Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Brick Bay

Brick Bay Matakana Rosé 2012 12.5%
A soft and gentle peach and rose colored appearance
N: Soft and elegant, gentle, fragrant and inviting. Scents of red melon, strawberry, nettle and blackberry bush.
5 Stars

P: Spicy, almost gingery, then the flavors of melon and light red fruits emerge. Medium+ acidity adds a layer of freshness, whilst holding onto a softness as well - an invitation to taste again (think I will); the second taste reveals the floral rose and feminine attributes. Medium+ length. Balanced and expertly made. Delicious!
5 Stars
I don't hand out 5 stars to Rosé wines very often at all - this however is a wine that ticks all the boxes

Monday, 29 October 2012

Te Mania

Te Mania Syrah 2011 12.5% Nelson
Distinctive ruby core with a fuchsia rim
N: Plums and blackberry fruits with wild raspberry and youthful (still settling in) edginess. Moderate oak suggestions and a striking youthfulness.

P: Fruity and peppery with white pepper spice, spring berries and plums, a touch of milk chocolate and berry pie (I like berry pie). Medium oak spices with vanillin and toastiness. Easily a drink now style, but I would prefer to see this wine in a cellar for another 18 months first. Medium+ tannins and acidity. Medium+ length and medium complexity.
Two to three years cellar potential. 
3.5 Stars now (should be an easy 4 Stars wine in 12 months)

Catalina Sounds

Catalina Sounds Pinot Gris 2012 13.5%
N: Distinctively Pinot Gris bouquet: pear, quince and white fleshed tree fruits - Asian pear. A light lees note adds complexity; bright, fresh, lifted and fragrant. Overall an attractive bouquet/wine.

P: A luscious palate texture with juicy pears - tinned, Asian pear and quince fruit flavors; Medium++ acidity, a hint of spice and with the acidity adds a long lasting freshness. Just off-dry, balanced and well made. A wine that will find favor with many who try it.
4 Stars

Ryan Nelsen

Ryan Nelsen Pinot Noir 2011
A lovely ruby  core with a lick of pink at the rim
N: A classic mix of Central Otago dried herb, cherry, cranberry and raspberry - mixed in with a little sense of undergrowth then brown spices from some oak influences.

P: Dry with fruits and flavors that reflect the nose; Medium+ fine tannins from the oak at first then fruit - combined adding a little 'zap' of texture and youthfulness. Medium to medium+ in length - this wine is still a little young and needs perhaps 12 months more maturation time in bottle. It is well made with sound balance, again - will improve with some cellar time.
3.5 Stars now though I expect an easy to 4 Stars by October 2013.

Ryan Nelsen

Ryan Nelsen Pinot Gris 2012
N: Very forward and obvious with its fruit centred aromas of pear, Nashi (Asian pear) and white fleshed nectarine, a clean mineral -like note note adds a layer of complexity. 

P: Flavors on the palate are a direct reflection of what the nose first suggested - brown skin pear, Nashi, Nectarine and apple; the wine has a fresh almost prickly texture (a little free SO2), also a mild lees note. Balanced and well made - medium length.
3.5 Stars

Ryan Nelsen

Ryan Nelsen Chardonnay 2011
N: Very clean, clear and familiar bouquet of New Zealand Chardonnay - forward on the nose with peaches and cream suggestions -  vanillin oak influences with a light nutty edge.

P: Still retaining some youthful firmness from the acidity (a good thing for me) a wine that will offer some cellaring if you like. Dry with a creamy texture and flavors that suggest peach, roasted peach, a little nectarine and pear. Medium to medium+ acidity and medium length. A very approachable style in that you can enjoy it now (with food - mostly) or put a half dozen away and drink them over the next 2 years.
3.5 Stars

Ryan Nelsen

Ryan Nelsen Sauvignon Blanc 2011
N: Fragrant and fruit forward with a mix of tropical, stone fruits and then a herbaceous edge. Angelica and basil comes to mind with part of the herb signature.

