Saturday, 31 December 2011


Matawhero Gisborne Pinot Gris 2011 12.8%
N: Varietal notes of late harvest pear and golden delicious apple, hints of honey and honey-suckle, a dash of white pepper and pot-pouri.

P: A gentle fruit expression with the apple and pear tree fruits dominating; knocking on the door of medium with some residaul sugar balanced by medium+ acidity. A very approachable drink now style, medium finish and balanced. 
3 Stars

Friday, 30 December 2011

Jackson Estate

Jackson Estate 'Stich' Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Marlborough 13%
N: Juicy and fleshy Sauvignon Blanc aromas with sweet peach and pineapple, gooseberry, red apple, citrus and sweet herb. Overall an attractive and appealing fruit expression.

P: Reflects the nose with a luscious and densely fruit sweet flavors including meyer lemon and apple, gooseberry and light tropical notes. High acidity balances the sweet edged fruit; medium+ length, juicy and refreshing finish; balanced and well-made.
4 Stars

Mt Beautiful

Mt Beautiful Cheviot Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2010 14%
N: Powerful yet slightly restrained aromas of tree fruits and tropical fruits laced with steely and stoney minerality.

P: Herbaceous and dry, steely then fruity and very crisp - a bracing wine with palate piercing acidity, crisp apple, pear, golden kiwi fruit and light tropical flavors. The finish is moderate and firm with a mineral lift at the end and a touch warm. Overall well made.
3.5 Stars

Two Rivers

Two Rivers 'Altitude' Pinot Noir 2010
100% wild Ferment, Basket Press, 100% New Oak
Nose and Palate: Classic (for New Zealand) in many ways - lovely strawberry and cherry fruit quite intense; a fare wack of oak and concentration.
On the palate - softer sweeter fruit flavors with brown spice edges and vanilin oak; slightly warm, but a great drinking wine; the tannins while firm still in this very youthful wine are starting to loosen a little offering proise with food.
3 barrels - 100 cases produced.
5 Stars

Passage Rock

Passage Rock Reserve Syrah 2010
Nose and Palate: Toasted raspberry, oaky, gravelly/clay like bouquet; great intensity with Medium++ complexity.
On the palate the wine is meaty and spicy with black and red fruits; reminds me of apple and blackberry pie with a crusty pastry edge; the complexity shows just enough on the palate to know that this wine is a keeper and can be enjoyed now too if decanted.
92 Points

Sunday, 11 December 2011

John Forrest Collection

John Forrest Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Gimblett Gravels 14%abv
Nose and Palate: Very ripe bouquet with black and red fruits, but in a very youthful frame; varietal - yes, edgy - yes, a big future - definitely! On the palate the core of fruit on the nose begins to show its power with powerful fruit and oak tannins along with some youthful acidity bring this wine together into something special. At four years of age already this wine is still a puppy and I expect will begin to relax and integrate over the 2013 season. The higher complexity potential is showing, but I further expect it to deepen and evolve.
A keeper in the darkest corner of your cellar with a showing around May 2015 probably about right.
92 Points

John Forrest Collection

John Forrest Collection Syrah 2007 Gimblett Gravels, Hawke's Bay 14.5%abv
Nose and Palate: Vibrant, varietal and peppery; Red and black fruits, sweet meats and fleshy fruits, damson plums, crushed violets, complex. On the palate - very youthful still - high acid, high tannins - ripe; vibrant raspberry, damsons and keri-berry flavors; Needs another two years before it makes any wine list debut; gravel undertones and complex with excellent texture and potential.
95 Points

Saturday, 10 December 2011

John Forrest Collection

John Forrest Collection Pinot Noir 2009 Waitaki Valley
Nose and Palate: Rich raspberry, dark cherry, Central Otago bouquet - schist notes and undergrowth suggestions. The palate is delicious, youthful and mealy with fruit tannins a little more forward than the oak tannins. Juicy finish with a drink now feel, but also has cellar potential. Overall very good.
88 Points

John Forrest Collection

John Forrest Collection Pinot Noir 2009 Bannockburn 13.5%abv
Nose and Palate: Herbal - dried - with dark cherry, cherry and cranberry notes, youthful and vibrant aromatics. The palate reflects the nose with vibrant fleshy fruits, packed with skin tannins, understated oak; medium+ acidity and length with a dried herb note on the finish. Very good - balance and presence with pinosity and personality.
89 Points

John Forrest Collection

John Forrest Collection Waitaki Valley Chardonnay 2008 13.5%
Nose and Palate: Cool climate and terroir suggestions of quartz and schist first then light white florals witha smokey and youthful mood.
The palate promotes the youthful features of the wine first with a vibrant acidity, mild creamy texture and citrus then more traditional chardonnay peach and stone fruits flavors. Great balance and length. A food wine through 2012 then anythings goes.
89 Points

John Forrest Collection

John Forrest Collection Chardonnay 2006 14% abv
Nose and Palate: This is a fabulous wine and any chance you get to try, buy or taste then do so - it is highly recommended; Golden Grapefruit and apple, peach skin and oak, feminine/gentle aromatics. The palate is great - medium+ body, creamy and rich in flavor and character; peach and sweet apple, grape fruit and other citrus flavors and gentle sweet vanillin. Complex and just begining to settle into a groove.
92 Points

