Wise Owl 'Hooting White' 2013 13% No grape varieties suggested on the label - so here goes! Aromas of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc lead the bouquet with hints of white fleshed Pinot Gris fruits then perhaps a little Riesling with the mandarin note and a touch of Viognier or Gewurztraminer suggested as spice-note - Who knows! On the palate - just dry with flavors that reflect the nose; medium+ acidity; a refreshingly simple palate with lively fruit flavors - balanced and well made.
Wise Owl 'Swooping' Sauvignon Blanc 2013 13% Classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc bouquet with wild tropical fruits, apple and crisp red bell-pepper, grassy and bold. On the palate - dry, crisp and fruity and refreshing with medium++ acidity. A simple fruity expression with medium length, balanced and well made. 3 Stars
Gunn Estate 2013 Marlborough Pinot Noir Reserve 13.5% Vibrant red fruits with black cherry and plum, suggestions of smokey wood spice and stony soils. On the palate - dry with flavors of spicy plum and cherry fruits, a little rose and red apple skin; medium tannins - quite fine yet youthful, medium+ acid and finish. Well made with a spicy kick on the finish. 4.5 Stars
Thistle Ridge Waipara Chardonnay 2013 14% Fruity, fresh and lifted bouquet centering on the aromas of sweet white fleshed fruits - nectarine and peach - then ripe apple and even a little apple juice; lively and youthful. On the palate - dry, lively, fruity and fresh. A Chardonnay for the masses - plenty of fruit character and not too much oak; medium+ acidity with a moderate finish; balanced and well made. 3 Stars
Gladstone Vineyard 'Auld Alliance' Reserve 2010 14.5% Suggested as a Bordeaux styled wine - so there be Cabernets and Merlot here A distinctive bouquet of aged Cabernet and Merlot with a moss-wood and cigar-like herbal character; well integrated too with the red fruit aromas well blended into the oak. On the palate - old School - with some sweet fruit and sweet oak layers alongside a savory and well integrated expression. A dry wine with medium tannins and acidity; medium+ length and moderate complexity; there is a rose-like finish that I find quite appealing - this wine does grow on you if you give it a chance. 3.5 Stars
Gladstone Vineyard 'Sophie's Choice' Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012 13% This barrel fermented and barrel aged wine's bouquet suggests green melon and peach alongside sweet apple and citrus aromas; the barrel-ageing shows with a savory/herbal/sweaty/angelica combination. On the palate - dry and again savory with flavors of citrus and peach then lightly toasted barrel notes; that fresh herb - angelica note returns; medium+ acidity and medium length; balanced and well made. Take note of the silty soil terroir layer - pretty cool. Another surprising wine form the Gladstone stable. 3.5 Stars
Gladstone Vineyard PInot Gris 2013 13% White spices and white fleshed stone fruits lead the bouquet; sweet red apple and pear follow; a light savory quality adds to the overall moderate complexity. The palate is fruity and just dry; there are a few phenolics to tame with food, but the overall expression of this Gris is solid. Balanced with medium+ acidity and medium length a well made wine. 3 Stars
Sacred Hill 'Sauvage' Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Hawke's Bay 13%
Extremely bright in appearance with developing golden hues
Quite a rich and developing bouquet that is both savory and complex - all the hallmarks of Sauvignon Blanc are on show but each with a toasty and savory edge - the oak - is just enough; medium+ complexity overall.
On the palate - dry, wild and complex - the wild ferment flavors punch through supported by oak spices and savory complexity; the fruit signature of Sauvignon Blanc remains with citrus and stone fruit suggestions; lovely balance and finish. Buy!
Sacred Hill 'Virgin' Chardonnay 2013 Hawke's Bay 12.5% Floral, gently fruity, hints of indigenous ferment with a subtle savory complexity and 'pure' in its fruit expressions. Overall an elegant and sophisticated bouquet. The palate follows through with white Spring flowers, a light cheese-rind note and a taut attention seeking acid grip; white peach and crisp red apple keep the Chardonnay message in tact along with a long gentle finish. A wine that will stand the test of time and should be decanted if opened today 5 Stars (90 Points)
Sacred Hill 'Brokenstone' 2011 Hawke's Bay 14%
The super-ruby core and fuschia rim suggest a much younger wine - aromas of ripe dark berries and wild berry pie; toasty oak overtones and pepper spices.
On the palate - dry with medium+ tannins from oak and ripe fruit maceration; flavors of dark berries remain laced with vanilla and toasty savory theme; big tannins that need time to integrate fully; balanced with a long finish. A wine very much in its development stage - if you must open it then decant and sit for the day first.
Sacred Hill 'Helmsman' 2011 Hawke's Bay 14%
Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc
Now we're talking - an immediately complex bouquet of a wine that has aromas of harmony and integration; ripe - highly scented Cabernet Sauvignon commands the nose with the softer side of Merlot flanking left and right; the Cabernet Franc is however the star in this blend - with a savory, coffee bean and bitter chocolate signature.
On the palate - a rock star wine with all the flavors and texture you need in a blend that represents the best of Hawke's Bay; the oak is obvious yet luxurious and necessary. Powerful tannins; A long finish and a wine that can be enjoyed now and into 2020.