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


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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

What’s in the glass tonight January 31st – Riesling


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Craggy Range Te Muna Road Riesling Martinborough 2014 – $$

Pale gold colour. 11.5% alc.

Steely cut-thru on the nose, crisp and ticklish, with scents of lemon and apple and a bit of clover honey.

Off dry. Austere and linear, with crisp citrus fruit flavours, short and sharp. Young and somewhat one-dimensional, but good for the heat of a summer’s afternoon, something that this season has been in short supply of.

Commended  – 84 points

What’s in the glass tonight January 7th – Syrah


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Elephant Hill Syrah Te Awanga Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$

Deep dark carmine. 13.5% alc.

A big, rich and expressive aroma. Plums, savoury with vanilla and white pepper, balsa wood and spice, and a hint of funk.

The flavours show sweet on entry, with rich dark fruit through themed-palate and supple tannins with just enough grip to balance the floral nose, and heat and length at the finish.

This is such a good wine I can really see the kinship this grape has with Pinot Noir. A heady nose paired with a feminine quality on the palate. Sophisticated, delicate fruit with a good core of weight.

Highly Recommended  – 93 points

What’s in the glass tonight January 4th – Syrah


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Bilancia Syrah Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$

Deep dark carmine colour. 13% alc. This Syrah is a blend of three vineyards, 25% La Collina and the remainder from two vineyards located in the Bridge Pa Triangle, plus about 3% Viognier. I like it when Viognier is in the mix – it adds perfume.

There was an expectant savoury nose, with scents of ripe plums, pencils, black pepper, and red roses.

On drinking I noticed the usual rich red fruit flavours, plus there was a confectionery character through the mid palate, with vanilla over-laid, and a peppery finish, long and soft. Medium tannins. I also saw a salty element, and licorice.

Recommended  – 89 points

What’s in the glass tonight December 30th – Merlot Malbec


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Elephant Hill Merlot Malbec Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$

From grapes off Gimblett Gravels and Bridge Pa Triangle vineyards, taasted and bought at the Te Awanga winery. Inky scarlet colour. 13.5% alc.

While 2013 was good for ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 was a good year for Merlot.

This wine showed an expressive bold hit of perfume, soft fruit, plums and vanilla. A gorgeous nose; savoury and smoky.

Rich ripe fruit on the front of the palate, plenty of fruit weight through the middle, supple tannins and a pleasant brusqueness at the finish. Mouthcoating and long.

Highly Recommended – 94 points

What’s in the glass tonight December 8th – Syrah


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Church Road Syrah Hawkes Bay 2014 – $

Inky carmine colour. 13.5% alc.

Michael Cooper rated this wine his best red buy for 2017. He wrote of it, “sturdy, richly flavoured, sharply priced red is not to be missed.  ‘Serious’ but highly approachable, it is mouthfilling, with an array of blackcurrant, plum, spice and nut flavours, hints of black pepper and licorice, and excellent concentration, ripeness and complexity”.

I have to agree. This wine has a beautiful nose, layered, fruity and savoury in equal parts. Softness, with plums and white pepper, vanilla and chocolate. Lots going on, and ‘serious’.

The wine tasted soft and robust, with dense rich fruit, mid-weighted with medium tannin and spice. Well-built, mouth-filling and long, with unctuous umami components and a white pepper finish. The best CR base-level Syrah yet. Superb.

Highly Recommended – 92 points

What’s in the glass tonight November 24th – Shiraz


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Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz Barossa Valley South Australia 2014

A gift from the outlaws on my birthday. Thanks!

Inky carmine. 14% alc.

A rich nose, with scents of dark chocolate, vanilla and oak, ripe black plums, and a brace of boxes – cigar and cardboard.

Big in the mouth, and very attractive. Rich flavours, fresh, with a deep fruit intensity, and a sweet finish.

Very nice.

Highly Recommended – 90 points

What’s in the glass tonight Nov 4th- Chardonnay


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Craggy Range SV Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$

I reckon that the 2014 vintage in the Bay was just as good for Chardonnay as the much-heralded 2013 vintage. And this wine is a good reference point for that claim.

Medium brilliant straw colour. 13% alc. From Te Awanga near Cape Kidnappers.

Toasty oak and mealy aromas. Ripe golden stonefruit. Good density. Elegance and lightness of touch.

Plenty of ripe fruit flavours, extract and sweetness on entry. The citrus freshness you need to see in a good modern oaked Chardonnay is balanced and provides the necessary structure on the mid-palate to avoid flabbiness and bland-ness. Good length in the finish, and no bitterness that might indicate a lack of extract. A delicious and rewarding drop.

92 points

What’s in the glass tonight October 5th – Riesling


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Astrolabe Valleys Riesling Wairau Valley Marlborough 2014 – $

On Spring special at Regional Wines…this took a while to settle down after opening…a somewhat aggressive dry style of Riesling…

11.5% alc. Pale greenish straw colour.

Dry, lean and austere. Lots of citrus notes, & apples… a  premonition of lip-puckering flavours ahoy …with perhaps the occasional wince…

This wine had lots of character. Very assertive, and not so much built for ‘easy drinking’. Some will love this. It took me a few bottles over a couple of weeks to understand it and not freak out too much. Decant, and let it stand for a while. The acid starts to soften, and the fruit shows through. It has an expressive nose from the get-go, which helps a lot.

A hot day’s aperitif, or to accompany sweet seafood and you won’t go wrong.

88 points