What’s in the glass tonight November 17th – Chardonnay


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Julicher Chardonnay Wairarapa 2012

Every year Medical Assurance, L’s insurer, hosts a family Christmas movie night for members and their families at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington. We always go. This year we got to see Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. It was fantastic! Moving and emotive, it explored themes about love,  racial tolerance, showing kindness, and the protection of animals. There were even real wizards in the audience….

While waiting for the show to start, we unwound with this lovely wine:

Reductive and funky, with interesting dried apricot citrus characters.

Rich ripe fruit attach, sweet mid palate, nice citrus line, shows the same reduction on palate. Engaging character.

89 points

What’s in the glass tonight on Valentine’s Day – Chardonnay


Kingfisher Bay Chardonnay 2014

Kingfisher Bay Chardonnay Marlborough 2014

This is a cheap wine. Thru blackmarket.co.nz you can pick this up for $9.99 a bottle. But it punches above that weight…

L and I were heading back home from Mt Ruapehu, where we had spent the weekend on a skiclub working bee. L had spent two days scraping old paint off cedar boards, ready for oiling, an horrifically hard job, whereas I had only swanned about inside, painting. Merely because I put my hand up at the beginning to claim I could “paint a bit”. Ha!

It was Val’s Day, so L hunted out a dinner reservation on the drive home. She found The Office, a café on the beachfront at Raumati Beach. And lovely it was too… Gorgeous late evening sun, delicious blue cod for dinner, and my beautiful Valentine by my side.

The wine: mealy with pleasant citrus notes, and a most interesting line of Pinot Gris flavour throughout this wine. I could almost be convinced it was a blend. Intriguing, and it hit the spot.

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Other interesting wines savoured this weekend: an aromatic, clean and grassy Charles Wiffen Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014 that I enjoyed at the Café Telephonique in Taihape on the drive up to the Bee (although L won the round with her Charles Wiffen Chardonnay); and the very elegant, mealy and lightly buttery Paddy Borthwick Chardonnay Wairarapa 2014 we drank at the clubhouse on Saturday night.

What’s in the glass tonight October 13th


27 Acres Pinot Noir 2012

Lynfer Estate 27 Acres Pinot Noir Gladstone 2012 – $

Produced by Lynfer Estate out of Gladstone, Wairarapa. I know nothing about these winemakers. Nothing on their website about this label, either. Just the ‘13s and ‘14s feature…

Light pinot ruby. 12.2% alc.

Dumb, somewhat underdeveloped nose. Slightly stalky. Some light and savoury fruit trying to break thru.

Same comments as above on palate. Light/dumb. Has some charm, but I tend to give any pinot a pass mark regardless, cos I like the variety A LOT, unless it is red lolly-water. Which this isn’t. I just kind of had hoped for a revelatory bargain with this bottle.

They can only get better tho. Gladstone is an up and coming area for P’Noir.

OK 2+

NEXT DAY UPDATE: The half-bottle held up really well overnight and was showed more bouquet – red roses, cherries, & that pinot florality I love. More flavour in the mouth too. Obv needed decanting.

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What’s in the glass tonight December 27th


Brancott Flight Sav Blanc 2014

Another tough summer’s day. Lawn mowing. Taking the kids to the beach. Drinking a medley of wines with friends in the sun.

Brancott Flight Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014 – $

Practically no discernable colour. 9%. One of a number of low alcohol wines being brought to market in these sober drink/driving times. Interesting to see how this wine fares in the taste test…

..Not much bouquet. To taste it is light and bright and quite spritzy. I see citrus and green apple. No bold grassy notes as would be typical of a Marlborough sav. It is pleasant enough, but I wouldn’t choose it as my standard quaffage unless I knew I was likely to be called upon to perform an emergency heart operation while piloting a plane during an emergency landing, in an emergency-type situation that would require a wise and sober head: I like the buzz too much. Good 3

Ata Rangi Summer Rose 2014

Ata Rangi Summer Rose Wairarapa 2014

New Zealand Rosé royalty. Light cranberry colour. 13.5%. Sweet strawberry nose. Light strawberry fruit in the mouth, bitter in the middle palate, long tannic finish. An intense attack, quite robust for a rosé. Not sure how to rate this. Good 3 I guess.

Esk Valley

Esk Valley Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2013

Pale gold. 13.5%. Rich involving bouquet of ripe warm peaches and vanilla. Buttery and rich to drink, with cooked peaches, manuka honey and vanilla on the mid palate and a brusque fnish. Managed to be both tannic and unctuous. Better Than Good 3+

What’s in the glass tonight April 28th


Johner Pinot Noir Rose 2013

Johner Wairarapa Pinot Noir Rosé 2013 – $$

I really like the current pinot noir from this producer. I have tried it a couple of times and rate it as a winner in the value category. So I was intrigued to buy this pinot rosé for L, who is a rosé enthusiast.

