What’s in the glass tonight Feb 14th


Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012- $$

I’m sitting in the bar at Christchurch Airport waiting for my flight home after finishing a satisfying day’s work. Reading about my beloved Liverpool FC on the internet. Watching NZ play India at the Basin Reserve on TV. A glass of good pinot to hand. Bliss.

Roaring Meg is the second label of Mt Difficulty, one of NZs best pinot noir producers.

The wine is a deep carmine colour. A rich and involving savoury forest floor aroma lifts from the glass, with a touch of wet wool and lanolin. Wonderful intensity of flavour; rich and fruit-filled. Big and tannic and bracing (for a PN). Fantastic. 4.5

What’s in the glass tonight Feb 1st

Te Mata Cape Crest 2011

From the Cellar: Te Mata Estate Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – $$

This is a stellar wine. I bought a couple of bottles after the Te Mata tasting in 2012, loved it so much.

Pale straw in glass. 13%. Powerful herby nose of lemongrass, flat leaf parsley and coriander. Crisp citrus in the mouth, with a loooong finish of parsley and bags of fresh mint. Supa yum! 4.5

The sun as fallen behind the hill, and now L and I are off to The Laundry for dinner…


What’s in the glass tonight Jan 20th

Palliser Estate PN 2003

Hammer Time: Palliser Estate Martinborough Pinot Noir 2003 – $$$

Hah. I had been looking forward to this one, ever since I bought it at the Dunbar Sloan wine auction late last year. Wanted to compare it with the excellent 2005 L and I had a while back.

I love it. 13%. Pinot ruby colour, browning at the edge a little. Gorgeous nose, all shroomy with floral violets. To drink, it is smooooth, with buckets of red cherries and spice. An excellent balance of age and fruit. 4.5

What’s in the glass tonight Jan 7th

Vidal HB Merlot Cab 2008

From the Cellar: Vidal Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 – $

Bad News first: I’d enjoy this wine a tad more if I hadn’t bitten the inside of my cheek the night before during J’s birthday dinner at L’s. The swelling gets in the way of the Swirl ‘n Swallow. I am such a numb nut at times…

The Good News: this is one of the beautiful reasons to maintain a wine cellar…

I saw this wine given a five star review by a leading NZ food and wine magazine back in 2010. I then saw it practically given away by a large supermarket chain at $11 a bottle. So I bought a brace and put them away in the Pool Room to ripen for a few years.

And it’s turned into a Stunnah. Inky blood-black colour. 13.5%. A blend of merlot,  cabernet, malbec and franc.

It has a warm and enveloping bouquet. Notes of vanilla and cassis and cedar wood. Balanced mature flavours of ripe plums and blackberry wine gums, molasses and fruitcake spice to taste. Long and unctuous, with good lip-smacking tannins at the finish. 4.5

Superb buying! I’d best look out for the upcoming 2013’s if I don’t perish first from Stupidity.

(AND it looks like vermin have been at my cellar bottle labels! One of my Pride ‘n Joi pinots has had its label almost completely devoured while I’ve been living upstairs. Are they using grape jam as a label adhesive? Just as well I am moving!  Grrr…)

What’s in the glass tonight Nov 30th

Elephant Hill Syrah 2012

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2012 – $$$

I survived my annual weekend trip to Taupo and the 160km Cycle Challenge around the lake.

On the Saturday we riders were exposed to a strong headwind off the lake for the final 50kms and as I hadn’t recovered from an epic cold I had been struggling with,  achieving a sub-5hr ride was never a strong likelihood. Still, I left nothing in reserve and put it all out there on the road. I finished absolutely hollowed-out in 5hrs 8 mins at my ninth attempt. There’s always next year, eh?

(The wind didn’t prevent the winning pro rider from finishing the course in 3hrs 46 minutes…)

That night L and I joined members of a long-standing Wellington cycle peloton, the OTBs, for dinner at a local restaurant Vine Bar and Eatery. They produce tasty Mediterranean shared-plates food, and had a great NZ wine list.

I started off drinking Terra Sancta Mysterious Diggings Bannockburn Pinot Noir by the glass, which was a solid 3, but my mate M offered me some of his Elephant Hill Syrah 2012, and it was much better.

My napkin notes sez “Inky black carmine. 13.5%. Rich, spicy nose with a bit of aniseed. Mouthfuls of rich ripe black fruit, licorice and pepper. Great depth. Robust tannins”. Would have been yum with the coriander salt crusted roast lamb shoulder, but I was still on that much lighter pinot instead. I really should look at what food has been ordered before choosing my wine, rather than just default to pinot noir every time. 4.5

BTW this wine won Champion Syrah at the 2013 Air New Zealand Wine Awards. I don’t know why the winery is called Elephant Hill. Elephants are not native to NZ, and there is currently only one elephant alive in the entire country. Maybe there’s a hill nearby that looks like an elephant…?

What’s in the glass tonight Nov 7th

Mills Reef Elspeth Syrah 2007

From the Cellar: Mills Reef Elspeth Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2007 – $$$

It’s a first world problem.

