciable extract, tremendous weight of fruit. Also yum. 4+

1986 Tyrell’s Wines Pinot Chardonnay Vat 47, Hunter Valley, NSW – This producer pioneered barrel fermentation in Australia – Light gold colour; light elegant bouquet; lovely, lovely wine. Looking young, tasting young, the fruit is so fresh. 5

Phew. What a wonderful education. I’d never expect that white wines of such age could still taste so fresh, and delicious as some of these. And it was really interesting to see that the stand-out bottles of the evening would turn out to be Australian!

Many thanks to Geoff Kelly. Please check out his website: http://www.geoffkellywinereviews.co.nz