Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Babich Vertical Tasting

August 1st 2012
Every so often the opportunity to taste a vertical of wines from a well known and well respected producer comes along. Babich have been part of the fabric of New Zealand wine and its wine history for many decades and it was both a rare and privileged opportunity to be invited taste and remember some of the best they have produced.
A brief summary of the Babich Irongate Hawke's Bay Chardonnay and Cabernet/Merlot (& Franc) wines tasted today are as follows:

Irongate 1997: A fully integrated wine that still maintain some acidity, aged stone fruit flavors, balance and charm.

Irongate 2000: Delicious, integrated as well, but has a noticeable citrus and stone fruits core that is attention grabbing; a lovely wine overall although a little dry.

Irongate 2002: Noticeable citrus aromas and flavors of grape fruit then apple and even a hint of lime. A wine with noticeable texture, length and finish. 

Irongate 2006: A lovely wine and one of my favorites with a nutty bouquet and just a hint of MLF this richly flavored wine holds on to some acidity, core of stone fruit and while I found the alcohol a little distracting (14%) is was in keeping with the vintage and I can see how easily the right menu item would work well with this example.

Irongate 2007: Balanced, dry, a little more integration time left and overall a charming wine with a range of stone fruit and light citrus flavors.

Irongate 2008: Another memorable example...familiar and interesting with a definitive wild ferment 'funky ' edge giving this wine an edge of complexity. Very enjoyable.

Irongate 2010: A little closed still (which is a good thing) on the nose, yet shines on the palate with several layers of flavors and texture, keeps it Chardonnay signature and a good balance between the oak and fruit with medium+ acidity.

Irongate 2011: Not long released onto the market this wine has big potential and reflects the vintage - baked pear, sweet apple and gentle citrus flavors, a little warm, but balanced, dry and with medium+ length.

Cabernet with Merlot
Irongate 1987: This was a great wine for many reason - I loved the fact that it still had varietal character with black fruits, a little bell pepper and violet. Fully integrated tannins and not too dry.

Irongate 1989: This wine too has a lovely Cabernet bouquet of violets, roasted bell pepper and then plum. I remember serving this wine at Partington's Restaurant when I first started working at the Shearton Hotel in Auckland (circa 1991).

Irongate 2000: Reminds me of the vintage and a year where more extraction and oak with some decent fruit would have seen this wine raise a few more eyebrows. That said I was transported back to Vinnies Restaurant where I'm pretty sure (but not 100% certain) that we offered this wine by the glass for a while.

Cabernet with Merlot and Franc
Irongate 2004: The Franc adds depth, and complexity, fruit, dry herb,  and a little bitter chocolate. Overall I found this example a little drying (tannins), but can still see how it would still work with the right food.

Irongate 2007: A good concentration of fruit and oak with a bell pepper/dried herb notes and plenty of violets, red and black fruits. Powdery tannins. Overall a lovely wine and one I would choose to enjoy by the glass any day of the week.

Irongate 2009: Noticeable fruit - red and black; French oak - spices and toastiness and medium+ tannins. Medium+ length and finish with, a delightful wine.

Irongate 2010: As expected a concentrated wine with plenty of color, oak, fruit and extraction. The violet and chocolate notes are there, but not yet a feature (for me). I like the flavor, concentration and potential for this wine. A serious consideration for on-premise by the glass programmes.

Thanks again to the team at Irongate for this opportunity.


Friday, 13 July 2012

Mills Reef

Mills Reef Elspeth Trust Vineyard Syrah Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay 2010
Translucent ruby core with a vibrant pink rim
Nose: Sweet raspberry and black fruits encased in a bold, yet well positioned oak signature; soft, but well spoken pepper notes and a cooked field mushroom and gravel soil edge.
92 Points

Palate: Dry with fruit and oak centred flavors - blue and black currant, a touch of black berry and raspberry. Medium+ tannins are integrating well with plenty of time to settle in (5+ years). A long finish marked by a gravelly textured complexity.
5 Stars (92 Points)


Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011
Bright ruby appearance with a distinctive pink rim
Nose: Bursting with bright red fruits - sweet cranberry, raspberry and old strawberry. A gentle wave of oak adds brown spice notes and an edge of vanillin.
4.5 Stars

Palate: Dry, medium body, youthful. The light red fruits flavors dominate the palate with their youthful exuberance. Moderate tannins - quite finely tuned, medium+ length, moderate complexity, balanced and well made (as always with Akarua wines). Cellar for a further 12 months with confidence it will reward.
4.5 Stars

Folding Hill

Folding Hill Pinot Noir Bendigo Central Otago 2009
Nose: Ripe, dark red fruits of black cherry, under growth, wild and sweet thyme. New oak and older French signatures. Medium to medium+ complexity.
4 Stars

Palate: Dry with ripe, youthful signatures of cherry fruits and oak spices, medium+ acidity and tannins. Some tarter more youthful cranberry notes on the finish add some length and charm. Overall a solid and enjoyable example of Bendigo Pinot Noir. I expect this wine will age and mature well over the next 2-4 years.
4 Stars
 Tasted this wine again over 2 days and found it benefited from a little extra Oxygen. Lovely with the meal we had that evening.