She didn’t like it much. Her comment was ‘astringent’.

It shows a pinot character on the nose. 14.5% gives it a kick, and contributes to a level of heat in the mouth. I taste interesting cucumber, and cranberry, in the glass, but it is a deeper pink colour, and stronger flavoured than the style I am used to. There is also a bitter finish that I feel stops it being an easy-drinking rosé. Which of course is the point of rosé, really. 2

What’s in the glass tonight Feb 22nd


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Mount Hector Wairarapa Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Well, here I am, looking at this bottle across the table from me. I’ve only had a bit of it, it’s refreshing and bright enough, but I kinda don’t want any more. And it’s not the wine’s fault.

Yesterday, after a day’s work, I drove 6 hours to join my team for the Great Lake Relay, a 160km run around Lake Taupo. The same course as the Cycle Challenge I have written about earlier.

I got to the accommodation at 10.30pm. Had a couple of glasses of some robust Spanish red I was persuaded to buy (nice) and a few laughs with my fellow team mates, then got to bed about 11.30pm. Woke at 12.30am, after I reckon 15mins of sleep.

We were all up and out on the course by 1.30am. The race started 2am. I did my share of driving the support vehicle from transition point to transition point, while trying to stay awake. My turn to run my relay leg came up at around 8.10am. I ran 6kms (the shortest leg, I’m a cyclist not a damn runner!). Hot, uphill, hard.

Got back to my bed 11am, after our van with the rest of the team relieved us halfway around the course.

Slept for maybe 2 ½ hrs, before we had to get back out on the course to join the others to run over the finish line as a group at about 4.30pm. Yay. 14 ½ hrs it took us!

Back at the digs I had some Roaring Meg pinot noir. Went at it a bit hard. Then we all went to this restaurant for dinner. Nice enough place, but I think they are struggling with the number of diners they have in. Quite, quite, quite slow…

…and now, I think I have had a bit too much to drink, and not enough sleep, and I’m feeling a bit tired and emotional and I’d like to go home to bed now, please.

What’s in the glass tonight Jan 3rd


Johner Pinot Noir 2011

Johner Wairapa Pinot Noir 2011 – $

I knew nothing about this producer from Gladstone in the Wairarapa. A low price at Moore Wilsons and a good review on the price sticker was the attractor. But what a find!

Bright carmine colour. 14%. Open cherry floral aroma, hint of minerality. Ripe red cherries in the mouth, spicy, fine tannins, a bit of soap on opening but this gassed off as the wine opened up round and juicy. Long finish. I’ll buy more of this tasty bargain. 4.

What’s in the glass tonight Oct 28th


Ata Rangi Summer Rose 2013

Ata Rangi Wairarapa Summer Rosé 2013 – $$

I think of this wine as one of our local rock stars. While I am not a huge fan of rosé, I have been drinking this version on and off for over a decade.

Years ago I remember heading over the hill to Toast Martinborough (the wine festival held each November), after telling my ex “it is never cold over there so dressing light is fine”, then standing inside a chilly marquee at Ata Rangi, wearing a T-shirt and sandals and drinking this wine while freezing southerly gales raged outside!

Moving to the present-day, I have survived three intense sessions of cycling training this weekend and was feeling pretty knackered this afternoon. L is heading over to the US for a conference next week, and I’ve been saving this bottle to drink with her before she went, as I know she likes a nice rosé.

First off, it sez Wairarapa on the label. Usually it sez Martinborough. Now, I’m a bit picky and to me Wairarapa does not mean the same as Martinborough when it comes to wine provenance. At least to me, anyway. So I had a look at their website and read that the grapes for this wine come from a variety of sites: mostly Merlot from Ata Rangi’s Di Mattina block, with a bit of Mebus Syrah from Kahu Vineyard, both in Martinborough, and a little Pinot Noir from the leased Waiora Block which is about 7kms south. I guess the spread of properties meant the producers had to put the Wairarapa appellation on the bottle.

The wine looks really appealing to the eye in the afternoon sun. L sez it is like drinking jewels and rubies. It is the most brilliant pink ruby colour. 13.5%. Lovely light nose of florals and melons. Watermelon and cranberries in the mouth, and hint of red capsicum too. Medium-dry. Doesn’t disappoint. 3.5.

Sileni Cab Franc Rose 2013

Then I was offered a glass of Sileni Hawkes Bay Cabernet Franc Rosé 2013

This was paler in colour – a light dusky pink. It was sweeter too, raspberry on nose and in mouth. Softer. 2.75