What’s in the glass tonight June 22nd – Merlot Syrah Cabernets


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Ata Rangi Celebre Martinborough 2014 – $$$

This is a long-time favourite local red for me. A bright red blend of 55% Merlot, 35% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc fruit grown on the Martinborough Terrace, and matured in 20% new oak.

Deep plum purple colour. 13% alc.

Soft, round and opulent on the nose. A savoury character up front, then opens to reveals oak, plums, and spice.

Sweetness on entry, fine-grained tannins in the mid-palate, and fresh acidity on the finish. Fruit flavours are restrained, not as ripe as the ’13, and slightly leafy.

A fine, expressive wine.

Recommended 89 points

What’s in the glass tonight June 20th – Chardonnay


Sacred Hill Riflemans 2015

Sacred Hill Riflemans Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2015 – $$$+

Bula!

L and I recently jetted off for a long weekend on Denarau island in Fiji. L was to attend a conference, and I was her ‘plus-1’.

The weather was sunny and warm. The pool was cool and inviting, the hotel staff were friendly and helpful, and we had a great time with her workmates and fellow professionals. Vinaka vaka levu, L!

I raided the airport duty-free store on the way and bought a bottle of Chardonnay to drink on our hotel room balcony. I chose one of NZ’s best single vineyard Chardy’s, which is only made in good years from grapes off old Mendoza clone vines. As I have written about before, it was a bottle of the ’07 that started me on my wine journey.

The nose of the Riflemans showed mealy and fine and aromatic. The wine smelled oaky and oily, quite similar to Viognier in that regard, and had that typical Riflemans intensity, buttery character, and layer of lemon curd.

To taste, the wine was finely-grained and smooth in texture, with rich and dense golden fruit flavours, and some butterscotch and spice. It finished long, with quite “tingle-y’ acid, and showed some bitterness.

This Chardonnay is an somewhat old-fashioned heavy style of wine, in its way, and was not really suited to the tropical Fijian climate at all. A winter white, this one, and best for a cold climate and roast chicken dinners. Still, couldn’t deny the quality.

Highly recommended 91 points

What’s in the glass tonight June 9th – Pinot Noir


Wild Grace Pinot Noir 2015

Wild Grace Pinot Noir Central Otago 2015

Someone at work bought this negociant wine for our Friday work drinks. I am usually suspicious of entry-level Pinots, but this was really good.

It had a good core and depth of fruit, good ripeness, and little of that bitterness I sometimes see in over-extracted cheaper Pinot Noir. The nose kept my interest, with an alluring savoury character. Yum.

Nice label design too. We are a design-led company…

Recommended 89 points

What’s in the glass tonight June 7th – Chardonnay


Montana Reserve Chardonnay 2016

Montana Reserve Chardonnay Gisborne 2016 – $

I’m really confused by this volume value brand of wine. First it was named Montana. For years and years and years. Then the owners wanted to sell more wine into the States. But suffered buyer confusion about its name. Wine from Montana? They don’t make wine in Montana! So the powers-that-be switched names to Brancott, after one of the original vineyards in Marlborough. Which makes sense. And we move on. Then I see this wine in the supermarket, and they are back to selling wine under the name Montana. WTF?

Anyway, this is a simple wine. Soft ripe golden fruit, lightly aromatic, a core of ripe fruit to taste, nothing memorable, but serves as an acceptable aperitif and smoothes the days rough edges…

Commended 85 points

Straight to the Pool Room – May 2017


Pool Room May 2017

Three additions for slumberland under the watchful gaze of KellerMäusefänger Mimi.

Wynns Michael Ltd Release Shiraz Coonawarra 2012- $$$ – drink 2020-2027. A gift from lovely L. High hopes for this classy Aussie.

Man O’War Ironclad Cabernet Waiheke 2012 – $$$ – drink 2020-2022. Odd to think that despite me having enjoyed wines from this producer for a few years now, there isn’t any in the Pool Room. There is now – this great cab!

Man O’War Valhalla Chardonnay Waiheke 2016 – $$$ – drink 2021-2024. And this one too.

