What’s in the glass tonight December 9th– Pinot Noir


Kiritea PN 2013

From the Cellar: Kiritea Te Hera Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013 – $$

Deep ruby colour. 13.5% alcohol.

Pronounced floral bouquet with dark cherries, a savoury quality, and cardboard box. It presents as a well-defined and deeply scented wine as I believe a proper Pinot should be.

Sweet entry, smooth to drink, with big fruit flavours. But not brash or simple. Bitter and crunchy on the mid palate, and a peppery finish. Solid, rewarding, primary and persistent, with good structure. I’ll keep my second bottle for another couple of years based on this showing.

Highly Recommended 92 points

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What’s in the glass tonight November 22nd – Chenin Blanc


Millton Chenin Blanc 2007

From the Cellar: Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc Gisborne 2007 – $$$

From the foremost of the few producers of this varietal in New Zealand. I can’t say enough good things about Millton. One of the first wines I collected for the Pool Room.

Brilliant gold colour. 12% alc. A biodynamic wine.

Richly aromatic. Satisfyingly complex secondary and tertiary aromas have developed over the past 10 years under my roof – oranges and golden mangoes and honey, bready and unctuous, cardboard, a citrus tang. Lovely.

Sweet and lively to drink. Juicy and mouthwatering. Bright acid throughout, with golden fruit, mango and orange flavours which end on a slightly bitter biscuit finish, long and hot.

There is such youthful vigour here. There are years ahead for this wine. Wish I had more!

One of my Wines of the Year!

Outstanding 96 points

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


Escarpment Kupe 2013

From the Cellar: Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013 – $$$

The flagship Pinot from one of Martinborough’s most experienced winemakers. I have been to many Escarpment tastings, and bought wine following each one. This bottle was one of those, liberated from the cellar to see what development there was after 5 years.

Deep ruby colour. 13.5% alc.

On the nose the wine showed heady, savoury, luscious and dense aromas. There was a subline character to the nose with scents of boxwood, soft red fruit, lanolin, licorice and dark red roses.

The palate told a shorter story: a sweet entry with a bitter finish. It seemed astringent, thin, metallic and hollow. There were red fruit there, but not enough flavour to balance the drying tannins. Finished somewhat long, but it didn’t improve on standing. The nose stayed firm however.

Had this wine “tunnelled”? I have had a couple of disappointing cellar experiences with the Escarpment wines I have bought for the Pool Room, including a Pahi tasted last year. They show so well on release. Had I opened them too early? Or are they not built for the long term? Don’t know, but I have to say I was saddened. I was hoping for this wine to be tremendous. I’ll keep the second one another couple of years and see how it fares.

Recommended 86 points

What’s in the glass tonight September 5th – Chardonnay


Te Mata Elston 2013

From the Cellar: Te Mata Estate Elston Chardonnay 2013 – $$$

From the great Hawkes Bay vintage. 14% alc. Bright gold colour.

Perfumed. Scents of butterscotch, apricots, citrus fruit, spice, hints of menthol and peppermint, honey and white roses.

Warm and rich attack, with a smooth mouthfeel through the middle. Great balance between acid and secondary fruit. Flavours of orange and orange peel oil. Long finish, crunchy with it; lively and mouthwatering.

A fine and complex wine, sophisticated, Burgundian. I really wish i had another bottle somewhere.

Outstanding 95 Points

What’s in the glass tonight August 31st – Pinot Noir


Peregrine PN 2012

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

In good Pinot Noir, there is that distinctive catch at the back of the throat which is so typical of the wine varietal showing sufficient extraction, a little like the feeling I get when I think I am just coming down with a cold. This wine had that…

13.5% alc. Dark dusky browning carmine colour.

A difficult wine to assess at first. It opened up quite stinky, very savoury and overblown, but this gassed off after a while. Showed delicate and dusty dark cherry fruit aromas. Sweet and lifted oak notes, with the usual Central herbal terroir character edging the bouquet with thyme. Damp earth/heaped wet leaves.

