What’s in the glass tonight April 10th – Cabernet Merlot


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Bell Bird Bay Cabernet Merlot Hawkes Bay 2011 – $

Raymond Chan writes in his review of this wine, “70% Merlot, 13% Malbec, 11% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bridge Pa Triangle district”

Deep ruby colour. 13% alc.

Depp fruit aromas, softness, oak, vanilla, somewhat secondary.

The merlot component imbues softness and luscious dark fruits on palate, with structure from the cabernet components. Slight herbiness. Harmonious.

This wine harbours no faults from age or storage which I have found is rare with aged wines at this price point. A great aged example in this case.

Recommended 86 Points

Wellington Wine and Food Festival 2016


WWFF 2016

L’s company shouted us a table at this year’s WWFF. We invited M and G and D and F along to join us. The setting was outside, in a large fenced-off corral built on the grounds of Waitangi Park. There was a stage at one end, and a ring of wine, beer and delicious food stalls encircling a throng of wine and enthusiasts, and a private marquee in the centre where our table was. We ate and supped, and finished the afternoon dancing in the sun! Magic.

The food was delicious. A highlight was the Indian offerings from chef Sushil, a popular contestant from an early series of New Zealand Masterchef.

The wine, overall, was rather average I thought. There were a few good options, but I was disappointed with the quality, varietal selections, and choice. There seemed to be a lot of what I would call ‘supermarket level’ wines on offer. Not the boutique wines I would expect at a gig like this. Not many local wineries…and no Riesling whatsoever that I could see!!! None! And it was sunny!

Here is what I did get to try:

Ohau Sauvignon Blanc Ohau 2015 – Fresh, lovely line of acidity and limes. Very appetising. One of my two favourite wines today.

Gladstone Vineyard Sophie’s Choice Sauvignon Blanc Wairarapa 2012 – Barrel-fermented savvy. Funky on the nose, mellow and soft to drink. Smoky. Interesting.

Tiki Estate Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014 – A typical Marl Savvy. Not memorable.

Ohau Pinot Noir Ohau 2014 – Spicy, red cherries, nice length.

Gladstone Vineyard 12000 Miles Pinot Noir Wairarapa 2013 – Lovely floral aromatics, smooth red fruit.

Margrain Rivers Edge Pinot Noir Martinborough 2014 – Deeper florals. Delicious and smoky, long and spicy. Dark cherries. Very expressive. A Martinborough Pinot for sure. My second fav.

Beach House Reserve Cabernet Merlot Hawkes Bay 2013 – Very aromatic. Expressive and rich. Drying tannins. A nice example.

After I had done a round of 40ml tasters, I had a glass of the Ohau SB, and a couple of the Margrain’s, then I drank craft beer ‘til home time.

Dirty Secret

On the way home we stopped off for a ‘roadie’ at Dirty Little Secret, a new rooftop bar overlooking Courtenay Place. I had that Riesling I had been craving for on such a long, hot day. L had a Rosé, natch.

 

What’s in the glass tonight – October 24th


Three Wizards of Oz

A big beautiful grab-bag of wines today!! Feeling very fortunate.

A and OB1 gave us a lovely bottle of Aussie Shiraz as a wedding present. After Saturday’s ride, I asked OB1 whether I should ‘drink or hold’? He must have asked A, cos she then came back to me to say that L and I must come over to try a glass and decide for ourselves! And so we did….

Joseph Angel Glly 2011

Joseph Angel Gully Shiraz Clarendon McLaren Vale 2011

Enjoyed on their deck bathed in the sun. The best way to drink a wine from the Lucky Country!

Deep dark carmine. Primo vino. 14.5%. Floral, big, aromatic, licorice, cedar, choc mocha. Superb. Made in an Amarone style – intense berries, soft ripe fruit.

