Straight to the Pool Room – December 2016


pool-room-dec-2016

Produttori del Babaresco Nebbiolo Montestefano 2007 – $$$+ – drink 2017-2022. Plucked from the MS wine ballot after the Produttori del Barbaresco horizontal tasting. Delicious. One of the world’s great wine styles.

Elephant Hill Airavata Syrah Te Awanga HB 2013 – $$$$ – drink 2018-2028. Not tasted, but if judged by both the 2013 Syrah and Reserve Syrahs out of Elephant Hill this will be a Stunnah.

Esk Valley Heipipi The Terraces Merlot Malbec Franc Bay View HB 2013 – $$$$ – drink 2018-2028. Tasted at the Winery. Fantastic. A longsleeper, this.

What’s in the glass tonight December 11th – Syrah


abbey-syrah-2013

Abbey Cellars Eden Syrah Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$

L and I and kids headed out to a friends beach house to stay the night in the weekend. I bought this wine at an outlet on the way.

Deep carmine. 14%.

Reduction on the nose. Savoury. Oak. Black fruits. Cherries. Perfumed. Roses. A gorgeous nose, with very intriguing and complex notes.

Smoky to taste. Great fruit weight. Plums, figs, ginger & chocolate. Black and white pepper. Spicy. Complex tannins and long.

Outstanding – 95 points

single-malts

Things got a little confused after this, and few more reds. At one point we were comparing an single malt out of Auckland with a Dalwhinnie. I don’t recall much more after this photo was taken. A very generous host lead me willingly astray, and the next day was pretty much a write-off…

What’s in the glass tonight December 8th – Syrah


church-road-syrah-2014

Church Road Syrah Hawkes Bay 2014 – $

Inky carmine colour. 13.5% alc.

Michael Cooper rated this wine his best red buy for 2017. He wrote of it, “sturdy, richly flavoured, sharply priced red is not to be missed.  ‘Serious’ but highly approachable, it is mouthfilling, with an array of blackcurrant, plum, spice and nut flavours, hints of black pepper and licorice, and excellent concentration, ripeness and complexity”.

I have to agree. This wine has a beautiful nose, layered, fruity and savoury in equal parts. Softness, with plums and white pepper, vanilla and chocolate. Lots going on, and ‘serious’.

The wine tasted soft and robust, with dense rich fruit, mid-weighted with medium tannin and spice. Well-built, mouth-filling and long, with unctuous umami components and a white pepper finish. The best CR base-level Syrah yet. Superb.

Highly Recommended – 92 points

What’s in the glass tonight October 31st – Syrah


church-road-syrah-2013

Church Road Syrah Hawkes Bay 2013 – $

From the superlative 2013 HB vintage. Inky crimson colour. 13% alc.

Lots of wood on the nose, intense vanilla, and sweet oak. Perfumed soap and violets! Spice, dark cherries and plums. Pencil shavings. Confected deliriousness. Perfect cool-climate ripeness. So much going on!

Soft and fruit-driven on palate. Sweet oak and vanilla. Not so balanced due to so much wood evident, but so expressive. So much character! Medium tannins, verging on chewy, and drying. White pepper, chocolate, nutmeg and herbs towards the finish. Long. I have slight questions about ripeness but that is quibbling. This is sooo terrifically good for a base tier Syrah. Buy up!

93 points

What’s in the glass tonight July 21st – Syrah


Te Mata Estate Syrah 2015

Te Mata Estate Syrah Hawkes Bay 2015 – $$

Another Syrah! I’m on a roll.

This is the Estate model, a bit of a step down from the Bullnose Rhone-ster. This will be a young wine, fresh off the boat, so I would expect a tannic edge, and a touch of metallic flint…

…and no surprise. Dark garnet. The florality is lifted by 2% Viognier in the blend. 13% alc.

Soft red cherries and underripe blackberries on the nose, not too lifted or exemplary, a bit green. Tannic and lean to taste, there is some fruit there, and needs vigorous decanting to show its best side. It doesn’t grow in the glass, and for me, is not as accomplished as earlier vintages were.

86 points.

Tell the Executioner the password is…Homage


GOR 2016 2

Game of Rhones Wellington – July 9th

Last Saturday L and I wandered along the harbour waterfront to the site of the Wellington edition of the Game of Rhones celebration. It was held in the function centre at Chaffers Dock. A big crowd was well esconced by the time we got there (we were waylaid on the way by an wharfside snack of delicious piping-hot chips twice cooked in duck fat & served with homemade aioli) and a babble of happy voices greeted us as we walked in to receive our wristband and Plumm wine tasting glass (to keep).

