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.

What’s in the [Reidel] glass tonight Feb 15th

Haythornthwaite Susan Gewurtz 2008

From the Cellar: Haythornthwaite “Susan” Martinborough Gewurtztraminer 2008 – $$$

L gave me a couple of Reidel glasses for Valentines Day!

The glasses are from the Vinum varietal-specific range. Reidel sez the shape of each glass is designed for an individual wine variety, and enhance the flavour and aroma of that wine when drunk from the appropriate vessel. I am not experienced at drinking from such expensive glassware, and couldn’t attest to the truth of Riedel’s claims, but I know that wines do smell and taste different depending on the glass.

These are Sauvignon Blanc glasses, shaped to suit white wine with two flavour contributors – fermented grape juice and yeast. The person in the shop said the shape would enhance Rose’ also. L and I thought that maybe we would enlarge the tent a little, and try this gewurtz out of them…

The experiment worked. The wine looked, smelt and tasted great. Not sure if it was the quality of the wine, or a placebo effect from the marketing and mystique around the glassware brand.

We knew the wine would be good going in. L and I tasted it at the vineyard on a visit of Martinborough last year, and she bought a bottle to take home with her. It is named after the winemaker’s wife. We were having leftover Indian takeaway for dinner, and thought the gewurz spice would go down well.

The wine is deep gold in colour. 13%. Honeyed and warm with spicy notes. Off dry. Very aromatic. The Reidel’s did what they promised on the tin, and presented a good wine very well. 4.

The first wine in our new house


From the Cellar: Kumeu River Coddington Chardonnay 2008 – $$$

After a long tough day of last-minute packing,  organising, lifting and carrying we are finally in our house. We are sitting in the conservatory, the sun is out, and this wine is in our glasses.

Both the house and the wine is fantastic. 5


What’s in the glass tonight Jan 7th

Vidal HB Merlot Cab 2008

From the Cellar: Vidal Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 – $

Bad News first: I’d enjoy this wine a tad more if I hadn’t bitten the inside of my cheek the night before during J’s birthday dinner at L’s. The swelling gets in the way of the Swirl ‘n Swallow. I am such a numb nut at times…

The Good News: this is one of the beautiful reasons to maintain a wine cellar…

I saw this wine given a five star review by a leading NZ food and wine magazine back in 2010. I then saw it practically given away by a large supermarket chain at $11 a bottle. So I bought a brace and put them away in the Pool Room to ripen for a few years.

And it’s turned into a Stunnah. 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

Superb buying! I’d best look out for the upcoming 2013’s if I don’t perish first from Stupidity.

(AND it looks like vermin have been at my cellar bottle labels! One of my Pride ‘n Joi pinots has had its label almost completely devoured while I’ve been living upstairs. Are they using grape jam as a label adhesive? Just as well I am moving!  Grrr…)

The last wine of 2013

Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir 2008

From the cellar: Mount Difficulty Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 – $$$

This was a truly top Kiwi wine to see in the New Year with (thanks G!).

Dense pinot colour, with a developed fragrant nose of violets and herby wild thyme. It was a big pinot, spicy and slightly dusty, with delicious flavours of ripe black cherries. Tasty from top to bottom (thanks to L, I didn’t have to drive home afterwards. Hurrah!).  A long legged fine wine and superior attitude adjuster from a noble producer: 4.75.


What’s in the glass tonight Dec 11th

Trinity Hill GG Syrah 2008

From the Cellar: Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2008 – $$$

James Brown sang, “Ain’t it funky!” Yes it is, yes it is, this wine…

Lots of funk on the nose. I can see in my mind’s eye the chickens lowing and the cattle cheeping in the barnyard on the floor of the forest. I wonder if it is reduction I smell?

No matter. I really like the bouquet, it sticks to my glass, and adds interest to the tasting. This wine is not as powerful as the Elephant Hill Syrah from a couple of weeks back, but it is elegant. Same deep carmine colour and 13.5%. Dense red fruits, drying off, with typical white pepper. Fine tannins. Short finish.

