What’s in the glass tonight April 27th

Felton Road Chardonnay Bannockburn 2010

From the Cellar: Felton Road Chardonnay Bannockburn Central Otago 2010 – $$$

I have thought for a while now that Chardonnay grapes grown in Central Otago, due to the cooler climate down there, are well-suited for producing Chablis-like wines – wines with a more minerally, austere character, rather than the more fruit-drive ripe versions grown further north in the Hawkes Bay.

Unfortunately Chardonnay production levels from this region are low (blame the fashion for Central Otago Pinot Noir), and are correspondingly expensive so I don’t get to drink much Central Chardonnays to test this hypothesis. Here is a small chance to put this right:

This is a regional blend from three Felton Road vineyards in Bannockburn Central Otago. Brilliant pale gold colour. 14% alc.

Compressed fruit nose. Nutty and elegant.

Linear and somewhat austere flavours. Lacking a bit of zing and vivacity. Grapefruit and white peach. Dry minerals. A bitter finish. This wine is as good a candidate for a Chablis descriptor as you could get around here. I would have liked a bit more steel, if a full flavour was not on offer.

BTG 3+

What’s in the glass tonight on Anzac Day April 25th


An important day today, for several reasons. It had a early, solemn start at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park where L and I attended the Dawn Service to mark the 100th anniversary of the Anzac invasion at Gallipoli in 1915, along with 20,000 other Wellingtonians and visitors. I wore my Grandfather’s WW1 medals. Lest we forget.

Then, later that day, after a bike ride with the Chosens and a nana-nap, L and I made some important plans, and then went off to the Museum Hotel for a nice glass of wine, before getting ready to head for D’s place for dinner with him and his partner D, and guests J and R.

Te Mata Cape Crest 2014

Te Mata Estate Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc

What a great wine this is. A complex and distinctive fresh bouquet. Delicious to drink. Great oak handling. A treat. Perfect choice for the day after International Sauvignon Blanc Day!

then off to D’s for Roast Duck. Yum!

Anzac Day dinner party April 2015

Palliser Estate Methode Traditionelle 2009 – $$$

We brought a bottle of this to share first up with the other guests. Funky aromas. Fine fresh fruity bubbles. Classic brioche flavours. Dry finish.

From the Cellar: Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Martinborough 2008 – $$$

This was such a treat. Gorgeous red cherries and complex savoury notes on the nose. Spicy and dense and ripe fruit flavours. Rewarded decanting. Just wonderful. BTVG 4+

Library Tasting – The 1975 Vintage – Bordeaux, Australia, New Zealand

1975 tasting 1

Another tasting event/treat for those of us who love OLD wine: Geoff Kelly opened his cellar and invited us to sample some of his collected wines from the 1975 vintage…

This was billed as “1975 Vintage Part II (modest)”, as usual hosted in the upstairs tasting room at Regional Wines. An earlier tasting, 1975 Part I, contained a number of highly esteemed (and priced) French reds, but that tasting was priced out of my reach. This one priced at $40 a seat was irresistible.

Geoff welcomed L and I into the room and said we brought a “positive vibe” to the proceedings. Nice.

Geoff writes in his tasting notes, “[1975] almost reluctantly emerges as perhaps the second-best vintage of the 1970’s after 1970 itself. It was a stern and tannic year, which is not so appealing to modern palates, but the tannin has enabled the good / rich ones to live.” In a flight of 12 wines; much to look forward to then…

We poured the wines ourselves, blind, passing the bagged bottles around the tables, and measuring ourselves pours of 30mls, so that 22 participants could share a single bottle. Once all poured, we set about to review, nose and taste the assembled wines…*

*All the wines presented in various shades of browning, tawny red wine colour, and that is all I will say. I report my thoughts below, and those of Geoff and the audience:

1975 tasting 2

Ch. Liversan Haut-Medoc Cru-Bourgeois 1975 – original price $9.28. Geoff’s ‘sighter’ for the tasting – lightly, nicely aromatic. Astringent in the mouth (although as our palates adjusted to the wines, and we re-tasted this later; it showed better). Hint of lollies, hit of acid, light fruit, elegant finishes well. Quite full. Fragrant through the palate. Nice.

Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Private Bin 1975 (NZ)– from Hawkes bay/Waimauku/Gisborne. Original price $3.20. A modest wine at release. I saw it as developed, light bodied, high acidity, with barnyard and seaside aromatic characters. There was some fruit weight, but predominant capsicum and green leafy-ness. The first of the New Zealand wines. It didn’t suck.

Ch. Moulinet Pomerol 1975 – Rare to see Pomerol’s in NZ at that time. Bouquet of aniseed, sticking plaster, tomato sauce – a nice fragrance. Complex flavours of old fruit, wet wool, moss, underbrush, quite delicious. We are getting into the tasting now. The ‘gentleness’ is pleasing.

Stanley Leasingham Cabernet / Malbec Bin 56 1975 (Australia) – Perfumed, florals, lifted, fruity. Looks youthful in the present company. Deepest colour in the glass. Stunning wine – full, rich. I love the choc and cocoa. Others saw mint and eucalypt, and liked the generosity of fruit. A modern wine. My second favourite. 4+

Elliot Oakdale Dry Red Private Bin 1975 (Australia) – Meaty aromas ( a positive), tomato sauce, acid nose, thin. Tasted meaty too, like casserole. Leathery, slightly burnt flavours. ‘Mousy-ness’ as well.

Montana Cabernet Sauvignon Gisborne 1975 (NZ) – Grapes grown in an improbable area for quality Cab Sav. Release price $3.20. Tomato sauce on the nose again, eucalyptus too. Red capsicum. Light fruit, receded., thin and gone, acid to the fore. Shows underripe Cabernet. My least favoured wine. Duh.

Ch. Cantemerle Medoc Cinquièmes Cru 1975 – Aromatic, with cassis and dried fruit. Good flavours of ripe fruit, plenty of acid to the fore, others saw it a little green and stalky. A tasty wine.

Ch. La Tour Carnet Haut Medoc Quatrièmes Cru 1975 – A surprising nose of apples/bobbing apples, fragrant. Nice fruit flavours with integrated tannins and good fullness. A lovely wine. My third favourite. 4

Nobilo Cabernet Sauvignon Huapai 1975 (NZ) – Tomato sauce & herbaceous nose, vanilla and tobacco. Tasted great with developed fruit flavours and integrated tannins and acid. The lightest colour. The best kiwi red.

Richard Hamilton Cabernet Sauvignon McLaren Vale 1975 (Australia) – A ‘hard to come by wine’ even then. Vanilla bouquet, baking aromas, biscuit dough. Sweet in the mouth and full of flavour. Butterscotch and salted caramel. It presents as a delicious dessert wine, funnily.

Wolf Blass Grey Label Cabernet Sauvignon Langhorne Creek 1975 (Australia) – This was a bottle bought, in it’s day, to impress the ladies. A bit flash. Gorgeously perfumed, smelt rich and inviting. All class, bags of flavour and body. Perfect tannins. Mouthfilling and coating. My favourite wine, far and away. 5

Ch. Talbot St Julien Quatrièmes Cru 1975 – Light nose, lanolin. Acid, with backward fruit. Some sharpness, and a step backward from the Wolf Blass. Geoff thought it showed lovely balance and elegance, and finished on fruit. But he may have been swayed by the label and old-times-sake.

*                                         *                                            *

A stunning tasting. Really interesting and informative. Not a dud wine amongst the collection, if the intention was education and appreciation of mature wine.

I offer my sincere thanks to Geoff for sharing some of his collection with us. Check out his website at http://www.geoffkellywinereviews.co.nz/







What’s in the glass tonight April 22nd

Church Road HB Chardonnay 2014

Church Road Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2014 – $

This is the latest release of a high volume wine with pretentions to be ‘fine’. It often succeeds.

CR does what it implies on the label: presenting a refined wine for a low price. It sets the benchmark below which I no longer wish to stoop. The 2014 vintage in the Bay has been described as ‘fine’, also.

