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


Selaks Buttery Chardonnay 2016

Selaks Taste Collection Buttery Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2016 – $

13% alc. Gold colour.

L loves a good buttery Chard. This showed bold malo on the nose, generous apricot and peach aromas, oaky influence.

Smooth golden stonefruit flavours to taste. A big generous mouthfeel, and creamy, but not too heavy. A light touch for a heavy white, if you will, seeking balance with acidity on the mid-palate. Medium length. A cheery value winter white, and a welcome return for this expressive and bountiful style of Chardonnay.

L sez “far too drinkable”!

Recommended 88 points

What’s in the glass tonight August 4th – Merlot


Church Road McDonald Series Merlot 2013

Church Road McDonald Series Merlot Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$

14.5% alc. Deep carmine colour.

From the celebrated 2013 vintage in the Bay. Tasted over two nights.

First impression: complex and leafy on the nose, odd for a good year, brusqueness and drying tannin on palate, but with potential to age, the shortness on palate perhaps indicating the wine has stalled, with another 2-3 years needed to kick on to a stage when it will begin drinking really well.

Second look after a day open: dark fruits, roses, cedar and vanilla. Soft and aromatic. Unctuous and delicious in the mouth with rich flavours of dark plums, dark red roses, and tobacco to match bouquet. Balanced. Drying tannins offset by fresh acidity, and enveloped by the typical varietal softness of Merlot.

Highly Recommended  90 points

What’s in the glass tonight July 16th – Chardonnay


Te Mata Chardonnay 2016

Te Mata Estate Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2016  – $$

13.5% alc. Pale gold colour.

Light and citrusy nose. Sweet. Hints of apple, white peach

Sweet entry, with medium fruit weight through the middle palate. Finely textured also, with a refreshing line of acid throughout, extending  to a long finish.

This wine can be available for as little as $18 a bottle, so great value for it.

Recommended 88 points

What’s in the glass tonight July 4th – Viognier


Elephant Hill Viognier 2016

Elephant Hill Viognier Te Awanga Hawkes Bay 2016 – $$

13.5% alc. Pale gold colour.

Nose of spice, licorice allsorts, and ripe luscious golden stonefruit and melon. Cheery and fine.

Sweet and dense in the mouth, rich fruit. Long luscious honeyed finish. Flavours of pear and navel orange. Peppery and gritty in character and texture.

Recommended 88 points

 

What’s in the glass tonight June 30th – Viognier


Stonecroft Viognier 2016

Stonecroft Gimblett Gravels Viognier Hawkes Bay 2016 – $$

The bottle’s label states that this is the third vintage of this wine, and the production volume comprised three barrels worth from the producer’s Roy’s Hill vineyard on the Gravels.  A boutique release, then.

12.5% alc. Clear pale lemon / straw colour.

Aromatic, with pip fruit aromas up front, then showing melon, peach and honey, and soft and very sweet strawberries.

With such a nose, there were no surprises on palate. A sweet entry, with a creamy texture and ripe fruit through the middle, and a soft acid finish. Long.

Simple and nice.

Commended 85 points

What’s in the glass tonight June 20th – Chardonnay


Sacred Hill Riflemans 2015

Sacred Hill Riflemans Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2015 – $$$+

Bula!

L and I recently jetted off for a long weekend on Denarau island in Fiji. L was to attend a conference, and I was her ‘plus-1’.

The weather was sunny and warm. The pool was cool and inviting, the hotel staff were friendly and helpful, and we had a great time with her workmates and fellow professionals. Vinaka vaka levu, L!

I raided the airport duty-free store on the way and bought a bottle of Chardonnay to drink on our hotel room balcony. I chose one of NZ’s best single vineyard Chardy’s, which is only made in good years from grapes off old Mendoza clone vines. As I have written about before, it was a bottle of the ’07 that started me on my wine journey.

The nose of the Riflemans showed mealy and fine and aromatic. The wine smelled oaky and oily, quite similar to Viognier in that regard, and had that typical Riflemans intensity, buttery character, and layer of lemon curd.

To taste, the wine was finely-grained and smooth in texture, with rich and dense golden fruit flavours, and some butterscotch and spice. It finished long, with quite “tingle-y’ acid, and showed some bitterness.

This Chardonnay is an somewhat old-fashioned heavy style of wine, in its way, and was not really suited to the tropical Fijian climate at all. A winter white, this one, and best for a cold climate and roast chicken dinners. Still, couldn’t deny the quality.

Highly recommended 91 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 11th– Merlot Cabernets blend


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Craggy Range Te Kahu Hawkes Bay 2015 – $$

It’s late at night. L is away at a Chiro conference in Melbourne, LG is in bed asleep, the boys are with their father, and I am sifting at the the computer, on the internet, which turns into blogging. I’m blogging about wine, while drinking this wine. Very meta.

Dark plum red. 14% alc.

The wine is showing somewhat thin and oddly structured on the nose on opening. Perhaps it’s a keeper and needs time?

Sure enough, it softened on standing in the glass, filling out and opening up, but still showed thin. There is fruit there as a backbone, with spice and heat, grunty tannin and dark cocoa, but it isn’t as rich or dense as the ’13 or ’14. A disappointment, this bottle.

It does show distinctive terroir, so I have marked it up

Commended 85 points

What’s in the glass tonight April 28th – Merlot


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Abbey Cellars Rapture Merlot Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$

Dark plum red colour. 14% alc.

A layered and chunky nose, soft ripe sweet black fruit, big on vanilla, and a bit funky. The funkiness got stronger as the wine got air.

Full and soft to drink. Medium tannins. A structural feel in the mouth, a soapy and spicy finish. I could feel the alcohol heat.

The wine then alarmingly wilted in the glass after time, and unpleasantly. I have rarely seen this. It either lacks the extract or fruit weight to sustain itself in contact with air, or it had been poorly stored. A very odd wine to work out – it opened so promising, and then fell over almost completely. A real shame.

Not rated.

What’s in the glass tonight April 16th – Chardonnay


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From the Cellar: Villa Maria Keltern Vineyard Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2011 – $$$

Pale gold colour. 13.5 % alc. Single vineyard wine. I have been fortunate to have drunk a few vintages of this great wine.

This version smells delightfully aromatic. Poised and elegant. Light meal. Lean and restrained. A lovely nose.

An off-dry attack in the mouth. Fresh crunchy acidity throughout. Attractive austere mineral character. Long and incredibly powerful. Lemon finish. Long and long. Sooo good.

A real show wine, this. A cellar-door show-stopper, and a wine that rewards cellaring. One of the best wines I have had this year so far.

Outstanding 97 Points

What’s in the glass tonight January 7th – Syrah


elephant-hill-syrah-2014

Elephant Hill Syrah Te Awanga Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$

Deep dark carmine. 13.5% alc.

A big, rich and expressive aroma. Plums, savoury with vanilla and white pepper, balsa wood and spice, and a hint of funk.

The flavours show sweet on entry, with rich dark fruit through themed-palate and supple tannins with just enough grip to balance the floral nose, and heat and length at the finish.

This is such a good wine I can really see the kinship this grape has with Pinot Noir. A heady nose paired with a feminine quality on the palate. Sophisticated, delicate fruit with a good core of weight.

Highly Recommended  – 93 points