Is it possible to make Bad Wine?


Maybe my standards have slipped, but I haven’t spit any wine out for a long, long time. At least, not on purpose…

Why is that? Is it even possible to make bad wine nowadays? Or is it surprisingly easy for a winemaker to get up in the morning, spend the whole day falling over, but still have pretty drinkable wine to show for it at the end of the shift?

If I buy the really cheap stuff, I know I’m not gonna have that great a time. Cheap reds tend to be flabby and sweet, and lack tannic structure or texture. Cheap whites lack acidity and fruit weight, and just, you know, lack. Bought for parties by young adults etc. So I buy from the next price point tier up, generally. And leave the more expensive bottles for the Pool Room or the weekend.

So how come I am buying wines at the standard supermarket price of around $15 generally, across all wine styles and varieties, and marking in my little wine blog a 3 + here and a 4 there and even a 4+ if I am feeling lucky. So what’s that about? Who let the dogs not out?

Ch. Latour can be a 100 point wine, say, or on my scale a 5, but it costs $1000 a bottle. I recently drank a $15 bottle of dry Riesling that I reckoned was a 4+.

Maybe making wine is REALLY EASY, and it doesn’t take that much skill or craft to make something that is very drinkable. After all, it’s being made and bottled on clean premises, wine farmers know how to farm, right, and the vines seem to grow by themselves pretty well, as it would seem anyway from all this talk of ‘low intervention’ wine making etc. Maybe all the skill and money is now concentrated in making a wine closer to a 5 in scale?

I ask all this because I am drinking a lot of wine that is ok, mostly good or even very good, and I don’t know if this is because I am buying right, using my inside knowledge, or whether there is just a lot of very drinkable wine out there that is all about the same quality, and I can’t help choosing it, and scoring thusly, and it makes any point in reviewing and scoring the damn stuff, moot.

Maybe my palate and discrimination could be called into question, and it steadily becoming a stale, crumbling ruin desensitised by same-y wines?

Or is it a form of Stockholm Syndrome, wine-style?


Like this year’s Oscars, I would prefer a bit more diversity. I would like to drink a wine every now and then that I can recoil from, and say, “That’s yuck!’ So I can then cleanse my palate with a good ‘un and say, “That’s more like it!”

Three cheers for Stelvins, eh?

WITGT is 300


300 posts old, that is…

Thanks so much to all of you who follow my blog, read my words, and occasionally buy my nation’s wines. I appreciate it very much

He konei ra e hoa

d d b

What’s in the glass tonight February 17th

Carrick Excelsior PN 2007

Carrick Excelsior Pinot Noir Bannockburn Central Otago 2007 – $$$+

A great wine is built around the way it smells. And this wine is something special. Bought by a client at a business dinner. The restaurant had just taken a delivery of a few cases and the wine hadn’t even made the official wine list.

Carrick makes this flagship Pinot Noir from grapes harvested in their Bannockburn vineyard.

It’s a super-dense Pinot Noir with core of black cherries enveloped in spice. Lots and lots of vanilla. Rich and powerful. There are florals evident, but this delicacy has been brutally shouldered aside by broader, bolder aromatic characters.

Plums, dark chocolate, black cherry and baking spices in the mouth. Perfect ripeness. No vegetal or metallic characters. The wine has a rich velvety texture that is totally involving. Tannins are firm. Length is out through the door into the car park. It improves on standing in the glass too.

What a way to bring up my 300th post !!

Outstanding 5

What’s in the glass tonight February 16th

Greystone PN 2012

Greystone Pinot Noir Waipara 2012 – $$$

I’m in Timaru for the night, on the way down to Twizel in South Canterbury for business. Picked this wine up to drink with a client.

This is a gorgeous pinot noir that has been attracting plenty of attention in wine shows and from critics, and did very well at the Worth Cellaring Pinot tasting I attended last year. I have a couple of bottles in the Pool Room.

Deep ruby red, almost black. 13.5%. Wonderfully fragrant aromatics – fruity and earthy. Dense and full-bodied with great fruit weight and flavours of spice and vanilla and black cherries and red roses on the front and mid-palate, with savoury characters and fine silky tannins at the finish. This a great value Pinot.

VG 4

Pool Room v4.0

Pool Room 4.0

The latest version of my cellar – more darkness, more uniformity of temperature, more reliability. I have room to swing my cat and contemplate the universe…and for more bottles

…and I love the train lamp

What’s in the glass tonight February 13th

Beach House Rose 2014

Beach House Korokipo Road Rose Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$

Light salmon pink blush. 12%. Watermelon nose, quite ‘grape-y’. Distinctive taste of apples. L was not so impressed. G 3

Te Mata Estate Syrah 2013 2

Te Mata Estate Syrah Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$

Magenta colour. 13%. Plum-y lifted nose. Oak, vanilla, white pepper & dry leaves.

Very smooth in the mouth on initial attack. Soft ripe fruit, pencil shavings, fine tannins, good weight and structure. Some bitterness at the death. BTG 3+

What’s in the glass tonight February 9th

Villa Maria CS Dry Riesling 2010

From the Cellar: Villa Maria Private Bin Dry Riesling Marlborough 2010 – $

I seem to be running a mini-festival of Villa Maria wines. I can’t help it – they are such good value. No point drinking trash eh?

This exhibits the typical Riesling nose; that I’d-Know-That-Anywhere citrus bouquet and tang of TDN and bicarb.

In the mouth it is dry, natch, with a hint of bitterness under the bright citrus fruit flavours. Lots of grapefruit character. Hint of butterscotch at the finish – that bitterness again. The wine tastes young and quite fresh still though, and somewhat austere. Puckering, mouthwatering. A delight.

A gold medal winner. This will live quite a bit longer still. Luckily I have another two bottles to savour…

VG 4

What’s in the glass tonight February 6th, Waitangi Day

Pencarrow PN 2013

Palliser Estate Pencarrow Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013 – $$

After a beautiful day, the sun goes down on our campsite during the annual Waitangi weekend camping trip beside the Ruamahanga River.

We went away with 6 kids. Why O why…?

I need a drink. This will do nicely.

I had the previous version the previous year I think. I drove to the close-by Martinborough Wine Centre to buy it. ‘Twas a toss up between this and the Nga Waka Three Canoes PN

BTG 3+

Morrisons Bush 2015

Who could not love these surroundings?


Calling in the debts: What’s in the glass tonight February 2nd

Villa Maria CS Syrah Gimblett 2007 pool room

From the Cellar: Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah Gimblett Gravels 2007 – $$$

One of best Syrah’s of that year, according to Cuisine Magazine in 2009.

I started my cellar collection then, and based my first four purchases on their recommendations. This is bottle No. 2 in my Little Red Cellar Book.

I opened bottle no. 4 (a Palliser Riesling) two years ago I think, and still have bottles 1 and 3 waiting their turn (both Gimblett Gravels ‘07 Syrahs). But I can’t keep them all under the house forever. I have to start calling in the debts and drinking these beauties…

This wine is inky carmine in colour. 14 %. Gorgeous bouquet of soft ripe red fruits, voilets, lots of vanilla and fresh baking notes. I could sniff this all day.

In the mouth it is smooth and balanced – ripe luscious soft black plums – great extract and density, just what I am looking for in a cool-climate syrah. Medium tannins. Long finish and mouthcoating. Top stuff.

Outstanding. 5

My drinking year is looking up.