What’s in the glass tonight April 10th – Cabernet Merlot


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Bell Bird Bay Cabernet Merlot Hawkes Bay 2011 – $

Raymond Chan writes in his review of this wine, “70% Merlot, 13% Malbec, 11% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bridge Pa Triangle district”

Deep ruby colour. 13% alc.

Depp fruit aromas, softness, oak, vanilla, somewhat secondary.

The merlot component imbues softness and luscious dark fruits on palate, with structure from the cabernet components. Slight herbiness. Harmonious.

This wine harbours no faults from age or storage which I have found is rare with aged wines at this price point. A great aged example in this case.

Recommended 86 Points

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What’s in the glass tonight April 1st – Chardonnay


Spy Valley Chard 15

Spy Valley Chardonnay Marlborough 2015 – $

In my opinion, this wine is consistently one of NZs best Chardonnays, vintage on vintage. Must be the site. I have ridden out there a few times. A lovely part of the world.

13% alc. Pale gold colour.

Mealy, golden fruit, aromatic and fine. Notes of oak, vanilla, apricot and mandarin orange and peel.

Fresh and crunchy to taste. Crispness, oak complexity, malo note on the back palate, and meal. Great structure and body. A wine for aging.

Highly Recommended 90 Points

What’s in the glass tonight March 2nd – Riesling


RiverT Risesling

River-T Riesling Waitaki Valley 2016 – $$

It was Riesling Day one day recently down at Regional Wines, and I had a chance to taste-test a lovely dry-ish Riesling from the Waitaki Valley. The wine was River-T Riesling from the 2016 vintage. I liked it and brought a bottle home.

From RW: This wine is made with grapes grown by Murray and Karen Tweed, whose vineyard is 5 kms out of Kurow; the main town in the valley. The couple hand harvested the grapes in mid-May – very late by New Zealand standards since Waitaki Valley is the last region to harvest its grapes each year. This makes it a very cool climate wine region, which just so happens to suit the late ripening Riesling grape pretty darned well. This wine is medium dry (18.3 grams per litre of residual grape sugar – not that it tastes sweet at all). It has 13% alcohol and its natural high acidity lends beautiful balance to this refreshing, crisp, light bodied, full flavoured Riesling.

13% alc. Pale straw colour.

The Waitaki Valley is New Zealand’s smallest wine region. It is better known for generating a hefty amperage of hydroelectric power from a multitude of dams spaced down the Waitaki River, and for flying gliders out of Waimarama. A cool climate you could also say – you can ski up the top end in winter. FWIW Kurow is famous for being the home town of one our our finest All Blacks – Richie McCaw.

In addition to these many attractions I am told there are some splendid grape-growing sites that face the north sun and have great soils.

This wine is leggy. Lovely aromatics. Clear and crisp aromas – melon, grapes, green apple.

Off dry to drink. Delicious and crunchily crisp. Intense fresh fruit flavours, a crisp finish. A perfect summer aperitif wine.

Recommended 89 Points

What’s in the glass tonight Jan 31st – Sauvignon Blanc


Pa Road SB 2017

te Pā Pā Road Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2016 – $

Produced by a family-owned winery with an 800-year tangata whenua connection to the land, this mid-tier wine is made from grapes grown on the McDonald home block vineyard near the Wairau River bar in Marlborough.

13% alc. Drought-pale straw colour.

Clean clear citrus aromas of golden delicious apples, light green capsicum. Very attractive.

On tasting, a simple restrained quality sav is revealed. Not an aggressive style. Balanced fruit and acid. Quite sweet throughout the mid-palate with a sharp finish.

Delicious drinking, and v good value for the price point.

Highly Recommended 92 points

What’s in the glass tonight December 27th– Pinot Noir


Pyramid PN Calrossie 2015

Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection Calrossie Vineyard Pinot Noir Marlborough 2015 – $$$+

I imagine this as an ‘entry level’ offering from a super-premium NZ producer, created from wines from selected single grower vineyards, I suppose to provide more SKUs to sell than what can be made available from the various ‘home blocks’ of Pyramid Valley. And at a much lesser cost too, (for example their two ‘home block’ pinots sell on their website for $130 per bottle), and also considering Pyramid Valley was sold to an American investor last year.

