Saturday, 31 May 2014


Greystone Waipara Valley 2013 Pinot Gris 13.5%
Medium intensity with aromas of ripe just picked pear, poached pear and apple; lots of white fleshed fruits and a light white spice complexity.
Off dry with medium+ acidity offering contrast and allowing the intense fruit flavors to power through the palate; white fleshed stone fruit flavors envelop the palate and the acidity emphasizes the white spice note; balanced with a medium+ finish; Drink now and through the rest of 2014. Not a wine for the cellar - just drink it!
4.5 Stars

Campo Viejo

Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2007 DOCa 13.5%
'Classic bouquet' with smoked meats and brown spices, dark berry fruits and nurtured older oak infusion; medium+ intensity; earthy and savory.
On the palate - dry with immediate infiltration of savory complexity and oak spices; a wine with bottle age too and an integration giving much of this complexity; dark and light berry fruit flavors with brown spices; medium tannins are fine and still integrating with a mix of course and fine textures, medium acidity and a medium+ finish; balanced and well made with a drink now completeness.
4 Stars

Rochfort Rees

Rochfort Rees Wine Company Ltd 2012 Pinot Noir Central Otago 14%
Dark crimson and ruby red core - persistent through the wine to a lighter just pink rim
Distinctive and hard core fruity bouquet equaled only by oak  - with brown spices and toasty wood suggestions; medium+ complexity driven by the forceful nature of the fruit and oak.
On the palate - dry, fruity and spicy; all the hallmarks of an Otago Pinot with lots of concentrated light red fruit flavors, suggestions of schist and undergrowth; with this wine a little pepper as well; medium tannins mostly from the oak, but plenty from the fruit as well.
Balanced and well made with a medium+ finish.
Plenty of folk will like this wine.
4 Stars


Tussock Pinot Gris 2013 Nelson 13% (Certified Organic)
Golden hues with a very bright appearance.
A developing and complex bouquet with aromas of ripe pear and apple; white flowers and and honeyed apples - very inviting overall.
On the palate - a very specific wine with a mix of apple and cider, poached pear and citrus flavors - especially grapefruit; medium+ acidity and moderate weight, I like the 'natural wine' flavors and feel; medium+ length and complexity. Overall a wine that takes a little getting used to, but delightful all the same. Thanks to the team at Tussock (and Woollaston) for keeping it real.
4 Stars 

Tussock Nelson Pinot Noir 2010 13.5%
A lovely Pinot expression with ripe and varied red fruits: wild and fresh cherry, cranberry and a raspberry strawberry emulsion; there is a mineral expression as well - a bit like loam and clay with rocks; overall an inviting bouquet with moderate oak spice appeal.
On the palate - dry with lots of mineral flavors leading the charge; the light red fruit flavors then follow with cranberry speaking first; mild oak spices, medium+ acidity, mild dried herb qualities, medium weight and length and finish.
Well made and balanced.
3.5 Stars

Friday, 30 May 2014


Halo (by Sacred Hill) Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2013 13%
Winemaker Tony Bish shows, once again, his command and understanding of this noble variety - quite a complex bouquet that unfolds and unfurls as the wine absorbs oxygen - with a mix of ripe stone fruit and citrus peel suggestions immediately followed by a cashew nut, and light toasted oak appeal; there's a nudge of sulphide with a gentle cheesy quality.
The palate confirms all that the nose suggests with creamy textures and complexity; a wine that again shows ripe stone fruit and citrus flavors, a cashew nutty quality, honey notes and oak complexity; medium+ acidity with a long and balanced finish.
Highly recommended.
5 Stars (90 Points)


Vinoptima Ormond Gewurztraminer 2004 14.5%
Yellow Golden tones stretch almost to the rim where an olive oil yellow hue takes over, day bright.
Complex, honeyed, nutty, layered and mature; golden Queen peaches and apricots; caramelised apple and chef's honey comb.
The palate shows all the maturity and complexity that the nose suggests, but then it reveals layer after layer of flavor and depth - from fresh to caramelised fruits, pineapple to dried pear and mango; a pot pourri of fresh and dried rose petals; medium+(ish) acidity keeps the palate crisp; a long drifting finish; the alcohol hardly noticeable.
5 Stars (90 Points)
A pleasure to taste. Hopefully this review makes it to the Vinoptima website!


