From the Cellar: Villa Maria Keltern Vineyard Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2011 – $$$
Pale gold colour. 13.5 % alc. Single vineyard wine. I have been fortunate to have drunk a few vintages of this great wine.
This version smells delightfully aromatic. Poised and elegant. Light meal. Lean and restrained. A lovely nose.
An off-dry attack in the mouth. Fresh crunchy acidity throughout. Attractive austere mineral character. Long and incredibly powerful. Lemon finish. Long and long. Sooo good.
A real show wine, this. A cellar-door show-stopper, and a wine that rewards cellaring. One of the best wines I have had this year so far.
Outstanding 97 Points
Alexander Dusty Road Pinot Noir Martinborough 2011 – $$
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
From the Cellar: Greystone Pinot Noir Waipara 2012 – $$
This wine won ‘Pure Elite Gold’ at the Air NZ Wine Awards in 2013 by showing up and showing off, so I thought it might be a bit good and cellared a bottle then to try later.
Now it’s later, and now, and I see it’s a typical carmine colour, and 13.5% ABV.
On the nose it’s elegant, with floral notes of violets and herbage of thyme, savoury, lightly fruitful, luscious and brambly. Good so far…
There is a sweet attack in the mouth. Fresh acidity with bright red fruit flavours. Great body and extract, depth and length. A raspy finish, with heat lingering at the back of the throat. A tasty one with no bad habits.
Highly recommended 91 Points
From the Cellar: Stoneleigh Chardonnay Marlborough 2013 – $
This wine was part of an experiment I started in 2014. I bought a bunch of bottom-tier ‘value brand’ wines from the lauded 2013 vintage, and put them down to see how they would develop over time, and see whether the cheaper products showed cellar improvement and made for better value for money than the more prestigious hand-made ’13 offerings.
This wine was the first out of the blocks for the tranche. Brilliant gold colour. 13.5% alc.
I like the malolactic character and the oak handling of Stoneleigh Chardonnays, especially the Latitude series on the next tier up, so this would be interesting.
Gorgeous warm and rich, buttery and biscuitty golden stonefruit aromas. This wine is showing lovely development. Butterscotch and spice; elegance and intensity.
To taste there were rich flavours bursting from the glass. Caramel, oak, so textural, and with a great acid line underpinning the ripe fruit. Not at all flabby or over-exposed. Spicy finish. Just great.
The wine is nearing a peak, and is superb value for drinking over the next 2 years.
Highly Recommended 92 Points
Rod McDonald Wines ‘One Off’ Marsanne Viognier Gisborne 2015 – $$
A Rhone blend, and a one-off wine conceived and produced by Rod McDonald from the grapes he had at hand. As he says, “once it’s gone, it’s gone”. Indeed, that’s what I usually say when a good bottle goes west…as this one most certainly was.
Pale gold colour. 13.5% alc.
A nose of melon and peach. Perfumed and smoky. A very attractive and immersive floral scent filled the glass, which softened over time to a mellow lifted and savoury expression. Strongly oaked. Quite unique and sophisticated.
In the mouth there was a lovely balance of fruit flavours and spice. There was honey and ginger, citrus and heat. A winning combination of angular minerality and luscious fruity bawdiness.
Highly Recommended – 91 points
Off Topic: GD Vajra Nebbiolo Langhe 2013 – $$$
Dark carmine. 13.5% alc. From a Barolo producer, tho this isn’t one of those stellar wines. Bought from a new Wgtn supplier (for me) – Truffle Imports.
Savoury and spicy, aromatic, chunky and big. Meaty and expressive, with scents of dark plums and cherries.
The wine was smooth and sweet on the palate, with ripe, rich and vivacious fruit flavours. A fresh finish. Really delightful and delicious.
Highly Recommended – 90 points
Tietjen Witters TW Reserve Chardonnay Gisborne 2013 – $$
Off the Ormond Road. Pale gold colour. 13.5% alc.
Dense and layered and very aromatic, with big, buttery and oaky characters in the bouquet. Mango and apricot fruit.
It showed some development in the mouth. Rich mouthfeel with oak and full malo. Flavours of butterscotch, lemon citrus, ginger and honey. A strong spicy oak finish. An appealing and interesting Chardonnay.
Recommended – 87 points
Palliser Estate Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough 2015 – $$
Greenish pale straw colour. 13.5% alc.
I can feel the heat of the Martinborough days and the cool of the nights in the fresh mandarin and lemon bouquet of this wine. It smells of summer sun-blanched grassy hills beside the Ruamahunga River. Light and lifted, with clover honey and pear.
Sweet upfront to taste, there is a restrained citrus character supported through the middle with bags of sweet ripe fruit and bags of flavour. Utterly delish this is. It gives Te Mata’s Cape Crest a good run for the money!
Outstanding – 95 points
Elephant Hill Merlot Malbec Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$
From grapes off Gimblett Gravels and Bridge Pa Triangle vineyards, taasted and bought at the Te Awanga winery. Inky scarlet colour. 13.5% alc.
While 2013 was good for ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 was a good year for Merlot.
This wine showed an expressive bold hit of perfume, soft fruit, plums and vanilla. A gorgeous nose; savoury and smoky.
Rich ripe fruit on the front of the palate, plenty of fruit weight through the middle, supple tannins and a pleasant brusqueness at the finish. Mouthcoating and long.
Highly Recommended – 94 points
Urlar Sauvignon Blanc Gladstone 2015 – $$
Greenish straw colour. 13.5% alc. Organic wine.
This wine exhibited attractive fresh citrus, gooseberry, green apple on the nose. Less assertive with the whole Kiwi green-grass-tom-stalk-and-capsicum thing that Marlborough has going for it.
Soft mouthfeel and citrus flavours going in, and a sharp and short finish. Some oak ferment adds softness and complexity through the middle. A ‘6’ on the 0-10 Kiwi Savvy intensity scale.
Commended – 85 points