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


Escarpment Riesling

Escarpment Riesling Martinborough 2013

This was a generous gift from MM for me being chauffeur at the recent biking weekend. Much appreciated, mate.

Brilliant pale greenish straw colour. 12% alc.

The nose was delightfully aromatic and phenolic, showing lean and crisp acidity, with a layered note of honey.

Natch, the wine was dry/off-dry, lean, and angular to taste as well. Salty, and sharp through the mid palate, with a short crisp mineral finish. I loved the mouthwatering acidity. An arresting wine, cerebral even (if I err into weinwank for a moment…J )

Very enjoyable. I liked seeing the sweetness dialled back in this white.

Highly Recommended – 90 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 21st – Nebbiolo Barbera


Hihi Nebbiolo 2010 2011

From the Cellar: Hihi Nebbiolo Barbera Gisborne 2010/2011 – $$

There is an MS Barolo tasting approaching, so I thought to open a NZ Nebbiolo from my cellar, and get an early run at the variety. Not that I was expecting a wine of the quality that will be tasted with the Society, nevertheless I was still looking forward to seeing how a year in the cellar has affected it since I lasted tasted a bottle.

14% alc. Deep dusty carmine. The colour is right.

Light dusty florals on the nose,a  savoury note, dark fruits, smells hot, no trace of tar.

Cheery sweet entry on the palate, juicy fruit, medium body, a tannic edge, and not a long finish. An intriguing blend, this. Tending towards green, and with less body, intensity  and fullness that I was hoping for. I recall that this vintage in Gisborne was wet and cold, and the finished wine shows this.

Nevertheless, it is a wine to keep an eye out for, and I remain hopeful to try one from a warmer vintage if a bottle ever becomes available. I am watching the producer’s website, and waiting…

In the meantime, I have one more bottle left, which I will keep the full ten years. And we’ll see how that looks then.

Commended 85 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 11th– Merlot Cabernets blend


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Craggy Range Te Kahu Hawkes Bay 2015 – $$

It’s late at night. L is away at a Chiro conference in Melbourne, LG is in bed asleep, the boys are with their father, and I am sifting at the the computer, on the internet, which turns into blogging. I’m blogging about wine, while drinking this wine. Very meta.

Dark plum red. 14% alc.

The wine is showing somewhat thin and oddly structured on the nose on opening. Perhaps it’s a keeper and needs time?

Sure enough, it softened on standing in the glass, filling out and opening up, but still showed thin. There is fruit there as a backbone, with spice and heat, grunty tannin and dark cocoa, but it isn’t as rich or dense as the ’13 or ’14. A disappointment, this bottle.

It does show distinctive terroir, so I have marked it up

Commended 85 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 10th– Sauvignon Blanc


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The Luminary Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough 2016 – $$

Simple and uncomplicated, with a calm nose. Very typical of the restrained form of Kiwi savvy hailing from Martinborough. There is freshness and acidity as you would expect, and quality fruit weight . It has presence. But a little boring.

Recommended 88 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 2nd – Syrah


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From the Cellar: Millton Clos Ste Anne The Crucible Syrah Gisborne 2009 – $$$

As I have said many, many times – biodynamic Millton Vineyard is one of my favourite producers. James and Annie possess one of the most beautiful vineyard sites in one of the most special parts of New Zealand (disclosure:  a branch of my family immigrated into NZ through Gisborne two centuries ago, and I love the place, so I’m biased). And they treat their land so well and with so much respect through their viticultural stewardship. To open one of their wines is always a treat and an occasion to savour.

Now, having talked up the wine incredibly….

Inky red black colour, slightly browning at the rim. 14.5% alc. Whole berry in the maceration, with some Viognier in the blend.

Floral, spicy and perfumed nose. Lifted.  Soft rich black fruit, and white pepper.

In the mouth there was an absolute abundance of sweet rich black fruit, with perfect ripeness and weight. Apparent oak and vanilla, but it didn’t detract. Smooth and deep, with notes of port and raisin and dark chocolate. Balanced acid, fruit and tannin. A long peppery finish. Superb, just delicious.

Outstanding 97 points