Friday, 21 December 2012

Saint Clair Family Estate

Saint Clair Family Estate 2012 Sauvignon Blanc 13%
N: Saint Clair have this uncanny ability (or just consistent know how)  to create Sauvignon Blanc bouquets that are intense, juicy, pungent and enticing - this example is no different: Layers of fresh stone fruits, tropical fruits and a splash of citrus; sweet herbs, honey suckle and wet stone.

P: Just dry with high acidity tempered by the fruit core and a little resifual sugar. Flavors match the nose; medium+ length with a pungent, lively and sweet herb finish.
5 Stars


Urlar Sauvignon Blanc 2012 13%
N: The attention to detail in the vineyard is well expressed in the bouquet of this wine: A light savory/earthy complexity wrapped up in layers of citrus and tree fruit aromas, moderate+ complexity with a mineral underscore.

P: The layers of mineral or earth-like attributes are a distinctive part of the palate; sweet lemon and grapefruit with apple and pear then some gooseberry and white florals; this wine is all about the sum of its parts, balanced with medium+ to high acidity and a medium+ finish. A love wine.

In looking up my notes on the 2011 Urlar Sauvignon Blanc  (14%) it read remarkably similar with emphasis on the citrus centred aromas and soft herbacous qualities; mineral finish and four stars overall.


Astrolabe 'Taihoa Vineyard' Sauvignon Blanc 2011 14%
N: A classically styled Sauvignon at first with a warm and lush sweet ripe apple, peach, pear and citrus suggestions, the barrel ferment is the key point of difference with some light toasty spice notes and whole bunch complexity.

P: Flavors reflect the nose with an apple, pear and peach focus; light toasty vanillin layer on top of the lush sweet fruit components; This all adds up to a moderate to moderate+ complexity and moderate weight. In short a really lovely wine!
5 Stars


Astrolabe 'Wrekin Vineyard' Chenin Blanc 2011 13.5%
N: Pear and green apple skin, a touch of baked apple, a light waxiness and white flowers bouquet; Honey and wet stone complete the pre-palate assmt.

P: Dry with medium+ acidity, apple flavors preceed the pear with honeysuckle and waxy mineral tones. A white pepper spice is accentuated by the acidity; medium body, medium+ length, balanced and well made. Highly recommended!
4.5 Stars

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Appleton Estate RUM

The production and consumption rum has a long, varied and thoroughly fascinating history.

Read on....into a wee peek on the use of rum in the Navy:

Every day, just before midday, the solemn ritual of drawing the days rum would take place. The pipe "up spirits" was made, a pipe eagerly awaited by many, and the Officer of the Day, the Duty Petty Officer and Duty Stores assistant  would proceed down to the spirit room, and enter into a compartment full of spirit fumes that would intoxicate the weak and delight the strong. 

Senior Ratings were allowed to take their rum neat and return to their messes prior to the rum being watered down to become "grog", one part rum, one part water. The Ships Company would line up on the  flight deck one by one holding their "fannies" and each individual who chose to partake in this ritual proceeded to draw their issue of rum.

Rum derives its name from the Latin saccharum meaning sugar. It was also known as "rumbustion", a term which arose in the sugar cane plantations. Rum was made by using the residue of sugar that had been extracted from the cane, which was then fermented and distilled. It was during the fermentation stage that rum developed its characteristic flavour. In order to test its potency, rum was mixed with gun powder and ignited. The resulting explosion was evaluated and the  strength assessed.

On 1 September 1862 the United States Navy abolished the issue of spirits to its sailor's, but it was not until 31 July 1970 that the Royal Navy stopped its issue. It was found that the ancient ritual of issuing rum to sailors had lost its place on board a modern warship full of the latest electronics and weapons.
The Royal New Zealand Navy continued the tradition of issuing rum passed on to it by the Royal Navy. But it was not until 28 February 1990 that the RNZN issued its last tot.

