Monday, 23 May 2011

Mills Reef

Mills Reef Elspeth Trust Vineyard Syrah 2009 Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay 13%
N: Softly fruity, feminine and gently oaky. Dark and broody raspberry, juicy keri-berries; cloves and old furniture oak suggestions. Overall very complex yet obviously youthful.
P: The softness the bouquet suggested is evident on the palate just before a wave of ripe fruits, spices and violet fruits take over. Dusty frim(ish) and youthful tannins bring together the structure and add to the finish which is long. 91 Points (an easy 5 Star wine).

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Mills Reef

Mills Reef Elspeth Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 13.5% Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay
N: A simply fantastic bouquet - complex mix of Blackberry, spices, young leather and sweet violets. The oak is obvious in such a young wine, but is carefully chosen and well-suited to the style presented.
P: Full-bodied, dry, youthful and firm: the tannins are packed with flavor and a fine texture - the fruit and toasty oak are already holding hands. GIVE THIS WINE TIME - and it will reward you in three to four years (carefully cellared). In the meantime decant for service and be sure to use a large glass. 5 Stars.

Mills Reef

Mills Reef Reserve Merlot 2009 14.5% Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay
N: Intensly fruity, bold and rich aromas of dark plum, blueberry and spice followed by sweet violets and moderate toasty oak. All the above elements are very primary - this is a very youthful smelling wine.
P: The palate reflects the nose exactly with the addition of big, ripe and powerful tannins alongside vanillin spiced oak flavors. A long yet young primary fruity finish - yet very very good! 
4.5 Stars.

Unison Wines

Unison Reserve Merlot 2008 13.5% Hawke's Bay
N: This wine has embedded Hawke's Bay 'Terroir'  - stony, dry river bed, clay and gravel suggestions. The fruit is all plum and black-boy peach with a few darker berries for good measure. The oak is quite obvious, but a welcome addition alongside other bouquet attributes of roasted vanilla pod and toasted Vogels bread.
P: Still very young with its bold tannin statement - with time however the already strong fruit flavors will add further balance to the fine powdery tannins. The finish is quite long. This wine would make a great addition to a 'by the glass' program as it would suit many boldly flavored foods: An easy match to pasta with braised meats. 4 Stars.

Lindis River

Lindis River Pinot Noir 2007 Central Otago 13.3%
N: Aromas of juicy and ripe light red fruits: cranberry and raspberry then red cherry - soon after a sense of light and wandering undergrowth, schist and dry clay; an oak note adds spice and character.
P: Medium body; juicy - light red fruits (the same as experienced on the nose) are in combination - with moderate volume and voice; The tannins have a touch of firmness (still showing youth) so I expect they will continue to settle in over the next 3 years. The oak flavor is mild and adds a layer of complexity and structure. A sound and dry finish with medium length. 3 Stars.

Johner Estate

Johner Reserve Pinot Noir 2007 14% Gladstone
N: Rich and fragrant bouquet of cherry and strawberry fruits laced with brown baking spices especially clove and cinnamon; medium complexity and inviting.
P: A very tasty example with juiced, macerated and baked cherry, strawberry flavors - generous; The oak adds flavour and structure as well as vanillin intertwined with tea - like tannins; good length and finish, Dry with medium to medium+ body. 4 Stars

Marc Bredif Vouvray 1988

My first encounter with a Marc Bredif Vouvray was when I sold a 1959 Magnum at Vinnies Restaurant (Auckland). It would have been in the early 1990s. I didn't really know the style at all, and it wasn't the kind of wine that was sampled to you by a wine 'rep'.
The bouquet was explosive - unique -  an intense mineral/soil fragrance that was mesmerizing. There was a honeyed, complex, baked yellow apple and quince fragrance. I was so captured by the smell that I couldn't wait to serve it to the guests and observe their reactions.
I guess my excitement in serving the wine that the guests offered me a glass as well. When I got the chance to try the wine - it was one of the most memorable wine experiences I can remember.