P: Reflects the nose with the fruit signature vibrant and obvious; The medium+ acidity keeps the wine crisp and youthful; a balanced wine with medium+ length. Well made with a steely finish.
4 Stars

Saturday, 27 October 2012


Churton Marlborough PInot Noir 2010 13%
Ruby core with purple hues and pinkish rim
N: A core of ripe, juicy and very youthful red fruits with cranberry and wild raspberry leading the bouquet. Plum then enters the story along with a floral and stone -like earthy note. Medium+ complexity.
5 Stars

P: The aromas on the nose translate well into the same flavors on the palate with a more than medium intensity; Medium+ tannins - still finding their balance point among other competing elements. Medium+ acidity, plum and red fruit flavors. As the wine relaxes over several minutes (in glass) the potential for cellar time increases. Two more years of integration time plus 5-8 drinking and further maturation will reward those who do.
5 Stars

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Passage Rock

Passage Rock 2010 Syrah Waiheke Island 14%
N: Warm, rich and generous bouquet of black and red fruits with blackberry and blueberry; dark raspberry, toasty oak influence and rocky, gravel-like suggestions.
4.5 Stars

P: Dry, luscious and generous with bold ripe fruit flavors; black and red fruits that reflect the nose, some mushroom notes, Medium++ tannins are packed with flavor and texture, medium+ oak flavors add complexity. A well crafted wine with a lovely balance and finish.
4.5 Stars


Gladstone Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Wairarapa 12.5%
N: A wine with vibrancy and varietal signature - aromas of citrus, pear and apple fruits; a crisp floral note and attractive bouquet overall.

3 Stars

P: Dry with medium++ acidity, plenty of fruit balances out the crispier side of the acidity; a floral and light mineral suggestion adds a little interest. Overall balanced and well made.
3 Stars

12,000 Miles

12,000 Miles Sauvignon Blanc 2012 12.5%
Produced and bottled by Gladstone Wairarapa
N: A fruity, varietal bouquet with sweet white fruit and citrus aromas - pear, apple and lemon with a floral note and youthful appeal overall.

P: Flavors reflect what the nose first suggested with apple, pear and citrus combinations. A slight creamy texture; moderate length and finish; overall a balanced wine in a drink now style.


Osawa Late Harvest Gewurztraminer Hawke's Bay 2011 11.5%
N: Honey and ginger spice with grilled stone fruits and apple pie bouquet. In other words a though provoking and intoxicating opening.
4 Stars

P: About 7 out of 10 on the sweetness scale, but with a gob-load of richness to match. Plenty of spice and fruit combinations; medium+ acidity keeps the wine youthful and exciting; medium+ length finishing with a ginger spice lift. A delicious example.
4 Stars

Mission Estate

Mission Estate 2010 Hawke's Bay Syrah 12.5%
N: The signature of Syrah emerges after 2-3 minutes in glass (give it time please) - a mix of gravel, mushroom, pepper, red and black fruits and the spices of oak - older and some new.
3.5 Stars

P: A dry wine with a palate impact suggesting the more gentle side of Syrah with a slightly softer texture; mild pepper notes; medium to medium+ red and black fruits flavors; a light meaty edge adds interest and a little complexity. Overall a sound wine with balance and moderate complexity.
3.5 Stars

Sacred Hill

Sacred Hill Merlot Cabernet 2011 Hawke's Bay 13.5%
Crimson and ruby appearance
N: Aromas of black cherry, black plum, blackberry and apple pie! A forward and obvious oak layer with a light toasty edge. An uncomplicated and attractive bouquet overall.
3.5 Stars

P: Fruity with a spicy oak bite, medium+ tannins and smooth texture; dry finish. Overall a balanced, well made example. I would suggest food with this wine - it is a tad dry, but can be easily enjoyed now and through 2013.
3.5 Stars

Saint Clair

Saint Clair Family Estate 'Premium' Cabernet Merlot 2011 12.5%
Dark purple wine with a crimson edge
N: Aromas of chocolate and blackberry fruits, a touch of coffee bean and plenty of oak spices (anise and cinnamon stick). Overall forward in its fruit and oak messages.
4 Stars

P: Dry+ with flavors of blackberry, some blueberry, dark plum and spiced oak flavors, a light tobacco edge from the Cabernet and even a little aged meat note. Overall a simple complexity, but with plenty of flavor - Balanced and well made.
4 Stars

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Messenger (Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec) 2010 Auckland 14%
(Produced and bottled by Duck Creek Wine limited)
N: Plenty of oak, plenty of fruit and a distinctive bouquet of black fruits with chocolate, oak and vanillin spices.
4.5 Stars

P: Dry to very dry with a highly textured feel from the tannins and acidity, but well balanced and in harmony with fruit concentration and flavor. Fruit flavors are again black fruit and chocolate which fill the palate. A very specific yet enjoyable wine; balanced with medium+ length and finish. Well made and highly recommended!
4.5 Stars

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

St Clair Family Estate

St Clair Family Estate 2011 Chardonnay Omaka Reserve 14.5%
N: Smokey; Rich in fruit and oak presence. Quite a light smoke overall but enough with for the stone and tree fruit intensity that a lovely balance emerges with a vanillin edge. There is a creamy and light butterscotch appeal.

