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

Straight to the Pool Room – April 2017


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A trio of new additions for the Land of Nod:

Giles Robin ‘Alberic Bouvet’ Crozes-Hermitage 2014 – $$$ – drink 2021-2024. This was the standout (affordable) wine from the recent Giles Robin Tasting I attended.

Lamont Riesling Central Otago 2014 – $$ – drink 2021-2024. I remember drinking an earlier vintage from this producer at La Boca Loca with L and Mum and Dad a couple of years ago. I loved the super-dry and austere mineral character of the wine. Quite foreboding, and unlike any Riesling I have tried before. Very interested to see how these two behave!

What’s in the glass tonight February 20th – Pinot Noir


mudhouse-pn-2012

From the Cellar: Mudhouse Pinot Noir Central Otago 2012 – $$$

Dark carmine. 12.5% alc.

This was recommended to me a while back by some writer, so I bought a brace for the Pool Room. Opening time…!

I saw a savoury and spicy note under a carpet of herb. Dark fruit, showing depth and intensity of bouquet, with cardboard and boiled lolly.

In the mouth the wine was full and rich. Ripe black cherries carried through to the end with no bitterness or loss of extract. Heat on the back palate. Just lovely.

Highly Recommended  – 90 points

Regional Wines In-Store Mini NZ Pinot Noir Tasting – Jan 2017


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Clos Henri ‘Petit Clos’ Pinot Noir Marlborough 2015 -$23.55 Juicy & approachable, with structure and depth.

Kiritea ‘ Te Hera’ Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013  -$21.65 – savoury, peppery  & aromatic. A layered, typical Wairarapa style.

Folding Hill Pinot Noir, Bendigo Central Otago 2013 -$28.95 – Elegant, wild thyme notes

Neudorf ‘Tom’s Block’ Pinot Noir Nelson 2014 -$30.25 – A quality quaffer.

greystone-pinot-noir-2014

Greystone Pinot Noir Waipara 2014 – $33.95 – Hand-harvested from the Omihi Vineyard. Wild yeast ferment with 15% whole bunch to add complexity.

This wine was commented at the tasting as being ‘cerebral’. If you think about anything long enough it becomes cerebral. I thought it had a velvet quality on the nose, with spice, some herbal character, and scents of red roses. So there!

Smooth mouthfeel, with a powerful and dense core of statement fruit. Elegant. It finished hot. No thinness or metallic notes, just deliciousness throughout.

Highly Recommended. 91 Points

What’s in the glass tonight November 29th – Pinot Noir


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Locharburn Pinot Noir Central Otago 2013 – gift

The grapes for this wine were grown beside Lake Dunstan in the Cromwell basin from a single vineyard overlooking the Locharburn stream. It is not a label I am at all familiar with.

Dark carmine – a particularly dense-coloured Pinot. 14% alc.

It showed quite dumb the first night, but opened up beautifully graceful the second night

Soft savoury notes on the nose, I smelled dried herbs, very perfumed. There were strong fruit scents of dark cherries, touches of oak and vanilla, red roses, soap and crayon wax. Verging on being a Rhone…

A classic Cromwell Pinot Noir in the mouth. Reminds me of Wooing Tree, Beetlejuice and Mt Difficulty wines from that part of the country.  Sweet, rich and ripe. Flavours of dark cherries and plums. Fine-grained tannins. Raspy and textural. Long and hot, with a spicy finish.

Not at all a shrinking violet! I loved it.

Highly Recommended – 93 points

What’s in the glass tonight October 12th – Pinot Noir


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From the Cellar: Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir Central Otago 2011 – $$$+

Another wine from one of New Zealand’s vinous rock stars.

Deep pinot ruby. 14% alc. Leggy.

Gorgeous perfumed nose. Savoury and hot, with brambly black cherries, herbs and thyme. Showing a deep intensity of bold fruit.

To drink the wine started sweet on attack, and was savoury through the mid-palate, and a herbal note towards the end. Ripe, finely textured, well balanced. Hot finish.

This is a very fine, yet grunty, pinot. Wants another five years to really exhibit its class. Shame I haven’t got another bottle..

Outstanding.

95 points

Felton Road Block 3

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What’s in the glass tonight August 27th – Pinot Noir


Saddleback PN 2011

From the Cellar: Peregrine Saddleback Pinot Noir Central Otago 2011 – $

Bright pinot ruby. 13.5% alc. The second wine of Peregrine Wines.

Moderate intensity, a floral bouquet. Soft, with spice, pepper, and some savoury and herbal characteristics. This wine really needed decanting. Splashing helped, but it looked much better the next day.

To drink, the wine showed ripe red fruits, direct and simple. There was balance in the acids, and silky tannins. Good concentration. A long finish.

As I wrote earlier, this wine showed far more attractive on the second night. The age would have helped – it was softer, and the flavours and aromas emerged with more varietal intensity. The first night it had looked like the kind of red cordial that I hate so much about second-label Pinot Noirs. I know it isn’t something that noted producers want to achieve, but I see it all the time – a lack of finesse, grace and complexity straight out of the glass.

Second labels are bought for immediate drinking, not overnight decanting.

