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 March 4th – Chardonnay

KR Estate Chard 2016

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay Kumeu 2016 – $$$

Being the third KR Chardonnay I have tasted these past weeks, this is the flagship Estate-level blended wine, a step up from the Villages wine I enjoy and consider excellent value. Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay is drawn from six different vineyard sites in the Kumeu Region.

14% alc. Pale gold colour.

Restrained mealy and composed. Aromas of white peach and apple.

Rich and stylish on tasting. Crisp and fresh, acid prevails over fruit. Not as elegant or dense as the Coddington, nor as lively and personable as the Villages. Stuck in the middle. Will it age? Appears to have the boldness and structure to do so for another 3 years. Let’s see then…

Recommended 88 Points

What’s in the glass tonight March 2nd – Riesling

RiverT Risesling

River-T Riesling Waitaki Valley 2016 – $$

It was Riesling Day one day recently down at Regional Wines, and I had a chance to taste-test a lovely dry-ish Riesling from the Waitaki Valley. The wine was River-T Riesling from the 2016 vintage. I liked it and brought a bottle home.

From RW: This wine is made with grapes grown by Murray and Karen Tweed, whose vineyard is 5 kms out of Kurow; the main town in the valley. The couple hand harvested the grapes in mid-May – very late by New Zealand standards since Waitaki Valley is the last region to harvest its grapes each year. This makes it a very cool climate wine region, which just so happens to suit the late ripening Riesling grape pretty darned well. This wine is medium dry (18.3 grams per litre of residual grape sugar – not that it tastes sweet at all). It has 13% alcohol and its natural high acidity lends beautiful balance to this refreshing, crisp, light bodied, full flavoured Riesling.

13% alc. Pale straw colour.

The Waitaki Valley is New Zealand’s smallest wine region. It is better known for generating a hefty amperage of hydroelectric power from a multitude of dams spaced down the Waitaki River, and for flying gliders out of Waimarama. A cool climate you could also say – you can ski up the top end in winter. FWIW Kurow is famous for being the home town of one our our finest All Blacks – Richie McCaw.

In addition to these many attractions I am told there are some splendid grape-growing sites that face the north sun and have great soils.

This wine is leggy. Lovely aromatics. Clear and crisp aromas – melon, grapes, green apple.

Off dry to drink. Delicious and crunchily crisp. Intense fresh fruit flavours, a crisp finish. A perfect summer aperitif wine.

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 January 1st – Sancerre

Sancerre 2015

Off Topic: Dom. du Vieux Prêche Sancerre Blanc ASC 2016 – $$

Greenish pale straw colour. 13.5% alc.

My first ever Sancerre Blanc. A wine from one of the two spiritual homes of New Zealand’s most famous wine export, the other being Pouilly-Fumé on the other side of the Loire.

Flat aromatically, open steely and minerally. Curry spice and celery. Lightly fruited – apples, apple pip, exotic pip fruit, balanced acidity expressed on the nose.

Lean and flat in the mouth. Minerals. Funk. None of the ‘dash and splash’ I am used to with an NZ Sauvignon Blanc. No energy or verve in this wine, seems old before it’s time, too cautious. I don’t know enough about this wine to know whether this taste impression is authentic. It can be only confirmed by other bottles. And while I am interested to learn, life is short, and I may stick with what I know and love.

Looking at this wine in isolation, it is pleasant and moreish and drinkable. Like typical old world wines it improves on standing in the glass and with food, and opens up somewhat to show more fruit flavour, but it’s still thin. Emperors clothes, I feel, for this one.

Recommended 84 points

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 September 23rd – Riesling

Bishops Head Riesling 2007

Bishops Head Reserve Riesling Waipara 2007- $$$

An aged Riesling from Wineseeker. Tasted instore; bottle bought to take up to the ski club for our last ski weekend and the Club Championships.

12% alc. Gold green straw colour.

Developed volitiles, lifted ripe apples, some grapey-ness and kero notes.

Sharp and acidic entry. Lean and brisk fruit, tart, with green apple flavours. A layer of secondary development. Bitter finish.

Recommended 88 points

Not my trophies, alas. I trailed the field in both the Slalom and GS races.


What’s in the glass tonight September 17th – Riesling

Giesen Riesling 2015

Giesen Riesling Marlborough 2015 – $$

The queen of wines. 10% alc. Pale greenish straw. Off-medium sweet.

Sweetly aromatic – apples, melons, ripe green grapes, and licorice.

Sweet and very juicy foretaste. Mouthwatering. Fruity, apples again, and confectionery. Goes on and on.

Very moreish – a delicious wine.

Recommended 88 Points

What’s in the glass tonight August 5th – Chardonnay

Selaks Buttery Chardonnay 2016

Selaks Taste Collection Buttery Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2016 – $

13% alc. Gold colour.

L loves a good buttery Chard. This showed bold malo on the nose, generous apricot and peach aromas, oaky influence.

Smooth golden stonefruit flavours to taste. A big generous mouthfeel, and creamy, but not too heavy. A light touch for a heavy white, if you will, seeking balance with acidity on the mid-palate. Medium length. A cheery value winter white, and a welcome return for this expressive and bountiful style of Chardonnay.

L sez “far too drinkable”!

Recommended 88 points