Aronui Gewurztraminer 2013 SV Nelson 13.5%
Definitely Gewurz' on the nose with spiced apple and peach, light white florals and peach blossom a highlight, gentle tropical fruit notes and a little quince.
On the palate - creamy and very fruity with a soft palate texture; off-dry too with some sugary tones, apple and white fleshed fruit flavors, easy light spices; medium acidity and medium finish. Well made in a drink now package.
3 Stars


Greywacke 2013 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 13.5%
Quite the mix of aromas in the bouquet with quince and baked pear, peach and zesty lemon; a savory and gentle oak spice layer adds complexity.
The palate reflects the attention to detail with vibrant, fresh flavors of tropical and fresh citrus fruits, a little peach and vibrant almost electric acidity; the oak spice mentioned earlier is very quiet on the palate adding a little depth; dry longish finish that highlights the light herbaceous notes that complete this example. A step above.........!
5 Stars

Jackson Estate

Jackson Estate 'Stitch' 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 13%
Great Marlborough expression of fruit and Sauvignon Blanc with wild white fruits - lemon and crisp apple, fuzzy peach skin and quivering gooseberry; nettles and wet stone mineral highlights.
On the palate - dry with vibrant fresh acidity, lots of lemon and citrus flavors along with apple and peach; the herbaceous qualities kick in after a while leading to a fresh and lengthy finish.
Balanced and well made.
4 Stars

Passage Rock

Passage Rock 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Waiheke Island 12.7%
Quite a complex bouquet with a hard stone mineral quality and a light lees note followed by a perfumed bowl of fruit - baked lemon, peach and sweet gooseberry, golden kiwifruit and citrus zest (so - yes complex).
On the palate - dry, youthfully firm with medium++ acidity accentuating the lively fruit flavors that reflect the nose. The finish is quite long with a savory, mineral finish; balanced and drinking really well now, but will also suit cellaring through 2015.
4.5 Stars

Passage Rock 2014 Rose Waiheke Island 12.5%
Strawberry pink hues, star bright and translucent
Peaches and cold peach tea, strawberry jelly and white rose aromas are all you need to entice a taste - obvious, but not bold, fresh and lively.
On the palate - fruity and juicy with an impression of a little residual sugar, but not enough to say sweet; lots of peach and light red fruit flavors; medium+ acidity; juicy, fresh and very tasty.
A very drinkable example - well suited to pre-dinner snacks and lightly spiced entrees. Drink now - why wait!
4 stars


O:TU 'Prestige' 2012 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 13%
Lots of juicy peach, apple and tropical fruit suggestions, vibrant and forceful; sweet herbs and a wet stone mineral layer; youthful, fresh and electric.
On the palate - just dry with an immediate layer of spicy acidity, flavors of peaches and sweet citrus fruits, a touch of pineapple and moderate herbaceous flavors; medium+ acidity, balanced and well made with a moderate finish.
What's not to like!
4 Stars

O:TU 'Blend 202' Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 13%
Quite a dense and rich bouquet of fruit and gentle oak spices; sweet peach and melon with hay and herb; soft vanillin and light toasted oak suggestions.
On the palate - dry with a creamy texture; peach, vanilla and lemon flavors; medium+ acidity, medium weight and a moderate+ finish; nicely balanced and well made.
A very tasty example and drinking well now and through to mid 2015.
4.5 stars