This wine was Regional Wines top syrah at a tasting back in 2010. It is the stablemate of one of NZs two most notable ultra-premium syrahs, Trinity Hill Homage.

This bottle might have been better consumed younger, when the fruit was fresher. But it’s still bloody interesting, and was worth the wait (and education – I have learned that little bit more about NZ syrah longevity). Danced well with my steak dinner too. 3.5

What’s in the glass tonight Nov 3rd

Three paddles riesling 2008

From the Cellar: Nga Waka Three Paddles Martinborough Riesling 2008 – $$

This is my first Riesling of summer.

It’s a golden colour. 12%. Smells lovely and mature, deep, but no hint of any kero note poking through.

Very tasty wine, packed with flavour. Off-dry tending to medium now.  Ripe and luscious fruit; honey, citrus and toffee apple. It’s still crisp and fresh-tasting after 5 years in the bottle. Good timing to open it now. The wine may have tipped over by next year. 4

What’s in the glass tonight Oct 23rd

Wooing Tree Beetle Juice PN 2008

From the cellar: Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008

This bottle was a gift from an old mate at my housewarming a few years ago. We never got around to drinking it at the time, and I put it away for later.

It is the second label of Wooing Tree Vineyard, found in a beautiful part of the world near Cromwell in Central Otago. The vineyard is named for a magnificent tree at its centre that was known as the ‘wooing tree’ long before vines were planted, and a few locals have surely been conceived under its wide canopy.

BeetleJuice is named for the endangered Cromwell Chafer Beetle Prodontria lewisii, and is not a homage to Michael Keaton.

This pinot noir is a bright plum colour, 14.5%, with a lovely aged savoury nose that opens out in the glass as it sits. Even after five years of just sitting around quietly the wine is still very fruity in the mouth, with the taste of ripe red cherries. Good intensity and depth. Fine tannins, and balanced.

It won gold back in the day. Really delicious. Tastier than the Saddleback from earlier in the week, and it makes me happy again. My mate’s not here to drink it, but as I’m having lunch with him Friday I’d better shout him a good glass of something. 4.

What’s in the glass tonight Sept 29th


From the cellar: Craggy Range SV Te Muna Rd Pinot Noir 2008 – $$$

This is a celebration bottle for the first night of the ski week I am doing with LG, L and her boys.

I am attempting to post this through my Samsung S4. A tiny screen. Wrestling with the mobile technology. Zoning in and out from the conversations around me

The wine is deep ruby in the glass, browning off. Tawny funky bouquet, red cherries. Delicious ripe full fruit flavours of red cherries and plums. Dense but not heavy. Really enjoyable wine. The buy recommendation from three years ago was a right one. Gotta make it last through to tomorrow night though. It’s hard work carrying full bottles up the piste and I have to make wines the I brought up last the distance. 4.5

Ata Rangi Tasting with Helen Masters

Ata Rangi tasting 2013

I attended an excellent wine tasting at Regional Wines on Thursday night. It was hosted by Alistair, and the tasting was led by Head Winemaker at Ata Rangi, Helen Masters.

I am a huge fan of this producer. Over the years I’ve loved drinking their pinots and Celebre and Summer Rose. I’ve got some good bottles in the cellar too, so was real excited about this tasting.

Ata Rangi’s vineyards lie close to, and north of, Martinborough village. The raised ancient seabed that formed the South Wairarapa plain is exposed to the south and sea, so it is surprisingly a cooler climate than Central Otago. The barrier mountain range on the western edge collects most of the rain from the prevailing winds so the climate is dry. Drying winds are a factor, and extensive shelter belts are needed to protect the vines. It is springtime in the vineyard at present, with bud burst approaching, so frost is a concern. It’s an expensive business flying those choppers around keeping the air circulating on still cold nights.

