MS Alsace 2007 tasting – September 27th


Alsace 2007 2

I like Riesling!

My friend HD and a friend of L’s, GE, both kindly invited me to attend this Magnum Society tasting. The Magnum Society is a long-established local wine appreciation society. It was formed to buy and cellar a wide variety of European wines for later appreciation, and has scheduled tastings stretching out to infinity, or so it seems :-).

I was very pleased and excited to attend.

GE prepared these introductory notes for attendees: “Magnum has held 11 Alsace tastings since 1996. An interesting characteristic has been that every tasting has been either a mix of years, a mix of varietals or a comparative tasting with another area such as Australia or Austria. This tasting is the first to look purely at a single vintage of Riesling.

So what to expect? I think we’re really starting to see some of the influence of climate change – there has been a tendency for slightly richer wines in recent times. The racy acidity isn’t as prevalent as it once was,  with growers having to deal with higher sugars and thus alcohol levels and the challenge of achieving development of the full flavour profiles that are desirable without letting the sugars get away. There is a wonderful richness about these wines, but producers are having to change their winemaking practices and adapt to the earlier ripening. The average temperature in Alsace has increased by approx. 3 degrees since 1972, increasing both at the minimum and maximum end of the scale at a rate of approx. 0.05 degrees pa.

Thanks to the meticulous record-keeping of the French wine industry, we can see the hard evidence of the impact of this in black and white. Harvest date for one producer in Alsace was Oct 16 in 1978; in 1998 Sep 14; in 2007 it was August 24.

So the producers must adapt to the ongoing changes and do what they do best – produce a wine that reflects the terroir. As the terroir changes with the impact of increased temperatures and potentially lower rainfall, how will the producers respond? What new issues will the temperature changes bring to the vignerons?

2007 was ultimately a great vintage in Alsace, and N should be thanked for assembling a tasting of the quality we have here. The wines are:

Alsace 2007 1

2007 Boxler Riesling Brand Old Vines K

2007 Mann Riesling Schlossberg

2007 Josmeyer Riesling Hengst

2007 Dirler Riesling Kessler

2007 Dirler Riesling Kitterle

2007 Schoffit Riesling Rangen Schistes

The wines ranged in alcohol from 13-14%. They were decanted some 3 hours before the tasting, and served blind. We tried the wines first on their own, and later with food.

2007 Mann Riesling Schlossberg – Pale green yellow. Rich entry with cut thru. Hint of kero. Viscosity and pairing mouthfeel. Rich yet dry, with a great line of piercing acidity. Long mouthwatering finish. Hints of cocnut and salinity. A lovely wine, and a great start to to the tasting. My second favourite.

2007 Josmeyer Riesling Hengst – Pale green yellow. Suppressed, closed, shy to start with. Light aromas of apple core. Lightly flavoured as well, with racy acidity. It did get better in the glass as the tasting progressed. A long finish. My least favoured wine of the flight.

2007 Dirler Riesling Kitterle – Brilliant green yellow. The nose was very different to the preceding wine – phenolic, medicinal notres, with aniseed. More developed and oxidative. Pineapple in there too. Oxidative on palate as well. Sweet, with flavours of Golden Delisious apples. Phenolic finish on the bitter side.

2007 Dirler Riesling Kessler – Brilliant green yellow. A very intriguing and distinctive wine. Developing flavours and aroma profile. Rich and delicious, ripe apples, soft and pretty, a focussed wine. Apple pip finish. My favourite wine of the night. Very good with food too.

2007 Boxler Riesling Brand Old Vines K – Pale green yellow. Linear, open, long and elegant nose. Fresh flavours, citrus, quite dry, great balance of acid and fruit flavour. Intense and powerful. In the top three.

2007 Schoffit Riesling Rangen Schistes – Most golden colour of the wines tonight. An outlier. Tropical fruit, apples, oranges – an open gorgeous nose – smokey, with botrytis, sweet, malo, flavours of lollies and honey, pears, drying on the mid palate, a lovely finish

A lot of fun! We were done and dusted in less than an hour and a half, and enjoyed some tasty tasting plates with the wines. Thanks HD.

What’s in the glass tonight October 7th


Barbera 2011

Off Topic: Prunotto Barbera d’Alba 2011

L and I went to Fratelli for dinner with her godparents and another couple from Australia. Old friends of hers and her parents.  We had a lovely time. The food was great.