Light and sweet fruit flavours on entry, a little thin. Although this impression might be because my red wine diet has been mostly restricted to Syrah and Shiraz this winter and I have lost the taste for a lighter style of red. Refreshing acidity on the middle palate, medium tannins, and quite persistent. The catch at the back of the throat I wrote about above.

Density and presence of nose informs every mouthful. It is what I love about good Pinot.

High Recommended 92 Points

Te Mata Estate Coleraine Library Tasting 1982 – 2015


Te Mata Coleraine 1

New Zealand’s greatest and most famous red wine?

This is the opinion of a few notable palates of the New Zealand wine scene, admittedly encouraged by the superb marketing efforts of the folks behind the winery itself, and this opinion is also shared by several overseas leading palates, namely Jamie Goode and Steven Spurrier.

I am quite partial to the wine myself, though my own palate can best be described as naïve. I was introduced to the ‘00 at a tasting of Te Mata wines back in ‘10, and was I entranced by its quality. I didn’t know a NZ wine would age so well!  Actually, until that time, I had never thought of keeping a New Zealand wine any longer than the thirty minutes it took to get it home from the bottlestore. But life is learning, isn’t it?

Now, however, I am the  proud owner of several vintages of Coleraine, all sleeping it off down in the Pool Room under the watchful gaze of kellarmausefanger Mimi until they hit the Witching Hour of ten years of age. The first cab off the rank will be the 2009. My cellar’s pride and joy is a magnum of Coleraine 2013 (ignoring its admitted rival, 750mls of Stonyridge Larose 2005. Plus a bunch of Rieslings. I could go on).

Geoff Kelly, an aficionado of aged wines, previously a wine judge, and one of the resident wine experts at Regional Wines and Spirits, organised this hugely important look at twelve of the best vintages of this great wine since its inception in 1982. There have been 31 vintages to date, with the 1992 and 1993 not being made due to the localised cool weather influenced by the Pinatubo volcanic eruption in Indonesia, and a later vintage (2011?) which was beset by rain. A large number of bottles had been collected over the years by the late founder of Regional Wines, Grant Jones, and Geoff contributed others to fill the holes. He consulted with Peter Cowley, Te Mata’s longtime winemaker, about what he thought the finest vintages were, and thus assembled a selection for tasting over two nights.

I attended the second helping.

Geoff provided an excellent set of introductory notes, which can be read via the link below, with his carefully considered reviews of the wines themselves. Spoiler alert!

http://www.geoffkellywinereviews.co.nz/index.php?ArticleID=284

Raymond Chan, another local wine reviewer and judge, also ex RW, and an expert whose writings I admire, and also a long-time fan of Coleraine, he attended the first sitting also. And his informative notes are below. Another spoiler alert!

http://www.raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz/blog/te-mata-coleraine-2015-1982

My good friend GN was in attendance as well, as was a couple of MS members; cracking palates all, plus me, ha! But I’m still at the Bluffing Stage of public winetasting. Again, life is learning, isn’t it?

au vins:

1982 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

1983 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

1989 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

1991 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

1995 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

1998 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

2002 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

2005 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

2007 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

2009 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

2013 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

2015 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay

Interestingly, Te Mata Estate Coleraine Hawkes Bay 1998 was named a ‘Wine Legend’ in the August Issue of UK’s wine magazine Decanter, placing it amongst the greatest wines of all time. The only New Zealand wine to receive the title to date, Decanter’s profile situates Te Mata Estate’s flagship Coleraine beside other ‘Wine Legends’ at more than ten times its price. Hmm. I take this magazine, surface mail, and haven’t seen this issue yet. It will be interesting to sup that one, then.

Time to sniff and slurp. I won’t write up all twelve wines (I leave that weighty task to Geoff and Raymond), but will rather report on my highlights. The wines were served non-blind, in age order youngest to oldest, as 30ml pours.