Sunday, 25 May 2014


Matawhero 'Church House' Malbec Gisborne 2013 13%
Bold and broody bouquet with black fruits of dark baked plum, black currant and Black Cherry; a devil's chocolate icing and mocha coffee bean suggestion; youthful, simple, fruity and distinctive.
On the palate - dry, wild and fruity - lots of black fruit flavors again centering black cherry and baked plum; lots of acidity heightens the tannins (medium+); moderate oak.
Overal this is a very youthful expression and a wine I would like to see mature for 2 more years. Balanced (yet youthful), medium length and medium complexity.
Drinkable now with food.
4 Stars

Friday, 23 May 2014

Judge Rock

Judge Rock Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 13.2%
Lots of varietal lift in the bouquet with sweet and floral scented strawberry and cherry fruit suggestions; schist soils and moderate (+) oak suggestions; quite charming and feminine as the wine begins to unfold with a few extra swirls; medium + complexity.
On the palate - dry with youthful flavors of tart cherry and sweet plum, cranberry and cherry also make their mark on the palate; medium+ acidity adds bite with the tannins settling in at medium and with a fine edge.
Balanced and well made with medium+ length and finish. Very nice indeed.
4 Stars

Calmel & Joseph

Calmel & Joseph Cotes du Roussillon Villages 2011 14%
Typical blend - Grenache Syrah and Carignan
A fine mix of red and black berry fruits with an undercurrent of clay-like soil suggestions, moderate oak and whole berry freshness, moderate complexity.
On the palate - dry+ with gritty yet balanced medium+ tannins and acidity; plenty of red and black fruit flavors, pepper and plum. Plenty of charm and masculinity with a lengthy finish and moderate complexity. Well made.
4 Stars

Calmel & Joseph Faugeres 2011 14%
Typical blend - Syrah (50%) Grenache Carignan
A clam earthiness prevails this wine with a gentle peppery note and clay-like earthy quality; Moderate + red and black fruits and mild oak suggestions; hint of meatiness.
On the palate - dry with black and red fruits flavors; there is an herbal/green note on the finish that I find distracting and un-balances the wine with a slightly bitter finish.
With this in mind I would suggest a powerful wild meats country-style stew to soak away all the power in the wine and reveal its softer more charming side.

Calmel & Joseph Saint Chinian 2011 14%
Typical blend  - Syrah (60%) Grenache Carignan
Quite Rhone-like in the bouquet with red and black fruits, a layer of plum and red meats, mild peppery spices and sandy, rocky soil undertones.
On the palate - dry with lots of spiced plum, cherry and light black fruit suggestions; medium tannins with a peppery edge; there's a cigar box/tobacco note that I find appealing; a gentle herbal side as well; overall a well made wine, balanced and an example that could be enjoyed easily with or without food.
3 Stars

Saint Clair

Saint Clair Family Estate 2013 Syrah 13%
Striking concentration of black currant, baked raspberry and blackberry pie; the gravelly soil undertones reflect the Hawke's Bay origin of the fruit while the baked brown spices drive the messages of oak.
On the palate - dry and concentrated with flavors of freshly squeezed black fruits - black currant and blue fruits; medium+ tannins and acidity; a bold and very attractive wine.
4 Stars

Saint Clair

Saint Clair Family Estate 2013 Malbec 13%
Amazing colour - deep crimson and purple ruby with a fuchsia rim.
Dense rich, broody, fruity, wild and spicy - a bouquet packed with power and presence.
On the palate - nicely dry with flavors of licorice and blackberry, sweet leather and baked plum, meaty. There is a lot of concentration here. Medium+ youthful - yet ripe and tasty tannins, medium+ acidity.
Great balance, length and complexity.
5 Stars

Mills Reef

Mills Reef Winery 'Elspeth' Chardonnay Hawke's Bay 2013 13.5%
Bold, rich and powerful bouquet with a very sweet vanillin, spices and roasted fruits, brazil nut and cashew complexity; suggestions of butterscotch, caramel and even popcorn come to mind as well.
On the palate  - very dry, and as powerful as the nose suggests - baked and roasted fruits, some zesty citrus peel appeal; noticeable oak spices and flavors with new oak, vanilla, caramel and baked custard flavors. Balanced with medium+ length and a richly flavored finish.
Drink now and through 2016.
4.5 Stars

