From the Cellar: Murdoch James Blue Rock Trafalgar Martinborough 2009 – $$$
L bought this bottle on our first weekend away to the Wairarapa, when we first started going out. We stayed on the first floor of Turley Red, a pub in Greytown, above the karaoke bar, with non-sound-insulated floors. While trying to sleep the first night we heard every song. We were practically in the bar with the singers…It was a GrabOne deal. We look back and laugh about it now.
Anyway, we did a vineyard crawl one day, and ended up at Murdoch James perched above the old river escarpment, east of Martinborough. I recall gorgeous gardens, and a singularly unique approach to winemaking styles, aimed at the Asian market, for Martinborough.
This wine is a blend of noble Sauvignon Blanc, and late harvest Riesling, a ‘sticky’.
13% alc. Golden colour.
Delicious, evolved, and volatile. A sticky in a big bottle. Fantastic aromas of mandarins, honey, and citrus freshness.
Very sweet on attack (natch), with fresh citrus character throughout the mid-palate, and kero energy at the finish. So good!
Highly recommended 92 points
Ata Rangi Celebre Martinborough 2014 – $$$
This is a long-time favourite local red for me. A bright red blend of 55% Merlot, 35% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc fruit grown on the Martinborough Terrace, and matured in 20% new oak.
Deep plum purple colour. 13% alc.
Soft, round and opulent on the nose. A savoury character up front, then opens to reveals oak, plums, and spice.
Sweetness on entry, fine-grained tannins in the mid-palate, and fresh acidity on the finish. Fruit flavours are restrained, not as ripe as the ’13, and slightly leafy.
A fine, expressive wine.
Recommended 89 points
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
The Luminary Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough 2016 – $$
Simple and uncomplicated, with a calm nose. Very typical of the restrained form of Kiwi savvy hailing from Martinborough. There is freshness and acidity as you would expect, and quality fruit weight . It has presence. But a little boring.
Recommended 88 points
Alexander Dusty Road Pinot Noir Martinborough 2011 – $$
Tawny carmine colour. 13.5 % alc.
A heady bouquet – floral and savoury. Dark red fruits and spice, and a scent of honeysuckle.
Bright acid on the front of the palate. Lashings of vanilla. A touch thin and austere. A metallic edge leading to a bitter and hot and spicy finish. An acceptable pinot for the age and price, redeemed by its nose.
Recommended 86 Points
Craggy Range Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough 2016 – $$
Greenish pale straw. 13% alc.
Nose of apples and limes, cut grass.
A grainy texture to the lean citrus fruit flavours. Dry. A restrained savvy.
Recommended – 88 points
Grava Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough 2015 – $$
Whole bunch pressed. Pale greenish straw. 12.5% alc.
Light and lifted, grassy, and finishes with a strong hint of licorice allsort
A smooth Savvy up front, slightly lean to taste, and minerally, with the expected lemon tang. Also evident is the typical lower North Island dialed-back SB acidity, but still is fresh and invigorating. Short.
Recommended – 87 points
Craggy Range Te Muna Road Riesling Martinborough 2014 – $$
Pale gold colour. 11.5% alc.
Steely cut-thru on the nose, crisp and ticklish, with scents of lemon and apple and a bit of clover honey.
Off dry. Austere and linear, with crisp citrus fruit flavours, short and sharp. Young and somewhat one-dimensional, but good for the heat of a summer’s afternoon, something that this season has been in short supply of.
Commended – 84 points
Clos Henri ‘Petit Clos’ Pinot Noir Marlborough 2015 -$23.55 Juicy & approachable, with structure and depth.
Kiritea ‘ Te Hera’ Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013 -$21.65 – savoury, peppery & aromatic. A layered, typical Wairarapa style.
Folding Hill Pinot Noir, Bendigo Central Otago 2013 -$28.95 – Elegant, wild thyme notes
Neudorf ‘Tom’s Block’ Pinot Noir Nelson 2014 -$30.25 – A quality quaffer.
Greystone Pinot Noir Waipara 2014 – $33.95 – Hand-harvested from the Omihi Vineyard. Wild yeast ferment with 15% whole bunch to add complexity.
This wine was commented at the tasting as being ‘cerebral’. If you think about anything long enough it becomes cerebral. I thought it had a velvet quality on the nose, with spice, some herbal character, and scents of red roses. So there!
Smooth mouthfeel, with a powerful and dense core of statement fruit. Elegant. It finished hot. No thinness or metallic notes, just deliciousness throughout.
Highly Recommended. 91 Points
Palliser Estate Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough 2015 – $$
Greenish pale straw colour. 13.5% alc.
I can feel the heat of the Martinborough days and the cool of the nights in the fresh mandarin and lemon bouquet of this wine. It smells of summer sun-blanched grassy hills beside the Ruamahunga River. Light and lifted, with clover honey and pear.
Sweet upfront to taste, there is a restrained citrus character supported through the middle with bags of sweet ripe fruit and bags of flavour. Utterly delish this is. It gives Te Mata’s Cape Crest a good run for the money!
Outstanding – 95 points