What’s in the glass tonight October 22nd – Natural Wines


Budburst Natural Wine Tasting

Later this month is New Zealand’s first Natural Wine and Food festival, Budburst. Regional Wines and Spirits invited Dan Gillet, from Wine Diamonds. in-store to taste through a wide range of natural wines. I rocked along to try them.

What exactly is a Natural Wine? There isn’t a hard and fast definition, but rather it infers a few things about the viticulture and winemaking process. The fruit should ideally be organic or biodynamically grown, and the winemaking would follow a “minimal interventionist” path.

The wines I tasted were:

Double Bubble Pet-Nat South Australia 2016

Domaine Lucci Chardonnay Italy

Millton Vineyards & Winery Libiamo Gewurztraminer Gisborne 2015

Millton Libiamo Field Blend Gisborne 2015

Commune of Buttons Fleur Gris South Australia 2016

Sato Pinot Gris L’Atypique Central Otago

Domaine Lucci Vino Rosso Italy

Sato Pinot Noir Central Otago

I would like to say that I loved them, but I didn’t. The aromas coming out of the glass were very challenging to me, to say the least.

They smelled a bit too reminiscent of the developer solution I handled in the darkroom back at Design School, or the way my hands smelled afterwards if I hadn’t used the tongs provided to move photographic paper from one tank to another.

Another descriptor could be ‘funky’. Or sour. Like a sour beer. This sour-ness on the nose really got in the way of me seeing any fruit sweetness in the glass. And when one of the pinots was picked early anyway, there was scarcely any fruit weight in the wine at all.

The one I liked the most was the first, a South Australia sparkling wine made by the ancestral method called pétillant-naturel, popularly pét-nat, or first ferment. This was an interesting fizz. It had the sweetness on attack that I thought the others lacked.

I did like the first Millton Libiamo wine, as the Gewurtz showed some fruit, but I am predisposed to like Millton anyway, as earlier posts indicate.


I think these wines will have to win me over, and over time. I don’t like sour beer either.

On the plus side, it was a great learning experience, and was the first time I had tried self-styled “natural wines”. Dan Gillet was wonderfully knowledgeable and passionate about the wines he represents. He did tell me about a NZ Riesling pét-nat that will be released later this year via his website, so I will try to get hold of a bottle to show L.


A lovely cuppa


Last week my father was honoured with the award of a Queens Service Medal (QSM) for services to the community and theatre. The family all travelled to Government House to see him be presented with the medal by Her Excellency Dame Patsy, the Governor General of New Zealand, on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of New Zealand.

The ceremony was formal and dignified. 24 other citizens were also honoured alongside Dad. I was so proud of him.


After the formalities we moved through the house where we partook of a glass of Chardonnay and enjoyed a few hors d’oeuvres. I finished with a lovely cup of tea in the hallway looking at the portraits of previous Governors General and Governors.

An absolutely wonderful occasion for Mum and Dad.


Straight to the Pool Room – October 2016


Te Hera Estate Kiritea Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013 – $$ – drink 2017-2018. Te Hera is a small family business producing a very small range of handcrafted wines.  The vineyard and winery are located in Te Muna Rd, Martinborough, and claims to be the first commercial vineyard planted there. The nose really impressed me.

E.Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2012 – $$ – drink 2016-2022. I love drinking this wine. I still have a few ‘10s asleep in the cellar. Best put these ‘12s down to keep them company for a bit.

La-La land


E.Guigal Rhone wine tasting

I was pleased to attend a wine tasting of selected wines from the noted producer E.Guigal a little while ago. It was hosted by Negociants rep Brett Crittenden, and Meredith Parkin of Glengarry Wines and Spirits. A small crew were in attendance, including a few rogues from the MS.

Brett Crittenden is a very engaging raconteur, and set the scene for us well.

Guigal was established in 1946 by Étienne Guigal, who had worked for Vidal Fleury for 15 years before setting up his own business. It has been managed by his son Marcel Guigal since 1961.

Guigal, under Marcel Guigal, came to international fame in the early- to mid-1980s when Robert M. Parker, Jr. followed by other wine critics heaped praise on Guigal’s top Côte-Rôtie wines, in particular the three single vineyard wines La Mouline, La Landonne and La Turque.