When I first embarked on stocking my wine cellar I filled it with cheap accessible wines that I thought would develop some character and interest with age, and educate me on the evolution of New Zealand wines and wine styles. Very soon I also started buying a lesser quantity of more expensive marquee wines, the ‘tentpole movies’ of the Kiwi wine world. These latter purchases were intended to expand my knowledge of feted offerings from the finer end of the market. (It was also largely to stroke my own ego, at both the acquisition and consumption stages of the process…)

I have got to the point now where I have drunk all the easy cheap bottles from the selection ready to drink NOW, and what’s left is a solid quantity of the heavyweights. These aren’t the wines that you should knock the top off on a Monday night just cos you‘ve had a hard day. They require fine food, company, even candles. They deserve proper attention, and an engaging blog post, when perhaps I might rather drink something wet’n’forget while watching The Walking Dead…

This is one of those wines. I’m a bit tired. It all seems a bit of an effort. I really should share this one…

But, bugger it. A wine cellar is just the Second Act, sandwiched between the making of the wine, and throwing the empties in the rubbish. Best get over it.

This syrah is velvety inky blood-black. 14%. It has a rich, forward, aged bouquet, funky, a touch of pepper and spice and old shoe polish. I love wines that give such good nose.

In the mouth I see redacted black plums, licorice, toffee, forest floor. Fine schmacky tannins. Long finish. The wine is matured 14 months in French oak, but there is no obvious oak on the nose, but it is there to add shape in the mouth. The fruit quality opens up nicely as it sits in the glass. Ill drink half now, and let the rest sit in the bottle for later review. 4.5

Three days later Nov 10th: The wine handled these few days left alone very well, and emerged a little softer and delicious.

What else was in the glass on my ski holiday

CJ Pask Gimblett Syrah 2008

From the cellar: CJ Pask Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2009 – $$

An apres-ski tipple with my fellow RSC club members out on our sunny deck. Note the snow level, and compare to previous post…

Some wines prove not meant for keeping. They are meant to be consumed young. This turned out to be one of those for me. The wine was ok, and the quality fruit and winemaking that went into it meant the aging did it no harm. But neither did cellar time move it along much.

Deep scarlet. 12%. Medium-weight. The wine was unremarkable with little nose and only red fruits to taste. It had dried out a little, and not developed any pronounced age characters to replace the fruit freshness. It would have been better in 2011 I think, though the winery website says it was good for another couple of years yet. 3

Sebastiani Zinfandel 2009 in the snow

Sebastiani Sonoma County Zinfandel 2009 – $$

See my post Sept 9th – more US deliciousness…and see the snow level lessen. This has not been a stellar season up at Whakapapa skifield. 4.5

Dashwood Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012 – $

This was consumed at L’s ski-club lower down the mountain another night. This was the real deal as far as cheap, light, fresh, fragrant PNs go. A treat. Bright pinot ruby. 14%. Good bouquet. Ripe red cherries in the mouth. Yum, drink it young and in the sun. Gold medal winner. 3.5

And all the snow melted around my lodge..

What’s in the glass tonight Sept 29th


From the cellar: Craggy Range SV Te Muna Rd Pinot Noir 2008 – $$$

This is a celebration bottle for the first night of the ski week I am doing with LG, L and her boys.

I am attempting to post this through my Samsung S4. A tiny screen. Wrestling with the mobile technology. Zoning in and out from the conversations around me

The wine is deep ruby in the glass, browning off. Tawny funky bouquet, red cherries. Delicious ripe full fruit flavours of red cherries and plums. Dense but not heavy. Really enjoyable wine. The buy recommendation from three years ago was a right one. Gotta make it last through to tomorrow night though. It’s hard work carrying full bottles up the piste and I have to make wines the I brought up last the distance. 4.5

What’s in the glass tonight Sept 9th

Sebastiani Zinfandel 2009

Leaving the Reservation: Sebastiani Sonoma County Zinfandel 2009 – $$

I have never tried a Zinfandel. I’ve never bought a wine from the United States of  America, either. Here I hit two Goliath’s with one rock.

USA wines we get ‘round here are somewhat rare, and expensive with it. We are part of the New World, so I am not in a big hurry to get acquainted with other new world suppliers unless they happen to be close, like Aussie. I save my overseas dollars for Bordeaux…

But I do have a desire to try an Oregon Pinot Noir, a good Californian Chardonnay, and a Zinfandel, just to see what the fuss is about…

Why is this particular wine so affordable? Caros Wine Merchants offers a clue: The weakness in the USD and with Bill Foley being the owner ( he owns Vavasour, Clifford Bay, Te Kairanga etc ) these wines are now being imported into NZ. Ahhh…

This wine is 79% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Syrah, 2% Syrah, 2% Barbera. From three areas Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and Russian River.

The wine looks scarlet black in the glass. 14.5% and very leggy. Lovely rich nose of blackcurrants/black plums and black tea, like nothing I have ever smelled in a NZ wine. The syrah component really lifts the bouquet here.

In the mouth there is dense packed ripe black fruit. I taste liquorice, vanilla, cedar, and dark chocolate. It’s a straightforward wine given weight of 4 years in bottle. Long and very moreish.

Sensational. I am buying more. 4.5