The vineyard was established in 1980, so some of the wines are coming off vines 32 years old. Helen uses fine French oak barrels with a medium toast.

Two flights were presented – whites and reds. I won’t claim to set any serious scores, save to say they all tasted pretty good to me…

Whites Flight:

Riesling Craighall 2009 – 27yr vines from the Craighall Vineyard (was part-owned for a time with Dry River), handpicked, 80 cases made. Light straw colour; leggy; volatile nose; bracing acidity; lovely texture; some citrus, some stonefruit, definitely green apple/apple skin; age-worthier. 4.5

Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – Coolest year since 1993, a hand-picked sav! Helen told us she was after a neutral fruit expression, and used small tanks, lees contact and indigenous yeasts for the ferment. Same colour as the Riesling. Again leggy. Grassy, herby nose but not big with it. Dry and tart. Good Martinborough varietal examplar. I liked it. 4

Pinot Gris Lismore 2013 – A classic Martinborough summer. Fermented in old barrels for texture. Pale yellow. Lightly floral, lightly spiced, in an Alsace style. 8gms residual sugar. Luscious pears, lively sweet with lovely lemonade flavours. One taster thought it was a bit dumb in the bottle yet (2013) but will improve. 3.5

Chardonnay Craighall 2011 – from the eponymous vineyard, vines planted 1983 with the Mendoza clone. This clone is called the ‘hen and chicks’ for the large and small berries produced, with lots of flavour and concentration. Wine is light gold colour. 13.5%. Honey and butterscotch bouquet; ripe fruit taste, balanced with the acid, peaches, stonefruit. Restrained at the moment but will deepen in a few years. 4

Chardonnay Craighall 2008 – Wonderful. Mid gold. 13.5%. I loved the funky smell. Developed, smooth, integrated, the acidity was gone; lashings of unctious butteriness. Yum. Oh why wasn’t the KR Mates ‘08 like this…? 5.

Chardonnay Craighall 2005 – Purity of fruit presence was remarkable in this old kiwi wine. It was deep yellow, but not oxidised. It was funky and rich and luscious. Amazing to see fruit and oak and acid integrate in a bottle. Worth the price of the ticket alone. 5

Reds Flight:

Pinot Noir 2011 – the big ‘un. In 2010 this flagship wine of the company was honoured with the inaugural Tipuranga Teitei o Aotearoa or “Grand Cru of New Zealand“. It is made in a burgundian style with the typical Martinborough savoury olfactory and taste profile. Helen told us it doesn’t go down too well with American consumers who have been raised on Oregon pinots, so Ata Rangi’s main markets are the UK, Oz, Japan and China. The wine is pinot ruby in colour. 13.8%. Floral. Ripe and fruity, grippy, good palate weight. It lingers. Structured, should age well. 4

Pinot Noir 2008 – I loved this. Pinot ruby browning. 13.5%. Mushroom and forest floor bouquet. Ripe berries. Softened. Integrated. Magic. And I’ve got one in the Pool Room. 5

Pinot Noir McCrone 2008 – Younger (2001?) vines. Less shroomy. Pinot Ruby. 14%. Younger, tauter, a bit austere still? Later vintages should be a looker. 3.5

Pinot Noir 2006 – Pinot ruby browned off. 13.5%. Odd, tasted younger than it should have. Some grippy-ness, with bright fruit. Packed with wonderful flavour. 4

Syrah 2009 – 100% syrah. 40% new oak.  First one out of the blocks. Deep magenta. 13.5%. Bit of funk on the nose with white pepper. Savoury edge. Elegant. Fruitful mouthful, fine tannins. A delightful way to end the tasting. Some attendees contended that the wine deviated from type, but I wouldn’t kick it out of bed… 4

After an evening supping quality drops like these, I was replete. The length of the reds were astounding. I still had taste echoes from them in my mouth an hour afterwards.