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.