What’s in the glass tonight March 15th – Sauvignon Blanc

Te Mata Cape Crest 2013

From The Cellar: Te Mata Estate Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$$

I keep banging on about this favourite wine. Vintage to vintage, one of NZ’s finest. Full stop.

14% alc. Greenish straw colour.

An absolutely lovely and unique nose. That’ll be the barrel ferment, in part. Bouquet of orange citrus blossom, gooseberry, and broken tomato vine. Pure and very elegant and refined. Distinctive aroma. So fragrant. Divine.

Smooth, dense and mouthfilling to drink. Such a fantastic expression of NZ Savignon Blanc – complex, layered, and delicious. There is softness and texture from the barrel ferment, generous flavours of golden stonefruit, a touch of tomato sauce. Citrus acid on the finish. A luscious wine, long and long.

I expect to recall this as one of the finest wines I have tasted this year.

Outstanding 98 Points


What’s in the glass tonight March 4th – Chardonnay

KR Estate Chard 2016

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay Kumeu 2016 – $$$

Being the third KR Chardonnay I have tasted these past weeks, this is the flagship Estate-level blended wine, a step up from the Villages wine I enjoy and consider excellent value. Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay is drawn from six different vineyard sites in the Kumeu Region.

14% alc. Pale gold colour.

Restrained mealy and composed. Aromas of white peach and apple.

Rich and stylish on tasting. Crisp and fresh, acid prevails over fruit. Not as elegant or dense as the Coddington, nor as lively and personable as the Villages. Stuck in the middle. Will it age? Appears to have the boldness and structure to do so for another 3 years. Let’s see then…

Recommended 88 Points

What’s in the glass tonight Feb 28th – Chardonnay

Kumeu River Coddington Chardonnay

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

What’s in the glass tonight November 22nd – Chenin Blanc

Millton Chenin Blanc 2007

From the Cellar: Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc Gisborne 2007 – $$$

From the foremost of the few producers of this varietal in New Zealand. I can’t say enough good things about Millton. One of the first wines I collected for the Pool Room.

Brilliant gold colour. 12% alc. A biodynamic wine.

Richly aromatic. Satisfyingly complex secondary and tertiary aromas have developed over the past 10 years under my roof – oranges and golden mangoes and honey, bready and unctuous, cardboard, a citrus tang. Lovely.

Sweet and lively to drink. Juicy and mouthwatering. Bright acid throughout, with golden fruit, mango and orange flavours which end on a slightly bitter biscuit finish, long and hot.

There is such youthful vigour here. There are years ahead for this wine. Wish I had more!

One of my Wines of the Year!

Outstanding 96 points

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

Escarpment Kupe 2013

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

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

Te Mata Elston 2013

From the Cellar: Te Mata Estate Elston Chardonnay 2013 – $$$

From the great Hawkes Bay vintage. 14% alc. Bright gold colour.

Perfumed. Scents of butterscotch, apricots, citrus fruit, spice, hints of menthol and peppermint, honey and white roses.

Warm and rich attack, with a smooth mouthfeel through the middle. Great balance between acid and secondary fruit. Flavours of orange and orange peel oil. Long finish, crunchy with it; lively and mouthwatering.

A fine and complex wine, sophisticated, Burgundian. I really wish i had another bottle somewhere.

Outstanding 95 Points

What’s in the glass tonight August 31st – Pinot Noir

Peregrine PN 2012

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

What’s in the glass tonight July 22nd – Chardonnay

KR Estate Chardonnay 2015

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay Kumeu 2015 – $$$

14% alc. Pale gold colour.

Clear, clean yet complex citrus on the nose, layered and sweet. Stonefruit. Fine and elegant.

The bouquet translates to fresh and crisp sweet citrus flavours, racey acidity, mouthwatering. Ripe peach and lemon sharpness, a brusque finish. Very moreish. Very long, with alcohol heat producing tingling in my gums.

This is a good food wine, and a great aperitif.

BTW this is the best photo that the Prisma app has produced for me so far. Do you agree?

Highly Recommended  91 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

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


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