Amazeballs. Outstanding 5

Then we were able to try this beauty…

Joseph Cab Cav Merl Moda 2011

Joseph Moda Cab Sav Merlot McLaren Vale 2011

Deep dark carmine. 15% alc. Somewhat closed nose, eucalyptus, pencil shavings and graphite.

Mushrooms, underbrush, wild thyme. Wants another year or two to open out. Amazing fruit. A gorgeous food wine.

Sibling of Amazeballs. BTVG 4+

Pra Otto Soave

Then we headed off to J and B’s house for dinner. I brought along a bottle of Pra Otto Soave 2013 which served as a light and pretty aperitif, but this was the star of the meal:

Jacobs Creek Double Barrel Shiraz

Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz  2012

Finished in aged whiskey barrels. First vintage.

Heady bouquet liquorice, spice, and dark plums.

Generous and rich on palate with red fruits and dark choc, vanilla, nutty notes and soft dense fine tannins.

VG 4

What’s in the glass tonight March 24th


Grant elliot 1 (2)

From the Cellar: Te Mata Estate Awatea Cab Merlot Hawkes Bay 2005 – bought at auction $$$

I tapped up the cellar for one of my old reds to drink with our Spaghetti Bol dinner, and to soothe the nerves afterwards as I watched the NZ cricket team on TV contest the semi-final of the Cricket World Cup against the mighty South Africans.

It did the trick.

A 10-year old wine. Nudging it’s best-before date. Although Te Mata’s website did say still evolving, drink or hold. The vintage was a high quality one by reports. Best since ’98 or 2000.

Deep dark magenta. 13.5%. Soft bouquet. Leather. Black plums. Smelt well evolved and inviting.

In the mouth I first saw that the tannins were still grippy. A base of dense fruit flavours. A little dry.  A real delight to drink. It got better in the glass as the evening wore on. So expressive and upstanding for a mature NZ red. No faults I could ascertain. Long.  Fantastic.

BTVG 4+

Te Mata Awatea 2005 - 3

And we beat South Africa with 1 ball remaining when Grant Elliot smashed a six over long on off the bowling of Dale Steyn. We are off to Sunday’s final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground!

Grant elliot 1

 

What’s in the glass tonight Nov 28th


Te Mata Awatea 2005

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

Hammer Time


DS Fine Wine Auction Oct 2013

What am I bid? Dunbar Sloane Auctioneers ran another fayne wayne auction last week, and I won a few lots.

Other bidders were after the Chateau Haut Margaux Rothschild Latour and other French filth, but I only had eyes for Olde Kiwi.

New Zealand wines back in the day typically came off relatively young vines and were made for drinking rather than keeping. There are of course exceptions, but this is as I understand it. I therefore suspected that some of the ‘second-hand’ wines on offer at the auction might well turn out to be really second-hand, so I was not prepared to pay more than $14 each.

I missed out on a few really early examples that were bought for $16 and $18 and more. Shame. I would have liked a Coleraine from the mid-80s but not at the prices they went for. The audience must have been drinking. And what was going on with those old Cornerstone’s selling for $60 a bottle…!

When no-one was looking I scored a 2003 Palliser Estate Pinot Noir for $14; two Palliser Pencarrow 2009 Chards for $10 each (forgetting that I dissed said wine from my cellar only a short time ago – I’m hoping [hoping!] these will be better…) and two Te Mata 2005 Awatea cab merlots for $$$ (I couldn’t resist)…Not as old as I’d hoped, but there is always another auction around the corner.

I’ll put one of the Awateas away in the Pool Room for next year, but everything else will go south over the next month or two and I’ll write them up.

What’s in the glass tonight April 5th


Corbans White Label Cabernet  Merlot

Corbans White Label Cabernet Merlot – $

This volume product is so devoid of origin it doesn’t show the producer’s name clearly on the label – you have read the fine print – and no vintage. That’s a first. And on the back label it turns out to be wine from Australia. Sneaky…

Still, I had it in the house now, and should try the wine and comment, because truckloads of it are sold in every supermarket in the land…

Correct varietal colour. No real nose that I can detect. A soft and flabby fruit bomb, with no discernable tannins. The label says dry, but I say sweet. I know wine is ‘made’, but this feels more concocted than most. I assume to be non-threatening to those consumers new to red wine, or upgrading from cask?

