What’s in the glass tonight June 12th – Chardonnay

Millton Crazy By Nature Chard 2016

Millton Crazy By Nature Shotberry Vineyard Chardonnay Gisborne 2016 – $

An organic wine from the Gisborne biodynamic vigneron. Their easy-drinking fun mid-week wine brand.

12.5% alc. Mid-gold in colour.

Soft, sweet and ripe golden stonefruit bouquet, with scents of orange and orange peel, citrus sharpness on the nose, a mineral note, and wild herbs. Distinctive aromas, funky.

Soft mouthfeel, sweet and a little flabby with the malo treatment. Lacks a little focus. Shows the ‘sore-throat’ roughness at the back of the throat that some Chardonnays exhibit. Not sure why that is. A tingly feel in the mouth. Viscous and textural, but also so light. Could have been picked earlier I think.

Recommended 85 points.

What’s in the glass tonight November 22nd – Chenin Blanc

Millton Chenin Blanc 2007

From the Cellar: Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc Gisborne 2007 – $$$

From the foremost of the few producers of this varietal in New Zealand. I can’t say enough good things about Millton. One of the first wines I collected for the Pool Room.

Brilliant gold colour. 12% alc. A biodynamic wine.

Richly aromatic. Satisfyingly complex secondary and tertiary aromas have developed over the past 10 years under my roof – oranges and golden mangoes and honey, bready and unctuous, cardboard, a citrus tang. Lovely.

Sweet and lively to drink. Juicy and mouthwatering. Bright acid throughout, with golden fruit, mango and orange flavours which end on a slightly bitter biscuit finish, long and hot.

There is such youthful vigour here. There are years ahead for this wine. Wish I had more!

One of my Wines of the Year!

Outstanding 96 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 2nd – Syrah


From the Cellar: Millton Clos Ste Anne The Crucible Syrah Gisborne 2009 – $$$

As I have said many, many times – biodynamic Millton Vineyard is one of my favourite producers. James and Annie possess one of the most beautiful vineyard sites in one of the most special parts of New Zealand (disclosure:  a branch of my family immigrated into NZ through Gisborne two centuries ago, and I love the place, so I’m biased). And they treat their land so well and with so much respect through their viticultural stewardship. To open one of their wines is always a treat and an occasion to savour.

Now, having talked up the wine incredibly….

Inky red black colour, slightly browning at the rim. 14.5% alc. Whole berry in the maceration, with some Viognier in the blend.

Floral, spicy and perfumed nose. Lifted.  Soft rich black fruit, and white pepper.

In the mouth there was an absolute abundance of sweet rich black fruit, with perfect ripeness and weight. Apparent oak and vanilla, but it didn’t detract. Smooth and deep, with notes of port and raisin and dark chocolate. Balanced acid, fruit and tannin. A long peppery finish. Superb, just delicious.

Outstanding 97 points

What’s in the glass tonight October 22nd – Natural Wines


Budburst Natural Wine Tasting

Later this month is New Zealand’s first Natural Wine and Food festival, Budburst. Regional Wines and Spirits invited Dan Gillet, from Wine Diamonds. in-store to taste through a wide range of natural wines. I rocked along to try them.

What exactly is a Natural Wine? There isn’t a hard and fast definition, but rather it infers a few things about the viticulture and winemaking process. The fruit should ideally be organic or biodynamically grown, and the winemaking would follow a “minimal interventionist” path.

The wines I tasted were:

Double Bubble Pet-Nat South Australia 2016

Domaine Lucci Chardonnay Italy

Millton Vineyards & Winery Libiamo Gewurztraminer Gisborne 2015

Millton Libiamo Field Blend Gisborne 2015

Commune of Buttons Fleur Gris South Australia 2016

Sato Pinot Gris L’Atypique Central Otago

Domaine Lucci Vino Rosso Italy

Sato Pinot Noir Central Otago

I would like to say that I loved them, but I didn’t. The aromas coming out of the glass were very challenging to me, to say the least.

They smelled a bit too reminiscent of the developer solution I handled in the darkroom back at Design School, or the way my hands smelled afterwards if I hadn’t used the tongs provided to move photographic paper from one tank to another.

Another descriptor could be ‘funky’. Or sour. Like a sour beer. This sour-ness on the nose really got in the way of me seeing any fruit sweetness in the glass. And when one of the pinots was picked early anyway, there was scarcely any fruit weight in the wine at all.

The one I liked the most was the first, a South Australia sparkling wine made by the ancestral method called pétillant-naturel, popularly pét-nat, or first ferment. This was an interesting fizz. It had the sweetness on attack that I thought the others lacked.

I did like the first Millton Libiamo wine, as the Gewurtz showed some fruit, but I am predisposed to like Millton anyway, as earlier posts indicate.


I think these wines will have to win me over, and over time. I don’t like sour beer either.

On the plus side, it was a great learning experience, and was the first time I had tried self-styled “natural wines”. Dan Gillet was wonderfully knowledgeable and passionate about the wines he represents. He did tell me about a NZ Riesling pét-nat that will be released later this year via his website, so I will try to get hold of a bottle to show L.


