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 19th – Sauvignon Blanc


Astrolabe Kekerengu Sav B 2015

Astrolabe Kekerengu Coast Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015 – $$

From a reference producer of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, this wine is one of their series of wines exploring sub-regional expressions of the varietal, this example from near the southern coast of Marlborough.

Pale green straw colour. 13% alc.

Grassy and green on the nose. Green capsicum and gooseberries. Apples. A lichen salinity. Ascetic and austere.

Intense and long flavours. Limes and citrus, green tomatoes. Astringent. A grassy long note. Yet still full-flavoured within the confines of the style. Liking the expression of austerity very much!

Highly Recommended 91 points

What’s in the glass tonight November 2nd – Sauvignon Blanc


Dashwood SB 2016

Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2016 – $

Another fantastic Savvy, and cheap too!

Pale straw colour. 13% alc.

A cheery and lively nose, this wine boasted the strongest expression of passionfruit I have ever smelt in a Sauvignon Blanc. There was more to smell every time I went back to the glass: lemons, limes, green apples, hops. Remarkable.

It was crisp and full-flavoured to drink, with a dry apple pip finish.

Highly Recommended 94 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

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