Jamaica is home to 'Classic Rum' and Appleton Estate Rum is perhaps the most remarkable and luxurious to taste, sip, savor and enjoy. With 263 years of Rum production they have a strong history, a well honed system of production and a range of Rums that can offer a high degree of pleasure and No pain what-so-ever!

I recently had the opportunity to taste  through four very different Rums: 8yr, 12yr, 21yr and an amazing 50 year. All of the these rums are minimum aged blends.
I smelled and tasted all of the rums neat then 'cut' each with a small amount of Antipodes Still Artesian water - about 50/50 for the 8 and 12 year, 5mls for the 21 yr and zero (at first) for the 50yr - then 5 mls.

The Appleton Estate 8 yr Rum: The bouquet is soft, lifted and reminiscent of butterscotch, vanilla and hot brown sugar. On the palate - soft, creamy and vanillin with a gentle nuttiness - not so much almond though a general nutty feel; a very light chocolate and orange peel sensation; the finish is quite long and becomes fruity and swings into a light spice on the finish.
Seems a shame to see this used in cocktails, but the two example cocktails that I did get offered were really quite delicious especially the Rum Mojito.

The Appleton Estate 12 yr Rum: 'Uncut' has a overwhelming bouquet that is both powerful and packed with many suggestions of rum and spirit. As a 'cut' rum it comes alive - and a little dangerous (this is a good thing) -  with smokey, woody and brown spiced sugar suggestions; On the palate there were flavors of cocoa, toasted oak, jaffa (orange chocolate in combination), almond skin, a light molasses and soft brown sugar.
A sipping rum, cut with high quality mineral water, a rum to savor and enjoy before and after a meal.

The Appleton Estate 21 yr Rum: 'Uncut' smooth and fragrant. I was advised to only 'cut' this expression of rum with a small amount of water - I did as instructed and this was the correct thing to do - Earthy, rich, sweet, caramel and sweet molasses bouquet. On the palate - exactly the same with an orange and chocolate layer, some turpene like action, raisin, date and a long flavorful finish.

The Appleton Estate 50 yr Rum: 'As Jamaica approached Independence 50 years ago, several hand-selected barrels of Estate rum were specifically set aside in anticipation of this momentous occasion. These rums were carefully placed in a special ageing area at the Appleton Estate and painstakingly monitored over the years by two Master Blenders - first by Owen Tulloch and then by his protégé and current Master Blender, Joy Spence.'

On the nose - oak, maple, cinnamon and orange peel (galore), complex, changing with oxygen and glass swirls: On the palate smooth and rich - no need to cut this expression -  flavors that remind be of a fine Barolo, some Fernet Branca, Old fashioned Christmas pudding, dates and raisins - quite a journey I have to say.
This was a real opportunity and if you have the chance to taste such a rum - say "YES' you won't regret it.
This rare rum can be purchased - usually at auction or may be available at a fine spirit outlet - but not likely.

My favorite rum of the tasting was the 21yr.

Contact the Appleton Estate directly if you would like to learn more about this rare and delicious rum.

Thanks for reading.



Ransom 'Clos de Valerie' Pinot Gris 2009 13.5%
N: A developed wine bouquet with sweet preserved pear, honey suckle, yellow apple and a hint of oxidation - not a fault - just a layer in the bouquet and some bottle age effects.

P: Quite a citrus and apple flavored wine; moderate acidity; overall quite dry and still in balance, but a wine that should be enjoyed now. Moderate length and finish.


Ransom 'Cosmos' Chardonnay 2008 13% Matakana
N: An integrated and developed wine bouquet; The suggestions of peach and apple with sweet pear and honey are entwined with the effects of both oak and bottle age. Has depth and moderate + complexity. 

P: The flavors on the palate reflect what the nose suggests in terms of integration and bottle aged attributes; moderate+ complexity and a medium to medium+ (ish) acidity adds a light vibrancy; Drink now and through 2013. A wine still in balance and well made.
4 Stars

Richmond Plains

Richmond Plains Nelson Chardonnay 2011 13.5%
N: plenty to think about here with toasted vanilla pod, roasted peach and hints of butterscotch; a little citrus and apple. Some sulphides action adds a nice layer of complexity.