What’s in the glass tonight March 28th – Chardonnay

Millton Shotberry Chardonnay 2014

Millton Crazy By Nature Shotberry Chardonnay Gisborne 2014 – $$

Millton is a biodynamic producer, and one of my favourites. I love what they do, and their Gisborne property is a jewel.

Brilliant gold colour. 13.5% alc.

A funky, woody, musky nose. Burnt caramel, cashew and ripe peach.

Somewhat angular at first look, then opens out to balanced fruit and acid. Flavours of autumn-fall apricots and warm nuts. Strong fruit through the mid palate, leading to a strong  bitter finish. It resonates.

92 points


What’s in the glass tonight August 30th


From the Cellar: Clos St Anne Gisborne Chardonnay 2009 – $$$

From Millton’s Naboth Vineyard in Gizzy. The 2007 edition of this wine came this close to being my wine of the year last year. I recall buying this particular bottle at the cellar door when LG and I went up to Gisborne for a week’s holiday the year after I broke up with her mother. We two stayed in a cabin at the camping ground on Waikanae Beach. It was such a great time. We swam in the sea and in rivers. Toured about the land. LG scaled the local playgrounds, the Olympic pools and waterslide. I recall I fixated on food. I was calorie-counting and trying desperately to lose weight. And trying all this great wine, but keeping it down to only two glasses a day. And NO beer. While on HOLIDAY.

My efforts worked and I lost 10kgs over the next four months. Yay. A bit has crept back on since tho…

So, I hauled little sister 2009 out of the cellar to share with R and J who came over for dinner with L and I. Then I found out R was not a Chardonnay fan. And J was driving. Oh well. More for me!

Pale gold. 14%. Lovely almonds/cashews/general nuttiness on the nose. In the mouth it was balanced, rich (tho no MLF) and round, with gorgeous citrus on the mid-palate. Medium weight. A lingering finish. There were secondary age-flavours of burnt caramel, nougat and hokey pokey. It had all the qualities I expected and more. Again, shame the bottle emptied so fast. 5

We then cracked a sticky to go with dessert…


Beach House Noble Sauvignon Blanc 2009

This was a great wine too. Packed full of sweetness and fruit flavour. Interesting, complex phenolics. A sav ‘edge’ in there as well. Complimented the fruit compote and meringues. 4+

What’s in the glass tonight May 7th

Millton Estate Chardonnay 2013
Millton Estate Gisborne Chardonnay 2013 – $$
I haven’t written for ages.  Been working on the house, hanging with the family, and drinking wine I have written about already. For example I’ve been enjoying Ohau Gravels Sav Blanc, Johner Pinot Noir and the go-to Church Road Chard…and procrastinating about writing up a big Burgundy tasting I attended.

In the interim, here’s something from the organic and bio-dynamic Millton Estate out of Poverty Bay. I really should buy more from these guys. The flavours they get from their wines are very appealing. But when I see the wines on the shelf I often lack the grocery budget to justify the purchase, and when I do have the cash I don’t see the wine on the shelf…typical.

Pale yellow in the glass. 13%. This is something new to me: 86% Chardonnay, 10% Viognier, 4% Marsanne. The Viognier comes through bold with the usual pears and honey but thankfully not the oiliness. I am not convinced of the success of this varietal combo.

In the mouth the wine starts off luscious and juicy, quite ripe, before showing an angular mouthdrying lemony character, with spice at the back palate. Again, not sure the heat and dryness of Viognier and the creaminess of Chardonnay are complimentary. The wine flavours want to tell me two different stories, and neither ring quite true. The wine is not big enough and lacks the ripe fruit flavours I would expect to see from a Gisborne Chardonnay. A mis-step in my opinion. I’d like to calibrate this against a single vineyard Chardonnay from them. 2+

What’s in the glass tonight July 8th

Millton Shotberry Chardonnay 2011

Millton Crazy By Nature Shotberry Gisborne Chardonnay 2011 – $$

Wow, this is a weird wine. After tasting so many older, dry or lighter style wines lately, it is a real wake-up call to try this sweet fruit bomb.

Millton are one of my favourite producers. They are organic and bio-dynamic. They run a beautiful cellar door. I think they make fruity and flavoursome wines with flair and class.

Because of Milltons bio-dymanic cultivation methods, I suspect that their results differ from other more conventional wineries. Or I reckon so if this wine is anything to go by…

It is very big and volatile on the nose, and with the yellow gold colour, makes me think it is a mature sweet riesling. In the mouth I get lashings of white peach and ripe apricot and honey. I swear there is some viognier in there too…oak as well, but no malo.

Although the wine is a blend of fruit from two vineyards –the Millton Riverpoint and Opou vineyards – I still think I am tasting a true expression of terroir, and that has to be applauded!

This is a really interesting and unique Chardonnay. Not a sophisticated drop, but bottled sunlight. 4.5