If aliens ever invade

Villa Maria CS Dry Riesling 2013

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Dry Riesling Marlborough 2013 – $$

If aliens ever swoop down upon us from the heavens, they will not be coming for our oil, our water or our flesh, but for our wine. It’s always after 5pm somewhere in the cosmos.

Aliens may possess anti-gravity, droids and fearsome implacable intelligence, but they won’t have Beaune, the Barossa or Marlborough…

In my opinion, Riesling duels with Pinot Noir for the title of the planet’s finest wine variety. It is the Queen of Wines, the perfect aperitif. It would be the first taken aboard…

So here I am, mixing all four alien attractants together – sea water, sausages, olive oil and Villa Maria Dry Riesling – at a BBQ down at our local beach. The sun is shining, the water is warm, life is great!

The wine is a bright straw colour in the glass. 12.5%.

Bright fragrant nose. Storied, typical varietal ‘tang’. Nose of lychees. ‘Vinous’. There is that familiar ‘catch’ in the back of the nostrils. Makes memories.

In the mouth – ripe and fresh. Bags of citrus zing. Lemons, mandarins. Luscious. So much zest and character! A mouthwatering finish. Quite astounding in its way. BTVG 4+

I have loved this wine since ages ago. Elite Gold Medal winner – Air NZ Wine Awards 2014

A roaring fire and a nice glass of wine

wine fire

Featherston man set fire to own house, drank wine on lawn and watched it burn

The Wairarapa Times-Age reports a Featherston man has admitted to dousing his home in kerosene, setting it ablaze and watching it burn as he drank wine on the lawn.

In the early hours of December 2, Timothy John Grindlay, set fire to his Revans St house, which he owned with his ex-partner.

In Masterton District Court yesterday, through his lawyer Peter Stevens, the 38-year-old pleaded guilty to arson. Police prosecutor Detective Constable Gill Flower said Grindlay, an architectural designer, and his ex-partner began building the house in 2010.

[ ]After separating in 2011, they continued to work on the house together to complete it. Ms Flower said, on the day of the fire, the pair were working on the house and his ex-partner, who lives elsewhere, left about 3pm.

“The defendant had been drinking alcohol and in the early hours of the morning decided to burn the house down.”

He began pouring kerosene around the house and into the cavities of the walls, and then “lit a roll of toilet paper and threw it in the window”.

This failed to ignite anything and for the next 40 minutes, he set fire to various things in the house, including newspapers and curtains, until something took hold in the dining room.

[ ]”The defendant then changed his clothes and sat on the lawn drinking wine until police arrived.”

It was not reported what wine he was enjoying…

Wilde said, it is better to be talked about than not talked about


Pleasing to see that a NZ pinot from Marlborough graces the front row of the front cover in this months Decanter. Well done!

The winemakers are pretty chuffed about it too, “We are excited to be featured on the cover of Decanter, one of the world’s leading wine magazines. It is an amazing achievement to be chosen as one of the Top 50 Wines of the Year, especially when our Fromm Pinot Noir Clayvin Vineyard is produced in such small quantities.”

I must get a bottle (if there are any left)…

Ian Athfield, Architect, 1940 – 2015


I am saddened by the passing of Sir Ian Athfield KNZM. He was a gifted New Zealand architect. He designed the Don Buck House at Te Mata Estate. I use a picture of this building as my masthead photograph.

I loved his work. I always look up at his house in Khandallah whenever I drive down the motorway towards the Hutt Valley. I have grown up with the green old Telecom building on Manners Street. The metal nikau palms on Civic Square. The Adam Art Gallery. That church on upper Willis Street with the bent column. We Wellingtonians have been lucky to have our city graced by his wonderful work.

A friend and colleague of his, Richard Harris, said in tribute, ”Ath always trod a different path. While his work was highly accomplished it was also often provocative. He exploded onto the scene with his residential work in the late sixties and early seventies, with types of residential developments that New Zealand hadn’t seen before. Both his apartments and his single houses had in common forms that were derivative of Mediterranean villages – complex in form and highly engaging, they were designed to encourage social interaction.”