I shared this bottle of Barbera with the fellas:

Prunotto Barbera d’Alba, made from 100% Barbera, from vineyards in the townships of Barbaresco, Treiso, Alba and Barolo of predominantly sand and clay-based soils. Barbera is famous for its cherry-like tang and strong acidity, but sees some oak aging and 100% MLF.

This wine was ruby red in color with purple highlights. Bouquet of oak and spice mixing with cherries, cured meat and earth.

Smoky to taste, and with deep richness, there are nice fresh flavours of cherry, choc and plums with very fine dusty tannins giving structure and pleasing grip.

Yum! VG 4

What’s in the glass tonight October 6th


Kirky Chardonnay 2011

From the Cellar: Kirkpatrick Estate Wines Kirky (Ian Kirkpatrick) Signature Series Reserve Chardonnay 2011 – $$$

I bought this wine at the Gisborne Wine Centre in 2012, following a tasting of this and other Gizzy Chardys. Probably the last of the bottles collected on that visit.

The backstory of this wine: Owner Simon Kirkpatrick said it was an opportune time to pay tribute to his famous uncle and All Black –  Ian Kirkpatrick – and showcase some of the best wine Gisborne and the Patutahi Plateau has to offer.

“The Rugby World Cup 2011 was an historic occasion for us all and we thought it was a great time to commemorate Ian’s contribution to the sport. He amassed 113 matches for the All Blacks, 43 as captain. and is considered one of New Zealand rugby’s all-time greats having played for the All Blacks from 1967 to 1977. He is still held in high regard for his exploits against the Springboks, Australia, France and the British and Irish Lions. For a forward, and playing in an era where only the backs were meant to score tries, his ability to beat players with strength, speed and athleticism saw him score an incredible 50 tries for the All Blacks over his 10-year career.”

I am not 100% sure what vintage this is. Probably a 2011, but it also says 2010 on the back label.

High-carat gold colour. 13.4% alc. Developed, tertiary aromas of butter and almonds. Strong wiff of phenols.

Quite a big wine in the mouth too. Round and soft. Receding fruit – golden peaches and dried apricots. My cellaring has been poor and has done the wine a disservice. It oxidised and lost freshness and charm, and really fell apart in the glass the next day. A real shame as it had tasted great in ’12.

A quality drop mis-handled by me. 3+

Wedding Week Wines


This has been the most wonderful weekend where I was privileged to marry the loving, gorgeous, kind and clever L in front of our loving families and the best and most warm and generous friends anyone could ever have. I am feeling blessed in every way!

We drank some great wines before and after the great event. Here are some that I recall. There were many:

Martinborough PN 2009

From the Cellar: Martinborough Pinot Noir 2009 – $$$+

Brown carmine colour. Savoury nose, typical of Martinbo/Wairarapa. Dense and ticklish with spice and dust. Intensely aromatic. Gorgeous. Burgundian characters, with heft and presence.

In the mouth, black cherries, drying. Spicy and fine grained tannins. A defined line of red fruit acid. A savoury finish with heat on the back palate. Beautiful balance.  BTVG 4+.

Palliser PN 2009

From the Cellar: Palliser Estate Pinot Noir 2009 – $$$

I drank this with my old mate DT. I did’nt make any notes while we caught up but it tasted like this:  Dark carmine colour. Dense fruit, deep and savoury, & spicy, on the nose. Savoury flavours and red cherry fruit flavours, white pepper and star anise bitterness delivering on the finish. A delicious wine. BTVG 4+

Bollinger NV

Wedding Gift: Bollinger NV

My First Bolly. I am no Champagne expert, but here is what I noticed: Brioche, bready notes, bright acid attack and lively, fine bubbles, and a bitter finish. Party time. 3+

Babich Organic Chardonnay 2014

Babich Headwaters Vineyard Organic Chardonnay Marlborough 2014 

13%. Pale gold. Complex & honeyed; vanilla, oak, with white flower florality;  rich in a European style. Yum.

Ripe white stonefruit flavours with a nice acid line of lemon and grapefruit pith. Generous mouth feel and weight; creamy; but not too big on it. Nice oak buzz on thre back. VG 4

Kumeu River Chardonnay vs White Burgundy Tasting: High-Def vs Old School – Sept 2015


Kumeu Tasting 2015

At a recent blind tasting in London arranged by Farr Vinters and attended by a select group of wine professionals, including Neal Martin and Jancis Robinson, Kumeu River Chardonnays were compared with some of the finest white Burgundy equivalents (not equivalent in dollar value, the Kumeu River wines being a fraction of the price). Of the four flights tasted – 2012, 2010, 2009 and 2007 – the Kumeu River wines achieved the highest score in all but one.

