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


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Alexander Dusty Road Pinot Noir Martinborough 2011 – $$

Tawny carmine colour. 13.5 % alc.

A heady bouquet – floral and savoury. Dark red fruits and spice, and a scent of honeysuckle.

Bright acid on the front of the palate.  Lashings of vanilla. A touch thin and austere. A metallic edge leading to a bitter and hot and spicy finish. An acceptable pinot for the age and price, redeemed by its nose.

Recommended 86 Points

What’s in the glass tonight April 9th – Châteauneuf du-Pape


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Off Topic – Barton & Guestier Châteauneuf du-Pape 1978

When L was helping her folks tidy up their place recently, she unearthed an old bottle of CdP that they didn’t know they had! I was dead keen to try it, so we arranged a dinner at their place as an excuse to pop the cork. And pop it did, with a bit of encouragement.

And the wine was absolutely splendid. Still showing plenty of fruit and freshness. A real mark of quality of the terroir and winemakers, and careful cellaring. It was a pleasure and a treat to enjoy such a piece of oenological history.

This took me back to a tasting of 1978 reds I attended a few years ago hosted by Geoff Kelly. I recall being thrilled by a Vieux Télégraph Châteauneuf du-Pape 1978. While not as powerful or refined as that wine, today’s bottle shows the quality of the appellation, and just adds to my regard for the wines of the Rhone valley.

Northern Rhone with Giles Robin


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Everywhere you go in France today you see appellations revitalized by the new generation of winemakers coming through, and Giles Robin from the Northern Rhone is one of the up-and-comers. Regional Wines recently hosted a tutored tasting of his wines, lead by Giles, who was accompanied by and interpreted by, his wife Jean.

It is not often that in New Zealand that you can attend a French wine tasting hosted by the winemaker, and where a sizeable proportion of the audience is also French. Luckily earlier in the day I had a quick lesson on pronouncing Rhone place names from a Belgian work colleague – ie does the ‘s’ sound in Crozes and what is the right way to say St Joseph?  So I was at least able to follow some of the evening’s comments and information that were bandied about.

It was also a somewhat informal tasting, a bit chaotic, with a lets-make-this-up-as-we-go-along kind of structure to the evening, a departure from the usual normal & formal way we approach the wines at these kind of gigs. Indeed, when questions of residual sugar or oak handling were posed from the floor, the garrulous Giles tended to give a Gallic shrug before answering. He made his wines more to drink than to talk about…and drink we did, and so the group got quite noisy at times, with gusts of laughter. Very entertaining!

The majority of his wines are from the Crozes-Hermitage appellation centred around his home village of Mercurey, which spreads at the foot of the famous hill of Hermitage, with also a single St Joseph, and a small production of Hermitage itself.

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We started with a white – Giles Robin Crozes-Hermitage ‘Les Marelles’ Blanc 2015 – a blend of Rousanne and Marsanne from both his and a neighbours parcels, with a nice peach apricot nose, delicious rich fruit and a crisp finish. Fun.  Then to his first red – Giles Robin Crozes-Hermitage “Terroir des Chassis’ 2014 – his “winebar” wine, a simple easy-drinking cuvee with bright red fruit. This was followed by another “not intellectual” red – Giles Robin Crozes-Hermitage ‘Papillon’ 2015 – named for the butterfly signifying a new start. Another light easy drinking wine.  More structure and minerality than the previous red, with good balance and depth.

Up next came three vintages of his premier cuvee – Giles Robin Crozes-Hermitage ‘Alberic Bouvet’ 2014, 2013 and 2010, named for his grandfather who got him into the winemaking game. I noticed an immediate jump in quality. A great interest in the nose, intensity and body and freshness on palate, soft tannins, cassis, black olives, licorice. Beguiling. Very good. The older vintages were a little closed.

Also closed was his Giles Robin St Joseph 2014. I struggle a little with the appellation. It is stretched so long and thin on the map. I never know whether to expect a warmer style Rhone or a river-cooled style. This was fleshier that the Crozes, not so bright and fruity, and more linear. Quiet, I guess.

And then to the rockstar – Giles Robin Hermitage 2010 – land on the Hermitage hill is owned mainly by six domaines or families. To get fruit off this site you need to know someone. And Giles knew someone with half a hectare on the west side near Les Bessars who agreed to sell him fruit. And with it Giles crafted a wonderful wine with a fantastic bouquet, with such depth and richness. It was structured, with gorgeous fruit and lovely acid freshness. What a treat!

When you rub up against a great Rhone, you remember it. Thanks, Giles.

What’s in the glass tonight March 29-April 4th – Cheap ‘n Cheerful Chardys


Over the past couple of weeks my bloggage production has approached zero.  Too much going on.  No time to write. Now is the first time I can catch up on a few value wines that perhaps do not warrant a post on their only lonesome…

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March 29th – Stoneleigh Latitude Chardonnay Marlborough 2015 – $$

13.5% ABV, and a light yellow gold colour. I usually like these wines. This one shows a pleasant mealy nose, with apricots and spice and caramel, ripe and golden. To taste it opens with sweet lemon, then shows rich and full, with honey and butterscotch, slightly spicy and a mild acid finish. A touch too full and flabby. Would improve with being more crystalline and austere, but that goes against the house style somewhat.

Recommended 89 Points

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April 2nd – From the Cellar: Dashwood Chardonnay Marlborough 2012 – $

13.5% ABV, and a bright pale gold colour. This is a cheery quaffer! Fresh and pungent lifted aromas of peaches and apricots. Citrus notes add a fresh zing. Sweet attack on palate and finishes with a strong acid line. A touch of tertiary development. Worthwhile keeping, this!

Recommended 87 Points

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April 4th – Shingle Peak Chardonnay Marlborough 2015 – $

13.5% ABV, and a pale gold colour. Simple and fresh aroma of lemon. No discernible oak or malo. Fresh and lively in the mouth. Simple with bright acid freshness. Not austere, not fleshy, this strides the middle ground. Uncomplicated and predictable.

Commended 85 Points

What’s in the glass tonight March 24th – Pinot Noir


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From the Cellar: Greystone Pinot Noir Waipara 2012 – $$

This wine won ‘Pure Elite Gold’ at the Air NZ Wine Awards in 2013 by showing up and showing off, so I thought it might be a bit good and cellared a bottle then to try later.

Now it’s later, and now, and I see it’s a typical carmine colour, and 13.5% ABV.

On the nose it’s elegant, with floral notes of violets and herbage of thyme, savoury, lightly fruitful, luscious and brambly. Good so far…

There is a sweet attack in the mouth. Fresh acidity with bright red fruit flavours. Great body and extract, depth and length.  A raspy finish, with heat lingering at the back of the throat. A tasty one with no bad habits.

Highly recommended 91 Points