John Forrest Collection

John Forrest Collection Riesling 2005 (30% Brancott fruit, 70% Wairau fruit)
Nose and Palate: Classic, classic, classic - just lovely with granny smith and pacific Rose apple aromas and flavors, sweet grape fruit and lemon skin; The 10gpl RS is perfectly balanced with piercing acidity (2.9 pH). 
A gorgeous wine - 5 Stars/90 Points 

John Forrest Collection

John Forrest Collection 'The White' 2007 13.5%
Nose and Palate: Citrus, white flowers, apples, apple tart, pears, stone fruits, wet stone, light herbs and a hint of oak; Definitely a blend of white varieties. The palate emphasises the ripe sweet notes of Sauvignon Blanc then the apple of Chenin and stone fruit with citrus from some Chardonnay - medium+ length, balanced and well made. John's best [The] White so far.
4 Stars

John Forrest Collection

John Forrest Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2009 13%abv
Nose and Palate: A terroir driven style with a lightly smokey - white smoke note; soft white chalk texture and white flowers; the palate is softer and more gentle than expected; bold fruit flavors are classic Sauvignon Blanc in nature with a mix of tropical and citrus; the emphasis is on the floral and mineral core (for me); a lovely finish and as always with John's wines - balanced.
4 Stars

Pruner's Reward

Pruner's Reward 2009 Pinot Noir
Nose and Palate: Varietal, fruity and juicy with raisin and cherry flavors, moderate weight with easy tannins and moderate+ acidity. Balanced and well-made.
2.5 Stars

Bellbird Spring

Bellbird Spring 'Block 8' Pinot Gris 2010 (40gpl RS)
Nose and Palate: Lush and full-bodied Pinot gris package. Some old barrel influence adds complexity and interest to the fruit and sugar - laden palate; Sweet pear and apple with a soda mix note; balanced acidity and medium length and finish.
Overall a balanced wine. I would suggest a well chilled bottle for service for customers who like sweet wine styles.
3 Stars

Bellbird Spring

Bellbird Spring 'Home Block White' 2010 (20gpl RS; Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat and Gewurztraminer)
Nose and Palate: A very tasty wine with some obvious RS that boosts the flavors of the fruits across the four varieties present; The gewurztraminer adds  spice and body, The Pinot Gris - flesh and familiarity; the Muscat - flowers and a feminine note and the Riesling - a back bone of acidity; Peach, apple and tart citrus flavors.
Overall a very good wine.
4 Stars

Bellbird Spring

Bellbird Spring Block 8 Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (100% old barrel ferment)
N: This wine has some depth and character with suggestions of moderate complexity and old barrel spice notes ; followed by gentlr and softer tree and tropical fruits.

P: Generous and richer in texture than its Pruner's Reward counterpart; touch of spice from the older oak and the softer fruit suggestions return with a medley of flavors - mainly tree fruit based. Slightly broader in style with Medium+ length; balanced and well made.
3.5 Stars

Pruner's Reward

Pruner's Reward Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (4gpl RS)
N: Fruity and ripe with peach and citrus suggestions alongside hints of older oak.

P: Reflects the nose with older oak light spice notes, peach and ripe citrus flavors, gooseberry and apple notes; medium+ length and finish; Balanced and well made.
3 Stars

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Framingham 'F' SeriesFramingham 'F' Series

Framingham 'F' Series 2011 Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese
Dry berry selected harvest - TBA. 375ml, only 210 bottles produced, 295gpl RS, 7.5%abv, Fermented in old oak
Nose and Palate: Super creamy, super lush and super sweet. There is balance to the wine from well appointed acidity. Flavors of lemon skin and honey with touches of hokey pokey entice the palate. A big and long sweet finishing wine.
89 Points

Framingham 'F' Series

Framingham 'F' Series 2011 Riesling Beerenauslese
375ml 230 bottles produced, 100% botrytised fruit, 205gpl RS, 9.0%abv
N: A complex wine with a note of oak spice and a gentle touch of VA - together make for an attractive and inviting bouquet. While the oak used a older barrel it adds a layer of complexity. Lemon and apple concentrate and a hint of pineapple.

P: A big and lush wine with citrus and freeze-dried pineapple, apple flavors; a hint of ginger on the absolute finish. The wines seems in perfect balance now and will offer great drinking through 2013.
91 Points

Framingham Series

Framingham 2011 Noble Riesling
375ml, 3000 bottles produced, 180gpl RS, 8.5%abv. Auslese style (Gold Cap)
N: Luscious and creamy with a 'classic' New Zealand Sweet Wine Bouquet; But wait! A second and more gentle sniff reveals rose edged fruits with some botrytis (not too strong) suggestions with marmalade and fresh yoghurt.

P: The palate flavors reflect what the nose suggests with a concentration of stone fruits and balancing acidity; the wine seems to carry a citrus theme overall with orange and tangerine dominating. A medium+ to long finish.
90 Points

Framingham Series

Framingham  2011 Select Riesling 
750ml, 65gpl RS, 8.5%abv, No Botrytis; only 1650 bottles produced;  At 92.4 Oechsle this is a Spatlese style.
N: Lemon curd, lemon brulee, brioche and hokey pokey aromas; some white flower and mineral wet stone suggestions.

