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 May 8th, 9th – A Ramble Around Martinborough


Martinborough Rows

Two Saturdays ago L and I stayed in Martinborough for the weekend. On the recommendation of our friend LH I had booked dinner for us at Tirohana Estate on Puruatanga Road. The proprietors picked us up in their van which was mighty decent.

The restaurant was in a beautiful white-gabled colonial house on the Estate. We enjoyed an amuse bouche, homemade pate, fish and lamb shanks, petit fours for after – so rich and good! Toby our Maitre’D was friendly, attentive and knowledgeable about the estate’s wines.

Tirohana

I had a glass of Tirohana Estate Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough 2014 to start, which showed apple, pear and petrol /aftershave. Flavours of mandarin peel and Gran Marnier, light, ripe & fleshy. Not a hint of grass or capsicum to be seen. Interesting. With my lamb I had a glass of Tirohana Estate Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013.  The nose exhibited density, florality and spice. The palate was fine, with bright ripe red cherries, fine tannins, and a hottish finish. Good.

The next morning, we wanted to burn off a big cooked breakfast, so we went out for a walk. We headed for a far-away hill track, but it turned out to be a bit further that we reckoned. We had walked for over an hour from our accommodation, and we hadn’t even got to the start of it. And then the morning’s meal caught me short and in trouble. I was about to touch cloth, but luckily we saw a winery open nearby for tastings. Two birds, one stone etc!

Stone Cutter

We got a great welcome from the new owner at Stone Cutter Vineyard on Todds Road. We tried their Stone Cutter Pinot Gris 2013  and Stone Cutter Syren Pinot Gris 2013, their Stone Cutter Pinot Noir 2013 and Stone Cutter Syren Pinot Noir 2013. L tried also their Stone Cutter 2014 Topaz – a sweet blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurtztraminer – & liked & bought a bottle, along with their PG.

Poppies wine list

We had lunch at Poppies Martinborough also on Puruatanga Rd later that afternoon, after the Mothers Day rush had eased (a little). Super-enthusiast winemaker Poppy and her viticulturist husband Shayne made us so very welcome. She led us through a tasting of their wines (they had sold out of their rose & chardonnay alas) – their age-worthy Sauvignon Blanc, fruity Pinot Gris and dusky Pinot Noir wines tasted delightful in the faded-euro elegance of their tasting room.

Louise

I selected the Poppies Martinborough Dry Riesling 2015 to have with the fantastically delicious vineyard platter served on the sunny terrace. Nose of apples. Very astringent and lean and fresh, lots of green apple, needs time to ease out of a current austere & angular phase. This too was selling out as we tasted. They are keen to secure additional grapes, as their business in barnstorming along.

Ata Rangi tasting room

We finished our amble at one of Martinborough’s, and New Zealand’s, 1er cru vineyards – Ata Rangi, further along Puruatanga Road. A rustic looking tasting room, containing stunning wines. We tried their current fresh Sauvignon Blanc, ripe and simple Crimson Pinot Noir (second label), their wonderfully rich and age-worthy Celebre red blend, and the fragrant powerful Craighall Vineyard and elegant Petrie Vineyard Chardonnays. A fine way to end the afternoon!

 

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

 

What’s in the [Reidel] glass tonight Feb 15th


Haythornthwaite Susan Gewurtz 2008

From the Cellar: Haythornthwaite “Susan” Martinborough Gewurtztraminer 2008 – $$$

L gave me a couple of Reidel glasses for Valentines Day!

The glasses are from the Vinum varietal-specific range. Reidel sez the shape of each glass is designed for an individual wine variety, and enhance the flavour and aroma of that wine when drunk from the appropriate vessel. I am not experienced at drinking from such expensive glassware, and couldn’t attest to the truth of Riedel’s claims, but I know that wines do smell and taste different depending on the glass.

These are Sauvignon Blanc glasses, shaped to suit white wine with two flavour contributors – fermented grape juice and yeast. The person in the shop said the shape would enhance Rose’ also. L and I thought that maybe we would enlarge the tent a little, and try this gewurtz out of them…

The experiment worked. The wine looked, smelt and tasted great. Not sure if it was the quality of the wine, or a placebo effect from the marketing and mystique around the glassware brand.

We knew the wine would be good going in. L and I tasted it at the vineyard on a visit of Martinborough last year, and she bought a bottle to take home with her. It is named after the winemaker’s wife. We were having leftover Indian takeaway for dinner, and thought the gewurz spice would go down well.

The wine is deep gold in colour. 13%. Honeyed and warm with spicy notes. Off dry. Very aromatic. The Reidel’s did what they promised on the tin, and presented a good wine very well. 4.

Straight to the Pool Room – November 2013


Pool Room Nov 2013

Geoff Kelly sez of this wine, “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.

I haven’t had a gewurz in yonks. I’d better grab a couple then!

Peregrine Central Otago Gewurztraminer 2009 – $$ – drink 2014-2019

What’s in the glass tonight Sept 6th


Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sav Blanc 2009

Cloudy Bay Te Koko Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – $$$

I expect that this wine is as close as we generally get to a premier cru for this varietal in New Zealand.

There are other benchmark wines that sit alongside it, but as this producer was in the vanguard of exporting Marlborough sauvignon blanc to the world, its nose is in front. In the subjective wine world, first impressions count…

A few weeks back I won a supermarket competition, and I received a few grocery vouchers. Rather than fold them into the weekly food shop, I thought I would apportion the vouchers over a few ‘feast’ nights, where I would buy more expensive ingredients than usual, and cook something nice for my closest and dearest. This was one of those nights.

L brought this bottle over to share, and pair with my grilled marmalade salmon fillets, yoghurt dill and mustard sauce, boiled new potatoes and mesclun salad. Joining us were her boys, her new au-pair, and my LG. We had a good time.

And the wine was wonderful: 14%. Gorgeous gold. Aromatic, warm and rich. A nose of oak and vanilla. Only a hint of Marlborough varietal character.

This is a matured wine, issued for sale by Cloudy Bay after three years of aging. It is made from the best grapes, with minimal handling and wild yeast fermentation.

L called it the sav for chardonnay drinkers. I agree. It has the complexity and mouthfeel of a chardonnay. Absolutely delicious, the vanilla comes through in the mouth, with smooth fruit, honey, vanilla, and creamy texture. Perfect with the salmon. 5

Then we had wildberry danish’s with fig and honey ice cream for dessert. L brought along a sticky to pair with it:

 Fromm Late Harvest Gewurtz 2010

Fromm Marlborough Late Harvest Gewurtztraminer 2010

12.5%. It was richly aromatic and sweet, with honey and spice and golden syrup. Delish. 4

Lucky me in so many ways…