Straight to the Pool Room – November 2015

Pool Room Nov 2015

A couple of gold medal Marlborough Savvies to put to bed for a couple of years sleep-in, and a wine that Raymond Chan scored 20/20 from the “vintage of a generation”:

Hãhã Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014 – $ – Drink 2015-2017. Gold Medal Royal Easter Show

Craggy Range ‘Sophia’ Merlot Cabernet Gimblett Gravels 2013 – $$$+ – Drink 2018-2023

Here is what Raymond writes of this wine: “Dark, deep, near inpenetrable black red colour with youthful purple hues. The nose is sensationally vibrant with powerful and packed aromas of very ripe black berry and black plum fruits along with a subtle cassis layer. The aromatics feature dark red, violet and black florals melded with iron-earth, minerals and tar. This has essence aromas, and the nose is extremely primary in expression, but the varietal detail is already apparent. Medium-full bodied the palate is extremely rich and lusciously succulent with bright, ripe black berried and plum fruits with currants and iron-earth, with lifted florals. Beautiful acidity lends vibrancy and vitality and the mouthfeel is alive with energy and tension. The acidity shows clarity and the palate has drive and linearity. The tannins are powdery and refined, building to provide structure in proportion, balance and harmony. This has underlying power with great elegance. This ‘Sophia’ has remarkable vitality and life, with vibrant primary fruit, great richness and structure. It will age 15+ years. A blend of 62% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot from the ‘Gimblett Gravels vineyard, fermented to 13.8% alc., the wine aged 19 months in 42% new French oak barriques. 20.0/20 May 2015.”

For more please see

What’s in the glass tonight November 22nd – a brace of craft beers


Garage Project GP Draught – 4.3%

Draught beer is the iconic Kiwi beer. I learnt to drink this stuff from quart-size bottles. It was sugary and fizzy, and was low alcohol by today’s craft beer standards.

Here is the Garage Project’s take on the style. Presented as the ‘official’ beer of the Phoenix Foundation ‘Give Up Your Dreams’ NZ tour. A great label design – these guys really know how to package their brews…


Very full and flavoursome, the fizzy attack is all there, and fresh malty flavours at the death. Yum yum! I’m gonna get more.

North End 1

North End Brewery Super Alpha Pacific Pale Ale – 5.0%

I loved the hand-pulled ale these guys served up at Beervana. Here is another of their brews, named after the ‘Super Alpha’ variety of NZ hop. And another great can design.

North End 2

A light bodied pale ale. Fresh and lean, with notes of coriander and lemongrass. Hoppy. Bitter. A long finish. I should have had this ale before the draught. It fared poorly due to its lesser flavour intensity compared to the GPD, and tasted a little weird. Personally I’m not much of a fan of outlier ingredients in beer – this had coriander seeds in the brew.

What’s in the glass tonight November 21st – Bubbles!


Off Topic: Torre Oria Cava Brut NV

12% alc.

Torre Oria Cava Brut is made in the traditional Champagne method from a blend of still wines that have been aged for 18 months before undergoing secondary fermentation.

Boasts a bold stream of bubbles. Ripe notes of stonefruit, apple and citrus with mild yeasty notes, which leads to a fresh finish. Not as crisp as others. Very similar to a Kiwi brut like Lindauer.

A good quaffer while L and I waded through the box set of the excellent first season of True Detective…

BTG 3+


What’s in the glass tonight November 20th – a Chardonnay

Clearview TA Chardonnay 2014

Clearview Te Awanga Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$

Pale gold colour. 14% alc.

Perfumed and floral white blossoms, oatmeal and aniseed.

To taste, the wine is fresh, layered and elegant, taut and rich. The malo is very well balanced with citrus. Quite an acidic and minerally finish. Mouthwatering.

It reminded me a little of that Corton Charlemagne GC I tasted a little while back. Very good, that.

VG 4

What’s in the glass tonight Nov 19th – a Merlot


CJ Pask Merlot 2008

From the Cellar: CJ Pask Gimblett Road Merlot Hawkes Bay 2008 – $$

Browning dark magenta. 14% alc.

This took a day to open up in the bottle once the stelvin was cracked.

On bouquet – soft and lush, spicy and savoury. Matchbox and cardboard. Licorice.

In the mouth – rich fruit, backing off a touch now, but not as tertiary as I might have expected. I saw prune, fig and dark chocolate flavours. Dusty tannins. Long finish. Bags of character.