P: Big acidity and crisp with lemon curd flavors; I agree with Andrew Hedley's suggestion of raspberry, but notice the crisp citrus and apple flavors first. The flavors just keep coming with green tea, mandarin and lime flower; The finish is well - long and because of the acidity almost dry in nature.
93 Points

Framingham 'F' Series

Framingham 'F' Series 2011 Riesling Kabinett
750ml, 58gpl RS, 8%abv, only 348 bottles produced
N: Lime, lemon, a melody of citrus suggestions, apple and an unmistakably Riesling bouquet.

P: The palate reflects the nose exactly with intense and focused lemon and lime flavors, a precisely balanced wine with a lovely cool climate expression; A touch of lemonade and kaffir lime on the finish then swings back to apple again; The flavours last for 1 minute easily.
A great aperitif wine or for dangerous liaisons with moderately spiced Asian seafood creations.,
94 Points

Framingham 'F' Series

Framingham 'F' Series 2011Gewurztraminer Selection de Grains Noble
375ml, 335 gpl RS, 7.5%abv
N: The intensity and power of the botrytis with its caramelised sugar notes combine to suggest a wine of power and concentration. A gentle rose scent manages to arise that further suggests a wine not without complexity.

P: Full-bodied and very lush, creamy textures and honey coat the palate and seems to stick around for a long time before subsiding; Wine-maker Andrew Hedley's notes on his wine are naturally 'on the button' with an "incredible unctous mouth coating texture"; There remains a gentle varietal Gewurztraminer lift on the finish. A very very good wine - must like it sweet though!
94 Points

Framingham 'F' Series

Framingham 'F' Series 2011 Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive
500ml, 395 Bottles produced, 150 gpl RS, 8.5%abv
N: Varietal with a mix of flowers, spices, hints of ginger and stewing white flesh fruits.

P: I really like the texture of this wine and the harmony that comes with the acidity - there are pristine phenolics at work here; A long finish - not forceful - built around the interplay between the varietal flavors, spice and weight; a gentle tapering off of flavor and texture at the very end - delicious!
94 Points and one of my favorites from the 'F' series sweet wine line up.

Framingham 'F' Series

Framingham 'F' Series 2011 Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive
Only 400 Bottles produced. 500 ml. 160gpl RS, 8.5%abv
N: Gentle and feminine fragrance, definitely lush; a soft note and then waves of quince and marmalade; varietal.

P: A creamy textured wine with a quince and aged marmalade flavor; gentle honey and bees wax notes; The acidity is the key to this wines palate appeal, high and obvious, adds texture and bite; Long finish with apple and pear flavors.
This is definitely where New Zealand Pinot Gris can be a worldwide hit.
92 points

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Ellero Central Otago Gewurztraminer 2010 14.3%
Be sure to just cool and not chill this wine before enjoying. 
N: There is delicacy and complexity with this wine - take your time - gentle layers of spice, baby rose, ginger and crushed apple. A hint of minerality grows with each swirl and adds delicate easily missed minerality.

P: A swag of flavors and texture hit the palate taking a moment or two to settle. When they do - ginger and rose flavors arise first followed by apple, pear and tropical suggestions. There is warmth from the alcohol, but this adds to the experience. A moderate + to long finish with a whisper of apple crumble flavor.
Dry, balanced and well made.
This wine will definitley enhance a wine list. I would urge food pairing exploration.
4.5 Stars.

This is perhaps an atypical expression of Gewurztraminer as it dies not smack the nose with Lavender or Turkish delight or Lychee expected in so many examples. Give it time and the rewards will emerge.

Brick Bay

Brick Bay Rose 2011 (53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 4% Malbec) 11% abv
A very pretty light rose appearance with a silvery shimmer
N: Wild strawberry, red apple skin and summer berry pudding seduce the nose. 

P: Fruity and crisp with flavors that reflect the nose, medium+ acidity pushes forward the light red berry flavors and introduces a delicate rose and peach pit layer adding just a touch of complexity. A smidge of tannin adds a layer of texture to the smooth fruity texture already present.
Overall a lovely Spring, Summer and Autumn wine.
Don't chill it too much, just 20 mins in the fridge is all it needs with just 11% alcohol.
4 Stars.

Brick Bay

Brick Bay Pinot Gris 2011 Matakana (North Auckland) 11.5%
N: Gentle and enticing bouquet of white fleshed summer fruits; Asian pear, sweet bosc pear; plenty of ripeness and hints of white pepper spice.

