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


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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


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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

What’s in the glass tonight March 11th – Chardonnay


Stonelegh Chardonnay 2013

From the Cellar: Stoneleigh Chardonnay Marlborough 2013 – $

This wine was part of an experiment I started in 2014. I bought a bunch of bottom-tier ‘value brand’ wines from the lauded 2013 vintage, and put them down to see how they would develop over time, and see whether the cheaper products showed cellar improvement and made for better value for money than the more prestigious hand-made ’13 offerings.

This wine was the first out of the blocks for the tranche. Brilliant gold colour. 13.5% alc.

I like the malolactic character and the oak handling of Stoneleigh Chardonnays, especially the Latitude series on the next tier up, so this would be interesting.

Gorgeous warm and rich, buttery and biscuitty golden stonefruit aromas. This wine is showing lovely development. Butterscotch and spice; elegance and intensity.

To taste there were rich flavours bursting from the glass. Caramel, oak, so textural, and with a great acid line underpinning the ripe fruit. Not at all flabby or over-exposed. Spicy finish. Just great.

The wine is nearing a peak, and is superb value for drinking over the next 2 years.

Highly Recommended 92 Points

What’s in the glass tonight February 27th – Marsanne Viognier


Rod McDonald One-Off 2015

Rod McDonald Wines ‘One Off’ Marsanne Viognier Gisborne 2015 – $$

A Rhone blend, and a one-off wine conceived and produced by Rod McDonald from the grapes he had at hand. As he says, “once it’s gone, it’s gone”. Indeed, that’s what I usually say when a good bottle goes west…as this one most certainly was.

Pale gold colour. 13.5% alc.

A nose of melon and peach. Perfumed and smoky. A very attractive and immersive floral scent filled the glass, which softened over time to a mellow lifted and savoury expression. Strongly oaked. Quite unique and sophisticated.

In the mouth there was a lovely balance of fruit flavours and spice. There was honey and ginger, citrus and heat. A winning combination of angular minerality and luscious fruity bawdiness.

Highly Recommended  – 91 points

What’s in the glass tonight February 22nd – Nebbiolo


GD Vajra Nebbiolo Langhe 2013

Off Topic: GD Vajra Nebbiolo Langhe 2013 – $$$

Dark carmine. 13.5% alc. From a Barolo producer, tho this isn’t one of those stellar wines. Bought from a new Wgtn supplier (for me) – Truffle Imports.

Savoury and spicy, aromatic, chunky and big. Meaty and expressive, with scents of dark plums and cherries.

The wine was smooth and sweet on the palate, with ripe, rich and vivacious fruit flavours. A fresh finish. Really delightful and delicious.

Highly Recommended  – 90 points

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