What’s in the glass tonight August 19th, in the snow – Chianti

Snow 2

L and I and the kids had a fabulous weekend up the mountain. Glorious weather, great snow conditions, a race to compete in, then a night-time torchlit ski procession to honour the memory of a ski-field pioneer. Couldn’t ask for anything more!

Santa Cristina Chianti 2011

From the Cellar: Santa Cristina Chianti Superiore 2011

I drank this up at the ski-club. Hard to trust my palate at altitude, but here goes…

Deep magenta red. 13% alc.

Floral, dusty and savoury red fruits. I saw dried berries, licorice and brown paper. Nice complexity and interest.

To drink, the wine was full bodied and round. There were generous flavours of plums and currants. Grainy tannins. A licorice finish with spice.

91 points

Snow 1

The next day we lit the slopes. I claimed the position of Lantern Rouge for the skiclub in the Haensli Cup, but the scenery made it all better!

snow 3

The view from The Knoll T-Bar top station at Whakapapa, looking over the Valley at the Pinnacles.


What’s in the glass tonight August 4th – Chardonnay

Awatere Valley Chardonnay

Awatere River by Louis Vavasour Chardonnay Marlborough 2014 – $$$

Blond straw colour. 13.8% alc.

Smells honeyed, reductive and flinty. Very composed.

Bracing bright acid in the mouth. A lean, clean, fresh and linear Chardonnay. Some butterscotch flavours, and lots of lemon. Short. Punchy. Mouthwatering. Very stylish. Even tho some of the reduction extends to the palate, I still thought it excellent.

91 points

What’s in the glass tonight July 22nd – Cairanne CdR Villages

Dom. Les Grands Bois CdR 2014

Off Topic: Domaine Les Grands Bois Cuvée Maximilien Cairanne Côtes du Rhône Villages 2014 – $$$

Carrying on the Rhone theme, here is the real deal, a Cairanne CdR Villages blend 50% Grenache, 35% Mourvedre, 15% Syrah grapes.

The Cairanne appellation in the Côtes du Rhône was promoted to Côtes du Rhône cru status earlier this year, joining well-known names such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Crozes-Hermitage. The winemakers of Cairanne first submitted their application for cru status to the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) in 2008. Cairanne achieved Côtes du Rhône status in 1953 and became a Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation in 1967. Cairanne is the 17th appellation to get cru status; before that Rasteau was the most recent, which was promoted in 2010.

I am super-excited to drink this wine…Back in October 2014, L and I attending a Rhone tasting hosted by GK. We tried a bunch of wines from the region, and it was my first exposure to them. It started off my love for the wines of the Rhone valley.

Here are some notes from that tasting…”We also absolutely loved the inexpensive Dom. Les Grands Bois Côtes du Rhone-Villages Cairanne Cuvee Maximilien 2011. It was up there with the Guigal Gigondas, and would have lasted 30 years but alas, RW’s allocation was sold out, and we couldn’t get any…”

A-ha! Here is the 2014 edition…

Dark carmine. 15% – big!

Aromatic nose of herbs, sweet black fruit, a bit earthy and funky.

Very textural in the mouth, medium-to-full weight, with ripe sweet fruit – blackberries, prunes – and licorice. Crunchy forward tannins and bitter edge give this wine a rustic quality, but the fruit intensity lifts it up a level. The blend of grapes gives this wine a complexity you don’t see from straight syrahs, and the youth and tannic heft give this wine a distinctive sharp nip on the tip of my tongue. Best keep half a bottle for tomorrow. A day’s softening will give a good pointer to this wines age-ability.

The next day the wine softened and lost a lot of its sharp edges. The palate was still substantial with complex sub-notes, and held an attractive drying finish.

91 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 27th – Chenin Blanc

DMZ Chenin Blanc 2015

Off Topic: DeMorgenzon DMZ Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch SA 2015 

On my way back home from my London OE in ‘95, I travelled overland from Kenya down through Zanzibar, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia to South Africa. When I was winding things up in Cape Town, and waiting on a flight to NZ, I thought to take a train to nearby Stellenbosch for a day trip. I’d heard there were a few vineyards there, so I decided I would take a wee ambulatory tasting tour of producers within walking distance of the town. And so I did. I recall it was a wonderful day walking the lush and verdant countryside. The vineyards were very established, the wines seemed great (I had no idea what to look for) and I had a lovely lunch at one place that had a terrace overlooking the vines.

Looking back I am astonished I would have thought to do such a thing. I was a beer drinker through and through back then, with maybe the odd bourbon ‘n coke thrown in. I am not sure I drank ANY wine when I was living in the UK. Yet here I was, down at the southern tip of Africa, going for a wine tasting. Even back then, I must have had a subliminal liking for it…

Which brings me back and around the houses to this wine…Chenin Blanc is the largest grape variety grown in SA, accounting for 18% of production. I don’t drink much of this style, as NZ producers are not big on it at all. Whenever I go looking for a Vouvray, or similcra, I often get diverted away towards something else in the shop. But not this time…

Clear pale greenish-lemon straw colour. 14% alc.

My first impression:  Oh. F*kn yum!

A funky reductive nose. Further impressions of golden fruits, light citrus, sweetness, roundness and ripeness…

This funky character transitions to the palate. Quite ripe pear and orange flavours on attack, the funk expressing as gunflint, metallic and struck-match notes. There is honey in there, caramel, and a crunchy bitterness on the finish.

A really interesting wine, very attractive. Wonderful for under $20. You can’t beat SA for price point/value. 91 points

What’s in the glass tonight April 20th – Chardonnay

Stoneleigh Latitude Chardonnay 2014

Stoneleigh Latitude Chardonnay Marlborough 2014 – $$

This is the reserve Chardonnay from the vineyards that line Rapaura Road in Marlbrough. I really liked the 2013, and expect the ’14 to be just as enjoyable…

Pale gold. 13.5% alc.

Reductive, oaky nose. Vanilla and spice. Big, warm and attractive.

Creamy and rich in the mouth. Crunchy mouth feel. Bold stonefruit flavours with brusque acid underpinnings. Long.

91 points

What’s in the glass tonight March 27th – Various reds

Escarpment Pahi PN 2010

From the Cellar: Escarpment Pahi SV Pinot Noir Martinborough 2010 – $$$

G came around tonight for dinner with L and I. As promised, I cracked a bottle of Pinot Noir from the cellar to match the bottle he bought for our wedding last year. It was, alas, not up to the occasion…

…Vegetal, stalky, angular & thin. A true cool climate example, but showed light fruit, less than ripe, certainly not luscious, and showed green. A MAJOR disappointment. I do recall, at the 2012 tasting from which I bought this wine, that I was charmed by the floral femininity of the wine, but that I was the only one in the room thus charmed…therefore; lesson: note the ‘ wisdom of crowds’ in future…

82 points

Te Mata Various reds - Graeme N

Te Mata Woodthorpe Vineyard Syrah Viognier Hawkes Bay 2003

G supplied two bottles for dinner, ex an auction he had recently bought at. What a treat!

This wine was savoury and spicy, with white pepper notes, sweet ripe fruit, balanced tannins and fruit. Yum. A total delight!

94 points

Te Mata Woodthorpe Vineyard Merlot / Cabernet Hawkes Bay 2006

An upfront nose of vanilla and baking spice. Balanced fruit, structured tannins, licorice and cocoa. Dense and flavoursome.

91 points