P: Juicy and fruity, lush and satisfying. This Gris will satisfy many palates and may even convert a few to Gris as well. Presented in an off-dry style with a core of fruit balanced and poised by a back bone of acidity. The finish is lengthy with hints of white pepper and pear skin flavors.
Drinking well now and for at least the next five years if stored properly.
4.5 Stars

Monday, 31 October 2011


Rockburn Central Otago Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Only 3 barrels produced from 2 sites
Warm and generous aromas that are Sauvignon Blanc in aroma and bouquet, but with a striking difference and individuality - part of which is a 15 month ageing on lees.
The aromas suggest a smokey and gentle fruit attack whilst remaining Sauvignon Blanc at heart.
Texture and length are definitely a theme with the Rockburn range of wines and this example is no exception.
Great finish. 92 Points


Rockburn Central Otago Chardonnay '09
15-18% New barrel, 100% MLF
This wine has a very attractive bouquet with an earthy/mineral quality (schist) that is superbly balanced with carefully selected fruit flavor and intensity. The balance between fruit, acid and use of oak is a credit to its wine maker - just the right measure of tension on the palate combined with a playful texture leads into a long and individual finish. Great balance and well executed wine.
91 Points 

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Felton Road

Felton Road Bannockburn Riesling 2011 (9.5% abv)
N: Varietal, intense and no mistaking the variety - a glamorous bouquet of citrus and tree fruit aromas - sweet lemon, lemonade, crisp green and red apple and an immense floral statement of white rose.

P: Off-dry (60 gpl-rs) and fantastically crisp (2.9-ish pH) the wine ultimately finishes dry. The flavors of citrus and apple return laced with sugar. A wine to please many palates. Will work equally well as an aperitif as it will with sweet desserts.
90 Points

Felton Road

Felton Road "Block 5' Pinot Noir 2010
N: The Grand Cru of Felton Road Wines (for me). Whilst still a baby - this wine has astonishing complexity and a sense of place, fabulous, lush and generous fruit, no mistaking the oak influence though - yet seems to add tradition and complexity at the same time.

P: As the nose suggests with a complex mix of fruit, oak and terroir attributes; There is noticable tension within the structure that is they key to this wines future. The fruit adds the outer and inner layers of flesh and ultimately style. Very worthwhile investment.
97 Points (no this is not a typo)

Felton Road

Felton Road 'Calvert' Pinot Noir 2010
N: Dense red fruits, a broody edge, plenty of oak; Sweet violets and an under current schistous minerality. Obvious complexity somewhat hidden within the youth of the bouquet. That said it also reminds me of a Beaune 1er Cru - jeunesse, but with great potential.

P: As the nose suggests with vibrant and electric flavors, noble tannins add plenty of texture(s) and structure, medium++ acidity further enhances these attributes. Great balance, fruity and not too lush; a long finish and high complexity. Please wait 3-5 years before you really enjoy this wine.
96 Points

Felton Road

Felton Road Pinot Noir 2010 Bannockburn
N: Very youthful in appearance and bouquet: Sweet cherry and cherry spice, a wild edged mix of light red berries, crystal clear aromas of soil - schist; sweet new oak and suggestions of older barrel use.
P: 'Classic' (Otago attributes) generous and plush fruits flavors. The mineral and tannin flavors and textures are a key attribute especially with the structure - very fine and easy to miss in favor of the youthful fruit intensity.

This is obviously a very young wine and needs some integrations time, it is however a lovely drink now as well and will reward those who choose either option.

A long and adventurous finish. 93 Points

Felton Road

Felton Road 'Block 2' Chardonnay 2010
No fining, no filtration, No cold stabilisation - the appearance is a smidgen different from a filtered example, but I would challenge guests in an evening lit restaurant to notice. Wine maker Blair says "'s the closest thing to a natural wine we can make".
N: Generous and quite fruity, but not overtly so; the oak is obvious, but seems stage left and seeking too much attention.

P: Complexity and texture are the key attributes on the palate. The oak is more obvious, but in balance with the rest of the flavors - fine and sweet (oak). The acidity is, for me, the backbone of this wine and adds to an already great structure. Wonderful balance and finish - a fine wine.
95 Points

Felton Road

Felton Road Bannockburn Chardonnay 2010 Bannockburn
This is a course filtered wine when seems to allow the texture on the palate to take a more pronounced role.
N: Gentle sweet oak suggestions are married to a strong fruit foundation, moderate + complexity and hints of minerality.

P: The gentle creaminess is immediately apparent followed by generous but not too bold stone fruit flavors and hints of both pear and apple. The acidity provides great back bone allowing the long finish to end dry and reminiscent of a fine Central Otago wine (and a touch of Burgundy).
92 Points

Felton Road

Felton Road Vin Gris 2011
A wine that has not been on offer since 2008 - a style only made in years when the grapes present an opportunity - often due to larger berry size.
N: Quite floral and minerally with a schistous quartz like aroma and a chalky note followed with some lite white fruit suggestions.

P: With 100 MLF and wild yeast ferment this wine has texture and great presence on the palate. The flavors of chalk and other minerals become obvious and light tree fruit flavors emerge. A dry finish and moderate length overall.
88 Points

Overall I think this is a food wine and would suit any light starter and even oysters. I would not however pair it with spicy food.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Newton Forest Estate

Newton Forest Estate Cornerstone 2009
N: Leathery, baked and stewed black fruits; powerful oak with vanilla, toast and burning spices. A powerful fruit concentration overwhelms the senses  then a rich plum note comes through.
P: Dry, spicy red and black fruit flavors, oaky with strong barrel flavors, tobacco and roasted meats, a light line of wild violets draws attention back to the fruit core. A complex, young and yet tamed wine. A powerful statement with medium+ length. 
90 Points.

