What’s in the glass tonight March 2nd – Riesling

RiverT Risesling

River-T Riesling Waitaki Valley 2016 – $$

It was Riesling Day one day recently down at Regional Wines, and I had a chance to taste-test a lovely dry-ish Riesling from the Waitaki Valley. The wine was River-T Riesling from the 2016 vintage. I liked it and brought a bottle home.

From RW: This wine is made with grapes grown by Murray and Karen Tweed, whose vineyard is 5 kms out of Kurow; the main town in the valley. The couple hand harvested the grapes in mid-May – very late by New Zealand standards since Waitaki Valley is the last region to harvest its grapes each year. This makes it a very cool climate wine region, which just so happens to suit the late ripening Riesling grape pretty darned well. This wine is medium dry (18.3 grams per litre of residual grape sugar – not that it tastes sweet at all). It has 13% alcohol and its natural high acidity lends beautiful balance to this refreshing, crisp, light bodied, full flavoured Riesling.

13% alc. Pale straw colour.

The Waitaki Valley is New Zealand’s smallest wine region. It is better known for generating a hefty amperage of hydroelectric power from a multitude of dams spaced down the Waitaki River, and for flying gliders out of Waimarama. A cool climate you could also say – you can ski up the top end in winter. FWIW Kurow is famous for being the home town of one our our finest All Blacks – Richie McCaw.

In addition to these many attractions I am told there are some splendid grape-growing sites that face the north sun and have great soils.

This wine is leggy. Lovely aromatics. Clear and crisp aromas – melon, grapes, green apple.

Off dry to drink. Delicious and crunchily crisp. Intense fresh fruit flavours, a crisp finish. A perfect summer aperitif wine.

Recommended 89 Points


What’s in the glass tonight September 30th – Champagne

Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut NV

Off Topic: Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut NV Epernay- $$$+

Light straw colour. 12% alc.

A treat before we got on the plane to fly to Cairns the next day

A zesty and dense and weighty Champagne. Fresh mousse, largish bubbles. Zesty acidity. Brioche on nose and palate. Long, yummy

Highly Recommended 89 points

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


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 June 9th – Pinot Noir

Wild Grace Pinot Noir 2015

Wild Grace Pinot Noir Central Otago 2015

Someone at work bought this negociant wine for our Friday work drinks. I am usually suspicious of entry-level Pinots, but this was really good.

It had a good core and depth of fruit, good ripeness, and little of that bitterness I sometimes see in over-extracted cheaper Pinot Noir. The nose kept my interest, with an alluring savoury character. Yum.

Nice label design too. We are a design-led company…

Recommended 89 points

What’s in the glass tonight March 21st – Cotés du Rhone

Dom Les Grands Bois Les 3 Soeurs 2015

Off Topic: Dom. Les Grands Bois les Trois Sœurs Cotés du Rhone Rouge 2014 – $$

Named for the three sisters of the producer.

Inky carmine colour. 14.5% alc.

This wine smells soft and savoury and gracious. Ripe plums and red berries. Cardboard box.

Full and fleshy, ripe and luscious to drink. There are chewy raspy tannins, a sweet finish, and pleasant heat at the death. Lovely!

Recommended 89 Points

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


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 November 17th – Chardonnay


Julicher Chardonnay Wairarapa 2012

Every year Medical Assurance, L’s insurer, hosts a family Christmas movie night for members and their families at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington. We always go. This year we got to see Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. It was fantastic! Moving and emotive, it explored themes about love,  racial tolerance, showing kindness, and the protection of animals. There were even real wizards in the audience….

While waiting for the show to start, we unwound with this lovely wine:

Reductive and funky, with interesting dried apricot citrus characters.

Rich ripe fruit attach, sweet mid palate, nice citrus line, shows the same reduction on palate. Engaging character.

89 points

What’s in the glass tonight October 17th – Pinot Gris


From the Cellar: Hans Herzog Pinot Gris Marlborough 2015 – $$$

This wine comes from a long-established and committed artisan organic wine producer in Marlborough. The producer boasts 29 different grape varieties planted on the property. We enjoyed their cellar door hospitality on our last visit down south very much.


Orange mandarin blush. 13.5% alc.

Light and savoury on nose, a little hesitant to open up. I coaxed aromas of melon, soft pear and Turkish delight from the glass. It hinted at funky, and ‘worked’.

To drink, I tasted light strawberries and baking spice, apple. A soft mouthfeel initially, with a good citrus line throughout. Medium length. Finished grassy.

An appealing Gris with an attractive colour in the glass. Although it wasn’t presented as such at their Cellar Door when we first tasted it, but this wine could well fall under the category of “orange wine”. If so, it would be my first…

89 points

What’s in the glass tonight September 14th – Viognier


From the Cellar: Te Mata Zara Viognier Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$

Purchased a year ago at an industry tasting. Not kept for very long cos L wanted a Viognier, and I had maybe two bottles in the Pool Room…it is not a wine I collect. Call it fashion, call it my own taste…

Brilliant medium gold colour. 14% alc.

A smoky and spicy and dense bouquet, with ripe enveloping apple scents.

Rich flavours on attack. Ripe, sinewy also, with a silky texture on the mid-palate. Flavours of cooked apples and figs. Oily and mouthcoating. A long hot and spicy finish, with white pepper and cashews. This was good.

89 points