The idea behind Game of Rhones was to try the various Rhone style whites and reds from the stands of the participating producers, and vote for your favourite. You then went into a draw to win a prize, but I didn’t win the big Lotto draw that night either…

We didn’t know where to start…so the nearest attendant suggested an aperitif tasting of the attractive d’Arenberg Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2014 to get the palate working, and we went on from there…

I tried tastes of a whole bunch of wines…tipping out and spitting as required…including Langmeil Three Gardens SMG 2012 and Langmeil Valley Floor Shiraz 2013 (v good)(love the black and gold label design). I dragged L to the stand of one of my favourite producers Elephant Hill where we tried the Elephant Hill Syrah 2014 and Elephant Hill Reserve Syrah 2013 (both great)…L then got into a Viognier kick after trying their Elephant Hill Viognier 2015, and she was away…

Then it was time for a taste of France, and a version of the real thing…first up was Delas with a run-through of their wines starting with the simple and straightforward Dela Ventoux 2014 and Delas Syrah Vin de Pays de l‘Arleche 2014. It got a bit more interesting with the regional Delas St-Esprit Cotes-du-Rhone 2013, then it got really nice and tasty with the Delas Les Launes Crozes-Hermitage 2014. L liked this.

I moved sideways to taste the decent M.Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone 2015, then the rather good M.Chapoutier Les Meysonniers Crozes-Hermitage 2014 (prob. the closest I will ever get to a Hermitage…) and then a truly lovely M.Chapoutier La Bernadine Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2013…yuuumm…L tried the Vin de Pays Rose 2015 and then the Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2013, which were both too sweet to interest me. The CdP was gunning for wine of the day by that stage…

Next door was the Craggy Range table. They had the Le Sol Syrah 2014, and therefore had me at hello. This was delicious, revelatory. Probably my wine of the day now.

Still, I had to move on. Other wines to try, gotta give everyone a go, etc. And that was a great idea…

L found an amazing Viognier – Seresin Estate Viognier 2012 – it was incredible. L described it as musty and fusty, with oranges and mushrooms. I thought it was great. L went on to find a delicious Villa Maria Cellar Selection Viognier 2015 and the Alpha Domus Wingwalker Viognier 2014, which now puts her in danger of being turned away from Rosés (which tells me it’s serious)…

I fell into conversation with a fellow Magnum member. He told me, “Tell the Executioner the password is …“homage”. I didn’t know what he was on about, but then it dawned on me.

In New Zealand there is currently a bit of an “arms race” between various producers for the title of NZ’ s finest Syrah. There is the Matheson from Matua, Airavata from Elephant Hill, there is Le Sol from Craggy Range (which I tried here), and hiding under the table of the stand across the room, a single bottle of Homage Syrah 2013 from Trinity Hill

I approached the winemaker who was dressed as an executioner. I spoke the password and asked for a taste, and he poured me the last drain of the bottle. And it was delicious. I wish I had time and space to consider it properly and tell you all about it, but it was very, very good. Wine of the Day?

After that I thought it would not get any better. And for a while I was proved right. The Vidal Legacy Syrah 2013 at almost $80 a bottle disappointed me; and the Pask Declaration Syrah of 2013 and 2014 were both unremarkable. The Te Whare Ra Single Vineyard 5182 Syrah 2015 didn’t stand out for me either. But along came the Man O’War Dreadnought Syrah 2012 to totally blow me away with its bouquet and persistence and heft, and I thought I had found my wine of the day (again)….

But then I visited the friendly people from over the hill. The Schubert Syrah 2013 from Martinborough was lovely, but the Schubert Syrah 2008 was some thing else again. Refined, powerful and cellared very well. This wine built a great rep in the room as the afternoon wore on.

Sharing the same table were the guys from Martinborough Vineyard. They shared with me their Martinborough Syrah Viognier 2013 and 2008, which were two splendid ways to end the afternoon. They know what they are doing in the vineyard.

Were there any great wines? You bet – the Le Sol and Homage were very memorable (and the chance to try them both side-by-side, priceless), as was the Seresin Viognier and the Shubert Syrah 2008. The M. Chapoutier CdP was fantastic. However, my wine of the day had to be the Dreadnought for its flavour punch, extract and complexity, which was a lovely surprise. But it shouldn’t have been, as the Man O’War Ironclad I drank two years back was my runner up for WOTY 2014.

GOR 2016

As for GOR itself, the hard floors and walls, loud music, and high ceilings made it all a little loud, but we got into the spirit of things nonetheless. Big thanks to all the producers who were there. I was told it was expensive to take part, and so I appreciate the commitment from all involved, especially the Martinborough crews. You guys rock!

I expect the danger of these events is that they turn into a posh kind of piss-up, but a piss-up all the same. The organisers tried to keep it classy, and I think they succeeded. I wouldn’t know what to suggest in the way of improvements if there is a next time, except look for a quieter venue so I can hear myself think and hear others talk. Oh, and more food. The wines on offer were a wide and deep selection, with enough stars to satisfy someone like me, and the service staff were friendly and attentive.

I liked all the dressing-up of the servers too.

Disclosure: L and I were guests of Bottle Shop Concepts.

