What’s in the glass tonight May 27th – Chenin Blanc

DMZ Chenin Blanc 2015

Off Topic: DeMorgenzon DMZ Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch SA 2015 

On my way back home from my London OE in ‘95, I travelled overland from Kenya down through Zanzibar, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia to South Africa. When I was winding things up in Cape Town, and waiting on a flight to NZ, I thought to take a train to nearby Stellenbosch for a day trip. I’d heard there were a few vineyards there, so I decided I would take a wee ambulatory tasting tour of producers within walking distance of the town. And so I did. I recall it was a wonderful day walking the lush and verdant countryside. The vineyards were very established, the wines seemed great (I had no idea what to look for) and I had a lovely lunch at one place that had a terrace overlooking the vines.

Looking back I am astonished I would have thought to do such a thing. I was a beer drinker through and through back then, with maybe the odd bourbon ‘n coke thrown in. I am not sure I drank ANY wine when I was living in the UK. Yet here I was, down at the southern tip of Africa, going for a wine tasting. Even back then, I must have had a subliminal liking for it…

Which brings me back and around the houses to this wine…Chenin Blanc is the largest grape variety grown in SA, accounting for 18% of production. I don’t drink much of this style, as NZ producers are not big on it at all. Whenever I go looking for a Vouvray, or similcra, I often get diverted away towards something else in the shop. But not this time…

Clear pale greenish-lemon straw colour. 14% alc.

My first impression:  Oh. F*kn yum!

A funky reductive nose. Further impressions of golden fruits, light citrus, sweetness, roundness and ripeness…

This funky character transitions to the palate. Quite ripe pear and orange flavours on attack, the funk expressing as gunflint, metallic and struck-match notes. There is honey in there, caramel, and a crunchy bitterness on the finish.

A really interesting wine, very attractive. Wonderful for under $20. You can’t beat SA for price point/value. 91 points

Straight to the Pool Room 3 – May 2016

Forrest Estate Collection Syrah 2013

A single addition, but a good ‘un…

John Forrest Collection Syrah Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$$+ – drink 2018-2023. GK said good things about this great Syrah. I tasted it a short while back and agree. Too bad there is so much good wine about, and I can only acquire this one bottle today.

What’s in the glass tonight May 22nd – a bastard

Kings Bastard Chardonnay 2014

Marisco Vineyard The King’s Bastard Chardonnay Marlborough 2014 

Marisco Vineyard takes its name from proprietor Brent Marris’ notorious ancestors, the de Mariscos, who in the 12th and 13th centuries inhabited Lundy Island, off England’s south-west coast. The de Mariscos apparently descended from a William de Marisco who was said to be one of the 35 illegitimate children of King Henry I, thereby making William the Kings Bastard.

Pale gold. 14% alc.

Mealy golden stonefruit and citrus complexity and funk

This funk on the nose extends thru to palate. Angular character, crunchy texture, notes of apple and cider, with a touch of oxidation. Long. Warmth. Oak. Heat.  89 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 21st –Chardonnay

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2014

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2014 – $$$

Brilliant Pale gold. 13.5% alc.

Smells fine and refined, mealy, light golden stonefruit characters with the warmth of oak and vanilla. Bounty and restraint in one. European in style.

Soft and full up front on palate.  Smooth mouthfeel lovely integration of fruit and acid with complexity in the mid palate. Great depth.  Citrus and golden apples at the finish

Totally moreish and immersive. Makes me want to come back to the glass. 93 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 20th – Pinot Noir

Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir 2015

Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir Martinborough 2015 – $$

A red wine for the end of my working week, as rain and wind sweeps the streets outside and sends pedestrians scurrying…

Deep blushing pink carmine colour.  13.5% alc.

Ripe red berry aromas, tending jammy.

Sweet in the mouth, very ripe, not much nuance.  Plenty of fruit flavour and intensity – a luscious style of pinot. A bit too simple & direct for my taste.  accessible it may be, but not interesting at all. Little tannin on palate, and with new oak apparent, this is not the cool-climate damsel that I prefer… 84 points.

What’s in the glass tonight May 18th – Pinot Gris

Stone Cutter 2

Stone Cutter Pinot Gris Martinborough 2013 – $$

Pale greenish gold colour.  14.5% alc.

Clean lifted aromas of golden apple and pear.

Off dry, lightly spiced on taste.  Ripe and fresh. Typical notes of honey and Turkish Delight. This is a strong and delicious Gris. The lack of the typical PG bitterness on the finish is also very welcome. 90 points.

What’s in the glass tonight May 11th – St. Emilion.

Ch. Teyssier 2010

Ch. Teyssier St. Emilion Grand Cru 2010

Deep dark red. 14% alc. A house-warming gift from GC and CM.

