Off Topic: Oveja Tinta Graciano Cuenca Espana 2016 – $
Graciano is one of Spain’s best kept wine secrets – a red grape with thick skins that is a tricky customer to grow, which means there’s precious little of it, even in the vineyards of the Rioja, where it is often called ‘the virtual grape’- and is a traditional ingredient in the wine of the same name.
Deep carmine colour. 14.5% alc.
Fruity and opulent.
High acid, refreshing and juicy. Great fruit depth and ripeness. Potential to age. Grunty.
Highly Recommended 90 Points
Church Road McDonald Series Merlot Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$
14.5% alc. Deep carmine colour.
From the celebrated 2013 vintage in the Bay. Tasted over two nights.
First impression: complex and leafy on the nose, odd for a good year, brusqueness and drying tannin on palate, but with potential to age, the shortness on palate perhaps indicating the wine has stalled, with another 2-3 years needed to kick on to a stage when it will begin drinking really well.
Second look after a day open: dark fruits, roses, cedar and vanilla. Soft and aromatic. Unctuous and delicious in the mouth with rich flavours of dark plums, dark red roses, and tobacco to match bouquet. Balanced. Drying tannins offset by fresh acidity, and enveloped by the typical varietal softness of Merlot.
Highly Recommended 90 points
From the Cellar: Millton Clos Ste Anne The Crucible Syrah Gisborne 2009 – $$$
As I have said many, many times – biodynamic Millton Vineyard is one of my favourite producers. James and Annie possess one of the most beautiful vineyard sites in one of the most special parts of New Zealand (disclosure: a branch of my family immigrated into NZ through Gisborne two centuries ago, and I love the place, so I’m biased). And they treat their land so well and with so much respect through their viticultural stewardship. To open one of their wines is always a treat and an occasion to savour.
Now, having talked up the wine incredibly….
Inky red black colour, slightly browning at the rim. 14.5% alc. Whole berry in the maceration, with some Viognier in the blend.
Floral, spicy and perfumed nose. Lifted. Soft rich black fruit, and white pepper.
In the mouth there was an absolute abundance of sweet rich black fruit, with perfect ripeness and weight. Apparent oak and vanilla, but it didn’t detract. Smooth and deep, with notes of port and raisin and dark chocolate. Balanced acid, fruit and tannin. A long peppery finish. Superb, just delicious.
Outstanding 97 points
Off Topic: Dom. Les Grands Bois les Trois Sœurs Cotés du Rhone Rouge 2014 – $$
Named for the three sisters of the producer.
Inky carmine colour. 14.5% alc.
This wine smells soft and savoury and gracious. Ripe plums and red berries. Cardboard box.
Full and fleshy, ripe and luscious to drink. There are chewy raspy tannins, a sweet finish, and pleasant heat at the death. Lovely!
Recommended 89 Points
Off Topic: Hogshead Old Vine Shiraz South Australia 2014 – $
And it’s time for yet another Aussie Shiraz. I am loving the intense fruit flavours and enveloping softness of these wines…
Dark red. 14.5% alc.
Aromatic, soft ‘n fruit. Savoury character, with blackberry fruit, lightly oaked, and light on the ol’ vanilla…
Sweet entry on palate. Spice and full-bodied fruit, medium tannins, and a typical touch of chocolate. Quite smoky this one, nice. Medium length, with bright acid on the finish.
I liked the smokiness. 89 points
Stone Cutter Pinot Gris Martinborough 2013 – $$
Pale greenish gold colour. 14.5% alc.
Clean lifted aromas of golden apple and pear.
Off dry, lightly spiced on taste. Ripe and fresh. Typical notes of honey and Turkish Delight. This is a strong and delicious Gris. The lack of the typical PG bitterness on the finish is also very welcome. 90 points.
Off Topic: Koonunga Hill Shiraz 2014 – $$
14.5% alc. Dark red.
There has to be a first time for everything: Camping at Kaitoke Regional Park & trying this eponymous mid-level value Penfolds Shiraz.
I was surprised by the quality and depth of this wine. Soft and fruity and savoury oak and vanilla and blueberries and choc.
In the mouth it is muscular with grippy tannins and strong fruit flavours – prunes and matchbox. Long savoury finish. Very rewarding as a full red, less so if you want a Rhone expression.
Church Road Merlot Cabernet Malbec Hawkes Bay 2013 – $
Another value red ’13 that I haven’t yet had the chance to taste. Their ’13 Chardonnays were fab, and their ‘14’s even better. This should be better than ok.
Deep, dark carmine colour. 14.5% alc – a hot one for a New Zealand wine.
On the nose, soft gentle aromas of fallen red orchard stonefruit. Vanilla and jam. A touch of matchbox and graphite pencil. A complex nose for its age.
Melodious sweet ripe fruit to first taste, with flavours of black plums, and soft on the mid-palate. Medium-weighted tannins towards the rear. Cocoa and again, matchbox, at the death.
A good BBQ wine for the early summer evening Wellington chill. A bit too soft for me, I prefer a greater cabernet component for more tannins.
Brancott Estate Merlot Hawkes Bay 2013 – $
An award winner. Inky magenta. 14.5%. Dense fruit-filled nose of dark stonefruit and choc.
Rich and concentrated in the glass. Lots of fruit, fine tannins. Silky, quite sweet. Nice length.
Great red wine for the price.
Man O’ War Ironclad Waiheke 2008
Waiheke Island is rich in history; Captain James Cook anchored there during his first voyage around New Zealand in 1769 and taking note of the magnificent stands of Kauri trees, wrote in the his journals that they would make ideal masts for the “Man O’ War” warships for the Royal Navy. On a trip to the island I once found a shard splintered from a stone Maori adze that must have been worked on the very beach I was standing on over a century earlier.
This is a Bordeaux varietal wine made from a family owned wine estate situated in the iron rich clay hills of Waiheke Island off the coast of Aukland in the Hauraki Gulf. Man O’ War is owned by one of NZ’s richest families, the Spencers. They made their money from making a variety of things, including loo roll.
The wine is produced from 45 different parcels of grapes. This vintage comprises 52% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc, 10.5% Melbec, 9.1% Petit Verdot, and 1.4% Cabernet Sauvignon. Not sure why they bothered with the last component, no more than a margin of error in quantity…
Anyway, this wine was bloody marvellous. 14.5%. Inky black magenta. Dense rich nose. Vanilla.
Deep and aromatic with an intense attack and soft smooth texture following on, and with nicely concentrated black fruit flavours and cedar and spice. Firm tannins and a fantastic finish. Age, grace and power.