Sacred Hill

Sacred Hill 'Der Stalkers' Syrah 2009 Hawke's Bay
N: Gravelly and earthy country road and farmlet aromas then dense blackcurrant, toasted raspberry and driving oak spices. Pungent and youthful.
P: Sweet red and blackcurrant fruit flavors - chocolate and leather, date and black pepper. Warm and rich with oak and fruits fighting for attention. Dry, full-bodied and generously long - a fabulous wine. 92 Points.

Craggy Range

Craggy Range Single Vineyard Syrah 2009 Hawke's Bay
N: Sweet, fresh and cooked raspberry with blackcurrant fruits and licorice then tar, black roses, powdery chocolate, roasted fieled mushroom and course sandy earthy qualities.
P: Fine, powdery tannins are concentrated and humming with energy, blackcurrant dark forest raspberry fruits; wet black pepper laced oak, high tannin presence equaled by acidity and forcing a youthful wine message. A long shelf life of 8-10 years ahead before one need worry about a out. 91 Points.

Squawking Magpie

Squawking Magpie Gimblett Gravels 'Stoned Crow' Syrah 2009
N: Dark chocolate, burnt raspberry and charred oak attack, dense brown spices and course ground white pepper, a sweet fruit concentration rounds out the bouquet.
P: Warm, toasty and spicy with black and white pepper, gravelly soil suggestions linked with bold rip fruit and oak tannins. A sweet meat and black fruit core add complexity and weight. The finish is spicy and peppery. Very youthful and just 2 steps into a a long walk. 89 points.

Mills Reef

Mills Reef Elspeth Cabernet Merlot 2009, Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay
N: Piercing pure Cabernet aromas of sweet and fresh blackberry and blackberry jam, then marmite, sweet tobacco, day old black leather and chocolate soup. Sweet bell pepper and toasty, roasty oak spices. A V8 heart waiting to be unleashed.
P: Smooth and dry for about 2 seconds then a powerful and richly textured and flavorful wine is unleashed. Big, ripe fruit tannins, complex and young strong oak tannins, the Merlot kicks in with some softer red fruit expressions. A long and powerful finish with fantastic balance. Cellarability could easily reach 15 years. 94 Points.


Alluviale Gimblett Road Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Hawke's Bay
N: Sophisticated and elegant bouquet with sweet brooding blackberry fruits, high cacao chocolate dust, new leather, sweet violet, stewing plum pie. Complex and generous with understated oak.
P: Equally enchanting at first then an iron fist of power charges through the palate with high tannins and acid enforce - balanaced with a equal concentration of fruit flavors.
One swallow of this wine and you will be under its spell. A bloody fantastic wine - long, elegant and raw. 7-10 years.
94 Points.

Sacred Hill

Sacred Hill 'Helmsman' 2009 Hawke's Bay (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot - 18months French Oak ageing)
N:Freshly picked black and red berries, apple and blackberry pie, toasted violets and roasted vanilla pod, soft milk chocolate and lashings of oak.
P: Full-bodied and powerful with high energy tannins, milk and bitter chocolate, dark red fruits, plums and licorice, violets and tobacco.
Complex to say the least! A long high powered finish yet still a wine just out of the starting gate. Cellar for 10 years.
92 Points.

Trinity Hill

Trintiy Hill by John Hancock 2008 The Gimblett. (43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec)
N: Highly complex bouquet with a powerful mix of violets (fresh and crushed), lead, blackberry, blueberry, wild raspberry and chocolate. No doubt about the magic of a Bordeaux blend. The oak, while present, seems hardly noticeable.
P: Richly flavored, an avalanche of black and dark red fruits with a youthful, crisp acid bite.
If you must open a bottle of this wine - then do it yesterday in order to enjoy it tomorrow - and decant for service if you sell a bottle. Otherwise cellar for 10 years before you check it again.
The finish is long, powerfully fruity and dry. An asset to any wine list or cellar. 
95 Points.


Vidal Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2008 Hawke's Bay
N: Soft black and red raspberry fruits with sweet and gentle oak - new and old. Feminine edges - a quivering core of fruit emerges after 10 minutes in glass.
P:White pepper, raspberry fresh field mushroom, sandy gravel mineral/earth suggestions, softly textured oak, vibrant acidity and medium+ tannins complete the package. The finish is long with a medium+ complexity and a little mystery. Cellar for 5-8 years. 
90 Points.

Two Gates

Two Gates Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2008 Hawke's Bay 
N:Seductive velvet expression with a concentration of dark red fruits laced with oak spices and ageing meat thoughts. The bouquet is raw and youthful yet packed with the idea of great things to come. There is a hint of diesel interwoven with the gravel soil undertones. Medium+ complexity.
P: Full-bodied, peppery and bold with fresh fruit and oak flavors - fast and powerful attack - like a machine gun firing shots of flavor on the palate. Dry with its big tannins and high youthful acidity - this wine has concentration and finish to meld into harmony over the next 5 years. 90 Points.