This edition is 13.5% alc. Pale gold colour. Light bouquet of late summer summer stonefruit, & refined. Apricots, peaches, lemon. The nose is what lifts this wine above the bargain-bin bottles.

It is also balanced in the mouth. Notes of stonefruit and lemon. It is linear and stony. Easy drinking, dependable and elegant for the $. You can’t do better for this price.

BTG 3+

Port Death Match

Port 10 Yr Tawnies

It’s not every day I have two bottles of 10-yr Tawny Port just hanging around waiting to get drunk. Better get comparising, etc. There can be only one…

The Incumbent: Taylor 10Yr Tawny Port. 20% Alc.  Bricking light magenta. Nose of raisins, currants, prunes, chocolate, sugar, cinnamon and licorice. Yum!!

Flavours in the mouth of fruitcake, raisins, baking spice, dark choc and coffee. Yum!!!

The Challenger: Ferreira 10Yr Tawny Port. 20% Alc. Bricking mid magenta. Bright ethanot lifted aromas, sherry notes, roses, vanilla, chocolate. Needs more time to open in the bottle. Some mint, and menthol too  (clearly a more intellectual port).

Fruity to taste, and lively. Vanilla, almond flavours. Stewed fruit at the front with prunes and figs in the mid-palate. A thinking-drinker port, this. Still, V. good.

I favour the Taylor by a shade, cos it is a familiar style. Alas the bottle is almost dry.

Freddie Mercury sang, “Who wants to live forever?”

International Sauvignon Blanc Day – WITGT Friday April 24

Brancott Fume Blanc 2014

From the New Zealand Wine website:

April 24 2015 marks the sixth annual International Sauvignon Blanc Day – an online initiative that started in California with St Supery Winery as a global social media wine tasting. This year, New Zealand Winegrowers will be leading the charge and holding events across the world to celebrate the variety that awoke the world to New Zealand wine.

Celebrations kick off in New Zealand and make their way around the globe following the sun. Sauvignon Blanc tastings and events are taking place in Melbourne, Hong Kong, Germany, London, Toronto, and New York, finishing 43 hours later at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. Restaurants, retailers and consumers – along with global wine brands – will be celebrating Sauvignon Blanc for the day and participating in the Twitter conversation by using the “hashtag” #SauvBlanc.

A huge number of wine consumers are active on social media and events such as Sauvignon Blanc Day provide great opportunities to raise awareness of New Zealand wine globally, said New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan. “Anyone can join the celebration by enjoying a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on April 24 and telling the world how good it is.”

I am kicking things off with a glass of Brancott Estate Special Reserve Fumé Blanc Marlborough 2014. A oak-influenced Sauvignon Blanc, hence the resurrection of an old varietal name*.

Pale straw colour. 13.5% alc. Distinctive fresh Marlborough Savvy typicity on the nose, with a smokey top note. A smoother style in the mouth, less aggressive than other SBs in their range, with soft fruit flavours, green capsicum, limes, gooseberries and a short smokey finish. G 3.

*Interestingly, from Vincyclopedia:

Fumé Blanc is a made-up name, legally accepted as a synonym for wines made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Robert Mondavi deserves credit for this renaming in an effort to increase the acceptance and popularity of Sauvignon Blanc.

From the 1966 and ’67 vintages, Mondavi made sweet-style wines from this grape and labeled them “Sauvignon Blanc”. But in 1968, Mondavi changed winemaking style to produce a dry version. To denote the change to their customers, they came up with the name “Fumé Blanc”, derived from Pouilly-Fumé, one of the most popular dry-style Loire Valley wines made from Sauvignon Blanc. Rather than copyrighting or trade marking the name, Mondavi offered to allow anyone to use the Fumé Blanc name to market dry-style Sauvignon Blanc.

New Zealand wine region honoured with its own Riedel glass


From the New Zealand Wine website:

New Zealand wine has captured the attention of Riedel Crystal, the 300-year-old world leader in varietal-specific glassware, resulting in the launch of a Central Otago Pinot Noir glass.