Game of Rhones


Game of Rhones

Wine Is Coming

After a superlative tasting hosted by Geoff Kelly a couple years back, my eyes (and tastebuds) were opened to the charms of wines from the Rhone. I had drunk a few Syrahs before, and of course Aussie Shiraz, but had before never looked at wines from the spiritual homeland of the grape. Now I love the stuff. It’s even elbowing aside my beloved Pinot Noir as my favourite red wine, so we know it’s getting serious.

I was really intrigued to learn of a cool tasting concept event coming up that is on its 4th go-round – GAME OF RHONES.

Brought by BottleShop Concepts, this is a celebration of the great grape varieties of the Rhone Valley on our side of the world. Think Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre, Viognier, Marsanne and more all from some of the best wine producers in Australia, New Zealand and beyond. With over 40 producers and 100 wines on tasting, including favs Craggy range, Pask, Trinity Hill, Man O’War, Langmeil, d’Arenberg and even the real deal Delas and M.Chapoutier, it promises to be an education, and a treat.

I am told this event is not endorsed nor affiliated with that HBO TV Series Game of Thrones. But dressing-up is encouraged. The Auckland event is on tomorrow July 2nd from 1pm at Queens Wharf, tickets via http://www.bottleshopconcepts.com/gameofrhones/.

L and I are primed to attend the Wellington event on July 9th. Looking forward to it!

 

Straight to the Pool Room 3 – May 2016


Forrest Estate Collection Syrah 2013

A single addition, but a good ‘un…

John Forrest Collection Syrah Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$$+ – drink 2018-2023. GK said good things about this great Syrah. I tasted it a short while back and agree. Too bad there is so much good wine about, and I can only acquire this one bottle today.

Four Syrahs


 

Bilancia Syrah 2010

From the Cellar: Bilancia Syrah Hawkes Bay 2010 – $$$

This is from one of New Zealand’s reference Syrah producers. Their La Collina Syrah is lauded, but like Trinity Hills Homage and Missions Huchet, out of my price range. This is the first wine of theirs I have tried – I bought it for the Pool Room on reputation alone.

Deep deep scarlet colour, tending brick.

At first it was closed and somewhat dumb on the nose, a fail mark against my presentation. Then after a short time it showed soft and fragrant , and built on, with vanilla and dark berries. A beguiling savoury secondary bouquet emerged. A tickle of pepper. Lovely to inhale.

With some standing, it tasted soft & supple, with Rhone characters. Ripe fruit, and restrained. Fine tannins, a hint of green stalk, but that is not a negative here – it adds to grace. Strong white pepper on the finish. Long and involving, this is a terrific, terrific wine, and worth careful consideration. 97 points.

 

Forrest tasting 2016 2

Forrest Syrah John Forrest Collection Gimblett Gravels 2013 – $$$

Tasted instore. This wine is from Dr Forrest’s premium collection. Single vineyard site on the Gimblett Gravels in Hawkes Bay. Hand harvested. Aged before release.

Deep carmine colour,  13.5% alc. A gorgeous nose – a rich bouquet, floral with dark boysenberry and plum fruit, black pepper, some oak and vanilla. Simply superb.

To taste: fresh, vibrant ripe dark stonefruit flavours, juicy texture, supple tannins to finish. Young, needs time to soften and knit together the component parts. A great NZ Syrah. 95 points

 

VM CS Syrah 2014

Villa Maria CS Syrah Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$.

Inky black scarlet, 13.5% alc. Light bouquet, cool climate fruit aromas –  blackberries; the usual box wood top notes and light spice. Straightforward flavours, not overly ripe or lush, black pepper, blackberry nose carrying through on palate, drying tannins, licorice on the finish. 88 points

 

3 Roads Syrah Hawkes Bay 2015

From the vineyard of my mate GW, as seen at his ‘release tasting’ last weekend. The wine was made by Tim Turvey at Clearview.

Bright deep scarlet colour. Cut with 15% Merlot. Soft and with bright floral notes.  Less spice and depth and pepper than the ‘14. Needs another year or two to integrate and show the style better. As for the ’14, it is well on the way. Needs two years more to open out and become lusher.  Both too soon to rate appreciably.

Thanks for the invite!

What’s in the glass tonight January 25th – Syrah


Craggy Range Syrah 2010

From the Cellar: Craggy Range SV Syrah Gimblett Gravels 2010 – $$

Inky plum. 13.5%.

A Geoff Kelly recommendation and it shows. Wow. Gorgeously floral. Dark fruits and pepper intense and powerful. Smells ripe and inviting and delightful.

In the mouth it is full and so flavoursome. Lovely pepper kick at the back. Sweet round fruit at the front. Very northern Rhone. Dense Fine tannins.

This so convinces me to hold on to our Syrahs for a min 5 years each. Hopefully the mice don’t to take a liking to any more of my wine bottle labels…

VG 4+