Monday, 10 October 2011


SOHO 'McQueen' 2010 Pinot Noir Central Otago
N: A striking vibrant attack of dark red cherry and sweet cranberry with a velvet undergrowth and light chocolate bouquet. A dash of newer oak with hints of spice and vanilla and overall medium complexity.

P: Piquant edged dark cherry and lightly herb-ed (dry) flavors, quite a young wine on the palate in terms of texture - medium+ tannins and acidity still finding a place top settle with the wine's other attributes. Moderate length and finish. A wine to review again in 12 months - 86 Points.



SOHO Westward Rosé 2011 Waiheke Island (Merlot 86.5%, Malbec 13.5%)
N: Lovely fruit aromatics with wild raspberry and wild strawberry plus a light red fruits blend; a dash of rose petals and hint of old oak spices.

P: Just dry and quite fruity with the light red fruits returning - packed with flavor and a touch of spice. Overal a lovely balanced wine with a pleasing texture, length and finish. 86 Points.


SOHO 'Carter' Chardonnay 2010 Waiheke Chardonnay
N: Lots of sweet peach and ripe red apple and vanillin oak driven bouquet, a warm rich feel with a simple and uncomplicated  approach.

P: Quite citrousy  with  grapefruit  flavors followed by stone fruit  - peach - then a French Vanilla Ice-cream  - Oak - suggestion. Dry with moderate creamy texture and youthful acidity; Moderate length and finish, sound and balanced. 85 Points.


SOHO 'Stella' Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Marlborough
N: Distinctive, pungent and classic aromatics  of sweet herb and tropical fruits; herbacous and grassy with wet stone mineral notes.

P: Just dry with a hint orf residual sugar which accentuates the vibrant fruit expression. Steely acidity and light wet stone elements bring together a 'classic' tasting example. 85Points.

Thursday, 6 October 2011


SOHO Revolver Waiheke Island 2008 Merlot (46%), Cabernet Sauvignon (17%), Malbec (31%) & Cabernet Franc (6%)
N: Plums, blackberries, chocolate and hints of wild berries with a savory, toasty oak note - even a little bramble and a hint of brett.

P: Dry and warm with dark berries, brambly toasty oak flavors and medium+ balanced tannins. Moderate+ length with a bitter chocolate brownie and savory lift to the finish. The package that this wine presents is good. I would suggest an equally earthy dish or cheese selection with this Waiheke example.
88 Points.

A quick comment about - Brett.
Brett or Brettanomyces is not a problem nor a fault in wine so long as it is not to excess. In fact a small amount in some red wines can be very desirable. Bordeaux, Burgundy and even some Barolo can have Brett - and these wines have been loved and favored for many years

Hawkdun Rise

Hawkdun Rise Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
This is one producer you should be watching
N: Pure expression of Pinot Noir with red cherry, hints of dark/riper cherry, red apple skin, gentle spices of French oak and a 'Village Burgundy' terroir theme and complexity.

P: All New World and Central Otago with a schist, spice and vibrant light red fruits expression. The shear youth on the palate with its medium+ acidity, medium yet fine tannins (both fruit and oak) and just long finish presents an age worthy and lovely to the taste wine.

A food wine in its youth (still) or an after dinner conversation wine - perhaps with a slice of oven warmed brie on walnut bread.
Every bit worth its recent Bragato Gold.
90 Points


Tohu Rore Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2010
N: Soft and generous, forward without being forceful - suggestions of raspberry and strawberry fruits along with a deep centered sweet oak layer add up to an enticing and seductive bouquet.

P: The palate is everything the nose suggests with a soft and plush fruit profile, noticeable yet fine tannins, just enough oak to please those who like it and a long persistent finish. Very very good example 92 Points.


Tohu Single Vineyard Pinot Rosé Nelson 2011

N: Delicate light red fruits with an equally delicate sweet rose petal. Suggestions of strawberry jam, raspberry jelly and watermelon complete the bouquet.

P: Dry, but oh so juicy with strawberries and cream, watermelon and raspberry jelly flavors all coming to life on the palate, a delicious, simple Summer treat! 85 Points.

Joseph Cattin

Joseph Cattin Alsace Gewurztraminer 2010
N: Very spicy with stone fruit and apple tart-tartin suggestions. Peach, sweet and crisp almost toffee apple aromas, true rose oil and rose petal and Turkish delight bouquet - confident, charming and true to type.

P: Creamy, spicy, floral, fruity and well balanced wine with spritely medium+ acidity cements all the flavors in place with a medium+ finish. Sound and varietal with medium complexity the finish also displays a characteristic citrus peel bitterness that one expects from Alsace Gewurz' and lengthens the palate nicely. 86Points.


SOHO Jagger Marlborough Pinot Gris 2011 
N: Baked and fresh apple, a touch of white florals and notes of Perry. A hint of spice suggest some older barrel use. Overall a wine with an interesting complexity and the nose for a little more attention (I did).

P: White fleshed stone fruits especially nectarine followed by pear, perry, soft red and yellow apple, a hint of spice again. Good texture with moderate complexity and a dry finish. Serve cool but not [New Zealand beer] cold. Overall very good 87 Points.


