My New Zealand Wine of the Year 2015


On reflection it felt to me that I had a somewhat subdued blogging year. I cut down on the amount of time I was spending on the blog to free up time for other matters, and also drank wines which I had either blogged about before, or had no interest in writing up. In any case, my posting output was down.

Still, there were a great many highlights of my vinous year. For a starter, I really got into reading Decanter, and began to look forward to the monthly call from my newsagent telling me that my latest copy was ready to collect instore. I learnt a bunch of stuff about all types of wine, and enjoyed reading the tasting notes for all the different ways the writers describe what is essentially the same stuff. I also got a kick out of whenever a New Zealand wine featured prominently in the magazine (which was surprisingly often). And I began wishing (like you all reading this) that fine Bordeaux, Burgundies and Barolos were far more affordable for someone of average means like me, cos they all taste so boss, and I am missing out!

Nevertheless, there were a few new European varietals that passed my lips for the first time – a Vouvray Chenin Blanc, a Picpoul, a Cahors Malbec, a Cote Du Provence Rose and a Fiano.

I attended a few great tastings during the year, so big thanks to Regional Wines & Spirits and Glengarry Wines & Spirits for the opportunities (one downside was missing out on tasting that old Petrus). I was also pleased and honoured to be invited to join the good folks of the Magnum Society for several hugely enjoyable and educational tastings.

Finally, and this was a biggie, I was pleased to see that the Pool Room climat settled down, and started to produce a reliable stream of good bottles for the table.

Oh, and I got married!!!! 

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My New Zealand Wine of the Year Longlist

As usual, I have combed the year’s posts on WITGT and pulled out the New Zealand wines I scored as either Outstanding 5 or Better Than Very Good BTVG 4+ along with a selection of my notes at the time. It turned out to be a long list…

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Dry Riesling Marlborough 2013

TerraVin Soloist Pinot Noir Marlborough 2009

Te Mata Estate Bullnose Syrah Hawkes Bay 2010

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah Gimblett Gravels 2007 – 5Gorgeous 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. Top stuff.

Carrick Excelsior Pinot Noir Bannockburn Central Otago 2007 – 5Perfect 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.

Pegasus Bay Riesling Waipara 2009

Craggy Range Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2013

Te Mata Estate Awatea Cab Merlot Hawkes Bay 2005

Te Mata Estate Merlot Cabernets 2013

Te Mata Estate Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – 5I smell white flowers, fresh apples, oak-softened fruit aromas. Fresh crisp concentrated fruit on initial attack, and a perfect finish of acidity and length.

Te Mata Estate Elston Chardonnay 2013

Te Mata Estate Awatea Cabernets Merlot 2013

Te Mata Estate Coleraine 2013 – 5This is a huge quality wine. I can’t describe it and do it justice. There is density and purity and red roses and richness and concentration and so much deep fruit and tannin attack

Te Mata Coleraine Hawkes Bay 1990 – 5 – Brambles, age evolved blackcurrants and plums, and old woodshed. Thinnish fruit in the mouth as expected (25 year old wine), but it opened up well in the glass and showed great quality, character and class. It stayed true in the glass over time. Lots to think about when nosing it. Leather and cedar notes.

Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay Martinborough Terrace 2012 – 5Effortless 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.

Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Martinborough 2008

Man O’ War Ironclad Waiheke 2008 – 5This wine was bloody marvellous. Deep and aromatic with an intense attack and soft smooth texture following on, and with nicely concentrated black fruit flavours and cedar and spice. Firm tannins and a fantastic finish. Age, grace and power.

Mills Reef Winery Syrah Elspeth 2013

Mission Estate Syrah Huchet 2013 – 5 – Fruity apple notes and citrus. Quite distinctive. Wonderful flavours, involving and powerful. A great individual expression of Syrah.  Grapefruit and orange zest characters, fresh, textural and sinuous

Matua Syrah Matheson Single Vineyard 2013 – 5 – Leggy and wonderfully floral. Amazingly rich and lengthy. Pots of fruit weight and goodness. I loved this wine. Intensely perfumed with violets. Reminds of hermitage. Beautiful components

Elephant Hill Syrah Airarata 2013

Villa Maria Syrah Reserve 2013

Fromm Brancott Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009

Matua Valley Reserve Syrah Hawkes Bay 2010

Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – 5 – Brilliant bouquet of gooseberry, lemon zest, lime and crisp apple. Oaked and age-softened in the mouth. Balanced acidity and fresh fruit. Mouthwatering and zesty, but shows perfect restraint. Not too brash. A burst of sunshine smiles.

Bridge Pa Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009

Vidal Reserve Syrah Hawkes Bay 2010

Ascension Vineyard The Benediction Merlot Hawkes Bay 2010

Kumeu River Coddington SV Chardonnay Auckland 2010

Elephant Hill Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2014

Elephant Hill Chardonnay Reserve Te Awanga 2013 – 5 –  Powerful, rich, beautiful Chardonnay. Luscious viscous richness. Elegance. A 12 yr wine. Fantastic.

Elephant Hill Syrah Hawkes Bay 2014

Elephant Hill Syrah Reserve Hawkes Bay 2013

Elephant Hill Syrah Reserve Hawkes Bay 2009 – 5This was a treat. Made from EL Chave clone grapes. Almost meaty character, overlaid with gorgeous fruit flavours, almost feminine. Just superb.

Elephant Hill Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Hawkes Bay 2013

Grasshopper Rock Earnscleugh Vineyard Pinot Noir Central Otago 2010

Martinborough Pinot Noir Martinborough 2009

Palliser Estate Pinot Noir Martinborough 2009

Escarpment Chardonnay Martinborough 2012

Escarpment Pahi Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013

Escarpment Kiwa Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013

Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013 – 5Spectacular in structure and depth. A fine blend of balance and power. Dusty and dry, fruity and powerful. Lots of ‘stuffing’ in this wine. Gorgeous, I was blown away.

Kumeu River Coddington Chardonnay 2013 – 5Peaches 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. Superb.

Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2013 – 5Bouyant, and shows such energy! An explosion of bright citrus with charm and such persistance of flavour.

Kumeu River Mates Vineyard Chardonnay 1er Cru 2013 – 5A 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.

Gillman Cabernet Sauvignon Matakana 2008

Newton Forrest Cornerstone Cabernet Merlot Malbec Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay 2007

Rockburn Pinot Noir Central Otago 2010

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There were a large number of delicious overseas wines I loved: Joseph Angel Gully Shiraz Clarendon McLaren Vale 2011, Joseph Moda Cab Sav Merlot McLaren Vale 2011, Chartron Clos de La Pucelle 2012, Bonneau Corton Charlemagne GC 2010, Alex Gambal Puligny Montrachet 2011, Finca Allende Rioja Calvario 2005, Beronia Rioja Reserva 2008, Dom. Faiveley Gevrey Chamb. Les Cazietiers 1er Cru 2011, Wolf Blass Grey Label Cabernet Sauvignon Langhorne Creek Australia 1975. Alas they were out of the running for my WOTY.

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Well, It was wonderful to see how so many of my cellar wines performed. Very satisfying. I enjoyed some stellar Pinots, Syrahs, Bordeaux-style reds, Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs (and one Riesling!). So many it was hard to pick the shortlist:

Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay Martinborough Terrace 2012

Man O’ War Ironclad Waiheke 2008

Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Kumeu River Mates Vineyard Chardonnay 1er Cru 2013

Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013.

Martinborough Chardonnay 2012

My New Zealand Wine of the Year:

Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay Martinborough Terrace 2012

NZWOTY Runner-up:

Man O’ War Ironclad Waiheke 2008



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