From the Cellar: Te Mata Estate Elston Chardonnay 2013 – $$$
From the great Hawkes Bay vintage. 14% alc. Bright gold colour.
Perfumed. Scents of butterscotch, apricots, citrus fruit, spice, hints of menthol and peppermint, honey and white roses.
Warm and rich attack, with a smooth mouthfeel through the middle. Great balance between acid and secondary fruit. Flavours of orange and orange peel oil. Long finish, crunchy with it; lively and mouthwatering.
A fine and complex wine, sophisticated, Burgundian. I really wish i had another bottle somewhere.
Outstanding 95 Points
Off Topic: Cave de Tain Crozes Hermitage Grand Classique Marsanne 2013 – $$$
13% alc. Golden colour.
What a shame. This wine was oxidised, and betrayed the light and aromatic fruit flavours the Marsanne grape should show. And a real shame for a special-occasion bottle costing over $30.
L called this one of my “stinky French whites”. Ugh.
Looking past the aroma, I saw thin fruit (natch), light nutty and biscuit flavours, less white peach than overripe/rotten apple. Slightly cooked. I emailed the wineseller and got a considered reply, and an offer of replacement, so all good there.
Church Road McDonald Series Merlot Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$
14.5% alc. Deep carmine colour.
From the celebrated 2013 vintage in the Bay. Tasted over two nights.
First impression: complex and leafy on the nose, odd for a good year, brusqueness and drying tannin on palate, but with potential to age, the shortness on palate perhaps indicating the wine has stalled, with another 2-3 years needed to kick on to a stage when it will begin drinking really well.
Second look after a day open: dark fruits, roses, cedar and vanilla. Soft and aromatic. Unctuous and delicious in the mouth with rich flavours of dark plums, dark red roses, and tobacco to match bouquet. Balanced. Drying tannins offset by fresh acidity, and enveloped by the typical varietal softness of Merlot.
Highly Recommended 90 points
Off Topic: Domaine Faiveley Rully Les Villeranges Cote Chalonnaise 2013 – $$$+
L and I went up to Auckland to see Sigur Ros, one of my favourite bands. The light show was amazing and made up a little for the their lack of emotion and engagement with the audience. They didn’t play my two favourite tunes either – Samskeyti and Von – but what they did play was layered and dense and crafted…a tick for the bucket list…
On the Saturday night we went to eat at White & Wongs, an Asian fusion restaurant at the edge of Viaduct Basin. The food was abso delicious. We started with a glass of Moet, then shared a bottle of Dom. Faiveley Rully Les Villeranges 2013. It was flinty and austere and restrained and lean.
Recommended 88 points
Off Topic: Sebastiani Zinfandel Sonoma County 2013 – $$
Nice to pull a cork every now and then…
14.6% alc. Inky ruby. This may be a monster….
Sumptuous and rich bouquet, with strong aromas of black fruit, vanilla and cedar…
..and a mouthful of the stuff shows it’s packed with flavour – luscious dark fruits, plums, prunes – and with a really hot finish. Spicy through the mid palate, and finished very fleshy, and scratchy.
A showstopping, car-crash of a wine, this. Too much alcohol. It may have suited the beef stroganoff we ate for dinner, but it’s no good as an aperitif. A firestarter maybe, not a fireside drinker…
Too bad. An earlier vintage really impressed me up the skifield three years ago. Perhaps the high altitude dulled my senses? The grunty and forward fruit flavours really showed well up there in the cold.
However, I still mark this wine Highly Recommended and score it 90 points, as I reckon you gotta give a belter like this it’s due. But this wine would be even better if it were a point and a bit less alcoholic!
A drought wine?
Highly recommended 90 points
Off Topic: Olivier Leflaive Les Sétilles Bourgogne 2013 – $$$+
I bought this bottle to take to a friend’s 70th and share with L. I thought it was a bit funky at first, and perhaps faulty, but friends who have a good nose tried it and agreed that this wine was pretty good. Fine minerality, a steely austere quality, and crisp acidity. Delish!
Unfortunately L didn’t like it much. I have my eye on a Marsanne/Rousanne Northern Rhone blend for next time – she might like that better!
Highly recommended 90 points
Escarpment Riesling Martinborough 2013
This was a generous gift from MM for me being chauffeur at the recent biking weekend. Much appreciated, mate.
Brilliant pale greenish straw colour. 12% alc.
The nose was delightfully aromatic and phenolic, showing lean and crisp acidity, with a layered note of honey.
Natch, the wine was dry/off-dry, lean, and angular to taste as well. Salty, and sharp through the mid palate, with a short crisp mineral finish. I loved the mouthwatering acidity. An arresting wine, cerebral even (if I err into weinwank for a moment…J )
Very enjoyable. I liked seeing the sweetness dialled back in this white.
Highly Recommended – 90 points
Abbey Cellars Rapture Merlot Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$
Dark plum red colour. 14% alc.
A layered and chunky nose, soft ripe sweet black fruit, big on vanilla, and a bit funky. The funkiness got stronger as the wine got air.
Full and soft to drink. Medium tannins. A structural feel in the mouth, a soapy and spicy finish. I could feel the alcohol heat.
The wine then alarmingly wilted in the glass after time, and unpleasantly. I have rarely seen this. It either lacks the extract or fruit weight to sustain itself in contact with air, or it had been poorly stored. A very odd wine to work out – it opened so promising, and then fell over almost completely. A real shame.
From the Cellar: Stoneleigh Chardonnay Marlborough 2013 – $
This wine was part of an experiment I started in 2014. I bought a bunch of bottom-tier ‘value brand’ wines from the lauded 2013 vintage, and put them down to see how they would develop over time, and see whether the cheaper products showed cellar improvement and made for better value for money than the more prestigious hand-made ’13 offerings.
This wine was the first out of the blocks for the tranche. Brilliant gold colour. 13.5% alc.
I like the malolactic character and the oak handling of Stoneleigh Chardonnays, especially the Latitude series on the next tier up, so this would be interesting.
Gorgeous warm and rich, buttery and biscuitty golden stonefruit aromas. This wine is showing lovely development. Butterscotch and spice; elegance and intensity.
To taste there were rich flavours bursting from the glass. Caramel, oak, so textural, and with a great acid line underpinning the ripe fruit. Not at all flabby or over-exposed. Spicy finish. Just great.
The wine is nearing a peak, and is superb value for drinking over the next 2 years.
Highly Recommended 92 Points
Off Topic: GD Vajra Nebbiolo Langhe 2013 – $$$
Dark carmine. 13.5% alc. From a Barolo producer, tho this isn’t one of those stellar wines. Bought from a new Wgtn supplier (for me) – Truffle Imports.
Savoury and spicy, aromatic, chunky and big. Meaty and expressive, with scents of dark plums and cherries.
The wine was smooth and sweet on the palate, with ripe, rich and vivacious fruit flavours. A fresh finish. Really delightful and delicious.
Highly Recommended – 90 points