Mills Reef

Mills Reef Winery Reserve Chardonnay Hawke's Bay 2013 13%
Lots of oak and oak spice laden stone fruit aromas with roasted peach and nectarine, yellow apple and baked pear; there's also a nuttiness from the oak that is appealing and adds complexity; medium+ complexity overall and a bouquet that Chardonnay fans will identify with a lot.
On the palate - dry, creamy, oaky and rich with flavors that reflect the nose; lots of oak spice laden apple and lemon; baked and roasted stone fruits. After a while the flavor of creme brulee emerges adding further complexity and depth; that nutty note comes back; balanced with a long(ish) finish and medium+ complexity. Drink now and through 2015.
4 Stars

Gibbston Valley

Gibbston Valley 'Gold River' Chardonnay Hawke's Bay 2012 12.5%
Gibbston Valley built its reputation on wines from Central Otago - and maintains that rep' rather well with its love Pinots Noir. 
This Chardonnay wine however is made with fruit from Hawke's Bay.
Lots of Hawke's Bay roasted peach and nectarine fruits in the bouquet followed by creamy and spicy oak suggestions - gentle yet obvious. Moderate youthful complexity.
On the palate - dry and spicy with plenty of toasty oak appeal; there is also a lushness to the stone and tree fruit flavors with the acidity (medium+) emphasizing this feature; Balanced and well made with medium+ length and moderate complexity. A charming and 'easy to swallow' example.
3.5 Stars


O:TU Single Vineyard Chardonnay Marlborough 2013 13%
Gentle  creamy peachy bouquet unfurls quite slowly; as the wine begins to open up it reveals more sweet delicate vanillin aromas, apples, pears and mild stone fruit attributes; quietly elegant.
On the palate - dry with lots of youthful creamy oak flavors, medium+ acidity and a youthful chomp of oak as the wine takes hold; a very engaging wine very much in the throws of its early bottle development - so perhaps keep it for a few months more to settle in. That said there are flavors of lemon and citrus, apple and peach; medium+ length and finish. All the potential is there, just needs some time.
3.5 Stars


O:TU 'blend 102' 2013 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 13%
There's plenty of Sauvignon Blanc choices from the OTU stable - this wine in particular though has a noticeable difference in the bouquet - it is more elegant and sophisticated with mineral, stone and sweet herbs in the bouquet - then all the vibrant Marlborough-esque aromas come punching through - ripe tropical fruits of pineapple, sweet passion fruit.
On the palate - dry, crisp and elegant with a wet stone and mineral quality followed by crisp red apple and sweet citrus flavors; some tropical too; a vegetal bell-pepper note; high acidity and an elegant edgyness - this is a wine I am happy to recommend.
Food friendly and will last through Summer 2015.
4.5 Stars

O:TU Wines

O:TU Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 12.5%
Very classic Marlborough bouquet with lots of grassy, herbal, tropical fruit laden aromas. There's also some sweet lime and even a little kaffir leaf & red capsicum.
On the palate - a dry, crisp and vibrant wine with a strong flavorful palate driven by fresh tropical fruits, lime and lemon zest with all the grassy, herbaceous flavors you want to handle. The acidity is pretty noticeable with quite a bite - I'd recommend fresh mussela or oysters with gallons of lemon juice. 
3 Stars

Mud House

Mud House 2013 Riesling 'The Mound Vineyard' Waipara Valley 12%
Sweet citrus fruits and white tree fruits with a light toasty honey-suckle appeal.
On the palate - lush and juicy with high acidity and flavors of zesty lemon, apple and pear. There's some residual sugar adding both charm and a little light creamy palate appeal.
Medium+ length, balanced and well made. Very nice!
4 Stars