88 points

What’s in the glass tonight July 16th – Pinot Noir


The Admiral PN 2013

The Admiral Reserve Estate Pinot Noir Central Otago 2013

Back to NZ Pinot’s…

Pinot Ruby. 13.2% alc.

A negociant’s wine, this Pinot Noir is produced for Paddy’s Wholesalers who hail from Seaview, an industrial section of Hutt City. Nary a vine in sight in that part of the world. And no vineyard or winemaker identified on the label either – I don’t like that at all. And what is a Reserve Estate? There are several paid-for glowing reviews on the label, mind, so let’s see if it’s any good…

I can’t see much on the nose. It’s quite dumb. There is a bit of light fruit, pepper and herbaceousness if I try hard, but little expression save a bit of green.

On palate it is light and thin and somewhat metallic. It’s not vibrant or fruity, and almost tastes sour. The fulsome reviews do not describe the wine I am drinking here. Perhaps this bottle was poorly stored.

80 points

What’s in the glass tonight Feb 26th – Riesling


Lamont Riesling 2013

Lamont Riesling Bendigo Central Otago 2013 – $$$

Mum and Dad came to stay the weekend. After a catchup we decided to head to Café Polo for dinner. I selected this wine for the table:

Light straw. 11.04% alc.

Very refined and elegant in expression with mineral citrus bouquet with a delicate phenolic tang. Dry, dry, dry, to taste, with light and tight fruit flavours, and a preponderance of mineral character. A quality drop, but also a somewhat challenging expression of Riesling, due to its shortage of apparent sweetness.

BTG 3+

A Vineyard on the Edge – MS Rippon Vineyard tasting, November 30th 2015


MS Rippon Tasting 2015

This was the final tasting of 2015 for the Magnum Society, and a special one also, because the Society invited Nick Mills the winemaker at Rippon Vineyard to speak and present his wines.

Rippon sits beside Lake Wanaka, on the edge of the Clutha Basin in Central Otago. It is way far south. It kisses the Southern Alps. The area is about as ‘on the edge’ as you can get in New Zealand for growing and ripening grapes.

Rippon is a family-owned wine grower and producer. The business started as a sheep and stock station, and when Rolfe Mills the previous patriarch wanted to expand the land-use of the property, he experimented with growing a wide range of vinifera until he landed on the varieties that he thought best suited the site and climat.

Nick has carried on his work. Nick is passionate about his land, and its history, and about  biodynamic farming. He is also incredibly driven towards finding a way for his property to pay its way, and remain in use as arable, food-producing land. You see, Rippon is ‘on the edge’ for another reason – Wanaka is one of NZ’s pre-eminent tourist locations, and the land along the lakeside has become so valuable, and so coveted as sites for expensive holiday homes, that it is practically uneconomic to farm based solely on return on capital land value. I have been there and it is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth.

We were presented with the following wines:

Rippon “Rippon” Mature Vine Pinot Noir 2013

Rippon “Emma’s Block” Mature Vine Pinot Noir 2013

Rippon “Tinker’s Field” Mature Vine Pinot Noir 2013

Rippon Pinot Noir 2005 En Jeroboam and donated for the tasting by Nick

Rippon “Rippon” Mature Vine Riesling 2011

Rippon Gewurztraminer 2015

As usual, we tasted first without, and then with, food.

The tasting was very interesting to me. I won’t go through them wine-by-wine, as there are Society members far better skilled to comment on the quality and characters of the wines than me, elsewhere. I looked at them instead as a total expression of the site’s capability, strengths and terroir. And I came up with a potentially contentious conclusion…

The pinots are all quality products. The vineyard management, cropping, and vinification is bio-dymanic and first-rate. What is in the bottle I expect to be the best wine that can be wrought from this site. The Tinkers Field Pinot Noir 2013 was a stand-out, as was the Pinot Noir 2005. The eponymous Rippon Pinot Noir 2013 was a great example of a house style. But not one of these wines blew me away as I had expected to be. They weren’t as perfumed or as brambly or as dense as I have come to expect and treasure in a beautiful Central Otago Pinot Noir. What’s going on here? Is the site not as suited to this grape as I was informed?

You see, when I tried the Gewurztraminer 2015 I was blown away. This was easily the best Gewurz I have tried in ages. It was delicious, perfumed, expressive. Then it was followed up by the Riesling 2011. Again, delicious, superlative. Many of the tasters agreed. A truly fine wine.

What if the Rippon site is best suited to growing fine aromatics, in the Alsatian or German mold? What if this is the one place in NZ where these varieties can be grown to the utmost extent of their beauty, precision and expression? And rival the northern hemisphere? Should Nick seize the opportunity and forge a new path towards being a sole monopole grand cru aromatic white producer?

I guess not. Wine growing is a business. Buyers of New World wines are followers of fashion and marketing. NZ Pinot Noir is hot. Buyers will pay more for it. Whereas Riesling has nowhere near the same demand or $ attached to it. And I expect you can barely give some Gewurtztraminers away. So producers like Nick are in an invidious position. They have to follow the money, and do the best they can.

What I can do as a consumer is to buy Rippon pinots and support their endeavour, and buy their Rieslings and Gewurtztraminers for their beauty. I urge you to do the same.

MS Rippon Tasting 2015 2