What’s in the glass tonight Feb 26th – Riesling

Lamont Riesling 2013

Lamont Riesling Bendigo Central Otago 2013 – $$$

Mum and Dad came to stay the weekend. After a catchup we decided to head to Café Polo for dinner. I selected this wine for the table:

Light straw. 11.04% alc.

Very refined and elegant in expression with mineral citrus bouquet with a delicate phenolic tang. Dry, dry, dry, to taste, with light and tight fruit flavours, and a preponderance of mineral character. A quality drop, but also a somewhat challenging expression of Riesling, due to its shortage of apparent sweetness.

BTG 3+

What’s in the glass tonight at Magnum

Magnum dinner 2016

Magnum Society Annual Dinner 2016

I was really chuffed and pleased to accept a recent invitation to join the Magnum Society.  They are a very warm, inclusive and  knowledgeable group of wine friends. I look forward to a long and engaging association with the members, and educating my palate on the Society’s well-curated and -cellared European wines.

This was the Society’s traditional dinner to launch the tasting year. A BYO affair at a Wellington restaurant.

As you might imagine, what do you take to a wine-club dinner? I dithered quite a bit, but decided finally on a 1992 Te Mata Awatea Cab Merlot Franc Hawkes Bay blend to take along. I should have taken TWO bottles. And a few glasses…a LOT of sharing happens  at the dinner, and you need a LOT of glasses…

The food at the Trade Kitchen was great…warm paté and bread to start…grilled haloumi on roast pepper and tomato brushetta….pan-fried warehau and snow peas and orange salad…panna cotta on shortbread to finish…yum.

The wines were a marvel….

I was offered a totally charming and delicious Charles Heidseck 1999, then a thrilling Fritz Haag Riesling Kabinett 2004 from cycling friend TC…he also contributed a taste of his powerful and bold Te Mata Coleraine 2006…which I was able to taste alongside an Awatea 2006…which I was able to compare with my own ’92 AwateaA offered me a taste of his Brovia Arneis 2014 which I enjoyed very much… European wines taste so different to ours!

…then it got a bit loud and chatty and laughing around the long table…I was offered a Ch. Cantenac Brown Margaux 2009, which was a little underwhelming compared to the 06 Coleraine. Then i enjoyed a wee taste of a light, smooth and supple Chateauneuf de Pape 2004, and then a cloyingly sweet Napa Valley Caymans Special Selection Cab Merlot 2008. One of my favs was the powerful and deep Sottimano Curra Barbaresco 2005.

What a treat!

And my old Awatea? Very developed (naturally). But was still very drinking very well. Smooth and rich. Lacking fruit and acidity, but still had heft. Not thin. Not tainted. Not oxidised. It made me proud. And no-one refused a taste, or spat it out (that I saw anyway). Fantastic!

Now, what to bring next year?

What’s in the glass tonight Feb 26th – Sauvignon Blanc

Palliser SB 15

Palliser Estate Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough 2015 – $$

Time to down tools after a long work week!

Lightest greenish straw. 13% alc.

Delicate bouquet; a waft of green apple, Turkish delight, and capsicum across the nostrils.

Soft in the mouth too, agreeable ripeness, less acidity than I might expect, perhaps a bit too soft and light, it taste like there is some oak handling, but surely not. This is lacking the usual Kiwi Sav flavour horsepower. Typical for North Island examples, but not to this degree. Could be sharper.

G 3


Wellington Wine and Food Festival 2016

WWFF 2016

L’s company shouted us a table at this year’s WWFF. We invited M and G and D and F along to join us. The setting was outside, in a large fenced-off corral built on the grounds of Waitangi Park. There was a stage at one end, and a ring of wine, beer and delicious food stalls encircling a throng of wine and enthusiasts, and a private marquee in the centre where our table was. We ate and supped, and finished the afternoon dancing in the sun! Magic.

The food was delicious. A highlight was the Indian offerings from chef Sushil, a popular contestant from an early series of New Zealand Masterchef.

The wine, overall, was rather average I thought. There were a few good options, but I was disappointed with the quality, varietal selections, and choice. There seemed to be a lot of what I would call ‘supermarket level’ wines on offer. Not the boutique wines I would expect at a gig like this. Not many local wineries…and no Riesling whatsoever that I could see!!! None! And it was sunny!

Here is what I did get to try:

Ohau Sauvignon Blanc Ohau 2015 – Fresh, lovely line of acidity and limes. Very appetising. One of my two favourite wines today.

Gladstone Vineyard Sophie’s Choice Sauvignon Blanc Wairarapa 2012 – Barrel-fermented savvy. Funky on the nose, mellow and soft to drink. Smoky. Interesting.

Tiki Estate Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014 – A typical Marl Savvy. Not memorable.

Ohau Pinot Noir Ohau 2014 – Spicy, red cherries, nice length.

Gladstone Vineyard 12000 Miles Pinot Noir Wairarapa 2013 – Lovely floral aromatics, smooth red fruit.

