From the Cellar: Greystone Pinot Noir Waipara 2012 – $$
This wine won ‘Pure Elite Gold’ at the Air NZ Wine Awards in 2013 by showing up and showing off, so I thought it might be a bit good and cellared a bottle then to try later.
Now it’s later, and now, and I see it’s a typical carmine colour, and 13.5% ABV.
On the nose it’s elegant, with floral notes of violets and herbage of thyme, savoury, lightly fruitful, luscious and brambly. Good so far…
There is a sweet attack in the mouth. Fresh acidity with bright red fruit flavours. Great body and extract, depth and length. A raspy finish, with heat lingering at the back of the throat. A tasty one with no bad habits.
Highly recommended 91 Points
From the Cellar: Mudhouse Pinot Noir Central Otago 2012 – $$$
Dark carmine. 12.5% alc.
This was recommended to me a while back by some writer, so I bought a brace for the Pool Room. Opening time…!
I saw a savoury and spicy note under a carpet of herb. Dark fruit, showing depth and intensity of bouquet, with cardboard and boiled lolly.
In the mouth the wine was full and rich. Ripe black cherries carried through to the end with no bitterness or loss of extract. Heat on the back palate. Just lovely.
Highly Recommended – 90 points
Dauvergne Ranvier St Joseph 2012 – $$$
Dark carmine colour. 12.5% alc.
Fairly average I have to say. Shows some varietal and terroir character, but is less round and plump than I had hoped. An entry-level St Joseph perhaps?
Recommended – 86 points
Santagostino Nero d’Avola Syrah Firriata 2012
L and I went to dinner Saturday night at the fantastic Cicio Cacio Osteria in Newtown. I love the food there, and the atmosphere. They like their salt – you are warned!
I had this fantastic wine there. On special. A 50/50 Nero d’Avola/Syrah blend from Sicilia.
Opulent and perfumed and engaging. Totally delicious.
Highly Recommended – 92 points
Julicher Chardonnay Wairarapa 2012
Every year Medical Assurance, L’s insurer, hosts a family Christmas movie night for members and their families at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington. We always go. This year we got to see Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. It was fantastic! Moving and emotive, it explored themes about love, racial tolerance, showing kindness, and the protection of animals. There were even real wizards in the audience….
While waiting for the show to start, we unwound with this lovely wine:
Reductive and funky, with interesting dried apricot citrus characters.
Rich ripe fruit attach, sweet mid palate, nice citrus line, shows the same reduction on palate. Engaging character.
From the Cellar: Villa Maria Private Bin Dry Riesling Marlborough 2012 – $
Pale gold colour. 12.5% alc. This was VM’s 50th anniversary vintage.
I saw a citrus bite to the nose, some mellowness from wood ageing, and notes of apple, honey and sugar confectionery.
A mouthwatering lime + lemon attack in the mouth. Dry, and a great structure, intensity and freshness for their value/basement tier wine. A mandarin and green apple skin finish, lingering.
Off Topic: Ch. Millegrand Minervois 2012 – $
When I was looking for a Rhone, I chose a neighbour instead, Minervois from the Languedoc. A blend of Syrah, Carignan, Grenache and Mourvedre grapes. It won a Medal D’or in 2013.
Dusty carmine colour, showing some tawny browning. 13% alc.
The nose showed soft and savoury, dark fruits and raisins. It was bright and brittle the first night’s tasting so I left half alone. A night’s standing in bottle took the bright edge off the attack and restored some body.
Still, it remained light-bodied, fruit-forward, with soft acids. Little tannin, no bite or grip to this rouge. Simple, straightforward, but disappointing. The nose saved it from mediocrity.
D and R came around for a pre-dinner drink and snack. We polished off my open bottle of E.Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2012 , then I cracked open a E.Guigal Gigondas 2010.
The CdR 2012 was excellent, and looks a great bet for the cellar (Decanter July 2016 rated it 87 pts, saying, “Bright aromas of crisp red fruits, with smoky roasted undertones. Soft notes of creamy vanilla  fine tannins  fresh mineral finish  poised and polished”) (I would score a few pts higher than that), while the Gigondas 2010 appealed to me greatly for its extra concentration, ripe fruit, density and all-round superyumminess (to be scientific).
Good times. Good company!
From the Cellar: Sacred Hill Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2012 – $$
Gold colour. 12.5%
Mealy secondary aromas. Cashews, butterscotch, apricots. Interesting.
I taste dulled fruit, a bit thin at first look, and citrus. This wine died in the glass in a relatively short time, and became unrewarding. Some wines improve with a bit of age, but this was not one of them. Oh well.
Gibbston Valley Gold River Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2012 – $
I am always a sucker when I see an older wine for sale on the shelves of my local supermarket. This one bore a 60% reduction in price, which indicated there may be a problem here, but I took a punt on it nonetheless. The producer has a good reputation.
Golden yellow colour, looking developed. 12.5% alc.
It smelled like it was almost on the turn, with oxidation on the nose, and showing in the colour.
Some acid to taste, butterscotch and almonds, apricots and peaches and lemons. Perhaps a bit soft on attack, but it got leaner and crisper through the mid-palate and finish. Below average. I must avoid heavily discounted older wines…