Just recently on May 13th - friend Simon Woolley, my wife Janet and I shared a bottle of the 1988 (thank you Simon).  
On the nose the wine that brought back some of those original memories of the 1959. This wine was a little more honeyed, but immensly mineral with a soft wet chalk aroma, wet wool and apple flavors. The acidity was medium and body medium+. The finish was incredibly long with many of the aromas and flavors returning in waves - just fantastic.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Moana Park Vineyard Syrah

Moana Park is a Hawkes Bay based wine company, very much a boutique operation with a focus on producing quality wines from specific sites. ‘Moana’ translates as ‘the sea’ or a large body of water, and the whole area once was under water; ‘the Park’ is so named as part of the property was once a sports field before it was turned into a viticulture haven. 
Dan Barker is the principle wine maker, a graduate of EIT who took the title of Young Wine Maker of the Year in 2003. 

Moana Park Vineyard Tribute Syrah 2008
N:  Classic Hawke's Bay Syrah bouquet – wild raspberry, spicy dark plum, burnt toast, vanilla and brown baking spices. Not too intense but complex and very inviting all the same.
P:  Juicy and immediately very tasty with a sound balance between the slightly wild raspberry and dark fruit flavours and spicy oak and baking spice flavours. The finish is long, tasty, persistent and balanced. You will have a lot of confidence in listing this wine as it will deliver. 4½ Stars

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Framingham Marlborough Pinot Gris 2008

Framingham produce great Riesling in both dry through to sweet botrytised expressions; their Chardonnays and Pinots Noir (and Riesling) feature in my wine classes at AUT on a regular basis.

Framingham Pinot Gris 2008.
N: Spiced white fruits, crisp yellow apple, ripe, juicy and luscious suggestions with hints of white pepper. P: Off-dry impressions at first with luscious  - white fleshed fruits envelope the palate then white pepper and warm textures take over with medium to medium+ acidity adding contrast and balance. The acidity pushes the finish of this wine into a dry ending yet the flavors last for quite a while and coupled with a lightly oily texture leaves a lasting impression of quality - 4 Stars.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Fancrest Estate Pinots Noir 2007 and 2008

This is the first time I have encountered Fancrest Wines - unless they were served to me blind in a wine competition - so it was great to be exposed to a different expression of Pinot Noir from the Waipara region.

Fancrest Estate 2008 Pinot Noir Waipara 13%alc.
Appearance - transparent red, garnet and strawberry jam hues.
N: Varietal - strawberry, red and yellow cherry, plum, red apple skin and light rose petals. Light oak influences are in harmony with the fruit. P: Dry and quite light in body with soft red fruit flavours – strawberry and cherry, oak and fruit tannins are soft and gentle. The texture includes a firm note towards the back palate though. Overall a sound yet light in body Pinot Noir expression – 3 Stars.

Fancrest Estate Di's Pinot Noir 2007 Waipara 13%alc.
N: Reflective of a decent vintage – dark spices stewing and black forest cherry, dense strawberry then vanillin toasty oak – overall quite dense and focused, inviting. P: Dry with firm driving tannins then dark cherry; The English breakfast tea and toasty oak tannins seem to have a louder voice than the fruits on this occasion. The dark red cherry and strawberry notes emerge next and quite strong. Overall a sound Pinot Noir expression that requires food to show at its best. I expect this wine will continue to age for another 3 to 5 years and reward those who choose to cellar it for this time. 3.5 Stars.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Mountford Estate Hommage a l'Alsace 2009

Mountford Estate is a boutique vineyard and winery set on a hillside in a stunning park-like environment in the Waipara region, of North Canterbury New Zealand. The limestone enriched clay soils are a key feature for this tiny vineyard for which wine maker CP Lin excels in utilizing for the wines he crafts.
The Hommage a l'Alsace 2009

N: Complex and subtle with juicy white flesh fruits and ripe citrus combinations; Sweet rainwater minerality completes the bouquet. P: Citrus peel, stone fruits. sweet citrus pith and juicy fruit chewing gum flavors. High acidity adds contrast to a sweet and generous long finish. Medium to medium+ body completes the wine - I wonder though if there is a little Pinot Noir juice in the blend. 4 Stars.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Visit to Central Otago April 2011

Overlooking Misha's Vineyards and across lake Dunstan then towards Luggate and the Pisa Range