P: Reflects the nose with peach and vanilla flavors then a nutty and roasted stone fruit appeal; plenty but not too much oak flavor adding texture; medium/medium+ acidity; dry balanced and with medium+ length. A lovely example.
4 Stars

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Brancott Estate

Brancott Estate Special Reserve
Wine Review – December 2012
Cameron Douglas MS

Brancott Estate Special Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Gris 2012
And now for something a little different…While the name of this wine suggests a Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris blend - it is in fact a kind of cousin to the Sauvignon Blanc we know today, but with more fruitiness and less herbaceousness . The Brancott example displays light, fresh and lifted aromatics with a mix of mainly tree and citrus fruit suggestions; on the palate a crisp wine with a lively texture that almost dances on the tongue with a spritz-like  movement; a hint of lees contact adds texture; moderate alcohol, balanced and finishes with the freshness it began with. Overall a great addition to a Summer portfolio. 3.5 Stars

Brancott Estate Special Reserve Marlborough Pinot Gris 2012
Pinot Gris under the Brancott label has always been a consistent performer and this reserve level expression is no different: Ripe fruit suggestions and lifted aromatics with a specific white nectarine, sweet apple and juicy pear aromas; a little white pepper spice and light oily note creeps in on the finish. On the palate - youthful, steely and fruity with many familiar flavours of white fleshed fruit from the tree and stone, a little citrus. There is also some residual sugar (9 gpl) which balances the lively and youthful acidity and offers an off-dry beginning and finish. I would suggest a slightly cooler than usual chill for service to counter balance the warm edge. Overall a delightful wine. 4 Stars

Brancott Estate Special Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Another classic from the Brancott stable: Lively, crisp, lifted and pungent aromatics with fresh herbs, vivacious fruits – tropical scented and citrus laden – and a loud voice that says “I’m here, take notice”. On the palate this wine is dry, grassy and very fruit laden with pineapple, kiwi, apple and lemon flavours. The acidity is high and tempered with both the fruit sweetness and focus along with a splash of residual sugar both adding to the length as well. Overall a wine to be enjoyed now and throughout the long 2013 Summer. 4 Stars

Brancott Estate Special Reserve Marlborough/Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011
70% of the juice for this wine is from Marlborough with – you guessed it – 30% from Central Otago. An unusual move for a wine company to blend from two quite distinctively separate regions, but it works! The nose takes a little getting used to as the dried herb and black cherry combination (Otago) speak first followed by the Marlborough mix of cranberry and spiced strawberry. The oak for this wine is definitely stage left in a supporting role. This is not a big wine – Pinot Noir should have some grace and style and this wine ticks those boxes. The Central Otago component adds the right layer of complexity, dried herb and mid palate concentration while the Marlborough component fills in all the gaps. The tannins for this wine range from soft and easy to a little edgy – adding texture and finish. Overall balanced and well made. 3.5 Stars 

Monday, 3 December 2012


Greywacke Marlborough Riesling 2011 12%
N: Fragrant with white flowers, crystalised lemon, grapefruit flesh and crisp red and green apple. An easily missed under currant of complexity from wild ferment esters deliver an enticing aromatic nose.

P: Off-dry with noticeable residual sugar, well balanced by lightening acidity; fruit flavors of apple, a little tart tartin and citrus flesh add depth and flavor; balanced and well crafted with medium+ length.
4 Stars

Saint Clair

Saint Clair Family Estate 'Vicars Choice' Sauvignon Blanc 2012 13%
N: Sweet herbs, pineapple, red apple and dry stone mineral quality. This well priced wine over delivers on content; vibrant and attractive bouquet.

P: Juicy and lush with sweet, ripe fruits tending towards tropical. High acidity and some residual sugar add up to a tasty example. Overall simple complexity yet full of Sauvignon Blanc character.
3.5 Stars