What’s in the glass tonight July 8th –Viognier


Delas Viognier 2015

Off Topic: Delas Vin de Pays OC Viognier 2015  – $

12.5% alc. Brilliant gold colour.

Lightly aromatic, with apples and oranges, lightly spiced.

Delicious in the mouth. A rich and textured mouthfeel and a long spicy finish. I noted generous citrus orange flavours.

Terrific value at $15/bottle from Moore Wilsons!

Recommended 88 points

What’s in the glass tonight July 4th – Viognier


Elephant Hill Viognier 2016

Elephant Hill Viognier Te Awanga Hawkes Bay 2016 – $$

13.5% alc. Pale gold colour.

Nose of spice, licorice allsorts, and ripe luscious golden stonefruit and melon. Cheery and fine.

Sweet and dense in the mouth, rich fruit. Long luscious honeyed finish. Flavours of pear and navel orange. Peppery and gritty in character and texture.

Recommended 88 points

 

What’s in the glass tonight June 30th – Viognier


Stonecroft Viognier 2016

Stonecroft Gimblett Gravels Viognier Hawkes Bay 2016 – $$

The bottle’s label states that this is the third vintage of this wine, and the production volume comprised three barrels worth from the producer’s Roy’s Hill vineyard on the Gravels.  A boutique release, then.

12.5% alc. Clear pale lemon / straw colour.

Aromatic, with pip fruit aromas up front, then showing melon, peach and honey, and soft and very sweet strawberries.

With such a nose, there were no surprises on palate. A sweet entry, with a creamy texture and ripe fruit through the middle, and a soft acid finish. Long.

Simple and nice.

Commended 85 points

What’s in the glass tonight February 27th – Marsanne Viognier


Rod McDonald One-Off 2015

Rod McDonald Wines ‘One Off’ Marsanne Viognier Gisborne 2015 – $$

A Rhone blend, and a one-off wine conceived and produced by Rod McDonald from the grapes he had at hand. As he says, “once it’s gone, it’s gone”. Indeed, that’s what I usually say when a good bottle goes west…as this one most certainly was.

Pale gold colour. 13.5% alc.

A nose of melon and peach. Perfumed and smoky. A very attractive and immersive floral scent filled the glass, which softened over time to a mellow lifted and savoury expression. Strongly oaked. Quite unique and sophisticated.

In the mouth there was a lovely balance of fruit flavours and spice. There was honey and ginger, citrus and heat. A winning combination of angular minerality and luscious fruity bawdiness.

Highly Recommended  – 91 points

What’s in the glass tonight September 14th – Viognier


te-mata-estate-zara-2014

From the Cellar: Te Mata Zara Viognier Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$

Purchased a year ago at an industry tasting. Not kept for very long cos L wanted a Viognier, and I had maybe two bottles in the Pool Room…it is not a wine I collect. Call it fashion, call it my own taste…

Brilliant medium gold colour. 14% alc.

A smoky and spicy and dense bouquet, with ripe enveloping apple scents.

Rich flavours on attack. Ripe, sinewy also, with a silky texture on the mid-palate. Flavours of cooked apples and figs. Oily and mouthcoating. A long hot and spicy finish, with white pepper and cashews. This was good.

89 points

What’s in the glass tonight July 27th – Viognier


Yalumba Y-Series Viognier 2015

Off Topic: Yalumba Y-Series Viognier 2015 – $

L is drinking a bit of Viognier now. She liked this so I had to try.

Greenish straw colour. 14% alc.

Very floral. Apples. Spice. Turkish delight. Grape-y. Honey notes. Perfumed

Fine and sweet and ripe to taste. Gorgeous depth of fruit and flavour. Quite refined. Pleasant bitter biscuit notes in there too, with a ginger spice finish.

90 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.

What’s in the glass tonight March 12/13th – Chardonnay, Viognier


Secret de Lunes Chardonnay

Off Topic: Secret De Lunes Vignobles JeanJean Pays D’oc Chardonnay 2014 & Viognier 2015

Imported direct from the co-op by Regional Wines and Spirits, and being simple, value wines showcasing pure fruit and a minimum of winemaking artifice.

The Chardonnay was great sunny afternoon drinking. Un-oaked, the fruits flavours were light, clean and refreshing. The European provenance added a nice touch of difference from the usual fruity Chardy’s we drink from NZ.

BTG 3

Secret de Lunes Viognier

The Viognier the next day was great over dinner. A good food wine. Not complicated, with open sweet fruit flavours, & that viognier spiciness, but not in a bold style. Un-oaked. Lovely.

VG 4

 

Elephant Hill Tasting – Aug 2015


Elephant Hill tasting

M shouted me to this tasting at Regional Wines and Spirits hosted by Richard Sherriff. I tried this producer’s Syrah after a Taupo Cycle Challenge a couple of years back and I was really impressed at what they were doing. So I was well pleased to be invited along!