Mills Reef

Mills Reef Elspeth Gimblett Gravels Syrah Hawke's Bay 2010
Nose: Smoke meats, rich, ripe and slightly sweet smelling; Blackberry, black cherry and slightly burnt raspberry  aromas; Not yet complex, but huge potential; Plenty of new oak adds spiced vanillin suggestions. Overall an intriguing and inviting bouquet.
95 Points

Palate: Immediately packed with fruits, oak, smoked meats and spices - white pepper and a touch of black; dry with stony gravel flavors build with several minutes on the glass. A long and impressive finish. Great balance and finish. Another stunner from Mills Reef.
5 Stars (95 Points)

Sacred Hill

Sacred Hill 'Virgin' Chardonnay Hawke's Bay 2011
(Rifleman's Vineyard Fruit. 12 % abv. Zero Oak)
Nose: Pure fruits expressions of apple, pear and stone fruits with a lees undertone. Lifted floral notes and citrus.  
92 Points

Palate: Dry with a taut and focused palate; medium++ acidity, citrus fruits of sweet and ripe lemon, grape fruit peel and stone fruit flavors. A long finish, pristine and almost perfect with a mineral under-currant. The texture of this wine is an important feature - seamless and silky with taut youthful highlights. A wine destined to be on many wine lists and in quite a few cellars too I expect.
5 Stars (92 Points)

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Morton Estate

Morton Estate 2009 Chardonnay (Black Label)
Enjoyed this wine at the Los Altos Grill in San Francisco with our starter of grilled artichoke with a spiced dipping sauce and a skillet of corn bread.
Nose: For a 3yr old wine this example has remarkable youth: Citrus and tree fruit aromas smell like just picked, sun warmed lemons and peaches. Plenty of oak, but not invasive. 
5 Stars

Palate: With medium++ to full body, creamy, almost oily texture with flavors of peach and lemon, grape fruit and spiced this dry and flavorful wine will surprise many at how good this wine really is and to those already familiar with Morton Estate's portfolio this is a keeper!
5 Stars

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Domain Road

Domain Road Pinot Gris 2011 Central Otago
Nose and Palate: Crisp, firm and ripe pear and pear skin, light spice notes, varietal and attractive aromatics overall. Off-dry palate with flavors that reflect what the nose suggests. A very easy to drink style with juicy textures - well made. I tasted this wine at 12 degrees Celsius and this seemed to best show off the full character and nature of this example. Overall very good.
3 Stars

Mills Reef

Mills Reef Reserve Merlot Malbec 2010 Hawke's Bay
Crimson ruby, broody colors
Nose: Ripe and distinctive red and black fruits, masculine in nature, forward in its fruit signature with noticeable oak; moderate complexity overall.
Palate: Reflects the force and fruit/oak power; wild red and black fruit flavors - Doris plum and compote of plum, red and black liquorice notes, medium+ acid and tannins - ripe and youthful - medium+ length and finish.
4 Stars


Millton Clos de Ste Anne Pinot Noir 'Naboth's Vineyard' 2010
Nose and Palate: A lightly colored wine with incredible aromatics of sweet sun warmed cherry, delicate strawberry and just a hint of truffle, pinosity and personality with a developing complexity. The palate reflects what the nose suggest with emphasis on delicacy and refinement. The tannins reflect the youth and potential with tightness and flavor, medium+ acidity and judicious use of oak all add up to a distinctive and delicious wine with a long and drifting finish.
5 Stars (94 Points)

Saturday, 7 July 2012


Millton Clos de Ste Anne Chardonnay 2010
Nose and Palate: This is a stunning wine - Immediately complex -  captures the taster's attention with a mild (at first) yet broad array of flavors and spices - gentle yellow fruits with a burst of Summer sunshine. The palate is both complex with flavor and texture - whilst still a young and developing wine it displays enormous potential to age and develop for several years. An exciting single vineyard expression with elements of 'terroir' in the back ground waiting quietly in the wings. 
5 Stars (98 Points)

