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
Wellington Anniversary Weekend
There few things more enjoyable than a dinner party at home with good friends.
L and I invited several couples over for dinner in the weekend. Great food and conversation was enjoyed, washed down with delicious wine!
We enjoyed as aperitifs wines such as Sileni Cabernet Franc Rose Marlborough 2013, a favourite of L’s; the classic and perfect Palliser Estate Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough 2013 provided by M&G; and a bottle of Ohau River Sauvignon Blanc Horowhenua 2012 – a softer styled, round and well balanced sav from north of Wellington.
With our dinner of roast chicken with olives and tarragon, D&D provided a wonderful white Burgundy – J Drouhin Macon-Villages 2012 from Beaune – lean and clean, classic restraint, a wonderful simple food wine. With the dessert of nectarines, ice cream and warm toffee sauce they treated us again with the notable Dry River Late Harvest Riesling 2008 – classic kerosene notes, golden honey and stone fruit, and that gorgeous Riesling ‘tang’. Yum.
Soho Revolver Waiheke Island Merlot Blend 2011
L is a chiropractor, and a very good one too. A fortnight ago I was invited to be her “plus one” at the formal dinner during the NZ Chiropractors’ Association conference up in The Tron.
L is also very generous and she bought up a pile of raffle tickets before the dinner. Her good luck won us this bottle, and a couple of Hawkes Bay stickies too.
The wine is a Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc blend. Deep cranberry colour. 12.6%. Very floral nose. Quite peculiar notes, and unfamiliar: cherries and plums yes, but also herbs like thyme and rosemary, and red roses too. In the mouth the wine is ripe with red fruits, including cranberries, with a strong oak backbone and vanilla. A very good win and wine. 4
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…)
Hammer Time: Te Mata Awatea Hawkes Bay Cab / Merlot 2005 – $$$
This is one of the ‘05 Awateas I bought at the recent Dunbar Sloan auction.
I’ve been looking forward to opening this. Awatea ‘05 is a blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 43% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. It is the lesser stablemate of Coleraine. It’s also a wine made for aging; up to 10 years according to the producer. Let’s see what this 8yo is can do…
I’m taking my time with this one. Dark garnet in the glass, quite clear, no visible brick colouring to the edges. 13.5%. Black fruits aged bouquet, with medicinal hints, earth, wood, and fruitcake; quite lovely when it opens up to the air. I love the nose.
Light tasting, at first I thought almost frail in the mouth, but over time I see there is more going on than that. Fruit weight has retreated from first release, licorice, some white pepper, and refined mature flavours. The tannins have softened but it is still ‘tacky’. I think it holds together well. Good length. A fine wine. 4
From the Cellar: Te Mata Coleraine (Cab Sav/Merlot/Cab Franc) 2007 – $$$
This is another of my heavyweights, on reputation alone perhaps the heaviest. This is arguably New Zealand’s most famous wine. Its reputation is based on both the quality of the wine, the length of its pedigree, and the marketing abilities of the producer.
I was first introduced to the 2000 vintage at a 2010 tasting, and I was blown away. I had never tasted an old wine before (at best, most of the wine I bought aged only a couple of hours from time of purchase), and I thought the depth and richness and complexity in the mouth and on the nose was a revelation. I was sold on the concept right then and there.
This version is dark carmine in colour. 14% and leggy. I opened it to share with L over a nice roast of venison. Deep nose of black fruits, aniseed, raisins, pencil shavings. Black plums to taste. Firm tannins, good concentration, lots of life here for cellaring on.
I thought it seemed a bit thin to start with, but as the wine opened out in the air I could see the finesse, and appreciate the length, so I suspect I opened this bottle a couple of years too soon. I have a second bottle which I’ll keep to ‘17. Lovely drop. Reminds me of the Craggy Range Te Kahu 2010. 4
Ata Rangi Wairarapa Summer Rosé 2013 – $$
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.
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