What’s in the glass tonight Nov 19th – a Merlot


CJ Pask Merlot 2008

From the Cellar: CJ Pask Gimblett Road Merlot Hawkes Bay 2008 – $$

Browning dark magenta. 14% alc.

This took a day to open up in the bottle once the stelvin was cracked.

On bouquet – soft and lush, spicy and savoury. Matchbox and cardboard. Licorice.

In the mouth – rich fruit, backing off a touch now, but not as tertiary as I might have expected. I saw prune, fig and dark chocolate flavours. Dusty tannins. Long finish. Bags of character.

VG 4

What’s in the glass tonight Aug 10th

Beronia Rioja Reserveva 2008

From the Cellar: Beronia Rioja Reserva Spain 2008 – $$

D, a mate of mine, and I went to a Negociants tasting a wee while back, and I chose a couple of bottles of this wine to bring home with me afterwards for the Pool Room. However, being a 2008, it was already quite well-hung (in a game-hunting butchery kind of way), so I saw no issue in knocking the top off this bottle sooner rather that later…

I recall from the tasting that I liked this wine because it was well-advanced, with no faults, and exhibited a great sense of place. Here in this part of the New World, older local examples are hard to come by. If I do find them, I don’t know their storage provenance, and I have had some that have tasted stewed or oxidised through poor cellaring (I am guessing). So this obviously dilutes my pleasure, masks whatever characters of terroir the wine may impart, and the risk puts me off! So when I am offered a chance to buy an older wine out of the box, from a reputable supplier, and at a good price, then I am very keen to.

Pitch dark crimson colour. Browning at the edges. 14% alc.

A very developed tertiary nose. I saw licorice, dried fruits, vanilla, spice and cloves. Lovely!

In the mouth the wine was dense, with receded purple stonefruit flavours. There was licorice on palate too.  A meaty character. There was oak and vanilla, to be expected. Good tannins, not rough, with a long spicy finish. Fabulous.


What’s in the glass tonight May 16th

Man O War Ironclad 2008

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.


Outstanding 5

What’s in the glass tonight Sept 14th

Kidnapper Cliffs Ariki 2008

Hammer Time: Kidnapper Cliffs Ariki Hawkes Bay 2008 – $$$

From the cellar by way of a Dunbar Sloane wine auction a while ago. Don’t remember how much I paid for it. Don’t recall it was a bargain. Blend of Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sav. 13% alc. It’s a bit flash this wine, cos the bottle was individually numbered. Which I think is a bit pseud, considering a wee rodent nibbled away at the label when I wasn’t looking.

Raymond Chan writes of this wine in 2011: ” The flagship label for Kidnapper Cliffs, from a cooler vintage in Hawke’s Bay, producing wines of real aromatic interest. 75% Merlot from ‘Zone 6′, 20% Cabernet Franc from ‘Zone 11′ and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from ‘Zone 24′ in the Gimblett Gravels, fermented to 13.5% alc., aged in 33% new French oak for 18 months. Vinification and bottling at Dry River winery, Martinborough.”

In the light, inky black with a tinge of scarlet on the rim, not browning. Built for the long term I see.

A warm, rich nose. Aniseed, baking spice, vanilla.

Very balanced. A dense core of ripe fruit tasting of black plums and dried fruit; cocoa and cedar wood. Sensitive oak handling. Length. This was a top wine. It could easily have hung out in the cellar for another 5 years. A great buy at the auction. 5

What’s in the glass tonight August 18th


Coal Pit SV Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008

L took me away down to beautiful Queenstown for a naughty night, and for dinner with her old friend F and husband C, who flew over from Sydney for a week’s skiing. Q’town was stunning, and our meal at Josh Emmet’s Madame Woo restaurant was delish. Good call L!