Friday, 6 July 2012


Millton 'Clos de Ste Anne 'La Bas' Chenin Blanc 2009
(La Bas means  - over there)( Fermented in stainless then aged in 600 litre demi-muid - sur lie for 9 mths)
Nose and Palate: This is a terrific wine - with depth and fortitude - flavors of baked apple, a touch of quince and pear, but the main feature of this wine is texture - seamless and silky with a touch of minerality - which develops a little with time in glass. The acidity is fresh and promotes the subtle side of this wine. The finish is long and memorable with a hint of waxiness at the end.
This wine will also reward those who age a case or two for 15 years.
This is New Zealand's finest Chenin Blanc.
5 Stars (98 Points)
98 Points NZs Best

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Crazy by Nature

Crazy by Nature Dry Flint Chenin Blanc 2010
(Millton Wines - Gisborne)
Nose and Palate: Crisp aromatics with apple, apple and apple; light mineral undertones. The palate has a crisp bite with the weight and intensity overall in balance with the fruit and mineral flavors. The mineral undertones increase in intensity as the wine begins to open up. Do not under estimate the potential of this wine. Apart from a great price it has the potential age for ten years if stored well. Has many wine food applications - with a hint of residual sugar (4gpl RS) it paired well with fragrant spicy prawns at a recent tasting.
5 Stars
5 Stars

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

La Collina

La Collina Syrah 2009 Hawke's Bay
Nose:  Fantastic! Rhone Valley like bouquet with granite overlaid with super ripe peppered black fruits; leather and spice and even a little field mushroom. Complex.
5 Stars (94 Points)

Palate: As the nose suggests with a developing complexity; sweet oak, toasty, black peppered raspberry and even a little balsamic; warm and rich appeal. Long finish, appealing textures, balanced and will continue to cellar for another 5 years minimum.
A great wine!
5 Stars (94 Points)


Greywacke Marlborough Pinot Noir 2010
Nose: Pure Pinot Noir bouquet with light ripe red fruits - cherry centered, very light dried herb notes. As the wine begins to open up a savory complexity unfolds with a sweet brown spice layer. Medium+ complexity.
5 Stars (91 Points)

Palate: Reflects the nose with a gentle, soft and silky feel; the cherry centred fruit flavors return immersed in fine yet youthful tannins (fruit tannins), mild spiced oak. Balanced and expertly crafted.
I expect this wine to develop further complexities and mature for the next 5 years.
5 Stars (91 Points)

Buller Beverford

Buller Beverford Durif 2010
Crimson red appearance
Nose: Black and then red fruits, mild brown sugar notes, black pepper and cigar smoke.
3 Stars

Palate: Dry+, full bodied, black fruits red wine with a cigar smoke edge. Plenty of fruit sweetness. Overall an easy drinking style. 
A reliable by the glass option.
3 Stars

Monday, 2 July 2012

Wither Hills

Wither Hills SV 'Taylor's River' Pinot Noir 2008
Nose: A very appealing bouquet with complexity, fruit and pinosity, brown spices, ripe red and black cherry fruits, a warm and feminine richness.
4.5 Stars

Palate: Reflects the nose well. I like this wine - it has a really noticeable palate presence/texture with attractive fruit to oak balance; Perhaps just a little dry but this is easily overcome with food; balanced overall, fine tannins, medium+ length, well made.
4.5 Stars

Gravel Ridge

Gravel Ridge by Murdoch James Martinborough Pinot Noir 2011
Nose: Plenty of sweet and ripe red fruit aromas, red and dark cherry, a touch of raisin and ripe red apple skin, brown spice edges and savory oak.
3.50 Stars

Palate: Dry and firm with youthful red fruit flavors,  a tart note is balanced by the oak and savory flavors, mild to medium tannins, cherry and strawberry fruit notes. Youthful still - will settle into sound drinking by Christmas 2012.
3.5 Stars

Tatty Bogler

Tatty Bogler 2009 Pinot Noir Central Otago
Nose: Gentle, fragrant, feminine, sweetly spiced oak, brown spice notes, dried herb (thyme) and ripe light red fruit aromas all add up to a lovely bouquet.
4.5 Stars

Palate: Reflects the gentle and feminine bouquet with a youthful bite to the fruits, still plenty of oak and brown spice flavors, wild thyme and dried herb notes, medium+ fine tannins, balanced, dry and well made with a medium+ length and finish.
4.5 Stars

The 3rd Man

The 3rd Man Pinot Noir Omihi Reserve, Waipara 2010
Nose: A wine with pinosity and complexity; savory centred strawberry and cherry aromas point to well selected oak - new and aged. The wine develops quickly in glass revealing brown spices and other light red fruit aromas.
5 Stars (89 Points)

Palate: Reflects the nose with a delicious savory, fresh and slightly aged fruit appeal; Tobacco and light oak notes, medium+ acidity, fine tannins and medium+ complexity overall. A very good option for by the glass programs and food pairing.
5 Stars (89 Points)