Te Mata Coleraine 2

The bouquet, as you would expect, showed evolution as the years progressed. Bright primary fruits to start with the later vintages, tending through secondary characters (cedar etc) in the 2000s, then landing on tertiary notes (tobacco ash etc)  as the decades weighed in from the 90s and back. Colour tended bright deep pink carmine in the young wines, through to darker hues, and tending brick for the oldies.

2015 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – $140! OMFG – This was a great start to the tasting. If I can be presumptuous, the producers are making better wine the more goes they have at doing so, and this makes sense. The vines are getting older. And thus the ‘15 is winner in the making. Bright carmine colour. Sweet red and dark fruits on the nose. Sensitive. Breathy. Fresh fruit flavours. Fresh acidity. Great intensity and length. Bracing. Plush and lush, plumpness and  balance. Three ticks.

2013 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – I have this in the Pool Room. It was a Lauded Vintage in the Bay. Bright carmine colour. More volatile than the ’15. A hint of spirit marker. Dark fruit. An impression of restrained power. There was power and crunch in the in the mouth also. Dense and packed with flavour. Some spice. Gorgeous and concentrated, fine, no oak showing. Fabulous. Three ticks.

2009 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – Notable for the cassis showing, vanilla, and huge fruit profile. Hot on exit.

2007 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – I noted here floral, lifted, and tension. Baking spice.  Elusive violets. Elegant, long and lean of finish. A special wine.

2005 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – Dark carmine, tending brick. A packed nose. Delightful. Cedar, chalk, dusty , and cassis. Good fruit on palate. A rich feel of the wine in my mouth. I saw neatness and harmony and symmetry. Long. Three ticks for this.

1995 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – Dark carmine, tending brick. Dry and evolved, a light and leafy bouquet. Gorgeous fruit flavours again. Poised. I noted sweetness and freshness, length and persistence. A gorgeous wine. Three ticks for this too.

1991 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – Dark carmine, tending brick. Evolved, with aromas of roses, spice, violets, cassis, cedar and blackcurrant jam. A lot going on here. Delicious, involving and mouthcoating. Someone called this a mature Claret. Drying a little. Harmonious. Three ticks again!

1982 Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay – Dark carmine, tending brick. Most evolved, but still holding up with freshness and intensity of fruit belieing its age. An amazing 35YO New Zealand wine, and my Wine Of The Night because of this (beating out the ’91, ’05 and ’13).

My takeaway from this tasting had to be the pleasure in seeing how the bouquet evolved through the years. And how the wine colour changed. It was also interesting to see how the later vintages showed improvements that I can only put down to greater vine age and better vineyard/winery practice which has evolved over the years. Te Mata are making better Coleraines now than they did in the past, in my opinion.

This was a masterclass. Something you get vanishingly rarely with NZ wines. And this may well be the last public tasting of this breadth of Coleraines, until the winery itself opens its cellar at the next significant anniversary. Thanks Geoff, and thanks also to the late Grant Jones.

 

What’s in the glass tonight July 19th – Gewurtztraminer


Peregrine Gewurtztraminer 2009

From the Cellar: Peregrine Gewurtztraminer Central Otago 2009 – $$

14% alc. Brilliant gold colour.

Geoff Kelly wrote of this wine in late 2013, “When Greg Hay was here from Peregrine, he dumbfounded us by showing what is one of the greatest gewurztraminers ever made in New Zealand, and then in the latter part of the discussion casually mentioned this 2009 was the last of the line. The vines had all been pulled out, he said, due to the low and alternate-year cropping. The wine is just beautiful, fragrant and fruit-rich, wonderful acid balance, great freshness and cellar potential, the gewurz spice building in mouth, a dryish wine. It should cellar for another eight years or so. It is essential in any cellar hoping to showcase the diversity New Zealand wines can achieve.”

