What’s in the glass tonight May 6th – Hermitage


Delas Herimitage 2003

From the Cellar: Delas Les Bessards Hermitage 2003 – $$$+

In the world of wine there are many famous ‘bumps’ in the landscape from which superlative wines are produced. You can think of the Pomerol plateau from which Petrus hails, or the hill of Corton. There is the grand cru hill bearing Les Clos in Chablis, the hillsides of Barolo in Piedmont, and even NZ’s own Te Mata peak. But few are more famous than the hill of Hermitage on the left bank of the Rhône river in France. And on that hill, there are few more famous vineyards than Les Bessards.

I was fortunate to secure a bottle for the Pool Room, and it proved yet again why I drink old wine.

Dark carmine colour, browning on rim. 14% alc.

Gorgeous developed bouquet. Dark fruits, oak and vanilla. All soft and sensual and savoury. I could sniff this wine all night.

To drink the wine was deliciously smooth and rich and full of ripe fruit. There was engaging heat at the back, and it showed perfect fruit weight. There was acid and supple tannins in perfect balance. A superb food wine, and so rewarding as an aperitif.

I double-decanted this wine, and it hit the ground running. Superb.

Exceptional 99 points.

What’s in the glass tonight December 27th– Pinot Noir


Pyramid PN Calrossie 2015

Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection Calrossie Vineyard Pinot Noir Marlborough 2015 – $$$+

I imagine this as an ‘entry level’ offering from a super-premium NZ producer, created from wines from selected single grower vineyards, I suppose to provide more SKUs to sell than what can be made available from the various ‘home blocks’ of Pyramid Valley. And at a much lesser cost too, (for example their two ‘home block’ pinots sell on their website for $130 per bottle), and also considering Pyramid Valley was sold to an American investor last year.

The wine: bright carmine colour, unfiltered, somewhat cloudy. 13% alcohol.

Savoury, perfumed, earthy. Deep red cherries. Great depth and intensity of aroma. Painterly. A serious example of fine Marlborough Pinot Noir.

Sweet fruit on attack. Precise and well extracted. There is good length and density, power, and crunchy finish with spice and heat at the death. I was very impressed by the character and crunch showing on the mid-palate.

Outstanding 96 points

What’s in the glass tonight September 28th – 2003 Y. Chave Hermitage


Y Chave Hermitage 2003

Off Topic: Yann Chave Hermitage Rhone 2003- $$$+

Deep ruby crimson colour. 14 % alc.

Smokey on the nose, funky, soapy, dusty, redolent of wooden-floored halls and dry grass. So much going on! It continued opening up gloriously in the glass – all tertiary character, developed dark fruit, dried blackcurrant, pink roses, lavender and pencil lead. Such exotic gorgeousness!

Opens with still primary fruit in the mouth, flavours of dark cherries, and lovely acid balance. Fine tannins. Huge length. Fat, rich and opulent, and a pure, mimeral seam throughout. A profound Rhone, just amazing.

Exceptional 98 points

What’s in the glass tonight October 10th – Sauvignon Blanc


cloudy-bay-te-koko-2011

From the Cellar: Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2011 – $$$+

Oak fermented, with wild yeasts, this is one of NZ’s vinous rock stars – an icon, a unique wine, a sensory delight. I love it.

Pale gold. 13.5% alc.

Great refinement and complexity on nose. An aromatic delight with notes of citrus and golden fruit.

There was a lovely texture, depth to the wine in the mouth. It was expressive and distinctive – it spoke of place and winemaking craft. There was the sweetness of perfect ripe fruit. It lacked the assertive grassy-capsicum-ness of its stablemate, a relief. Exceptionally long for a savvy.

Outstanding.

95 points

What’s in the glass tonight – Pinot Noir


worth cellaring PN 2016 3jpg

Kusuda Pinot Noir Martinborough 2010 Bottle no. 4862 – $$$+

I have never drunk a Kusuda Pinot Noir. I have heard of the producer, read the odd review, seen a few pricey bottles in the shops, but never had the spare readies and access to buy at the same time. Known for high quality and made in Lilliputian quantities, and somewhat of a “cult wine” in these parts.

Proprietor and Winemaker Hiro Kusuda was profiled by Tim Atkin MW in the March edition of Decanter alongside other small producers who were all “Tearing up the Rule Book”. Hiro left the Japanese Foreign Office to stuffy Oenology in Germany, despite not knowing the language.