Elephant Hill is owned by the Weiss family. It is a boutique producer of sustainably-produced hand-crafted wines, located on the Te Awanga coast of Hawkes Bay. It produces about 20,000 cases PA at present. I am told it also boasts a fine restaurant, which features dishes well-paired to the wines. The site is named for a life-size teak sculpture of an elephant the owners brought back from a trip to the sub-continent. As you do.

Elephant Hill has three vineyards – Te Awanga with coastal shingle and clay, Gimblett Gravels with inland stony gravels, and Bridge Pa Triangle with inland alluvial and red metal soils.

The wines were poured in advance, non-blind. They were presented by winemaker Steve Skinner and Marketing Manager Vince Labat.

E H Viognier Te Awanga 2014 – No malo, small barrel ferment, short time on lees. 13.5%. Steve admitted that they (EH) liked a cooler climate style of wine. The Viognier grapes were planted in 2007, the estate’s oldest vines. It is a fickle grape to grow, with ripening being problematic. Apparently M. Chapoutier has said, “Making Viognier is an act of Charity”.  EH fight to keep the alcohols from going over the top, and maintaining lovely aromatics. I saw good fruit aromas here – mandarin, passionfruit, nectarines. There was ginger spice and mandarin in the mouth, dry, with a citrus burst and some salinity. It’s an easy Viognier, not oily. I liked it. 3+

E H Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Te Awanga 2014 – They say Reserve designation refers to more time spent in the vineyard and winery. A simple wine picked at optimal ripeness. Fermented in old oak puncheons, wild yeasts, with lees complexity.  Herbaceous nose with some tomato stalk character. Food friendly. In a Sancerre style. To taste – a strong line of citrus, refreshing green apples, lean and elegant. Others remarked about liveliness and saltiness (the end rows are only 25m from the ocean…). I thought this was great. 4

E H Chardonnay 2014 – Burgundian whole bunch pressed. Fermented 11 months in 25% new oak barrels, wild yeasts, on lees, no malo treatment.  The vintage was slightly warmer than 2013. I saw a very fine nose. There was richness and delicacy, biscuity notes, vanilla and golden fruit. It was delicious to taste too – open and fine and with a light touch. Very good. 4+

E H Chardonnay Reserve Te Awanga 2013 – From vines planted in 2003. Exceptional vintage. Wild fermented in oak, more lees complexity, no malo treatment. I noted a hint of apparent reductive character, but this blew off as I swirled. My notes said: powerful, rich, beautiful Chardonnay. Luscious viscous richness. Elegance. A 12 yr wine. Fantastic. 5

E H Syrah 2014 – Syrah is Elephant Hill’s flagship variety. Here it is a blend of grapes from the Te Awanga, Gimblett and Bridge Pa sites. Very ripe fruit, soft and sweet on nose. Still young, tastes young. Remarkable 32.5g dry extract. Taste is reminiscent of the E Guigal CdR 2010s I have been drinking. A very exciting Syrah. Will look fantastic in a few years, very good now. 4+

E H Syrah Reserve 2013 – Here the blend of grapes from the Te Awanga and Gimblett Gravels sites, with 1% Viognier co-fermented. This glass was poured three hours before the tasting.  A big black carmine colour, it shows vanilla, elegance, density of fruit on the nose. Still a baby, but made to last. To taste, tannic and rich, rich black plums, held together refined and closed. Very Good 4+

E H Syrah Reserve 2009 – This was a treat. An older bottle. Made from EL Chave clone grapes. Almost meaty character, overlaid with gorgeous fruit flavours, almost feminine. Silky tannic structure, elegance in the glass. Just superb. 5

E H Merlot Malbec 2013 – A young wine from young vines (2011). Trophy Champion NZ Red Wine at the Int. Wine Challenge. Eminently drinkable. Soft, perfumed, dark fruits. Approachable tannins. Sweetness on palate, coming from low cropping 4

E H Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2013 – A blend of 64% Merlot, 35% Cabernet and 1% Malbec. Rich, tannic, mouthfilling and mouthcoating. Dense. Will be really worth watching as it ages. I didn’t pay too much attention to this wine as I was still reeling from the Syrahs and Chardonnays…still, 4+

What a great tasting. I was very impressed with the breadth and quality of the wines we were offered. I already have a ’13 Syrah in the Pool Room, and am keen to supplement it with a brace of these…

What’s in the glass tonight July 3rd


Martinborough V Syrah Viognier 2009

From the cellar: Martinborough Vineyard Martinborough Syrah Viognier 2009 – $$$

Hey wow. I bought this back in the day at a Martinborough Vineyard tasting at Regional Wines. It stood out from the pack. Well, that and its sister Pinot, but I’m saving that for another day…

This is dark inky red in the glass. 14% and leggy with it. Browning slightly around the rim. Syrah blended with 4% Viognier.

Soft floral aromatic nose, with violets, licorice and vanilla.

Absolutely delicious in the mouth. Black Doris plums. Tannins with grip. White pepper. Licorice again. Rich, deep, mouthcoating, savoury, almost meaty. Did I mention long too?

Outstanding. 5