Tohu Mugwi Marlborough Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010
N: Enticing, juicy array of fruits with peach, mango, passion-fruit,wild yeast, guava and red apples leaping from the glass; the bouquet alone will attract many to this wine. Some sweet hay notes add complexity.

P: Everything the nose suggest is on the palate with the medium+ acidity keeping the juice youthful and vibrant. A lovely texture and long finish.
Probably not a wine for everyone - it is very specific, but will add depth and complexity to a select few wine lists - if they're quick! 
89 Points.
By the way Mugwi Macdonald is a Kaumatua (Elder) who has long held a position within Wakatu (Company see


Tohu Marlborough Single Vineyard Riesling 2011
N: Youthful and crisp aromatic features including fresh red apple, sweet citrus, white flowers and wet stone mineral suggestions.

P: A vibrant youthful palate with apple skin and citrus pith intensities, dry on the finish with a floral and citrus lift.
As I re-taste this wine over the next 30 minutes the begins to unfurl a softer side yet maintains its youthful spark. 85 Points.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Harwood Hall

Harwood Hall Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
N: Warm light red fruits of dark cherry and red plum merge with date, a little raisin and light brown baking spices makes for an interesting package aromas - a bouquet!
P: Light+ body, dry, the palate is all Pinot Noir with an interesting mix of red fruits, spiced oak undertones and red flowers. A touch of apple skin. The wine is youthful with moderate complexity. A lovely wine by the glass option with or without food. 3.5 Stars.

Gem Wines

Gem Marlborough Pinot Noir 2009
Soft rose and garnet hues of a Burgundy greet the eyes and nose
N: Dried herbs, old roses, clay and baking spices greet the nose. A wine immersed in development - it is showing complexity and youthful interest - quite sophisticated
P: Dry with firm tannins, dried herbs then red and yellow cherry, plum flavors and baking spices. An old rose petal note adds to the medium+ complex and engaging palate.
Destined to be enjoyed with food. 4 Stars.

Gem Wines

Gem Gisborne Chardonnay 2007
N: Familiar sweet and generous aromas of well chosen oak matched to the delicious, deep yellow stone fruits, a hint of butterscotch and popcorn. A wiff of French Vanilla Ice-cream (oak) completes the bouquet.
P: Yum! I really like the Chablis chalky, crushed vitamin flavors and textures melded with the spice and nuttiness of oak. The fruit flavors fill out the palate and medium acidity keeps the wine youthful and generous. Medium+ complexity and one for the cellar (drink now to 2014) - my kind of Chardonnay. 4.5 Stars.

Gem Wines

Gem Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009
N:Varietal and up-front wild green and bosc pear then hints of white fleshed fruits and a little white pepper spice. Alsace thoughts  come to mind with a moderate complexity and impression.
P: The very generous ripe fruit flavors and textures suggest a hint of residual sugar in this otherwise dry wine, the bright youthful acidity along with emerging apple suggestions fills the palate with tidy, stand alone wine that does not need food to show it off. Although  food with this wine would work wonderfully as well. 
4 Stars.

Gem Wines

Gem Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Don't let the vintage of this wine trick you into thinking it's past it's best, frankly quite the opposite!
N: A bouquet that reflects a wine that is becoming fully integrated; the fruit profile includes golden kiwi fruit, sweet pear and hints of stone fruit with peach being the most obvious. After several more swirls of the glass a sweet hay suggestion emerges. Overall moderately complex.
P: Crisp and dry with an herbaceous attack quickly followed by the flavors of kiwi fruit, white pear and peach then a crisp red apple note. A lovely silky texture with a lingering velvet finish. 4.5 Stars

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Trinity Hill

Trinity Hill by John Hancock 2008 Gimblett Gravels Syrah, Hawke's Bay
N: Five spice, leather, dark broody and focused black currant plus blackberry fruits; reminds me of the vintage leather upholstery on the inside of an old Jaguar car. Complex dark rose and vibrant youthful oak.
P: WOW! The concentration of the delicious mouthwatering flavors, fine tannins and oak all suggest a drink now example - HOWEVER the structure, length and focus of each component suggests a wine that will age gracefully for 15 years - this is a sleeper wine - give it time. The long oaky, fruity and complex finish affirms this. 95 Points.


Unison Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2008, Hawke's Bay
N: This wine has a drifting, feminine and seductive bouquet laced with a pure fruit expression; white and black pepper and sweet oak; raspberry concentrate and blackcurrant seams - medium+ complexity.
P: Concentrated with red and black flavors, toasted, vanillin laced burnt driftwood and a range of barrel flaors. Fine dusty, youthful and forceful tannins add complexity and distinctive style; fresh ground black and white pepper lace the finish. This is a very very good wine. 90 Points.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Craggy Range

Craggy Range 'The Quarry' Gimblett Gravels 2008 Hawke's Bay
Inky crimson and purple ruby appearance. This wine is typically a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend.
N: A complex bouquet of mainly black and a few red fruits: Cassis, gravel, dry sand and flint-like under-currant adds complexity and a little mystery; full, rich and youthful overall.
P: Although this is a dry wine it displays both concentration and complexity with very youthful fruit attributes. The fruit tannins in particular show mostly on the front palate - fine, but still stuck in a teenage phase; The oak tannins are rich and powerful yet bring contrast to the fruit tannins and add a layer of complexity. The acidity is easily medium+. All these structural features provide for both a robust frame to the wine as well as a charming inner core.
Overall a world class example that belongs in the wine cellars of fine dining rooms and smart collectors. 93 Points.