Atkin writes, “Perfectionism characterises everything that Kusuda does. Working at the sorting table, he and his team wear gloves to handle the grapes, inspecting every berry for the slightest imperfection, discarding anything that isn’t porcelain perfect”. The 2014 Pinot Noir is “drinkable, focused and beautifully refined, reflecting the values of the man who made it”.

And then, Stephen Spurrier in the June edition of Decanter tasted Kusuda’s 2015 Riesling (“beautiful expression of flowers, fruit and minerals”), 2014 Pinot Noir (“incredible purity”), 2013 Syrah (“a superb modern classic”). Great stuff. Makes me want…

Imagined how pleased I was when AS generously brought out a bottle of the 2010 Kusuda Pinot Noir to share with those of us taking part in the recent Worth Cellaring Pinot Noir tasting I wrote about in early September, to bookend and to illuminate the preceding flight.

This was a real treat. The wine had wonderful weight and persistence, preceded by a gorgeous bouquet. I saw a sweet attack, paired with superb weight and extract.

The bottle age and fine cellaring set it apart from the other wines, and showed them all up. Thrilling!

95 points

Straight to the Pool Room 3 – May 2016


Forrest Estate Collection Syrah 2013

A single addition, but a good ‘un…

John Forrest Collection Syrah Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$$+ – drink 2018-2023. GK said good things about this great Syrah. I tasted it a short while back and agree. Too bad there is so much good wine about, and I can only acquire this one bottle today.

What’s in the glass tonight July 9th


Cloudy Bay Te Koko 2009

From the Cellar: Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – $$$+

We are super excited tonight.

The two youngest kids are crawling around pretending to be cats. The eldest is at a birthday party. It is very cold out. A southerly storm is blowing up the country and snow is falling everywhere.

We are packing to go on the first ski weekend of the new season…yay! Thursday nights at this time are always a bit stressful. We have to haul the ski gear out from under the house. Fit the roofbox to the car. Make sure everyone has packed everything they need for a weekend on the slopes. And we need A LOT OF STUFF…

So, get this treasured bottle out from the cellar and toast the season!

L and I bought it a few years ago from the cellar door when we were down in Marlborough for the Graperide. 14%. Sunlit golden colour. Magic.

Brilliant bouquet of gooseberry, lemon zest, lime and crisp apple.

Oaked and age-softened in the mouth. Balanced acidity and fresh fruit. Mouthwatering and zesty, but shows perfect restraint. Not too brash. A burst of sunshine smiles on an auspicious night.

Outstanding 5

What’s in the glass tonight April 5th


Hatten Anggur Rose Bali NV

Off Topic: Hatten Wines Anggur Rosé Bali NV – $$$+

This is a wine from Bali. I didn’t know they made wine in Bali. L ordered this bottle of Rosé with dinner at our hotel in Leggian. I hadn’t drunk a glass of wine in-country up to that point, as the choice was either Wolf Blass Yellow Label or…nothing. Bintang pils became my default drink of choice. We didn’t finish it at dinner (L thought it was undrinkable) so I brought I back to our room and did my own assessment the following evening.

Salmon Blush. 11%

Light approachable Rosé aromatic character.

Very light-bodied wine, almost no discernable fruit. Thin but not bitter. Just an absence of flavour. Slightly odd. Does this mean dry heat is best for good grapes? Cos Bali has not much of that…

Gotta give marks for trying. Not sure how it got a CSWA Award in 2013 tho. 2

What’s in the glass tonight February 17th


Carrick Excelsior PN 2007

Carrick Excelsior Pinot Noir Bannockburn Central Otago 2007 – $$$+

A great wine is built around the way it smells. And this wine is something special. Bought by a client at a business dinner. The restaurant had just taken a delivery of a few cases and the wine hadn’t even made the official wine list.

Carrick makes this flagship Pinot Noir from grapes harvested in their Bannockburn vineyard.

It’s a super-dense Pinot Noir with core of black cherries enveloped in spice. Lots and lots of vanilla. Rich and powerful. There are florals evident, but this delicacy has been brutally shouldered aside by broader, bolder aromatic characters.

Plums, dark chocolate, black cherry and baking spices in the mouth. Perfect ripeness. No vegetal or metallic characters. The wine has a rich velvety texture that is totally involving. Tannins are firm. Length is out through the door into the car park. It improves on standing in the glass too.

What a way to bring up my 300th post !!

Outstanding 5