What’s in the glass tonight – Waitangi Day 2016 – Pinot Noir

Morrisons Bush small

From the Cellar: Palliser Estate Pencarrow Pinot Noir Martinborough 2010 – $$

Back again camping at Morrison’s Bush for the annual Waitangi Day Art Weekend. Had to open the last of my Pencarrow Pinot Noir 2010’s…

Pencarrow Pinot Noir 2010

This wine did spectacularly well at the Air NZ wine awards on release and with reviews. I have drunk a bit of it since, and this time the wine really lived up to its potential: ripe, soft, full; smokily floral; with depth and heft. Beautifully integrated. Long. Damn tasty.


What’s in the glass tonight July 11th

Pencarrow PN 2010

From the Cellar: Palliser Estate Pencarrow Pinot Noir Martinborough 2010 – $$

At the ski lodge. Prepping for dinner. Feeling tired from the first day on the piste for the season.

Slightly browning carmine. 14%.

Light aromatics. Maybe the altitude is getting in the way…

In the mouth, fruit forward and delicious. Dense. Fresh acidity still. Spice. Fine tannins.

VG 4

What’s in the glass tonight February 6th, Waitangi Day

Pencarrow PN 2013

Palliser Estate Pencarrow Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013 – $$

After a beautiful day, the sun goes down on our campsite during the annual Waitangi weekend camping trip beside the Ruamahanga River.

We went away with 6 kids. Why O why…?

I need a drink. This will do nicely.

I had the previous version the previous year I think. I drove to the close-by Martinborough Wine Centre to buy it. ‘Twas a toss up between this and the Nga Waka Three Canoes PN

BTG 3+

Morrisons Bush 2015

Who could not love these surroundings?


What’s in the glass tonight September 4th

Pencarrow Chardonnay 2013

Pencarrow Martinborough Chardonnay 2013 – $

Palliser’s second chardonnay. This one’s pale gold. Nutty oaty aroma. A light chardy, not particularly full or rich, but it has good ripeness and balance. Exhibits the producer’s artisanal heritage which differentiates it from more industrial offerings at a similar level. 3+

What’s in the glass tonight June 19th

Pencarrow Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Pencarrow Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – $

A confession: I like the work of the team at Palliser Estate. Alas I find their wines a bit outside my weekly budget for everything but celebratory quaffing, so I often revert to drinking Pencarrow wines, their second label.

Here is this years sav blanc, at a ridiculous discount down at my big-box grocery retailer, with such a label on it. How could I refuse?

Pale green straw colour. 12.5%. The local sav blanc character is softer and rounder than the varietal you see from the Awatere or Brancott Valley’s in Marlborough. Not so much acidity or ‘bite’. I like that for a change, especially when the nights are cooler. There are still herby characters on the nose, and red capsicum and grass and gooseberry and the usual Kiwi suspects, but they are suspended in a softer framework of ripe fruit, and dare I say, some oak (I smell vanilla)? Very ripe in the mouth. The age (2012) helps again to take the edge off the blade, but I wouldn’t keep the wine any longer lest it relax to flabbiness. I like it right now! 4

and a funny thing, a few days later, I get to try Big Sister…


Palliser Estate Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – $$

This one smells fresher and riper and claener than the Pencarrow. Quite sweet in the mouth, but with softness and major ripeness of fruit. very clean flavours. Light red capsicum notes. Love it. 4+


What’s in the glass tonight over Waitangi Weekend at the Bush


Palliser Estate Pencarrow Pinot Noir 2012 – $$

I spent the weekend with L and the kids over the hill in the Wairarapa, camping beside the Ruamahanga river at Morisons Bush. ‘Twas the Annual Artists Weekend: a camping tradition deep into its second decade, a reunion of friends new and old. We get together to talk, laugh, eat, drink, swim, make art and the occasional loud bangs.


This weekend, much against type, it rained for a lot of it, so not much art was created. P curated a datashow of hynotic visuals, which was the highlight of the visual arts. N made cocktails, and M and B made an delicious paella for 40…


Afterwards we all sat around the campfire and cooked marshmallows.