The Rhone valley is divided into Northern and Southern zones. The north has a cool climate, well suited to Syrah. The South has a Mediterranean climate, and better for Grenache, Carignan etc. E. Guigal source grapes from their own properties, from contract growers, and from other suppliers as juice. The area boasts many appellations, and we were fortunate to try wines from several over the course of the session.

E.Guigal make a lot of wine…

We started off with a heavy-weight white, a complex and concentrated way to begin the tasting:

Guigal Lieu-Dit St Joseph Blanc 2014 – $88 – an exceptional vintage. 95% Marsanne with 5% Rousanne, grown on granite soils, and aged in 100% new oak. 100 years ago this wine was France’s most expensive white, and is still a ‘cheffy’ favourite with food.  My notes say: oak, vanilla and honey on nose. Lifted, perfumed. Lovely fruit expression. Remarkable. To taste: packed, structural, power and tension, with mineralite. On sitting, I saw viscosity and spice emerge from the glass, like a Viognier from nearby Condrieu. 94 points.

Side Note: From Wkipedia: Lieu-dit (plural: lieux-dits) (literally said-location) is a French toponymic term for a small geographical area bearing a traditional name. The name usually refers to some characteristic of the place, its former use, a past event, etc. English speakers seem to have discovered the concept through oenology and have considered it as a wine term which in its typical usage translates as “vineyard name” or “named vineyard”. Typically, a lieu-dit is the smallest piece of land which has a traditional vineyard name assigned to it. In most cases, this means that a lieu-dit is smaller than an appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC).

Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2014 – $24 – Light and fruity – red apples. Good acid, crystal clear finish, no bitterness.  86 points.

Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2012 – $22 – Can you believe this? 4,000,000 bottles of this wine was made from a blend of some 40-odd parcels. Incredible, and to get such uniformity across the bottling, and across the vintages as well. Apparently 7000 bottles are shipped to the restaurants of Lyon daily. Cleaner than previous vintages, this wine still displays typical character. Warm, enveloping nose. Plummy, soft, with medium tannins. A great food wine, and for everyday drinking. Holds its shape well in the glass. The winemakers rightly take great pride in this wine.  89  points.

Guigal Chateauneuf du Pape 2010 – $79 – From the Rhone’s original appellation: 3000 hectares. 28 growers. 60-100 year old Grenache vines. Elegant and spicy. Aroma notes of pencil shavings, graphite and herbs. Shows a clear identity. Nervous. Dense. Showing richness of the Grenache. Plums, sour cherries, raspberries. A grainy textural finish. Delicious. 92 points.

Guigal Crozes Hermitage 2012 – $50 – From off 1200 hectares arrayed around the base of the hill of Hermitage. 100% bought-in juice. Fermented in 3rd-use oak. Funky on the nose, feral and almost gamey.  A cool climate style – lean, light, with lighter ripeness of fruit, with cutting acid, sour cherry, celery leaf and capsicum. Burgundian in its expression. 87  points.

Guigal St Joseph Rouge 2012 – $59 – 100% Syrah, from bought-in fruit and own grapes. Soft and fruity on nose, and immediately more attractive to me than the preceding Crozes Hermitage. There was depth of ripe fruit, soft, with plenty of flavour and richness, along the lines of the CdR Rouge, but with more character. 90 points.

Then we got into the three heavyweights reds of the tasting….


Guigal Hermitage Rouge 2010 – $149 – From a stunning vintage. Wines aged in 60% new oak for 36 months. I saw power, opulence and richness. Silky, spicy. Sweet entry, acid balance, amazing fruit intensity, tight grained. Long, long. Absolutely amazing. 96 points.

Guigal Cote Rotie 2011 – $145 – From the Côte Brune and Côte Blonde. Own vineyards. Again aged in 60% new oak. Perfumed, ethereal, such grace! It explodes in the mouth, then shows tight and linear and refined. Perfect physiological ripeness. Silky tannins. Absolutely amazing again. 97 points.