I enjoyed a new wine, Coal Pit Pinot Noir 2009 from a single vineyard in the nearby Gibbston Valley. Soft mouthfeel, black cherries, herby, a touch of espresso, dates. Bottle age adds complexity. Begged a second glass. 4

& made me forget the Rabbit Ranch pinot cordial I endured earlier in the evening at another place. Too bad there was no time to ski Coronet Peak, the Remarkables or Cardrona…


What’s in the glass tonight June 14th

Vidal Merlot Cab Sav 2008

From the Cellar: Vidal Hawkes Bay Merlot Cab Sav 2008 – $

This was cheap when I bought it, but it came recommended by a popular foodie magazine. I bought a brace of bottles, and tried the first back in January. This was what I wrote about it then:

Inky blood-black colour. 13.5%. A blend of merlot, cabernet, malbec and franc. It has a warm and enveloping bouquet. Notes of vanilla and cassis and cedar wood. Balanced mature flavours of ripe plums and blackberry wine gums, molasses and fruitcake spice to taste. Long and unctuous, with good lip-smacking tannins at the finish. 4.5

Well, what I have here in my glass now must be a bad ‘un. The wine is the same colour, and has the same bouquet notes, but it is much backed off. Thinner on the palate, reedy, some bitter characters, acidic, lack of unctuousness. The damn thing doesn’t have the breeding to ‘tunnel’, so it must be a fault. I’m gonna leave it alone for another day or so and see if what’s left in the bottle wakes up.

And I did…and for another day after. The wine got softer and rounder. The harder metallic edge evaporated and richer notes of fruit came to the fore. It got better, although not as flavourful and exemplary as the January example. 3

What’s in the glass on ANZAC Day, Lest We Forget

Te Mata Bullnose 2008

From the Cellar: Te Mata Estate Bullnose Syrah Hawkes Bay 2008 – $$$+

J+R invited L and I to their house tonight for dinner, and to check out progress on the building of an extension on the back of their house. I raided the cellar to select their preference – a syrah.

The extension was nicely planned. I really liked the big sliding doors they have opening out on to a new deck area. They face the rising sun, and will admit lovely morning light into a new lounge area in front of the girl’s bedrooms.

The dinner was delicious too – med rare lamb rack, mash and beans. With gluten free bread pudding and vanilla bean icecream for afters!

This wine was superb with dinner. Dark inky carmine colour. Intense aromatics, all smoky and brambly fruit. Dense in the mouth, packed with mature dark berry flavours and spice. Balanced and even structure, not textural or tannic. Mouthcoating. Plenty of depth and length. A grunty syrah. 5

What’s in the glass tonight April 14th


From the Cellar: Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008 – $$$

One of the best wines from the Pool Room. I’ve been saving it for a proper occasion and nothing gets more proper than marking the time when L and I completed our first DIY project together!

i tried this wine last year at an Ata Rangi tasting and was blown away by its purity and strong expression of premium Mbo Pinot.

Almost black carmine colour. 13.5%. Dense bouquet of spice, dark cherries and wet forest. Wonderful concentration of rich fruit flavours, black currants . Perfect balance of spice notes and ripe fruit and catchy tannins. Long finish. Top drop. 



What’s in the glass tonight March 9th


Kingsmill Tippetts Dam Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2008

I haven’t blogged much lately. L and I have been heavily involved in beginning the house renovation project instead.  A mate, and reader, came up to me the other night and asked me if I’d stopped drinking? Fat chance. This work will go on for some time, and I will need constant fortification during the process. I’ll just store my notes for later…

…and, also, we just hosted our housewarming! It was a great night. Many dear friends came, and we had a fun BBQ and party that lasted into the witching hours.

One of the benefits of friends knowing you write a wine blog is that they give you great bottles as gifts. And we were blessed that night. Here is one…

A gift from M&L. 14%. Deep carmine colour, brown around the rim. Savoury and aromatic. Ripe red fruit in the mouth. A nice touch of licorice, thyme. Smooth, easy tannins. A light style pinot, tasty and mature. 4

What’s in the glass tonight Feb 25th

Tiritiri Gisborne Chardonnay 2008

From the Cellar: Tiritiri Estate Gisborne Chardonnay 2008 – $$$

I could kick myself. This one slept a couple of years too long I regret to say. Yellow gold. 13%. Mature nose, taint of oxidation. The oxidation carries through to the wine, and clouds the appealing nutty and sunny character of the wine. I bought it after a tasting at the Gisborne Wine Centre a few years back, and should really have opened it earlier. The wine is better than how it shows here, and to be fair, would be close to a 4 if I’d kept it in better nick. L liked it, so the quality was in there.

An organic producer too, and they claim to be NZ’s smallest vineyard.  500 rows, producing 50-100 cases. Damn, that makes me feel stink.