Lovely nose of red fruits, cedar, vanilla, tending secondary now. A bit brambly. Warmth and spice.  Enticing bouquet.

Sweet red fruit to taste, bright acid line, medium body, medium acid, hot finish. Very engaging wine, showing well now.  90 points.

Straight to the Pool Room 2 – May 2016

Pool Room May 2016

Various lootings from Martinborough for Below Stairs…

Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay Martinborough 2014 – $$$ – Drink 2019-2022.

Tirohana Estate Memories Pinot Gris Martinborough 2014 – $$$ – Drink 2019-2022

Poppies Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – $$ – Drink 2020

Stone Cutter Topaz Martinborough 2014 – $$ – Drink 2019-2021

What’s in the glass tonight May 8th, 9th – A Ramble Around Martinborough

Martinborough Rows

Two Saturdays ago L and I stayed in Martinborough for the weekend. On the recommendation of our friend LH I had booked dinner for us at Tirohana Estate on Puruatanga Road. The proprietors picked us up in their van which was mighty decent.

The restaurant was in a beautiful white-gabled colonial house on the Estate. We enjoyed an amuse bouche, homemade pate, fish and lamb shanks, petit fours for after – so rich and good! Toby our Maitre’D was friendly, attentive and knowledgeable about the estate’s wines.


I had a glass of Tirohana Estate Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough 2014 to start, which showed apple, pear and petrol /aftershave. Flavours of mandarin peel and Gran Marnier, light, ripe & fleshy. Not a hint of grass or capsicum to be seen. Interesting. With my lamb I had a glass of Tirohana Estate Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013.  The nose exhibited density, florality and spice. The palate was fine, with bright ripe red cherries, fine tannins, and a hottish finish. Good.

The next morning, we wanted to burn off a big cooked breakfast, so we went out for a walk. We headed for a far-away hill track, but it turned out to be a bit further that we reckoned. We had walked for over an hour from our accommodation, and we hadn’t even got to the start of it. And then the morning’s meal caught me short and in trouble. I was about to touch cloth, but luckily we saw a winery open nearby for tastings. Two birds, one stone etc!

Stone Cutter

We got a great welcome from the new owner at Stone Cutter Vineyard on Todds Road. We tried their Stone Cutter Pinot Gris 2013  and Stone Cutter Syren Pinot Gris 2013, their Stone Cutter Pinot Noir 2013 and Stone Cutter Syren Pinot Noir 2013. L tried also their Stone Cutter 2014 Topaz – a sweet blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurtztraminer – & liked & bought a bottle, along with their PG.

Poppies wine list

We had lunch at Poppies Martinborough also on Puruatanga Rd later that afternoon, after the Mothers Day rush had eased (a little). Super-enthusiast winemaker Poppy and her viticulturist husband Shayne made us so very welcome. She led us through a tasting of their wines (they had sold out of their rose & chardonnay alas) – their age-worthy Sauvignon Blanc, fruity Pinot Gris and dusky Pinot Noir wines tasted delightful in the faded-euro elegance of their tasting room.


I selected the Poppies Martinborough Dry Riesling 2015 to have with the fantastically delicious vineyard platter served on the sunny terrace. Nose of apples. Very astringent and lean and fresh, lots of green apple, needs time to ease out of a current austere & angular phase. This too was selling out as we tasted. They are keen to secure additional grapes, as their business in barnstorming along.

Ata Rangi tasting room

We finished our amble at one of Martinborough’s, and New Zealand’s, 1er cru vineyards – Ata Rangi, further along Puruatanga Road. A rustic looking tasting room, containing stunning wines. We tried their current fresh Sauvignon Blanc, ripe and simple Crimson Pinot Noir (second label), their wonderfully rich and age-worthy Celebre red blend, and the fragrant powerful Craighall Vineyard and elegant Petrie Vineyard Chardonnays. A fine way to end the afternoon!


What’s in the glass tonight May 7th – Pinot Noir.


Julicher Estate 99 Rows Pinot Noir Martinborough 2012 – $$.

Bright dark carmine. 13.5% alc.

A Te Muna Road native, and showing the class of its terroir. The second wine of Julicher Estate.

Opened previous night after the Catch Pinot tasting, and one glass taken. Showing so well now the next day, in the sunshine, outside our unit at Peppers Parehua in Martinborough.

99 Rows PN 2012

Floral and red cherries and lifted aromas. Sweet red fruits in the mouth. Luscious and savoury. Some brambly characters. Spicy on the finish. Hot and long. Very fine for a second wine. I like this wine a lot. And it’s at a great price.  92 points