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.