What’s in the glass tonight October 5th – Riesling


astrolabe-wairau-valley-riesling-2014

Astrolabe Valleys Riesling Wairau Valley Marlborough 2014 – $

On Spring special at Regional Wines…this took a while to settle down after opening…a somewhat aggressive dry style of Riesling…

11.5% alc. Pale greenish straw colour.

Dry, lean and austere. Lots of citrus notes, & apples… a  premonition of lip-puckering flavours ahoy …with perhaps the occasional wince…

This wine had lots of character. Very assertive, and not so much built for ‘easy drinking’. Some will love this. It took me a few bottles over a couple of weeks to understand it and not freak out too much. Decant, and let it stand for a while. The acid starts to soften, and the fruit shows through. It has an expressive nose from the get-go, which helps a lot.

A hot day’s aperitif, or to accompany sweet seafood and you won’t go wrong.

88 points

Straight to the Pool Room – July 2016


Pool Room July 2016

A trois of aromatics this month:

Craggy Range Aroha Pinot Noir Martinborough 2014 – $$$+ – Drink 2019-2024. Tasted at an instore presentation, and highly rated – worth the splurge.

Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$ – Drink 2019-2024. A long-standing favourite of mine, & rated by GK at 18.5pts.

Felton Road Bannockburn Riesling Central Otago 2015 – $$$ – Drink 2025. A second bottle secured for the Long Haul.

All bottles stored under the careful watch of cellarmouser Mimi. Don’t give me that look, puss….

What’s in the glass tonight April 24th – Riesling


Main Divide Riesling 2013

Main Divide Riesling Waipara 2013 – $$

Pale golden yellow colour. 12.5% alc.

The nose is full and expressive with aromas of mandarin orange and honey and lemon citrus. Some secondary phenolic bouquet starting to show. Some mineral character as well.

Medium sweetness on palate. Fine, soft and sweet to taste. Primary tropical fruit flavours, honey and mandarin. A finely textured wine.

90 points

What’s in the glass tonight April 4th – Riesling


Melness Riesling

Melness Riesling Waipara 2013

This wine is part of the Kahurangi Estate portfolio. Melness Wines was established in Cust, North Canterbury by the Marshall family, and named after a coastal village in the Scottish Highlands where the ancestors of the founders hale from. It was sold in 2005.

Green gold colour. 12.5%.

First thing I noticed was that lovely hit of typical Riesling phenolics on the nose, followed on by aromas of caramel, apricots, butterscotch, honeycomb and hokey-pokey. All redolent of a medium style Riesling.

Sweet, and very ‘grapey’ to taste. Flavours of mandarins and Gran Marnier came through strongly.

A wine for Riesling enthusiasts, due to it’s sweetness. This will cellar well for 10 years +.

89 points

 

Straight to the Pool Room – March 2016


Pool Room March 2016

For the cellar: a couple of stellar and age-worthy Felton Road wines from a recent tasting, and a Martinborough Savvy from a new producer that totally charmed me at an instore tasting recently …

Felton Road Block 2 Chardonnay Central Otago 2014 – $$$ – Drink 2019-2029.

Felton Road Bannockburn Riesling Central Otago 2015 – $$ – Drink 2018-2026.

Grava Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough 2015 – $$ – Drink 2017-2020.

What’s in the glass tonight Feb 26th – Riesling


Lamont Riesling 2013

Lamont Riesling Bendigo Central Otago 2013 – $$$

Mum and Dad came to stay the weekend. After a catchup we decided to head to Café Polo for dinner. I selected this wine for the table:

Light straw. 11.04% alc.

Very refined and elegant in expression with mineral citrus bouquet with a delicate phenolic tang. Dry, dry, dry, to taste, with light and tight fruit flavours, and a preponderance of mineral character. A quality drop, but also a somewhat challenging expression of Riesling, due to its shortage of apparent sweetness.

BTG 3+

What’s in the glass tonight February 5th – Riesling


Mud House Mound Riesling 2014

Mud House The Mound Vineyard Riesling Waipara 2014  – $$

Pale straw colour. 11.5% alc. Single Vineyard product.

Welcome typical varietal phenolic, volatile and lifted characters. Smells of apple, lime and Meyer lemon. & Fresh. White blossom and brioche aromas at the back.

A off dry style, the wine tastes supple, ripe & bracing. It has that lovely mouthwatering astringency that makes Riesling so delicious. It is clear on the palate, with perfect fruit weight and a bracing linear finish. Another candidate that confirms Waipara as a go-to-place for delicious good value Rieslings.

