What’s in the glass tonight May 27th

Mission Estate HB Chardonnay 2013

2013 Cheap Chardys: Mission Estate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 – $

I recall early last year listening to Nick Buck at the 2013 Te Mata showcase telling us attendees how good the 2013 Hawkes Bay vintage was looking. Commentators since have been saying the same thing:

“Some are calling the Hawke’s Bay wine vintage of 2013 the best ever, a once-in-a-lifetime vintage created by an exceptional summer. Roger Moroney asked Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association chairman Nicholas Buck what the stunning vintage meant to the wine industry and the region. Buck says, “The 2013 wine growing season is certainly a 10 out of 10 vintage for Hawke’s Bay. The long, dry, settled summer provided ideal conditions and 2013 will undoubtedly produce some of the greatest wines in Hawke’s Bay’s wine history.”

“For Tim Turvey of Clearview Estate Winery, this was the best vintage in his 30 years of winemaking. “2013 will be the Hawke’s Bay vintage of the century; it’s been perfect across all varieties.”

Tony Bish of Sacred Hill makes the same claim for his 32 years’ winemaking in New Zealand. He believes the 2013 vintage will be one that “people drink and talk about for the next 20 years.. the ‘best in living memory… the stuff legends are made of’..”

“Overall, the wines that will be rolling out in two to four years’ time will have people talking about Hawke’s Bay, and our suitability for producing later ripening reds and chardonnays, for years. It’s going to be good for wine drinkers who will be accessing better wines across the board,” says McDonald.”

So, hencely, I’ve been eagerly waiting for the ‘13s to arrive on the shelves.

However, I think it’s easy to imagine that the top wines will be good. Hell, they are often great in average years. So how about the sub-$20 drops? Will this top vintage improve some of them to the point that they could be collected in bulk, and stored for later, and for longer, and provide more rewarding enjoyment, for mere pennies? I’m going to take a good look at this category over the next few months, starting with this supermarket standard…

13%. Light yellow. Fresh nose of peaches and apricots, with a citrus zing. In the mouth the wine exhibits a light body, with freshness and ripe fruit, but shows enough austerity and acidity to give it a nice character. It’s not a fruit bomb, nor a butterball, and that’s good.

It’s a keeper. 3+

The quotes above have come via Hawkes Bay Today, The New Zealand Herald, and Decanter.com. Thanks and hat tip.

What’s in the glass tonight Dec 21st


Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011 – $$$

I have been fortunate to enjoy a few different pinots this Christmas. There was the moreish Tohu Marlborough 2011 at The Laundry bar on Cuba St (3.5) and the Urlar Gladstone 2011 at St John’s Bar (2.75). There was the Brodie Estate I posted about earlier too.

Now I get to taste a pinot from the top shelf of Central Otago. A birthday gift from my folks. From one of my favourite producers.

Carmine colour. 13.5%. Richly floral bouquet with herby notes and wood. Dense and flavoursome in the mouth with rich cherries and black plums. Tannic. Long finish. Good on the first night, and the leftovers the following day were even better. 4

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 13th

Penthouse Chardonnay 2009

Hammer Time: Palliser Estate Pencarrow Chardonnay 2009 – $

It’s not often I get another go at an old(er) wine I have reviewed before. But I have the opportunity with this one, courtesy of my recent auction win of a brace of bottles.

Earlier I posited that this wine had jumped the shark. Having another look now, I can confirm that it is still a mature wine. But oxidation is not evident in this bottle.

Light gold colour. Old vanilla and oak aromas. Mellow, round and creamy and quite smooth to taste. Lots of golden stonefruit and honey. I am intrigued by the smell of this wine – it reminds me of fresh bandages. Funny that. 3.5

What’s in the glass tonight Nov 15th

Mount Riley Riesling 2013

Mount Riley Marlborough Riesling 2013 -$

Spring-y nose of lemons and pears. 12%. Straw colour in the glass. Young, bright, fresh and zesty in the mouth with light lemon crisp varietal flavours. Off dry. To my taste, the absence of weight detracts to begin with, but after a short while the light touch of the wine grows on me. Gold Medal at the NW Wine Awards 2013.

For those who love Savs and Pinot Gris, drink this instead. 3.5


What’s in the glass tonight Oct 28th

Ata Rangi Summer Rose 2013

Ata Rangi Wairarapa Summer Rosé 2013 – $$

I think of this wine as one of our local rock stars. While I am not a huge fan of rosé, I have been drinking this version on and off for over a decade.

Years ago I remember heading over the hill to Toast Martinborough (the wine festival held each November), after telling my ex “it is never cold over there so dressing light is fine”, then standing inside a chilly marquee at Ata Rangi, wearing a T-shirt and sandals and drinking this wine while freezing southerly gales raged outside!