VG 4

What’s in the glass tonight November 14th – an Orvieto


Off Topic: Cerquetta Orvieto Classico DOC – $$

A tough day in the shit (literally). A week ago our house sewer drain broke and our toilet backed up. Me and my mate M dug down and exposed the broken earthenware pipe so that our plumber could replace it, which was hard enough work on its own, but now we had two tonne of surplus concrete, clay and ‘decaying’ earth from the excavations to dispose of…

…So, me, L and the kids spent most of the day filling up a wheelbarrow, pushing it out to a trailer on the street, shoveling the stuff out of the barrow, hauling the full trailer to the local landfill, and shoveling the stuff back out. Every kilo of earth was touched four times on its journey from hole to landfill. Groan.

I needed a drink to finish. L kindly bought a bottle of this wine for us to try for the first time.

Cerquetta Orvieto

Brilliant gold colour. 12.5%. No vintage specified on the label.

Somewhat angular phenolic nose. Citrus, almonds and golden stonefruit. Bready.

Fruit flavours were a bit thin. Toasted nuts, almonds, vaguely burnt. Minerality, honey and citrus acidity.

A ‘famous’ wine it says on the label. Not to my taste. I’ll pass.


What’s in the glass tonight November 12th – a Pinot Noir

Last Shepherd 2013

The Last Shepherd Pinot Noir Central Otago 2013 – $$

Very dark inky ruby colour. 13% alc.

Light and soft savoury nose.

On palate – fruity, fleshy, tannic, brassy and brusque straight out of the bottle. This somewhat angular ands thin first impression changed, softened and rounded out over time, and into the second day. I saw typical Central red cherry flavours, ripeness a touch on the herbaceous side, with a line of straw at the back. A nice, long finish.

BTG 3+

What’s in the glass tonight November 5th

GC-Gibbston Valley Le Fou Riesling 2015

Guy Fawkes Night

My friend G invited me and a number of mates to dinner to celebrate and mark his upcoming nuptials. The food was outstanding, and the company delivered good conversation. He generously provided for us a lavish selection of fine New Zealand wines from his cellar to enjoy before and during the meal, and I had a chance to discuss these wines with a number of his wine enthusiast friends.

Alas, I over-indulged, and remember less of the evening than perhaps I should have. The perils of alcohol for one too easily led. Here is what I do remember…

Gibbston Valley Le Fou Riesling Central Otago 2014

Served first up, after a cleansing ale on arrival. A single vineyard wine, Le Fou  means ‘mad man’. Nose of white flowers and limes. Fresh and full of flavour and character. Soft and medium sweet, notes of lime and honey. Long finish. Mouth filling. Very good.

GC-Gibbston Valley PN

Gibbston Valley Glenlee Pinot Noir Central Otago 2011

Another SV wine. Floral nose. Brambly on palate, with hint of stalk, solid tannins and red cherries. Fleshy. Very good.

GC-Te Mata Chard and Dry River PN

Te Mata Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2011

Elegant perfumed and aromatic. Grapefruit citrus bite, mealy complexity,  gorgeous, long. Lovely.

Dry River Pinot Noir Martinborough 2010

I thoughts this was too big and lacked varietal typicity. It was over cooked, with big flavours of black fruits, black pepper and raisins. It had loads of tannic heft and tasted great. I can see what the makers are doing, but is it a Martinborough Pinot? Nah.

GC-Gillman Matakana

Gillman Cabernet Sauvignon Matakana 2008

This was amazing. Massive dark fruit flavours, rich & savoury, with prunes plums and softened tannic heft. Very primary still. Very young, dry, spicy, dark fruit, with thyme  and cedar notes. A classic under-stated label, too.


Matariki Quintology Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay 2007

A blend of five Bordeaux varietals from the Gimblett Gravels. Very dark, deep, ruby-red colour. Ripe blackberries, earth and iron, tightly bound and full-bodied. Ripe dark plums, pepper and liquorice. Long finish

What’s in the glass tonight November 3rd – a Sauvignon Blanc

Haha Sauvignon Blanc 2011

From the Cellar: Hãhã Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2011 – $

Greenish-gold straw colour. 13.6% alc.

Elegant. Aromas of the usual tomato stalk & gooseberries & sweet limes, but also ginger root and palm sugar.

Softened, buttery and rich in the mouth, with a citrus top note. Focused, with a silky mouthfeel.

A ripping bargain! I wish I had a few more bottles stashed away for the approaching summer…

VG 4