What’s in the glass tonight June 22nd – Merlot Syrah Cabernets


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Ata Rangi Celebre Martinborough 2014 – $$$

This is a long-time favourite local red for me. A bright red blend of 55% Merlot, 35% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc fruit grown on the Martinborough Terrace, and matured in 20% new oak.

Deep plum purple colour. 13% alc.

Soft, round and opulent on the nose. A savoury character up front, then opens to reveals oak, plums, and spice.

Sweetness on entry, fine-grained tannins in the mid-palate, and fresh acidity on the finish. Fruit flavours are restrained, not as ripe as the ’13, and slightly leafy.

A fine, expressive wine.

Recommended 89 points

What’s in the glass tonight June 21st – Riesling


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Off Topic – Wynns Coonawarra Riesling, by the glass, on Circular Quay

No sooner was I back from Fiji, but I had to fly to Sydney to inspect a new client’s office premises.

After a whirlwind morning and afternoon session of meetings, walk-arounds, note-taking and photograph-making, I found myself back on the street outside the client’s building, finished, and with a couple of hours free before I was due to check-in at Kingsford-Smith Airport for the sleepy-eye back to Wellington.

So I headed for Circular Quay. I took the usual touristic pictures of the bridge and Jørn Utzon’s famous sails. I watched a piano accordion player accost the ears of passers-by with his (deliberate, I think) atrociously out-of-key playing.  I watched the yellowing and green passenger ferries come steaming headlong in to crash-stop at the docks, and watched the heavy wash from their reversing propellers heave and surge against the massive timber barriers that bulwarked the quayside. I watched meandering groups of aimless Maroons stink the place out, filling in their own time before Origin Game 2 kicked off.

Finally, I settled down at City Extra, below Circular Quay Railway Station, with a glass of Wynns Coonawarra Riesling, and watched the local world walk on by for a bit. I don’t recall anything about the wine. The waitress offered to go find out for me about the vintage, but I said, it’s ok, no worries.

What’s in the glass tonight June 20th – Chardonnay


Sacred Hill Riflemans 2015

Sacred Hill Riflemans Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2015 – $$$+

Bula!

L and I recently jetted off for a long weekend on Denarau island in Fiji. L was to attend a conference, and I was her ‘plus-1’.

The weather was sunny and warm. The pool was cool and inviting, the hotel staff were friendly and helpful, and we had a great time with her workmates and fellow professionals. Vinaka vaka levu, L!

I raided the airport duty-free store on the way and bought a bottle of Chardonnay to drink on our hotel room balcony. I chose one of NZ’s best single vineyard Chardy’s, which is only made in good years from grapes off old Mendoza clone vines. As I have written about before, it was a bottle of the ’07 that started me on my wine journey.

The nose of the Riflemans showed mealy and fine and aromatic. The wine smelled oaky and oily, quite similar to Viognier in that regard, and had that typical Riflemans intensity, buttery character, and layer of lemon curd.

To taste, the wine was finely-grained and smooth in texture, with rich and dense golden fruit flavours, and some butterscotch and spice. It finished long, with quite “tingle-y’ acid, and showed some bitterness.

This Chardonnay is an somewhat old-fashioned heavy style of wine, in its way, and was not really suited to the tropical Fijian climate at all. A winter white, this one, and best for a cold climate and roast chicken dinners. Still, couldn’t deny the quality.

Highly recommended 91 points

What’s in the glass tonight June 10th – A few beers


Turbo Charger

Brewing Turbo Charger

I recently joined five mates down at the Occasional Brewer to make a couple of batches of beer together. OB provides ingredients, brew stations, and advice and guidance to budding craft brewers who want to have a go at making beer.

And so we did. R and S and I made an IPA/APA called Turbo Charger, and R and R and A made an NZ IPA. It took about three hours for us to make about 80 litres of beer, all up. Really interesting – I’ve never done this before. We had a few pints of the Occasional Brewers own beers (an IPA, Best Bitter and an Oatmeal Stout) during the process, and had lots of laughs. And I don’t think we f**ked things up that much either.

The picture above shows 40L of “wort” towards the end of its 50 minute rolling boil stage. The greenish scum is from 200g of various hops we added to the mix about 10 minutes earlier.