I enjoyed a few glasses of my favourite second label pinot – Pencarrow Pinot Noir 2012 – bought from the winery cellar door that afternoon. It was hard to get much sense of the smell of this wine, due to the plastic glass I was drinking it out of, and me sitting mostly downwind from a smoky manuka fire. But it had good concentration, generous ripe fruit and savoury flavour. 4

What’s in the glass tonight Nov 13th

Penthouse Chardonnay 2009

Hammer Time: Palliser Estate Pencarrow Chardonnay 2009 – $

It’s not often I get another go at an old(er) wine I have reviewed before. But I have the opportunity with this one, courtesy of my recent auction win of a brace of bottles.

Earlier I posited that this wine had jumped the shark. Having another look now, I can confirm that it is still a mature wine. But oxidation is not evident in this bottle.

Light gold colour. Old vanilla and oak aromas. Mellow, round and creamy and quite smooth to taste. Lots of golden stonefruit and honey. I am intrigued by the smell of this wine – it reminds me of fresh bandages. Funny that. 3.5

Hammer Time

DS Fine Wine Auction Oct 2013

What am I bid? Dunbar Sloane Auctioneers ran another fayne wayne auction last week, and I won a few lots.

Other bidders were after the Chateau Haut Margaux Rothschild Latour and other French filth, but I only had eyes for Olde Kiwi.

New Zealand wines back in the day typically came off relatively young vines and were made for drinking rather than keeping. There are of course exceptions, but this is as I understand it. I therefore suspected that some of the ‘second-hand’ wines on offer at the auction might well turn out to be really second-hand, so I was not prepared to pay more than $14 each.

I missed out on a few really early examples that were bought for $16 and $18 and more. Shame. I would have liked a Coleraine from the mid-80s but not at the prices they went for. The audience must have been drinking. And what was going on with those old Cornerstone’s selling for $60 a bottle…!

When no-one was looking I scored a 2003 Palliser Estate Pinot Noir for $14; two Palliser Pencarrow 2009 Chards for $10 each (forgetting that I dissed said wine from my cellar only a short time ago – I’m hoping [hoping!] these will be better…) and two Te Mata 2005 Awatea cab merlots for $$$ (I couldn’t resist)…Not as old as I’d hoped, but there is always another auction around the corner.

I’ll put one of the Awateas away in the Pool Room for next year, but everything else will go south over the next month or two and I’ll write them up.

What’s in the glass tonight Oct 9th

Penthouse Chardonnay 2009

From the cellar: Pencarrow Martinborough Chardonnay 2009 – $$

This bottle was left too long in the scratcher.

Light gold. 13.5%. Toasty on the nose, with vanilla and big hint of oxidation. The oxidation character continued in the mouth with that typical phenolic tang and the bitterness at the back of the palate. It was not dominant though, and I could still taste the fruit, though quite dried out, and there was honey and apricots there too.

This is the second label of Palliser Estate, so maybe the fruit was too light to handle the extra time in bottle? Never mind, it was interesting to try an older, easier-style chardonnay. 2.5

What’s in the glass tonight Aug 31st

Pencarrow PN 2008

From the Cellar: Palliser Estate Pencarrow Pinot Noir 2008 – $$

I raided my cellar and opened this bottle up at the ski club during our pre-dinner wine and nibbles. But first I had to build the lodge fire.

That done I could then sit back and muddy the wine flavours with the Doritos and sour cream and chives dip snack I was eating. Not the kind of wine/food pairing the producers had in mind!

This is Palliser Estate’s second label, offering more affordable wines. The Pencarrow version of their pinot noir has been pretty successful for them over recent years. I think it’s a great drop, and I prefer it to their local competitors Te Tera and Crimson pinots.

The colour is pinot ruby. It didn’t have a big nose, but ticked the PN aromas box, and was a little dusty. In the mouth the wine was big and balanced with ripe fruit flavours softened by time; raspberry, cherries. There were good drying tannins to provide some structure. Quite yummy.

It got better as the night wore on, and not just because the level in the bottle got lower. I was drinking at a slow pace, and didn’t finish it. The altitude and dry air up at Ruapehu can give me a ripper of a headache in the mornings if I don’t watch it.

It made up for the disappointing Julicher. There is hope for my cellar still.

This wine is proof that you don’t have to pay the top dollar to get a rewarding  and satisfying NZ Pinot. Thank heavens.  4