Not what I am looking for.

Luckily for me I didn’t buy a bottle of the Chardonnay version too; that might have really crushed my spirit…

 

 

Te Tasting – Te Mata Estate Showcase 2013.


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Coleraine – The One. Wednesday 6th March St James Theatre

The Regional Wines blurb sez: Te Mata Estate’s Coleraine is this country’s most consistently reliable cellar-worthy wine with vintages from the 1980s still drinking superbly. This reliability is one of the reasons that the annual release of Coleraine and Awatea is so eagerly awaited by wine lovers.

There is a real treat at the Showcase this year. We will be tasting the new release 2011 Coleraine alongside the 2001 and 1991 vintages demonstrating, if any was needed, how well Coleraine ages. We will also be presenting the 2011 Awatea, Cape Crest, Zara Viognier as well as the newly released Estate wines.

This must be my 4th annual Te Mata tasting.  I am a creature of habit. But then again, I got to try a 10-yr  old Coleraine at the very first one, and it totally turned me on to old brown red wine…

And John Buck’s house, the Te Mata founder, is pictured above as my main blog photo.

At the door we were offered four wines:

Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – notes of melons, green capsicum, tomato stalk; long, crisp and fresh with limes

Estate Chardonnay 2011 – nuts, toast, peaches, creamy malo.

Estate Gamay Noir – 2012 – light, savoury, black fruits.

Estate Merlot Cabernets 2010 – dark ruby colour, fresh blackberry and ripe plums, lovely florals and vanilla, long and dark chocolatey – yum

For the formal sit-down tasting we were offered:

Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – 86% sauv blanc, with balance semillon and sauvignon gris – one of Te Mata’s signature wines – 3mths in bottle; pale yellow green; bouquet of sun cut vines, vanilla from the French oak, beeswax?; tastes of limes and pear and sea salt; dry, long, with good acidity; 9 mths of lees contact adds texture. Age-worthy.

Zara Viognier 2011 – a good one this – smells of sponge cake; tastes of Turkish delight and honey and apricots; oily; long peppery finish; would be great drunk with jerk chicken.

Elston Chardonnay 2011 – strong strong manuka honey aroma; rich 100% malo; the honey masks peaches and mealiness; there is some minerality evident. Age-worthy.

Awatea Cabernet Merlot 2011 – probably the least performer here – tight, closed, light aromatics, needs time to open up; fine tannins; blackcurrant, blackberry. Some length.

Then the Bordeaux-blend big guns:

Coleraine 1991 – well brown this; nougat, toffee, butterscotch, old leather, old roses; in the Bordeaux style; dark choc, less fruit, dry tannins – yum yum

Coleraine 2001 – smells of doctors and dentists surgeries (in a nice way); deep browning crimson; dark chocolate and plums and coffee; still tannic, with fruit still evident.

Coleraine 2011 – deep crimson; lively and intense; smells of blackberries and almonds; long tannins and yes, dark choc. Needs time in bottle, or some decanting. Again age-worthy definitely.

A good night; pity no Bullnose Syrah at the tasting; too little production, we have to hope for next year.

Nick Buck was excited about the upcoming vintage. Picking starts tomorrow. Lets see what turns up at the tasting in 2015!

Straight to the Pool Room Jan 2013


Bought for the cellar this month:

Mills Reef Hawkes Bay Elspeth Cabernet Merlot 2010 – $$$ – drink 2015-2018

Thornbury Gisborne Chardonnay 2011 – $ – drink 2015

Villa Maria Private Bin Marlborough Dry Riesling 2012 – $ – drink 2015-17