Margrain Rivers Edge Pinot Noir Martinborough 2014 – Deeper florals. Delicious and smoky, long and spicy. Dark cherries. Very expressive. A Martinborough Pinot for sure. My second fav.

Beach House Reserve Cabernet Merlot Hawkes Bay 2013 – Very aromatic. Expressive and rich. Drying tannins. A nice example.

After I had done a round of 40ml tasters, I had a glass of the Ohau SB, and a couple of the Margrain’s, then I drank craft beer ‘til home time.

Dirty Secret

On the way home we stopped off for a ‘roadie’ at Dirty Little Secret, a new rooftop bar overlooking Courtenay Place. I had that Riesling I had been craving for on such a long, hot day. L had a Rosé, natch.


What’s in the glass today Feb 18th – Sauvignon Blanc

Dashwood Sav Blanc 2015

Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015 – $

In my opinion, this is one the best Marlborough Savs you can buy for under $20, and it can be bought for half that…

Pale straw. 13% alc.

The wine presents with a clean, fresh bouquet – cut grass, Turkish delight, lemon and cut limes.

In the mouth it starts with a dry attack, and builds crisp luscious flavours of green apples, green grass and red capsicum, and finishes on a spicy high. It tastes of long hot New Zealand summer days.

Great value. A seamless a Marlborough sauvignon blanc. You can’t see the joins.

VG 4

What’s in the glass tonight on Valentine’s Day – Chardonnay

Kingfisher Bay Chardonnay 2014

Kingfisher Bay Chardonnay Marlborough 2014

This is a cheap wine. Thru blackmarket.co.nz you can pick this up for $9.99 a bottle. But it punches above that weight…

L and I were heading back home from Mt Ruapehu, where we had spent the weekend on a skiclub working bee. L had spent two days scraping old paint off cedar boards, ready for oiling, an horrifically hard job, whereas I had only swanned about inside, painting. Merely because I put my hand up at the beginning to claim I could “paint a bit”. Ha!

It was Val’s Day, so L hunted out a dinner reservation on the drive home. She found The Office, a café on the beachfront at Raumati Beach. And lovely it was too… Gorgeous late evening sun, delicious blue cod for dinner, and my beautiful Valentine by my side.

The wine: mealy with pleasant citrus notes, and a most interesting line of Pinot Gris flavour throughout this wine. I could almost be convinced it was a blend. Intriguing, and it hit the spot.

G 3

Other interesting wines savoured this weekend: an aromatic, clean and grassy Charles Wiffen Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014 that I enjoyed at the Café Telephonique in Taihape on the drive up to the Bee (although L won the round with her Charles Wiffen Chardonnay); and the very elegant, mealy and lightly buttery Paddy Borthwick Chardonnay Wairarapa 2014 we drank at the clubhouse on Saturday night.

What’s in the glass tonight February 11th – Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon

Villa Maria CS Merlot Cab Sav 2010

From the Cellar: Villa Maria Cellar Selection Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Hawkes Bay 2010  – $

This is one of my favourite New Zealand wines. It is reliable, interesting, flavoursome and great value. Amongst our best wines dollar-for-dollar. And I bought a bunch back in ’12 and have started to open them up…

Dark plum magenta. 13.5% alc.

Savoury dark fruit aromas. Vanilla and spice, pine boxwood, faded dark red roses.

Warm red fruits to taste. Soft, lots of vanillin, chocolate and licorice. Still fiery medium-grained tannins. Hot on the back palate. A long and smoky finish.

Enveloping, rewarding. A good entry-level red cellarable wine.

BTG 3+

What’s in the glass tonight – Waitangi Day 2016 – Pinot Noir

Morrisons Bush small

From the Cellar: Palliser Estate Pencarrow Pinot Noir Martinborough 2010 – $$

Back again camping at Morrison’s Bush for the annual Waitangi Day Art Weekend. Had to open the last of my Pencarrow Pinot Noir 2010’s…

Pencarrow Pinot Noir 2010

This wine did spectacularly well at the Air NZ wine awards on release and with reviews. I have drunk a bit of it since, and this time the wine really lived up to its potential: ripe, soft, full; smokily floral; with depth and heft. Beautifully integrated. Long. Damn tasty.


What’s in the glass tonight January 31st – Chardonnay

Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay 2010 2

From the Cellar: Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay Martinborough 2010 – $$$

Pale gold 13.5%.

A single-vineyard wine by the great Martinborough producer. Made from fruit off Mendoza clone vines planted in 1983 – that is old for NZ – and barrel-fermented with wild yeasts.

Smelled big, mealy and refined; with rich and toasty cashew and dried apricot aromas. Gorgeous.

Seamless and elegant to drink. I saw generous golden fruit flavours. A subtle citrus note. Cashew that gives way to almond.

This is a richly textured cru Chardonnay with a lovely crunchy bitter finish. Splendid & worth the wait!

Outstanding 5