From the Cellar: Vidal Hawkes Bay Merlot Cab Sav 2008 – $
This was cheap when I bought it, but it came recommended by a popular foodie magazine. I bought a brace of bottles, and tried the first back in January. This was what I wrote about it then:
Inky blood-black colour. 13.5%. A blend of merlot, cabernet, malbec and franc. It has a warm and enveloping bouquet. Notes of vanilla and cassis and cedar wood. Balanced mature flavours of ripe plums and blackberry wine gums, molasses and fruitcake spice to taste. Long and unctuous, with good lip-smacking tannins at the finish. 4.5
Well, what I have here in my glass now must be a bad ‘un. The wine is the same colour, and has the same bouquet notes, but it is much backed off. Thinner on the palate, reedy, some bitter characters, acidic, lack of unctuousness. The damn thing doesn’t have the breeding to ‘tunnel’, so it must be a fault. I’m gonna leave it alone for another day or so and see if what’s left in the bottle wakes up.
And I did…and for another day after. The wine got softer and rounder. The harder metallic edge evaporated and richer notes of fruit came to the fore. It got better, although not as flavourful and exemplary as the January example. 3
Firstly, a brace of sub-$20 Chardonnays from the great 2013 Hawkes Bay vintage:
Mission Estate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 – $ – Nothing special, just a value drop that would appreciate a lie-down for a couple of years – drink 2016/2017
Then a couple of stickies that L won in a raffle:
Beach House Hawkes Bay Noble Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – $$$ – from a Te Awanga vineyard; a gold medal winner – drink 2014 – 2029
An interesting story about the wine from the producer’s website:
“Every cloud has a silver lining”. This is especially true of this wine. Rain at the end of February (that had us all worried) established a Botrytis infection in this young block of Sauvignon Blanc. The Grower was unable to sell it as a traditional dry table wine and it hung unsold until the middle of May. The green berries ripened to 29 Brix and a perfect botrytis infection developed with absolutely no ignoble rot. We have never seen before, and will probably never see again, such perfect botrytis.
The fruit was picked at 40 Brix. The resulting wine is flawless.
The nose is concentrated and floral with pure aromas of apricot, fig, quince and nectarine while the oak provides structure and gives a hint of vanilla and French toast. The wine has amazing balance and purity and is a favourite among ‘sticky’ aficionados. Winemaker – Chris Harrison gives this wine a lifetime guarantee and expects people will still be enjoying it in 50 years’ time. Assuming he hides a few cases in his cellar!
Soho Revolver Waiheke Island Merlot Blend 2011
L is a chiropractor, and a very good one too. A fortnight ago I was invited to be her “plus one” at the formal dinner during the NZ Chiropractors’ Association conference up in The Tron.
L is also very generous and she bought up a pile of raffle tickets before the dinner. Her good luck won us this bottle, and a couple of Hawkes Bay stickies too.
The wine is a Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc blend. Deep cranberry colour. 12.6%. Very floral nose. Quite peculiar notes, and unfamiliar: cherries and plums yes, but also herbs like thyme and rosemary, and red roses too. In the mouth the wine is ripe with red fruits, including cranberries, with a strong oak backbone and vanilla. A very good win and wine. 4