The Audition Pinot Noir 2007 13.5%
N: Classic in many ways with plenty of ripe light red fruits, noticeable oak with medium complexity – overall the wine smells juicy and enticing.
P: Dry yet with a solid core of fruit and almost sweet on the palate, sweet oak, baking spices and a still unfurling character. Very well-made wine in perfect balance now and for those who have some left will last at least another 3 to 5 years if not longer. 4 Stars.
In evaluating this wine I noticed the oak statement, yet in saying this the wine had such a solid core of fruit that it all came together extremely well and just needs a few more years and will be pretty much perfect. Some wine just needs time! I spoke with winemaker Olly Masters about the use of oak for this wine – he commented that the barrels used were 100% French and new and were washed several times with water before the wine was put in - This technique was used to reduce some of the high impact that new barrels may have. Only 100 cases produced. pH: 3.52. TA: 8.1 g/l. 2 clones in the blend: 5 and 667. Steel ferment then aged in French Oak – 100% New Hogsheads.

Lyric Riesling 2010 (5 g/l RS) 13%
N: Spicy, sweet citrus including Kaffir lime and lime leaf, Germanic suggestions – crisp apple and slate undertones then hints of Mandarin. For me there is a touch of oak spice which adds complexity.
P: Just dry with apple, citrus and sweet fruits which are contrasted by focused acidity with both flavour and bite dancing on the palate. There is a linear – Germanic side to this wine with lime, sweet Meyer lemon, old-fashioned home-made lemonade, a hint of ginger and a mineral slate under-current. Overall a thoroughly interesting wine that is both individual and classic. A great aperitif – 5 Stars.

Cameron Douglas MS (left) and Olly Masters discussing a section of the Misha's Vineyard

Pinot Gris grapes at Misha's Vineyard getting a few extras days sunshine before  the final harvest of the season.
Dress Circle Pinot Gris 2010 (12 g/l RS)
N: Asian pear, juicy and dense with white fleshed fruits – pear, nectarine then apple skin.
P: Off – dry with ginger spiced brown pear skin, juicy white fleshed fruits, Persimmon and high toned white pepper lift. Medium to medium+ weight with a hint of oiliness adds to the texture and finish. 3 ½ Starsé. Only 947 cases produced. pH: 3.48. TA: 5.8 g/l. 2 clones in the blend: Gm 2.15 and Barrie.  Around 76% of the juice as free-run was steel fermented with the rest fermented in older oak.

Sauvignon Blanc Vines planted on the some pretty steep terrain at Misha's Vineyard
The Starlet Sauvignon Blanc 2010 14%
N: The smell of this wine takes me to the Loire Valley with a soft and gentle almost silky drifting aroma yet still varietal and still Central Otago.
P: Unmistakably Sauvignon Blanc, but with tamed aggression, high acidity yet with soft sweet fruit, quartz soil notes, a hint of barrel and a light melon edge; Overall a really lovely wine, an alternative style and not too far outside the square – 4½ Stars.
Only 673 cases produced. pH: 3.04. TA: 7.9 g/l. Single Vineyard Estate Fruit. Around 84% of the juice as free-run was steel fermented with the rest fermented in older oak.

Cameron Douglas MS checking out a tank sample of 2011 Riesling from Misha's Vineyard

Locharburn Wine Maker Carol Bunn sharing some 2011 tank samples
Locharburn Sauvignon Blanc 2010 14%abv
N: The bouquet is vibrant and varietal with sweet hay and mild tropical fruit suggestions, noticeable and bold citrus suggestions – yet a little reserved and holding back.
P: Dry with distinctive apple and pear, golden kiwi-fruit then light herbs and spice. An oak note adds structure. While there is notable acidity it carries a mineral/terroir note that adds a complex and intriguing note. 3 ½ Stars. 

Checking out some 2011 Misha's Sauvignon Blanc out of tank 

Locharburn Chardonnay 2009 13.5% (30% New Oak)
N: Roasted dark yellow stone fruit bouquet with popcorn, butterscotch and light cheese note (perhaps a touch of malic) – we’ll see on the palate.
P: Dry with a creamy/oily texture and a leesy and just noticeable cheese note. A wine to accompany those great after dinner debates of what’s wrong with the world and the price of oil. I noticed a lemon skin flavour right on the finish of this wine adding to the medium length and complexity. 3 ½ Stars. 

