What’s in the glass tonight March 23rd – Pinot Noir


 

The Edge PN 2016

Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir Martinborough 2016 – $$

This is the value tier PN product for this producer.

Peter Richards MW in Decanter magazine included this wine in his February 2018 article “30 great New World buys under GDP30, and rated it 91 points.  He wrote, “brilliant, great value example. Elegantly bittersweet, poised, spicy and engaging.”

14.2% alc. Dark carmine colour.

Aromatic, soft and fruity. Black cherries, savouriness and spice and soap.

Soft in the mouth, with dark fruits and spice evident. A soapy finish and hot. Real generous fruit weight with no bitterness or thinness on the rear palate that I see in other NZ pinots at this price point.

My only fault with this wine is that it is too alcoholic. Loses grace.

Recommended 88 Points

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What’s in the glass tonight March 17th – Chardonnay


Palliser Chardonnay 2013

From The Cellar: Palliser Estate Chardonnay Martinborough 2013 – $$$

14% alc. Pale gold colour.

Very aromatic. Warm and rich mealy notes. Oak and bread, apricots and rock melon. Vanilla.

Sharp entry. Lean fruit to taste, fading. Steely brittleness on the mid palate, fruit flavours showing retreat of age or tunnelling. I don’t know enough about this wine to have an informed opinion. Hot finish, medium length. Attractive, still.

Tow nights later, the wine has softened and filled in, showing far more generosity of fruit than was first expressed. Shows the value of decanting!

Recommended 89 Points

What’s in the glass tonight Jan 17th– Pinot Noir


TK Pinot Noir 2016

Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Martinborough 2016 – $$

Te Kairanga Wines has recently been acquired by US billionaire and multi winery vineyards investor Bill Foley. I don’t drink hardly any of this producers wines, don’t know why.

I didn’t record any notes for this wine specifically either, but I liked it. I recall good extract and fruit intensity in the wine, a nice spicy-ness, and a good savoury quality which is not always so apparent in Pinot Noir wines of this mid price point. Nice.

Recommended 88 Points

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

Ata Rangi tasting with Helen Masters


Ata Rangi tasting 1

In the middle of October I attended a tasting at Regional Wines of the wines of Ata Rangi, the successful Martinborough producer, in the company of their head winemaker Helen Masters. Ata Rangi is a member of the Family of Twelve – a marketing-led ‘grand cru’ grouping of twelve of NZs most noted and celebrated wineries.

We would be looking at a couple of their Pinot Gris vintages, a couple of Chardonnays, their ‘value’ Pinot Noir and then a short vertical of their flagship Pinot Noir, then finishing off with a red blend that is a favourite of mine.

All wines are from Martinborough fruit.

Ata Rangi Tasting 2

2016 Ata Rangi Lismore Pinot Gris – Light rose gold colour. In an Alsatian style. Whole bunch pressed. 5.5g RS.  Lightly aromatic with aromas of licorice, apple and white pepper. Fresh and fine in the mouth. Light citrus, peppery, with balance, long and hot. Not oily, which I prefer.

2012 Ata Rangi Lismore Pinot Gris – Brilliant greenish straw colour. 6.5g RS.  From a cool year. Aromatic, forward and sweet and fruity, further scents of confectionery, apple, mandarins and orange peel. Crisp taste, some development, juicy and luscious, short, sweet and textured. Again, non-oily.

2016 Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay – Crisp light white gold colour. Mendoza clone, 20% new oak.  Fine bouquet with white florals, layered with citrus, honey and melon. Dense, some reduction. Flavours of citrus fruit, lemons and limes, lean and linear, dry and clean. Balanced. Crunchily textural. Lovely acidity and concentration. Like all great Chardonnays, this was luminous. I liked it very much, and bought a bottle for the Pool Room.

2012 Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay – Pale straw colour. Mendoza clone, 20% new oak.  Fine bouquet again, with citrus. Warmer-toned on the nose than the ’16, and showed light spice and butterscotch notes. Dense, flinty and very crisp to taste. There was a kick on the back palate as well. Less balanced, somewhat awkward. Showing the effect of the cool year I suspect. Helen talked this one up, I marked it down.

2016 Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir – Bright ruby colour. A fruit-forward accessible early drinking style. Fruit selected from AR vines under 20 years old. Cheerful. Lean on the nose with red cherries. Red fruit on palate, light and washed, somewhat bitter and lean. Drying, some said supple tannins.

2015 Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir – Bright ruby colour. Fruit-forward, more flavour and density and depth than the ’16, still with the typical bitter/spice finish. Stalky, seed-y tannins. I found both Crimsons were hard to like.

2015 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir – Deep carmine colour. Floral and tight and dense aromas of rich red fruit, dark cherries, savoury, cardboard. Rich fruit flavours, full and ripe yet with lovely crispness and lusciousness. Packed with flavour. Such tension and power. No bitterness at all at the finish. Presistence. Sensational wine.

2010 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir – Deep carmine colour, tending brown. Floral and light. Slightly stalky and bitter. My notes are otherwise silent on this one – I must have been looking the other way because other tasters judged this sensational also.

2008 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir – Deep brown carmine colour. Quite primary still, but some age characters emerging of herbs and forest floor. Punchy to drink, with dark cherries, pepper and spice. Huge extract, packed with fruit flavour. Showed gorgeous poise and elegance over time, and started to sing.

2013 Ata Rangi McCrone Vineyard Pinot Noir – Somewhat dumb, with subdued florality. Big chunky and fat. Big fleshy tannins. Showed the ripeness of the 2013 vintage.

2014 Ata Rangi Celebre – A Merlot dominant/Syrah/Cabernets blend. A cool climate energetic red blend, with fine savoury tannins and ripe berries. Delicious unctuousness.

What’s in the glass tonight October 27th – Pinot Noir


Escarpment Kupe 2013

From the Cellar: Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013 – $$$

The flagship Pinot from one of Martinborough’s most experienced winemakers. I have been to many Escarpment tastings, and bought wine following each one. This bottle was one of those, liberated from the cellar to see what development there was after 5 years.

Deep ruby colour. 13.5% alc.

On the nose the wine showed heady, savoury, luscious and dense aromas. There was a subline character to the nose with scents of boxwood, soft red fruit, lanolin, licorice and dark red roses.

The palate told a shorter story: a sweet entry with a bitter finish. It seemed astringent, thin, metallic and hollow. There were red fruit there, but not enough flavour to balance the drying tannins. Finished somewhat long, but it didn’t improve on standing. The nose stayed firm however.

Had this wine “tunnelled”? I have had a couple of disappointing cellar experiences with the Escarpment wines I have bought for the Pool Room, including a Pahi tasted last year. They show so well on release. Had I opened them too early? Or are they not built for the long term? Don’t know, but I have to say I was saddened. I was hoping for this wine to be tremendous. I’ll keep the second one another couple of years and see how it fares.

Recommended 86 points

What’s in the glass tonight September 25th – Pinot Noir


Ohau Woven Stone 2014

Ohau Woven Stone Pinot Noir Martinborough 2014- $$

A gorgeous colour – bright clear ruby. 13.5% alc.

Showing nice development, with savoury and leafy characters, red cherries, dustiness and fustiness, and spice. Enveloping and engaging.

Sweet at first taste, quickly opens to fine, drying tannins and lean red fruits. Piquant acid, crunchy. Licorice and white pepper flavours. Long, grassy.

Recommended 88 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 June 22nd – Merlot Syrah Cabernets


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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

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