The wine: bright carmine colour, unfiltered, somewhat cloudy. 13% alcohol.

Savoury, perfumed, earthy. Deep red cherries. Great depth and intensity of aroma. Painterly. A serious example of fine Marlborough Pinot Noir.

Sweet fruit on attack. Precise and well extracted. There is good length and density, power, and crunchy finish with spice and heat at the death. I was very impressed by the character and crunch showing on the mid-palate.

Outstanding 96 points

What’s in the glass tonight November 19th – Sauvignon Blanc


Astrolabe Kekerengu Sav B 2015

Astrolabe Kekerengu Coast Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015 – $$

From a reference producer of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, this wine is one of their series of wines exploring sub-regional expressions of the varietal, this example from near the southern coast of Marlborough.

Pale green straw colour. 13% alc.

Grassy and green on the nose. Green capsicum and gooseberries. Apples. A lichen salinity. Ascetic and austere.

Intense and long flavours. Limes and citrus, green tomatoes. Astringent. A grassy long note. Yet still full-flavoured within the confines of the style. Liking the expression of austerity very much!

Highly Recommended 91 points

What’s in the glass tonight November 2nd – Sauvignon Blanc


Dashwood SB 2016

Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2016 – $

Another fantastic Savvy, and cheap too!

Pale straw colour. 13% alc.

A cheery and lively nose, this wine boasted the strongest expression of passionfruit I have ever smelt in a Sauvignon Blanc. There was more to smell every time I went back to the glass: lemons, limes, green apples, hops. Remarkable.

It was crisp and full-flavoured to drink, with a dry apple pip finish.

Highly Recommended 94 points

What’s in the glass tonight August 17th – Crozes Hermitage Blanc


Cave de Tain Crozes Hermitage Marsanne 2013

Off Topic: Cave de Tain Crozes Hermitage Grand Classique Marsanne 2013 – $$$

13% alc. Golden colour.

What a shame. This wine was oxidised, and betrayed the light and aromatic fruit flavours the Marsanne grape should show. And a real shame for a special-occasion bottle costing over $30.

L called this one of my “stinky French whites”. Ugh.

Looking past the aroma, I saw thin fruit (natch), light nutty and biscuit flavours, less white peach than overripe/rotten apple. Slightly cooked. I emailed the wineseller and got a considered reply, and an offer of replacement,  so all good there.

Not Rated

What’s in the glass tonight August 5th – Chardonnay


Selaks Buttery Chardonnay 2016

Selaks Taste Collection Buttery Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2016 – $

13% alc. Gold colour.

L loves a good buttery Chard. This showed bold malo on the nose, generous apricot and peach aromas, oaky influence.

Smooth golden stonefruit flavours to taste. A big generous mouthfeel, and creamy, but not too heavy. A light touch for a heavy white, if you will, seeking balance with acidity on the mid-palate. Medium length. A cheery value winter white, and a welcome return for this expressive and bountiful style of Chardonnay.

L sez “far too drinkable”!

Recommended 88 points

What’s in the glass tonight July 7th – Sticky


Murdoch James Blue Rock Trafalgar

From the Cellar: Murdoch James Blue Rock Trafalgar Martinborough 2009 – $$$

L bought this bottle on our first weekend away to the Wairarapa, when we first started going out. We stayed on the first floor of Turley Red, a pub in Greytown, above the karaoke bar, with non-sound-insulated floors. While trying to sleep the first night we heard every song. We were practically in the bar with the singers…It was a GrabOne deal. We look back and laugh about it now.

Anyway, we did a vineyard crawl one day, and ended up at Murdoch James perched above the old river escarpment, east of Martinborough. I recall gorgeous gardens, and a singularly unique approach to winemaking styles, aimed at the Asian market, for Martinborough.

This wine is a blend of noble Sauvignon Blanc, and late harvest Riesling, a ‘sticky’.

13% alc. Golden colour.

Delicious, evolved, and volatile. A sticky in a big bottle. Fantastic aromas of mandarins, honey, and citrus freshness.

Very sweet on attack (natch), with fresh citrus character throughout the mid-palate, and kero energy at the finish. So good!

Highly recommended 92 points