Waipara Hills Equinox 2009 14%abv
N: Delicious and attention seeking – youthful yet has a sense of maturity about it - lovely dried herbs and light red fruits especially red and black cherry. Mild+ to medium intensity of oak with gentle spices and complexity.
P: Dry, with immediate intensity of fruit and oak, great balance and individuality – mild to medium spices and tannins. While still very youthful and with at least 4 to 5 years careful cellaring ahead this wine is immediately drinkable as well – a rare find, is very well made with a lovely balance. 5 BIG Stars.
Urlar Riesling 2010 Gladstone. 12.5 % alcohol
N: Lovely varietal beginning with a gentle floral sweetness and aromas reminiscent of sweet pear then sweet lemon, sweet grapefruit and a hint of barley sugar and citrus peel.
P: Just dry, a wine with noticeable texture and fine phenolic balance. The flavours of sweet pear and sweet lemon combine with gentle yellow apple flavours and a memorable Riesling expression. Moderate plus length and fruit sweet finish with a touch of floral. An easy choice for a by the glass aperitif, balanced and well-made.  (4 stars).

Urlar Sauvignon Blanc, Gladstone 2010. 14% alcohol
N:  Unmistakable Sauvignon Blanc varietal expression: tending towards the tropical fruit spectrum with an undertone of grassy herbaceousness, quite punchy and attention seeking on the nose.
P: A dry and very fruity expression, plenty of texture, but full of flavour and again the tropical fruit spectrum of flavours emerge followed by a hay and mild grassy expression. A long and memorable finish.   (3½ stars é).

Urlar Pinot Gris, Gladstone 2010. 14% alcohol
N:  A ripe and fruity beginning, golden kiwifruit, sweet pear and Golden delicious apple, a dense clay earthy undertone and hint of white pepper spice.
P: A dry wine with sound fruity appeal, medium weighted and quite round in its texture, spiciness and warmth and some interesting light complexity – a light warm and marmalade aftertaste. An interesting expression and perhaps a food wine. (3 stars).

Urlar Pinot Noir, Gladstone 2009. 14.5% alcohol
N:  This is what Pinot Noir from Gladstone is all about – boldly fruity with cherry, strawberry and sweet cranberry with cinnamon and cedar spices. This wine also displays a an organic – earthy expression and developing old rose petal complexity.
P: This wine clearly still finding its feet with an explosion of fruit and tannins: the light red fruits are of a very youthful wine – if you are familiar with mangosteen fruits these are noticeable too; the oak is well managed and will integrate well over the next few years. A balanced and well made wine with a strong future is well cellared.  (4½ stars).
St Clair Family Estate. 2010 Pinot Gris Godfreys Creek. 14% alcohol
N: Quite gentle yet obvious tree fruit aromas with crushed pair, red and yellow apple in sweet lemon tea, and spice into law mystery. .
P: Dry, warm, light, juicy and tasty. The tree fruit flavours drift in and out of focus with lemon citrus notes becoming a little pithy, adding a touch of complexity. Moderate weight and length, a lovely wine with food of similar weight, yet low in spice. (3½ stars é).
Neudorf Chardonnay Nelson 2009. 13.5% alcohol
N: Great varietal beginning, a wonderful complex prologue of gentle stone fruits, delicate nutty oak and a wonderful undertone and undercurrent of minerality.
P: A fabulous wine on the palate that delivers in every way, immediately complex with the most striking feature being the texture and inter- play between the acidity, oak and youthful fruity expression. The mineral and soil under currents continue, this wine is a keeper and will reward over the next 5 to 10 years. (5 stars).
Nautilus Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010. 13.5% alcohol
N: Unmistakable Marlborough savvy and unmistakable Nautilus style: punchy, fruity, varietal, comes at you like a bolt of lightning from a late summer afternoon shower: stone fruits and waves of tropical fruits, gentle herbaceousness,  steely and bold.
P: Knocking on the door of dry with a light sweet note at the tip of the tongue. The acidity and bold Marlborough savviness kicks in soon after with plenty of fruits, fresh herbs and flavour with a juicy fruit aftertaste. Youthful and in balance, very well made. (4½ stars).