4 Stars
P: Dry and quite intense with flavors that reflect the nose, a creamy and warm texture overall with a moderate complexity. The oak is definitely a feature on the palate - giving this wine quite a raw and youthful feel. The natural softening and harmony that will come to this wine over the next 12-18 months will benefit and reward those who choose to wait. 
4 Stars


Ellero 2011 Gewurztraminer Central Otago 14.3%
N: Soft and  gentle with a slow unfolding of the bouquet - this wine needs a few minutes in glass to awaken. A soft spicy edge with white pepper, nougat, apple, peach and white flower. A point of difference with this wine's aroma is the zero candy suggestion which can be a little overwhelming in some examples - not this one. 
4.5 Stars

P: Dry with plenty of spice impact balanced by keen fruit flavors - reflective of the bouquet. Medium to medium+ acid, length and finish. I like this wine as much as the previous release (if not more). Don't stop making this wine and style please - it's great!
4.5 Stars


Ellero 'Pisa Terrace' 2011 Riesling Central Otago 12.4%
N: Fragrant and quite gentle yet full of floral, citrus and white tree fruit suggestions. A Central Otago mineral signature with a drift of white spice. A gentle yet definitive complexity.
4.5 Stars

P: Definitely on the drier end of 'medium dry'. A focused , almost electric acidity; mandarin and grapefruit flavors with a mix of apple. The mineral from the nose - reapperas with a wet stone and chalky quartz flavor. A lovely texture and finish. Not too lengthy, but balanced and well made. Drink now or cellar with confidence for 2 - 5 years.
4.5 Stars

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Fairbourne Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2010
One of the very few NZ SBs that is crafted from hand harvested fruit - matured on fine lees for 7 months
N: On the first sniff the fruit signature is clear, but this then gives way quite quickly to a second layer of fineness including white flowers, minerality (a fine mealy wet stone and summer dried rock suggestion) a gentle elegance and then a familiar Marlborough - esque wet stone, cool climate signature.

P: Dry with spiced fruit flavors, plenty of citrus then a little fuzzy peach skin. After 3 minutes in glass the fruit intensifies a little to show more stone fruit characters and a tiny tropical note. The core of the fruit profile is citrus though. The finish is driven be texture as much as it is by acidity and fruit. On the finish I noticed a green tea with mandarin and lime flower and even a little cammomile. Waxing lyrical about a wine you like is good - right?
5 Stars
NB* Future vintages of this wine (the 2011 and 2012) have a 1-2 percent component of barrel aged juice in the blend. The wine described above specifically does not.

Wooing Tree

Wooing Tree Rose (Pinot Noir) 2012 13.5%
N: A youthful exuberance and slightly reduced note give way rather quickly to a pretty rose colored and scented wine - red melon, cherry ripe and red zinger tea then a lovely peach tea suggestion.

P: Light, dry-ish with a touch of RS and plenty of fruit flavours that reflect the nose. Juicy, soft, balanced and well made - as always. A must for many wine lists - this example will easily marry up to the Summer cuisines coming our way in 2012/2013 (as soon as Spring springs into action first!)
3.5 Stars

Wooing Tree

Wooing Tree Chardonnay 2011 14%
N: Quite a floral and gentle bouquet with a definitive peach, peach juice, pear, pear juice and apple aromas. Moderate complexity and soft in its approach overall.

P: Dry and immediately specific in its texture messages - perhaps a touch of skin contact boosts the phenolics on the palate and with just enough oak to bring another layer alongside the soft centred fruits this wine 'is' soft, lightly creamy and very appealing. Medium+ acid and  length. There is no heat from the 14% abv adding to the attention given to the balance of this wine. Lovely!
4.5 Stars

Ben Middlemiss Brewing

Ben Middlemiss Brewing Nota Bere Belgian Style Abby Ale 8.7%
Amber with honey yellow hues, unflitered appearance
N: Quite a striking pine-like edge to a pronounced hoppy attack; softer malty side with a milk chocolate and chili spice note. 

P: Full-bodied and rich with softer than expected palate textures; Flavours reflect the nose with a light nutty appeal. The mousse of the beer decreases to a soft humm in the mouth and carries enough flavour to keep me interested in another sip (or 9).

Ben Middlemiss Brewing

Ben Middlemiss Brewing Hodgson IPA 8.8%
Amber and Golden hues with an unfiltered appearance
N: Medium+ hop impact with a malt, brown sugar and bitter chocolate core. Medium to medium+ toasty appeal.

P: Quite a soft and rounded texture; sound balance between the malt and hop flavours. A mild finish with an appropriate bitterness on the back palate (mild to mild + for me). A longish finish with a mild spice and sweetness. Overall pretty good - I would buy a case of this.