We bottle on the 28th, and the six of us will walk away with 13 litres of beer each. I have to pop in a few days beforehand to “dry-hop” the brews, cos I live closest. We should stand the beer for a further two weeks. I’ll keep you posted on the results.

What’s in the glass tonight June 9th – White Burgundy


Olivier Leflaive Les Setilles Bourgogne 2013

Off Topic: Olivier Leflaive Les Sétilles Bourgogne 2013 – $$$+

I bought this bottle to take to a friend’s 70th and share with L. I thought it was a bit funky at first, and perhaps faulty, but friends who have a good nose tried it and agreed that this wine was pretty good. Fine minerality, a steely austere quality, and crisp acidity. Delish!

Unfortunately L didn’t like it much. I have my eye on a Marsanne/Rousanne Northern Rhone blend for next time – she might like that better!

Highly recommended 90 points

What’s in the glass tonight June 9th – Pinot Noir


Wild Grace Pinot Noir 2015

Wild Grace Pinot Noir Central Otago 2015

Someone at work bought this negociant wine for our Friday work drinks. I am usually suspicious of entry-level Pinots, but this was really good.

It had a good core and depth of fruit, good ripeness, and little of that bitterness I sometimes see in over-extracted cheaper Pinot Noir. The nose kept my interest, with an alluring savoury character. Yum.

Nice label design too. We are a design-led company…

Recommended 89 points

What’s in the glass tonight June 1st


Noble Rot

Date Night

As a blended family, I have gotten a bit used to time off from our kids when they go stay with our ex’s. But recent events have mucked our schedules around, and the kids have been with us like forever.

The children are all wonderful and fun, but also they are also messy and loud. So when L suggested a date night over a couple of glasses of wine and snacks at the fab wine bar Noble Rot, I was had at hello.

L really liked the Bilancia La Collina Viognier Hawkes Bay 2014, which I did as well, whereas I wasn’t so impressed by the M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitages Le Meysonniers 2014. I don’t think I get wines from Crozes at all. However, I switched to the Samuels Gorge Grenache Noir McLaren Vale 2013 and it was amazeballs

What’s in the glass tonight June 7th – Chardonnay


Montana Reserve Chardonnay 2016

Montana Reserve Chardonnay Gisborne 2016 – $

I’m really confused by this volume value brand of wine. First it was named Montana. For years and years and years. Then the owners wanted to sell more wine into the States. But suffered buyer confusion about its name. Wine from Montana? They don’t make wine in Montana! So the powers-that-be switched names to Brancott, after one of the original vineyards in Marlborough. Which makes sense. And we move on. Then I see this wine in the supermarket, and they are back to selling wine under the name Montana. WTF?

Anyway, this is a simple wine. Soft ripe golden fruit, lightly aromatic, a core of ripe fruit to taste, nothing memorable, but serves as an acceptable aperitif and smoothes the days rough edges…

Commended 85 points

Straight to the Pool Room – May 2017


Pool Room May 2017

Three additions for slumberland under the watchful gaze of KellerMäusefänger Mimi.

Wynns Michael Ltd Release Shiraz Coonawarra 2012- $$$ – drink 2020-2027. A gift from lovely L. High hopes for this classy Aussie.

Man O’War Ironclad Cabernet Waiheke 2012 – $$$ – drink 2020-2022. Odd to think that despite me having enjoyed wines from this producer for a few years now, there isn’t any in the Pool Room. There is now – this great cab!

Man O’War Valhalla Chardonnay Waiheke 2016 – $$$ – drink 2021-2024. And this one too.

What’s in the glass tonight May 23rd – Riesling


Escarpment Riesling

Escarpment Riesling Martinborough 2013

This was a generous gift from MM for me being chauffeur at the recent biking weekend. Much appreciated, mate.

Brilliant pale greenish straw colour. 12% alc.

The nose was delightfully aromatic and phenolic, showing lean and crisp acidity, with a layered note of honey.

Natch, the wine was dry/off-dry, lean, and angular to taste as well. Salty, and sharp through the mid palate, with a short crisp mineral finish. I loved the mouthwatering acidity. An arresting wine, cerebral even (if I err into weinwank for a moment…J )

Very enjoyable. I liked seeing the sweetness dialled back in this white.

Highly Recommended – 90 points