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 22nd – Chardonnay


KR Estate Chardonnay 2015

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay Kumeu 2015 – $$$

14% alc. Pale gold colour.

Clear, clean yet complex citrus on the nose, layered and sweet. Stonefruit. Fine and elegant.

The bouquet translates to fresh and crisp sweet citrus flavours, racey acidity, mouthwatering. Ripe peach and lemon sharpness, a brusque finish. Very moreish. Very long, with alcohol heat producing tingling in my gums.

This is a good food wine, and a great aperitif.

BTW this is the best photo that the Prisma app has produced for me so far. Do you agree?

Highly Recommended  91 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 July 5th – Zinfandel, under cork.


Sebastiani Zinfandel Sonoma 2013

Off Topic: Sebastiani Zinfandel Sonoma County 2013 – $$

Nice to pull a cork every now and then…

14.6% alc. Inky ruby. This may be a monster….

Sumptuous and rich bouquet, with strong aromas of black fruit, vanilla and cedar…

..and a mouthful of the stuff shows it’s packed with flavour – luscious dark fruits, plums,  prunes – and with a really hot finish.  Spicy through the mid palate, and finished very fleshy, and scratchy.

A showstopping, car-crash of a wine, this. Too much alcohol. It may have suited the beef stroganoff we ate for dinner, but it’s no good as an aperitif. A firestarter maybe, not a fireside drinker…

Too bad. An earlier vintage really impressed me up the skifield three years ago. Perhaps the high altitude dulled my senses? The grunty and forward fruit flavours really showed well up there in the cold.

However, I still mark this wine Highly Recommended and score it 90 points, as I reckon you gotta give a belter like this it’s due. But this wine would be even better if it were a point and a bit less alcoholic!

A drought wine?

Highly recommended 90 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 June 9th – White Burgundy


Olivier Leflaive Les Setilles Bourgogne 2013

Off Topic: Olivier Leflaive Les Sétilles Bourgogne 2013 – $$$+

I bought this bottle to take to a friend’s 70th and share with L. I thought it was a bit funky at first, and perhaps faulty, but friends who have a good nose tried it and agreed that this wine was pretty good. Fine minerality, a steely austere quality, and crisp acidity. Delish!

Unfortunately L didn’t like it much. I have my eye on a Marsanne/Rousanne Northern Rhone blend for next time – she might like that better!

Highly recommended 90 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 23rd – Riesling


Escarpment Riesling

Escarpment Riesling Martinborough 2013

This was a generous gift from MM for me being chauffeur at the recent biking weekend. Much appreciated, mate.

Brilliant pale greenish straw colour. 12% alc.

The nose was delightfully aromatic and phenolic, showing lean and crisp acidity, with a layered note of honey.

Natch, the wine was dry/off-dry, lean, and angular to taste as well. Salty, and sharp through the mid palate, with a short crisp mineral finish. I loved the mouthwatering acidity. An arresting wine, cerebral even (if I err into weinwank for a moment…J )

Very enjoyable. I liked seeing the sweetness dialled back in this white.

Highly Recommended – 90 points

What’s in the glass tonight April 27th – Chianti


IMG_9061

From the Cellar: Santa Cristina Chianti Superiore 2011 – $$$

Dark plum red colour, tending tawny. 13% alc.

A bouquet that is rich and opulent and savoury. Scents of dates, cardboard and spice, and fusty dark fruits.

In the mouth the wine tastes rich, ripe and full. Concentrated fruit, quite chewy. A delicious spicy finish, with a tannic rasp at the back of my throat, and drying. Very long.

Highly Recommended 91 Points

 

What’s in the glass tonight March 24th – Pinot Noir


IMG_8833

From the Cellar: Greystone Pinot Noir Waipara 2012 – $$

This wine won ‘Pure Elite Gold’ at the Air NZ Wine Awards in 2013 by showing up and showing off, so I thought it might be a bit good and cellared a bottle then to try later.

Now it’s later, and now, and I see it’s a typical carmine colour, and 13.5% ABV.

On the nose it’s elegant, with floral notes of violets and herbage of thyme, savoury, lightly fruitful, luscious and brambly. Good so far…

There is a sweet attack in the mouth. Fresh acidity with bright red fruit flavours. Great body and extract, depth and length.  A raspy finish, with heat lingering at the back of the throat. A tasty one with no bad habits.

Highly recommended 91 Points

What’s in the glass tonight March 12th – Riesling


VM CS Riesling 2007

From the Cellar: Villa Maria Cellar Selection Riesling Marlborough 2007 – $

One of my favourite wines from one of my favourite producers. Enough said.

Pale green straw colour. 11.5% alc.

Clear and crisp and expansive aromas of citrus and apple. So open, so appealing!

So much life in the mouth! Crisp citrus and crunchy green apples. Austere and of-minerals on attack. Sweet through the mid-palate. A long finish. Still so zingy and fresh. Aging slowly under scfrewcap. There is another 10 years in this wine. Pity I don’t have another.

Highly Recommended 94 Points