Church Road

Church Road Reserve Merlot Cabernet  2008 Hawke's Bay
N: Violets,cooked  plums, blackberry jam and cassis, soft oak suggestions for a few seconds then a more intense complexity unfolds with oak a feature - vanillin. Overall a concentrated bouquet.
P: Juicy black and red fruits - plum and blackberry then cassis again all adding to a firm and youthful wine with plenty of texture. Quite a lot of oak and associated tannins as well. A wine with 6 - 8 years development time ahead. The finish is firm, but still shows off a sweeping of fruit to remind the taster of balance and potential - in short a well made example. 90 Points.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Squawking Magpie

Squawking Magpie "The Stoned Crow" Syrah Hawkes Bay 2008
N: A broody almost angry bouquet with dark, toasted and oaky dark red and black berry fruits, sweet ripe raspberry lift, black currant and white pepper spice.
P: Reflects the nose with a wild and tamed raspberry and black currant fruit core, some very noticeable gravelly earthy elements. Medium+ to High tannin impact with the fruit and oak meaures competing for attention. Juicy acidity, great balance and a long broody finish. 
Very very good - 91 Points.

Sacred Hill

Sacred Hill Deerstalkers Syrah Hawke's Bay 2008
N: Powerful dark berry suggestions, red liquorice, hints of tar and saddle leather, dark raspberry and blackcurrant, complex and youthful with a peppery overture to the bouquet.
P: Reflects exactly what the nose suggests and more with waves of wood spice met head-on with dark red fruits, chocolate and saddle leather flavors. A very complex and well crafted wine with very ripe tannins, medium+ acidity and a long youthful finish. This is easily a 15 year wine - 92 Points.

Church Road

Church Road Cuve Merlot 2008
N: Damson plums, roasted plums, stewed and jammed plums; burnt toast and cloves - this wine has a great bouquet as well as a youthful fruity aroma. Concentrated and immensely inviting.
P: Dry with Damson plums and dark plum skin flavors, blackberry fruits in the back ground. Gravel - like earthy quality and big, bold oak that has a sweet edge. Noticable fruit tannins, spicy clove oak flavors. A great example of a modern and classy New Zealand Merlot. 92 Points.

Craggy Range

Craggy Range Syrah 2008 Hawke's Bay
N: Pepper, Black fruits - black currant and very dark, almost burnt raspberry. A refined and well considered level of concentration - given the ripeness suggested with big 'Craggy Range Oak' that fits rather snugly with the rest of the bouquet.

P: Immediately reminds of three things: Great Hawke's Bay Syrah, a wine that is at least three years off enough integration for a more considered tasting and an Hermitage Cornas rolled into one. Powerful toasty tannins, concentrated raspberry and black-currant flavors. In fact the tannins are rather intense on their own, but with the concentration of fruits - a balance emerges that is delicious! Alcohol not noticable. 91 Points.

Esk Valley Wines Gimblett Gravels

Esk Valley Gimblett Gravels Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec 2008 
N: Wild red fruits, black fruits and sweet, dried herbs with spiced oak. The Cabernet Sauvignon seems head and shoulders above the Merlot and Malbec - on the nose. Medium+ complexity.
P: Very dry and very fruity with a varietal Cabernet herbaceous note. The Cabernet flavors of blackberry and Marmite, with youthful 'full throttle' tannins still waiting to begin integrating with the wine.
Overall - very young - and requires around 5 years careful cellaring before another look.
4 Stars today - 5 Star potential.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

La Collina

La Collina Syrah 2008 14.5% Hawke's Bay
Nose and Palate: Tar, spice and raspberry licorice, no holds barred red fruits, generous but not over the top oak, dry, full and rich palate with full throttle tannins that are just beginning to ease into a rhythm and journey of refinement. A great alternative to a Victoria Shiraz on a wine list. 
4 Stars.


Bilancia Syrah Viognier 2008 13% Hawke's Bay
N: Freeze-dried raspberry wrapped in white and dark chocolate; a very inviting - pour a glass and savor me - wine; hints of white pepper and balanced oak approach.

P: Dry, juicy and flavorful with white pepper spice grabbing my attention first then blackberry fruits, a raspberry fruit core; medium+ length and finish. A great by the glass wine. 4 Stars.

La Collina

2008 La Collina White (Viognier Dominant) Hawke's Bay
N: A generous bouquet of soft apricot and stone fruit suggestions, moderate complexity; interesting and stylish.

P: Warm, spicy, generous and flavorful. A wine that perhaps requires more attention that I had initially given. There is some charm and weight with a moderate, mild stone-fruit finish. Balanced and well made.