Guigal La Mouline 2006 – $250-450 – One of the famous La-la vineyards, along with La Landonne  and La Turque. La Mouline is a vineyard-designated wine from a parcel inside the lieu-dit Côte Blonde. A blend of 11% Viognier and 89% Syrah and therefore often the most floral of the three top wines. Produced from 100 year old vines, aged for 40 months in new oak. 6000 bottles made. This particular bottle was ferreted out from Glengarry’s store rooms for the tasting. A repeat tasting would be likely impossible. It was feminine, oh so rich and oh so opulent. Enveloping. Mouthcoating. It went on and on. An exemplar of what heights a Rhone rouge can attain. 98 points.

What’s in the glass tonight October 17th – Pinot Gris


From the Cellar: Hans Herzog Pinot Gris Marlborough 2015 – $$$

This wine comes from a long-established and committed artisan organic wine producer in Marlborough. The producer boasts 29 different grape varieties planted on the property. We enjoyed their cellar door hospitality on our last visit down south very much.


Orange mandarin blush. 13.5% alc.

Light and savoury on nose, a little hesitant to open up. I coaxed aromas of melon, soft pear and Turkish delight from the glass. It hinted at funky, and ‘worked’.

To drink, I tasted light strawberries and baking spice, apple. A soft mouthfeel initially, with a good citrus line throughout. Medium length. Finished grassy.

An appealing Gris with an attractive colour in the glass. Although it wasn’t presented as such at their Cellar Door when we first tasted it, but this wine could well fall under the category of “orange wine”. If so, it would be my first…

89 points

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


From the Cellar: Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir Central Otago 2011 – $$$+

Another wine from one of New Zealand’s vinous rock stars.

Deep pinot ruby. 14% alc. Leggy.

Gorgeous perfumed nose. Savoury and hot, with brambly black cherries, herbs and thyme. Showing a deep intensity of bold fruit.

To drink the wine started sweet on attack, and was savoury through the mid-palate, and a herbal note towards the end. Ripe, finely textured, well balanced. Hot finish.

This is a very fine, yet grunty, pinot. Wants another five years to really exhibit its class. Shame I haven’t got another bottle..


95 points

Felton Road Block 3


What’s in the glass tonight Oct 11th – Pinot Noir


Te Hera Estate Kiritea Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013 – $$

A find this was! Showing intense perfume, layered, with savoury characters so typical of M’bo pinots.  Dark cherries, heady spic, powerful. Perfect ripeness allowing for a hint of cool climate leafiness to aid florality.

Could sniff this all day…

The promise on nose extended to the mouth. Great fruit weight and body. Robust and textural, acid through the mid-palate, with a grainy finish. Heat and length at the death.

Perhaps off young vines, as it died a little in the glass over time.

Still, fabulous, & a bargain.

92 points

What’s in the glass tonight October 10th – Sauvignon Blanc


From the Cellar: Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2011 – $$$+

Oak fermented, with wild yeasts, this is one of NZ’s vinous rock stars – an icon, a unique wine, a sensory delight. I love it.

Pale gold. 13.5% alc.

Great refinement and complexity on nose. An aromatic delight with notes of citrus and golden fruit.

There was a lovely texture, depth to the wine in the mouth. It was expressive and distinctive – it spoke of place and winemaking craft. There was the sweetness of perfect ripe fruit. It lacked the assertive grassy-capsicum-ness of its stablemate, a relief. Exceptionally long for a savvy.


95 points

What’s in the glass tonight October 8th – Two Wellington Craft Beers


Garage Project Brewery brews tasty beers, they choose top names for their beverages, their graphic design team create great packages for the products, and the tap room is a proper hipster hangout. What is not to like?

I brought two cans back from the supermarket to try over dinner…

Garage Project Hapi Daze Pacific Pale Ale

Deep Amber, 4.8% alc.

Hapi is ‘hop’ in Te Reo (Maori). This beers is blessed with a brewers medley of NZ barley, and Motueka Wai-iti, Riwaka, and Nelson Sauvin hops.

An aromatic, hopped perfume, with caramel and citrus notes. Bags of flavour, delicious and hoppy, with lively carbonation balanced with caramel sweetness. Finishes soft and long.

Garage Project Garagista IPA

Cloudy Amber, 5.8% alc.

A sharper citrus aroma hit, hint of vanilla biscuit.

Intense flavours of hops and barley in the mouth, sharp and immediate, assertive, nice. A typical crafty Kiwi take on an IPA. Not a session beer – too big on the alcohol.

Hapi Daze was the tastiest, tonight.