Bell Bird Bay Cabernet Merlot Hawkes Bay 2011 – $
Raymond Chan writes in his review of this wine, “70% Merlot, 13% Malbec, 11% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bridge Pa Triangle district”
Deep ruby colour. 13% alc.
Depp fruit aromas, softness, oak, vanilla, somewhat secondary.
The merlot component imbues softness and luscious dark fruits on palate, with structure from the cabernet components. Slight herbiness. Harmonious.
This wine harbours no faults from age or storage which I have found is rare with aged wines at this price point. A great aged example in this case.
Recommended 86 Points
A bunch of great wines for the Little Sleep:
Kumeu River Village Chardonnay Kumeu 2016 – $ – drink 2019-2021. A review of NZ Chardonnay in Decanter Feb 2018 gave this wine a score range of 88-92. I reviewed it similarly myself, and enjoyed the acidity and poise of this superb value Chardy.
Wairau River Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2016 – $$ – drink 2019-2026. A Decanter review of NZ Sauvignon Blanc by Bob Campbell late last year gave this wine a score of 93. I tracked down a bottle on special, and under the house it goes!
Coal Pit Tiwha Pinot Noir Central Otago 2016 – $$$ – drink 2020-2026. A Decanter Feb 2018 review of New World Wines under GDP30 gave this wine a score of 94. The author wrote, “sexy Pinot – a rare thing”. I first tried this wine at a restaurant in Queenstown and really loved it. Enough said.
Spy Valley Chardonnay Marlborough 2015 – $
In my opinion, this wine is consistently one of NZs best Chardonnays, vintage on vintage. Must be the site. I have ridden out there a few times. A lovely part of the world.
13% alc. Pale gold colour.
Mealy, golden fruit, aromatic and fine. Notes of oak, vanilla, apricot and mandarin orange and peel.
Fresh and crunchy to taste. Crispness, oak complexity, malo note on the back palate, and meal. Great structure and body. A wine for aging.
Highly Recommended 90 Points
Villa Maria Dry Riesling Marlborough Bay 2016 – $
12% alc. Pale greenish straw colour.
Earlier vintages have been my “WOTY” previously.
This one is not so stellar. Sharp citrus on nose, befitting a drier style of Riesling. Aromas of crisp apple and grapes.
Fresh entry on palate, with soft-ish texture. Quite linear fruit and an acid finish. Moderate intensity. Lacking some focus and intensity. An underwhelming example this time around.
Commended 85 Points
While we were waiting for Wellington Batucada to take the stage on the Saturday night of CubaDupa, Wellington’s best night-time street arts and music festival, L and I popped into the great wine bar Noble Rot. They serve a number of aged fine wines by the glass, protected by the Coravin system.
I enjoyed a glass of superb and savoury Greywacke Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012, and the ever-wonderful elegant Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015. Delicious!
BTW Wellington Batucada was immense and fantastic, as always!
Bell Bird Bay Reserve Syrah Hawkes Bay 2014 – $
13.5% alc. Deep ruby.
Soft and savoury dark red fruit aromas. Prominent vanilla note to start then this largely blew off. Hint of oxidation. Hint of spice.
Soft and full entry, dry sweetness, sharp and spicy finish. Medium tannins, grippy. Vanilla on the palate with strong oak character. Showing reserve fruit depth and body. Long on the tongue.
I see this wine as quite out of balance re oak/tannin/acid, but it has good bones and delivers a characterful and rewarding drop for the (very little) money. A party wine, this
Recommended 87 Points
Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir Martinborough 2016 – $$
This is the value tier PN product for this producer.
Peter Richards MW in Decanter magazine included this wine in his February 2018 article “30 great New World buys under GDP30, and rated it 91 points. He wrote, “brilliant, great value example. Elegantly bittersweet, poised, spicy and engaging.”
14.2% alc. Dark carmine colour.
Aromatic, soft and fruity. Black cherries, savouriness and spice and soap.
Soft in the mouth, with dark fruits and spice evident. A soapy finish and hot. Real generous fruit weight with no bitterness or thinness on the rear palate that I see in other NZ pinots at this price point.
My only fault with this wine is that it is too alcoholic. Loses grace.
Recommended 88 Points
Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2017 – $
I have never been in love with this value tier of Sacred Hill wines (orange label). For several years I have found the Chardonnay wines all a bit underdone and bitter and it put me off.
However, this vintage of Savvy earned itself a Decanter Gold Medal at the 2017 Asia Wine Awards, and Winestate gave this 5 Stars, so something sincere must be going on in this bottle…
12.5% alc. Clearest pale straw colour.
Nice grassy and tomato-y and capsicum-y aromas lifting from the glass. Crispness and a sense of open space. Sharp apple.
Sharp and fresh fruit flavours to taste up front. A pleasant citrus tang. Short, bold. Agreeable fruit density.
Recommended 88 Points
From The Cellar: Palliser Estate Chardonnay Martinborough 2013 – $$$
14% alc. Pale gold colour.
Very aromatic. Warm and rich mealy notes. Oak and bread, apricots and rock melon. Vanilla.
Sharp entry. Lean fruit to taste, fading. Steely brittleness on the mid palate, fruit flavours showing retreat of age or tunnelling. I don’t know enough about this wine to have an informed opinion. Hot finish, medium length. Attractive, still.
Tow nights later, the wine has softened and filled in, showing far more generosity of fruit than was first expressed. Shows the value of decanting!
Recommended 89 Points
From The Cellar: Te Mata Estate Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$$
I keep banging on about this favourite wine. Vintage to vintage, one of NZ’s finest. Full stop.
14% alc. Greenish straw colour.
An absolutely lovely and unique nose. That’ll be the barrel ferment, in part. Bouquet of orange citrus blossom, gooseberry, and broken tomato vine. Pure and very elegant and refined. Distinctive aroma. So fragrant. Divine.
Smooth, dense and mouthfilling to drink. Such a fantastic expression of NZ Savignon Blanc – complex, layered, and delicious. There is softness and texture from the barrel ferment, generous flavours of golden stonefruit, a touch of tomato sauce. Citrus acid on the finish. A luscious wine, long and long.
I expect to recall this as one of the finest wines I have tasted this year.
Outstanding 98 Points