VG 4

 

What’s in the glass tonight January 23rd – Riesling


Framingham F-Series riesling 2010

From the Cellar: Framingham F-Series Old Vine Riesling Marlborough 2010 – $$$

Great Germanic-style label. Bought from the Winery. 12.5% alc

Green gold colour. Just gorgeous.

Luscious fruit ‘n phenolics, tropical fruit aromas, lychees, fresh crusty bread, and that fantastic Riesling ‘tang’. This has it all going on. On a hot arvo it can’t be beat!

In the mouth: an off-dry style of Riesling. Delicious fruit flavours: Braeburrn apples meet pineapple lemon ice blocks. A hit of citrus, refreshing and mouthwatering.

This is a simple Riesling, but still expressive. It shows off what we look for in wine – balance and structure – which in this case is the right sweetness balanced by the right acidity.

Abso lovely.

BTVG 4+

A Vineyard on the Edge – MS Rippon Vineyard tasting, November 30th 2015


MS Rippon Tasting 2015

This was the final tasting of 2015 for the Magnum Society, and a special one also, because the Society invited Nick Mills the winemaker at Rippon Vineyard to speak and present his wines.

Rippon sits beside Lake Wanaka, on the edge of the Clutha Basin in Central Otago. It is way far south. It kisses the Southern Alps. The area is about as ‘on the edge’ as you can get in New Zealand for growing and ripening grapes.

Rippon is a family-owned wine grower and producer. The business started as a sheep and stock station, and when Rolfe Mills the previous patriarch wanted to expand the land-use of the property, he experimented with growing a wide range of vinifera until he landed on the varieties that he thought best suited the site and climat.

Nick has carried on his work. Nick is passionate about his land, and its history, and about  biodynamic farming. He is also incredibly driven towards finding a way for his property to pay its way, and remain in use as arable, food-producing land. You see, Rippon is ‘on the edge’ for another reason – Wanaka is one of NZ’s pre-eminent tourist locations, and the land along the lakeside has become so valuable, and so coveted as sites for expensive holiday homes, that it is practically uneconomic to farm based solely on return on capital land value. I have been there and it is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth.

We were presented with the following wines:

Rippon “Rippon” Mature Vine Pinot Noir 2013

Rippon “Emma’s Block” Mature Vine Pinot Noir 2013

Rippon “Tinker’s Field” Mature Vine Pinot Noir 2013

Rippon Pinot Noir 2005 En Jeroboam and donated for the tasting by Nick

Rippon “Rippon” Mature Vine Riesling 2011

Rippon Gewurztraminer 2015

As usual, we tasted first without, and then with, food.

The tasting was very interesting to me. I won’t go through them wine-by-wine, as there are Society members far better skilled to comment on the quality and characters of the wines than me, elsewhere. I looked at them instead as a total expression of the site’s capability, strengths and terroir. And I came up with a potentially contentious conclusion…

The pinots are all quality products. The vineyard management, cropping, and vinification is bio-dymanic and first-rate. What is in the bottle I expect to be the best wine that can be wrought from this site. The Tinkers Field Pinot Noir 2013 was a stand-out, as was the Pinot Noir 2005. The eponymous Rippon Pinot Noir 2013 was a great example of a house style. But not one of these wines blew me away as I had expected to be. They weren’t as perfumed or as brambly or as dense as I have come to expect and treasure in a beautiful Central Otago Pinot Noir. What’s going on here? Is the site not as suited to this grape as I was informed?

You see, when I tried the Gewurztraminer 2015 I was blown away. This was easily the best Gewurz I have tried in ages. It was delicious, perfumed, expressive. Then it was followed up by the Riesling 2011. Again, delicious, superlative. Many of the tasters agreed. A truly fine wine.

What if the Rippon site is best suited to growing fine aromatics, in the Alsatian or German mold? What if this is the one place in NZ where these varieties can be grown to the utmost extent of their beauty, precision and expression? And rival the northern hemisphere? Should Nick seize the opportunity and forge a new path towards being a sole monopole grand cru aromatic white producer?

I guess not. Wine growing is a business. Buyers of New World wines are followers of fashion and marketing. NZ Pinot Noir is hot. Buyers will pay more for it. Whereas Riesling has nowhere near the same demand or $ attached to it. And I expect you can barely give some Gewurtztraminers away. So producers like Nick are in an invidious position. They have to follow the money, and do the best they can.

What I can do as a consumer is to buy Rippon pinots and support their endeavour, and buy their Rieslings and Gewurtztraminers for their beauty. I urge you to do the same.

MS Rippon Tasting 2015 2