So when I read this I went and bought the last two bottles on the shelves at Regional Wines…

An envelopingly aromatic and sweet bouquet:  developed, warm and ripe, with sweet notes of honey and toffee, and touches of mandarin and apple.

Sweet, smooth and ripe to taste. Toffee and caramel flavours. Saline. Fine flinty texture. A long, hot and spicy finish.

So poised and balanced and memorable. A few years ahead for this wine I think – I’ll probably open the second bottle in 2019.

Outstanding 95 points

What’s in the glass tonight July 7th – Sticky


Murdoch James Blue Rock Trafalgar

From the Cellar: Murdoch James Blue Rock Trafalgar Martinborough 2009 – $$$

L bought this bottle on our first weekend away to the Wairarapa, when we first started going out. We stayed on the first floor of Turley Red, a pub in Greytown, above the karaoke bar, with non-sound-insulated floors. While trying to sleep the first night we heard every song. We were practically in the bar with the singers…It was a GrabOne deal. We look back and laugh about it now.

Anyway, we did a vineyard crawl one day, and ended up at Murdoch James perched above the old river escarpment, east of Martinborough. I recall gorgeous gardens, and a singularly unique approach to winemaking styles, aimed at the Asian market, for Martinborough.

This wine is a blend of noble Sauvignon Blanc, and late harvest Riesling, a ‘sticky’.

13% alc. Golden colour.

Delicious, evolved, and volatile. A sticky in a big bottle. Fantastic aromas of mandarins, honey, and citrus freshness.

Very sweet on attack (natch), with fresh citrus character throughout the mid-palate, and kero energy at the finish. So good!

Highly recommended 92 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 21st – Nebbiolo Barbera


Hihi Nebbiolo 2010 2011

From the Cellar: Hihi Nebbiolo Barbera Gisborne 2010/2011 – $$

There is an MS Barolo tasting approaching, so I thought to open a NZ Nebbiolo from my cellar, and get an early run at the variety. Not that I was expecting a wine of the quality that will be tasted with the Society, nevertheless I was still looking forward to seeing how a year in the cellar has affected it since I lasted tasted a bottle.

14% alc. Deep dusty carmine. The colour is right.

Light dusty florals on the nose,a  savoury note, dark fruits, smells hot, no trace of tar.

Cheery sweet entry on the palate, juicy fruit, medium body, a tannic edge, and not a long finish. An intriguing blend, this. Tending towards green, and with less body, intensity  and fullness that I was hoping for. I recall that this vintage in Gisborne was wet and cold, and the finished wine shows this.

Nevertheless, it is a wine to keep an eye out for, and I remain hopeful to try one from a warmer vintage if a bottle ever becomes available. I am watching the producer’s website, and waiting…

In the meantime, I have one more bottle left, which I will keep the full ten years. And we’ll see how that looks then.

Commended 85 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 2nd – Syrah


IMG_9098

From the Cellar: Millton Clos Ste Anne The Crucible Syrah Gisborne 2009 – $$$

As I have said many, many times – biodynamic Millton Vineyard is one of my favourite producers. James and Annie possess one of the most beautiful vineyard sites in one of the most special parts of New Zealand (disclosure:  a branch of my family immigrated into NZ through Gisborne two centuries ago, and I love the place, so I’m biased). And they treat their land so well and with so much respect through their viticultural stewardship. To open one of their wines is always a treat and an occasion to savour.

Now, having talked up the wine incredibly….

Inky red black colour, slightly browning at the rim. 14.5% alc. Whole berry in the maceration, with some Viognier in the blend.

Floral, spicy and perfumed nose. Lifted.  Soft rich black fruit, and white pepper.

In the mouth there was an absolute abundance of sweet rich black fruit, with perfect ripeness and weight. Apparent oak and vanilla, but it didn’t detract. Smooth and deep, with notes of port and raisin and dark chocolate. Balanced acid, fruit and tannin. A long peppery finish. Superb, just delicious.

Outstanding 97 points