I raise my glass. RIP

What’s in the glass tonight January 25th

Elephant Hill Chardonnay 2013

Elephant Hill Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$$

A single vineyard wine from the Awanga Vineyard in the Hawkes Bay. Hand-everything-ed. I loved loved this producer’s Syrah.

Pale gold and leggy. 13.5%.

Fragrant nose of vanilla and golden summer stonefruit.

A strong citrusy style of Chardonnay. Fresh, almost ripping acidity. Flavours of early apricots. Mealy, but dominant impression is lean on the mid-palate. Good complexity at the finish and very long.

Quite delicious. VG 4

Straight to the Pool Room – January 2015

Pool Room Jan 2015

According to Wine Enthusiast’s 2015 Vintage Chart, their experts scored the 2013 vintage of Hawkes Bay reds as a 96, the highest score in the world. Wow. In comparison, the Old World barely came close that year…

’13 HB reds are starting to hit the shelves now. Better get some into my cellar, starting with this value favourite:

Vidal Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Hawkes Bay 2013 – $ – drink 2018-2021 – Always there or thereabouts as a good go to wine, and cellars well for the price. An award-winner in the past.

Peregrine Pinot Noir Central Otago 2012 – $$$ – drink 2017-2020 – An extra bottle to make up a brace for the cellar. I’d love to be able to buy by the half or full case, but the budget does not extend that far. And that’s ok. There are better things to do with my spare dollars than spend it all on fancy booze.

What’s in the glass tonight January 18th

Ohau River Sav Blanc 2012

Wellington Anniversary Weekend

There few things more enjoyable than a dinner party at home with good friends.

L and I invited several couples over for dinner in the weekend. Great food and conversation was enjoyed, washed down with delicious wine!

We enjoyed as aperitifs wines such as Sileni Cabernet Franc Rose Marlborough 2013, a favourite of L’s; the classic and perfect Palliser Estate Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough 2013 provided by M&G; and a bottle of Ohau River Sauvignon Blanc Horowhenua 2012 – a softer styled, round and well balanced sav from north of Wellington.

Dry River LH Riesling 2008

With our dinner of roast chicken with olives and tarragon, D&D provided a wonderful white Burgundy – J Drouhin Macon-Villages 2012 from Beaune – lean and clean, classic restraint, a wonderful simple food wine. With the dessert of nectarines, ice cream and warm toffee sauce they treated us again with the notable Dry River Late Harvest Riesling 2008 – classic kerosene notes, golden honey and stone fruit, and that gorgeous Riesling ‘tang’. Yum.

What’s in the glass tonight January 15th

TerraVin Soloist PN 2009

TerraVin Soloist Pinot Noir Marlborough 2009

This was a gift. Bottle no. 47 of 300 bottles of Pinot Noir made from a single barrel, selected as a ‘soulful and unique expression of the Pinot Noir vine’. The barrel , No. TE092604, 228 litres in volume, was made by the Damy cooperage from oak staves milled from trees from the forest of Allier. The internal toast level was Medium Long. The grapes were sourced from the Eaton Family and Cowley Vineyards in the Southern Wither Hills in Marlborough. Sixteen months maturation.

Bob Campbell said of this wine, One of the very best examples of Marlborough Pinot Noir yet tasted from this vintage. It’s a fine, taut wine with floral, cherry and chalky mineral flavours plus a seasoning of classy French oak. Subtle yet powerful wine with impressive cellaring potential.”

I see it as dark carmine with a tawny edge. 13.5% alcohol.

It smells sooo good. Involving nose of cassis, aniseed, spice, oak, roses and (cough) cough syrup. I keep going back to sniff and savour.

In the mouth, fresh on attack, medium weight, ripe red cherries. Not a classically shy pinot. Very long drying finish. It hangs around on the palate nicely. The years have been good.

A touch more fruit weight and I would have rated the wine as outstanding. A treat to drink. BTVG 4+