Here was a chance for L and I to attend a (sort-of) recreation of this tasting at Glengarry Wines new premises on the Old Hutt Road. The tutored tasting was hosted by Michael Brajkovich, winemaker at KR, and New Zealand’s first Master of Wine (MW) He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Oenology from Roseworthy College in South Australia, and is a member of the Institute of Masters of Wine in London.

Kumeu River vineyards are located 15-30kms from the ocean, west of Auckland. The climate is moderate, with a semi-tropical influence of rain and cloud cover on the vines. The first vineyard was established in 1944, but production has expanded to include grower sites that provide fruit for harvest by KR. Since the 1980’s there has been a move to lower-vigour root-stocks with less leaf growth so as to divert more energy to ripening the fruit, and the use of malolactic fermentation for biologic de-acidification of the wines.

The wines were presented in four non-blind paired flights:

PAIR ONE

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2013 – $26.99 – This is a district blend from various Kumeu vineyards, and is a level above the KR ‘Village’ designation. Pale gold colour. Aromatic, clean nose, lightly oaked, a little closed. In the mouth I saw bright acid notes, fresh stonefruit and citrus flavours, mouthwatering, tight, and with a lovely finish.

Dom. Bellene Savigny Les Beaune 2010 – $49 – Produced by N Potel. Light gold vibrant colour. Aromas of honey and honeycomb, a mineral character, elusive, some botrytis perhaps. There was firmness and grip to my taste, with tannins and texture and bright ripe fruit. A sharp flinty finish. Redolent of foreign terroir. A lovely wine.

PAIR TWO

Kumeu River Coddington Chardonnay 2013 – $49 – Single vineyard wine. Aged in 50% new heavily-toasted oak Giley barrels. The forest provenance of the French oak for the barrels is important, but also difficult to prove. Michael told the old joke about how you can tell if a French cooper is lying: “His lips are moving”. Ha ha. KR aim for the ripest expression of fruit here. Pale gold colour. Peaches and apricots, firmness and purity on the nose, oak influence, delightful to smell and savour. The ripeness showed on palate, with purity of fruit concentration, ripeness, freshness and sharpness. A high-def wine. Needs another year minimum to soften. Superb. 5

Alex Gambal Puligny Montrachet 2011 – $79 – Light gold. Warm baking aromas, with vanilla, marmalade and buttered toast. Round, fully developed and ready. Mineral-y, and somewhat flat compared to the Coddington, but still immersive and delightful.

PAIR THREE

Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2013 – $56 – Single vineyard wine. Pale gold. This was a remarkable wine – salty, flinty, tangy. No botrytis. Picked first of all the sites. Rich fruit and ripe. Bouyant, and shows such energy! An explosion of bright citrus with charm and such persistance of flavour. Has such a great structure this will age well 8-10 years. 5

Chartron Clos de La Pucelle 2012 – $115 – A Puligny monopole. Light gold. A gorgeous nose – warm, enveloping, with hints of mushroom and botrytis, lightly oaked. In the mouth I tasted a round full wine, with all the delicious ripeness and golden fruit flavours I would expect from a fine chardonnay, and a good line of acidity to boot. Amazeballs really

PAIR FOUR

Kumeu River Mates Vineyard Chardonnay 1er Cru 2013 – $69 – Single vineyard wine. Small berry’s of the Mendoza clone contribute to the character of this wine.  Light gold. A clear, linear expression of superb quality of winemaking, site and fruit. There is more texture, fruit weight and density here of all the previous KR wines. Outstanding. 5

Bonneau Corton Charlemagne GC 2010 – $189 – From a west-facing GC site on the hill of Corton – a site to make quality, age-worthy wines no matter the vintage. Light gold. Nose of phenols, waiting-room, nervosité, flintyness, life! A stunning wine. Round, immersive, rich. To describe is to lose the essence of this. 5

Wow. The Kumeu River wines showed well against the established French rock-stars.

They showed great freshness and typicity and sense of place, whereas the French examples showed that they were from all over the place. The more youthful Kumeu wines also showed great freshness against the older and more developed Burgundys, which were able to exhibit more character and complexity from a few more years in bottle. Perhaps screwcap closures have a part to play here? It would have been interesting to see them compared with wines of the same age, but perhaps that is for next time..

A superb illuminative tasting, and many thanks to Michael Brajkovich and the team at Glengarry.