The reputation of Central Otago’s wines prompted 10th generation Georg J. Riedel to run a sensory workshop in the region in 2013 to discover the perfect glass for Central Otago Pinot Noir. Riedel Glass Owner, Georg J. Riedel, returned from Austria to launch the new glass at a media workshop tasting in Auckland today.

Unique from other Pinot Noir glasses in the Riedel portfolio, the Central Otago Pinot Noir glass accentuates the aroma and taste of the region’s typical pure fruit-focussed and intense mineral style said Rudi Bauer, spokesperson for the Central Otago Winegrowers Association. “The unique attributes and consistent quality of Pinot Noir from Central Otago has captivated critics and consumers around the world, and we’re excited about taking yet another step forward.”

Central Otago Winegrowers Association has worked closely with Riedel for over two years, and have reason to celebrate the attention their region has generated from the world-leading glass company. “Riedel brought vision and endorsement to the creation of the perfect glass to enjoy Central Otago Pinot Noir. It is an important milestone in the development and reputation of our spectacular wine region”, said Mr Bauer (pictured above with the new wine glass).

Pinot Noir is New Zealand’s second most exported wine. There has been 30% growth in export sales of New Zealand Pinot Noir in the last five years, with 10.7 million litres exported in the 12 months to June year-end 2014. Pinot Noir is the most planted grape variety in Central Otago accounting for 77% of all plantings in the region.

What’s in the glass tonight April 20th

Martinborough Chardonnay 2012

Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay Martinborough Terrace 2012 – $$$

Pale gold. 13% Alc.

Lovely aromatic quality, all effortless summer stonefruit, butterscotch and citrus.

In the mouth there is balanced fruit, tannin and oak. Minerally and fresh in equal measure, with a gorgeous citrussy finish. Such easy drinking, with fruit weight and elegance. Absolutely perfect. Drink more, people, all of it. Because Chardonnay.

Outstanding 5

BTW Decanter named this top wine of their tasting Chardonnay: The World’s Best (outside Burgundy) in the Mar 2015 issue. Their tasting note echoes mine, but is better expressed: Finely expressed summer fruits nose with hints of lime and apple. Perfectly poised on the palate with a certain raciness and also quite mineral. In balance, with natural fruit, citrussy richness, fine oak and a long finish.

International Malbec Day: What’s in the glass tonight April 18th

Ch Bovila Malbec 2011

Off Topic: Ch. Bovila Malbec Cahors 2011 – $$

The day after, actually…

I went to an instore tasting of Malbecs, mostly out of Argentina. But this Cahors stood out. I had read about the appellation in a previous issue of Decanter, and thought I should drink a wine from the home of the grape. With porterhouse steak.

Inky red-violet. 14%. Fragrant. Muscular. Leggy.

Smooth in the mouth. Lots of fruit. Dense and tannic and large. Full ripe plums and redcurrants and spice, pencil shavings and dark chocolate. V Nice.

VG 4

This wine was awarded Silver at the Decanter World Wine Awards.

What’s in the glass tonight April 17th

Greywacke Chardonnay 2011

Greywacke Chardonnay Marlborough 2011 – $$$

To celebrate the end of our three day juice cleanse, I met a couple of mates for a glass or two of Conehead, a fresh-hopped ale from the Tuatara Brewery produced as part of the Hopstock craft beer festival (an annual event where Wellington brewers produce specialty beers using new-season fresh hops to celebrate the Nelson hop harvest). The beer was fruity and bitter, with a top note of passionfruit.

Then I met L and we went off to GrillMeatsBeer for a meal out. The restaurant name says it all really.  But we split a bottle of Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay instead.

This was a real show wine. Brilliant colour. Impressive at first. Lots of body and power. Mealiness and a strong buttery character. Hefty flavours of golden stonefruit.

And lots of oak. Lots and lots, and lots, of oak. Too much oak. New oak. It got way too overpowering for us after a while. Half a glass of this wine each would have been fun and fine. But a whole bottle? Way too much. I only finished it cos I was brought up that way…

Should have scored better, due it’s provenance…BTG 3+