Bell Bird Bay Reserve Syrah Hawkes Bay 2014 – $
13.5% alc. Deep ruby.
Soft and savoury dark red fruit aromas. Prominent vanilla note to start then this largely blew off. Hint of oxidation. Hint of spice.
Soft and full entry, dry sweetness, sharp and spicy finish. Medium tannins, grippy. Vanilla on the palate with strong oak character. Showing reserve fruit depth and body. Long on the tongue.
I see this wine as quite out of balance re oak/tannin/acid, but it has good bones and delivers a characterful and rewarding drop for the (very little) money. A party wine, this
Recommended 87 Points
Kumeu River Coddington Chardonnay Kumeu 2016 – $$$
This is Kumeu River’s single vineyard wine I generally prefer the most, right from when I first began tasting their wines. I dare say this is because this shows better when young than the more powerful cousins, Hunting Hill and Matés Vineyard Chardonnays.
13.5% alc. Light brilliant gold colour.
Like KRs usually have, a slightly reductive aroma. Fine, lightly scented, with citrus, melon, lemon, butterscotch and spice.
Crisp and fine to taste. Bold acid and golden fruit. Suppler and elegant with a crunchy punch through the mid-palate. Heat on the finish. Very approachable on one hand; this is too young, too soon, on the other…
I feel this wine is not as accomplished as the 2016 Villages blend Chardonnay I tried previously, despite the $ gulf between them
Highly Recommended 90 points
Thistle Ridge Pinot Noir Waipara 2013 – $$
This was a wine I served at my 50th a few years ago. The outlaws brought a bottle over when clearing out their house and offered it to us cos they don’t drinks reds. I was chuffed at the chance to see how this wine had developed in the interim.
Dark carmine colour, tending brick around the rim. 13.5% alc. This wine was recommended in it’s day.
A savoury, dense and luscious nose, with sandalwood, leather, dark fruits and spice. Promising.
This is holding up well in the glass. Good acidity and body. Flavours of dark red plums. Balanced, fresh, with a spicy finish, long. Very attractive.
Very good drinking now. Has enough acid and fruit weight to last longer, and will look even better 1n 2-3 years time.
Highly Recommended 93 points
Kumeu River Village Chardonnay Auckland 2016 – $
Light gold colour. 13.5% alc.
Lovely elegant and expressive nose. Slighlty reductive. Crisp open lifted citris aromas, light stone fruit – unripe apricot – green apple and mint.
Lively and fresh to drink. Crips acid, tingly mouthfeel, mouthewatering, mint again, and complexly layered. Slightly bitter and spicy finish.
This is a wine that really over delivers for its price. Excellent value, just delicious.
Highly Recommended 92 points
Off Topic – E Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2015 – $$
Pale brilliant gold colour. 13.5% alc. 65% Viognier, 15% Rousanne, 8% Marsanne, balance of Bourboulenc and white Grenache
Floral nose of white peach and mandarin, with honey supporting.
Richness and body in the mouth. Flavours of apricots, the unctuousness of honey. A pure elegant and balanced wine. The weight of the Viognier is nicely moderated by the Rousanne and Marsanne.
Like a good Condrieu.
Highly Recommended 91 points
Off Topic: Dom. du Vieux Prêche Sancerre Blanc ASC 2016 – $$
Greenish pale straw colour. 13.5% alc.
My first ever Sancerre Blanc. A wine from one of the two spiritual homes of New Zealand’s most famous wine export, the other being Pouilly-Fumé on the other side of the Loire.
Flat aromatically, open steely and minerally. Curry spice and celery. Lightly fruited – apples, apple pip, exotic pip fruit, balanced acidity expressed on the nose.
Lean and flat in the mouth. Minerals. Funk. None of the ‘dash and splash’ I am used to with an NZ Sauvignon Blanc. No energy or verve in this wine, seems old before it’s time, too cautious. I don’t know enough about this wine to know whether this taste impression is authentic. It can be only confirmed by other bottles. And while I am interested to learn, life is short, and I may stick with what I know and love.
Looking at this wine in isolation, it is pleasant and moreish and drinkable. Like typical old world wines it improves on standing in the glass and with food, and opens up somewhat to show more fruit flavour, but it’s still thin. Emperors clothes, I feel, for this one.
Recommended 84 points
From the Cellar: Kiritea Te Hera Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013 – $$
Deep ruby colour. 13.5% alcohol.
Pronounced floral bouquet with dark cherries, a savoury quality, and cardboard box. It presents as a well-defined and deeply scented wine as I believe a proper Pinot should be.
Sweet entry, smooth to drink, with big fruit flavours. But not brash or simple. Bitter and crunchy on the mid palate, and a peppery finish. Solid, rewarding, primary and persistent, with good structure. I’ll keep my second bottle for another couple of years based on this showing.
Highly Recommended 92 points
From the Cellar: Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013 – $$$
The flagship Pinot from one of Martinborough’s most experienced winemakers. I have been to many Escarpment tastings, and bought wine following each one. This bottle was one of those, liberated from the cellar to see what development there was after 5 years.
Deep ruby colour. 13.5% alc.
On the nose the wine showed heady, savoury, luscious and dense aromas. There was a subline character to the nose with scents of boxwood, soft red fruit, lanolin, licorice and dark red roses.
The palate told a shorter story: a sweet entry with a bitter finish. It seemed astringent, thin, metallic and hollow. There were red fruit there, but not enough flavour to balance the drying tannins. Finished somewhat long, but it didn’t improve on standing. The nose stayed firm however.
Had this wine “tunnelled”? I have had a couple of disappointing cellar experiences with the Escarpment wines I have bought for the Pool Room, including a Pahi tasted last year. They show so well on release. Had I opened them too early? Or are they not built for the long term? Don’t know, but I have to say I was saddened. I was hoping for this wine to be tremendous. I’ll keep the second one another couple of years and see how it fares.
Recommended 86 points
Ohau Woven Stone Pinot Noir Martinborough 2014- $$
A gorgeous colour – bright clear ruby. 13.5% alc.
Showing nice development, with savoury and leafy characters, red cherries, dustiness and fustiness, and spice. Enveloping and engaging.
Sweet at first taste, quickly opens to fine, drying tannins and lean red fruits. Piquant acid, crunchy. Licorice and white pepper flavours. Long, grassy.
Recommended 88 points
From the Cellar: Peregrine Pinot Noir Central Otago 2012 – $$$
In good Pinot Noir, there is that distinctive catch at the back of the throat which is so typical of the wine varietal showing sufficient extraction, a little like the feeling I get when I think I am just coming down with a cold. This wine had that…
13.5% alc. Dark dusky browning carmine colour.
A difficult wine to assess at first. It opened up quite stinky, very savoury and overblown, but this gassed off after a while. Showed delicate and dusty dark cherry fruit aromas. Sweet and lifted oak notes, with the usual Central herbal terroir character edging the bouquet with thyme. Damp earth/heaped wet leaves.
Light and sweet fruit flavours on entry, a little thin. Although this impression might be because my red wine diet has been mostly restricted to Syrah and Shiraz this winter and I have lost the taste for a lighter style of red. Refreshing acidity on the middle palate, medium tannins, and quite persistent. The catch at the back of the throat I wrote about above.
Density and presence of nose informs every mouthful. It is what I love about good Pinot.
High Recommended 92 Points