Moving to the present-day, I have survived three intense sessions of cycling training this weekend and was feeling pretty knackered this afternoon. L is heading over to the US for a conference next week, and I’ve been saving this bottle to drink with her before she went, as I know she likes a nice rosé.

First off, it sez Wairarapa on the label. Usually it sez Martinborough. Now, I’m a bit picky and to me Wairarapa does not mean the same as Martinborough when it comes to wine provenance. At least to me, anyway. So I had a look at their website and read that the grapes for this wine come from a variety of sites: mostly Merlot from Ata Rangi’s Di Mattina block, with a bit of Mebus Syrah from Kahu Vineyard, both in Martinborough, and a little Pinot Noir from the leased Waiora Block which is about 7kms south. I guess the spread of properties meant the producers had to put the Wairarapa appellation on the bottle.

The wine looks really appealing to the eye in the afternoon sun. L sez it is like drinking jewels and rubies. It is the most brilliant pink ruby colour. 13.5%. Lovely light nose of florals and melons. Watermelon and cranberries in the mouth, and hint of red capsicum too. Medium-dry. Doesn’t disappoint. 3.5.

Sileni Cab Franc Rose 2013

Then I was offered a glass of Sileni Hawkes Bay Cabernet Franc Rosé 2013

This was paler in colour – a light dusky pink. It was sweeter too, raspberry on nose and in mouth. Softer. 2.75

What’s in the glass tonight Oct 26th

Hihi Albarino 2013

Hihi Gisborne Albarino 2013 – $$

My parents brought this bottle when they came to stay with me this Labour Weekend. I have never before tried Albarino, a varietal white wine made from a white wine grape originating from Galicia in Spain, also known as Alvarinho, and sometimes as Cainho Branco.

Wikipedia sez the grape is noted for its distinctive aroma, very similar to that of Viognier, Gewurztraminer, and Petit Manseng, suggesting apricot and peach. The wine produced is unusually light, and generally high in acidity with alcohol levels of 11.5–12.5%. Its thick skins and large number of pips can cause residual bitterness.

Hihi Wines website also sez [they are] a small boutique winery based in Ormond, Gisborne. The label was launched in 2005 with 200 cases sold in the first year. Growth has been rapid with over 2,000 cases sold in 2012.

Hihi means “rays of the sun” referencing Gisborne, the ‘first city to see the sun’ and is also the name of the Stitchbird, Notiomystis cincta, one of NZ’s rarest birds.

This is what I sez: pale greenish straw colour, 14%. Smells sweet and fruity, a combo of sav blanc and viognier. I taste bracing fresh citrus fruit, and honey sweetness. There is acidity as well as ripeness.  No bitterness here. It’s a bit like a fresh medium riesling in that regard. A light wine, well suited as an aperitif with finger food.

L sez I am not one to change gears quickly, so it is good for me to say I like this wine. And will try again.

As well as Albarino, Hihi Wines is also growing uncommon grape varieties (in NZ) such as Verdelho, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Grenache, Mourvedre, Pinotage, Carmanere, and Touriga Nacional. They are someone to keep an eye on, as is this easy-drinking wine over the next 1-2 years. 3.5

What’s in the glass tonight Oct 21st

Saddleback Pinot Noir 2011

Peregrine Saddleback Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011 – $$

This wine’s been winning a few friends lately. I have a bottle in the Pool Room, but I thought I’d get in early and see what the fuss is about.

First impressions, it’s pretty good. Lighter that the Peregrine big sister, but also half the price. Deep bright magenta. 13.5%.

Light floral top note, some foxglove. Definite mushroom/forest floor bottom note, and slightly herby. Nice one. I could sniff it all night.

In the mouth there are red fruits, sweetness, fine tannins, balanced with body and depth. Lovely weight in the mouth for a sub-$25 pinot. Bit o’length as well.

Like any lighter pinot it doesn’t like being left alone in the glass for too long, and will develop that metallic tang thing. Just as well I’m thirsty. Solves that problem. It will improve in bottle two years I think.

Alas I am ruined for this level of pinot noir, it makes me want to drink the real thing… 3.75

What’s in the glass tonight Oct 10th

pop up zombie by ssamanthaa

Church Road Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012 – $

I blogged about this wine back in Jan…and here it pops up again, en speciale,  like a zombie back from the dead. I wrote at the time, “This is mealy and nutty on the nose, pale yellow, and with some weight and mineral/white pepper behind the ripe white stonefruit flavours”

And like any good zombie it’s aged a bit in the interim. The flavour notes run true, it’s still dependable, and weighty, but starting to smell and sag a little. Drink it all up, folks, and wait for the 2013’s: they will be Pg3 stunnas. 3.5

The image above is from the website BoingBoing – ‘Pop Art Zombie’ by makeup artist Sssamanthaa