Tohu Single Vineyard Riesling 2013 Marlborough 11.5%
Lots of fresh, clean and crisp aromas of apple, pear and white peach. Attractive and inviting with a light floral note.
On the palate - dry which is surprising considering the 11.5% alcohol. High acidity commands palate attention first with a crisp floral and lemony feel; there is a little residual sugar that brings contrast and harmony to the palate. That said this is quite powerful impact to get used to. All the flavors described above  - apple, pear and white peach return. A lovely aperitif style that will likely be a lovely match to oysters or crisp light salads.
4 Stars

Friday, 16 May 2014

Mills Reef

Mills Reef Reserve Merlot Malbec Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay 2012 12.5%
Ripe, sweet and instensley fruity red and black fruits centering on dark cherry and plums with wild raspberry then brown spices of oak; moderate+ complexity, youthful and fresh.
On the palate - dry yet very fruity with flavors of tart and fresh black cherry, poached and fresh plums, wild raspberry and a little blackberry; The moderate alcohol works really well in this example; medium+ acidity and tannins with the tannins firm and youthful; medium+ length and a taut focused finish.
4.5 Stars

Mills Reef reserve Syrah Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay 2012 12.5%
Lots of varietal signature in the bouquet with dark, slightly broody red fruits of dark berries and wild raspberry, almost burnt raspberry; violets, a little dried herb and plenty - but not too much - oak spices then suggestions of a little black forest chocolate; medium+ complexity.
On the palate - dry and quite fruity and complex with the flavors of dark forest berries dipped in a little milk chocolate; savory broody notes with wild berries and oak spices; medium+ acidity, medium+ tannins; long finish; very well made example.
5 Stars

Gibbston Valley

Gibbston Valley 'Gold River' Pinot Gris Central Otago 2013 13.5%
Definitive bouquet of ripe and slightly sweet white fleshed fruits: Nashi/Asian pear, poached pear, a little apple and white peach - inviting and fragrant.
On the palate - just dry with a fruit centred flavor profile - followed by some wet stone and floral suggestions. Overall a lovely example with crisp acidity and medium length. Balanced and well made in a just off-dry style.
4 Stars

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Mud House

Mud House 2013 Pinot Gris ' The Home Block Vineyard' Waipara Valley 14%
Lots of varietal messages and power too with ripe and sweet pear, crisp Asian pear, white nectarine and apple fruit suggestions; clean, fresh, varietal.
On the palate - just dry with a hint of residual sugar; quite spicy too with a white pepper edge to the acidity; the fruits described above return as juicy, ripe and flavorful reflections of what the nose suggested; balanced and well made with a moderate finish.
3.5 Stars

Aronui Wines

Aronui Pinot Gris 2013 Single Vineyard Nelson 14%
The bouquet oozes Pinot Gris character with lots of apple and crisp - just picked - pear; lively, fruity, attractive and varietal.
On the palate - just a little off-dry with some residual sugar to balance the crisp acidity and warming alcohol; all the fruits of a well made Pinot Gris return with crisp tree fruit flavors and a little citrus.
I would recommend a glass of this wine with food - perhaps something with a richness core such as flounder in a red peppercorn sauce and a Gruyere cheese sprinkle.
3 Stars

Aronui Chardonnay 2013 Nelson 13.5%
There 's no mistaking the style of Chardonnay intended here - plenty of stone fruit aromas - roasted as well as fresh; forward vanillin centred oak and a bold creamy/rounded unfurling of character.
On the palate - dry then with all the power and intention suggested on the nose; a wine with all the oak and creaminess needed to balance the fruit core; stone fruits lead with a little citrus and apple; raw brown sugar like oak sweetness and a toasty oak core.
Balanced, dry, medium+ length and well made.
4 Stars

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Misha's Vineyard

Misha's Vineyard Lyric Riesling 2013 (13% abv 5.5 gpl rs)
Wine maker Olly Master's has again proven his understanding of Riesling - with a pure fruit bouquet of gently sweet red and green apple and crisp lemon encased in a blanket of white flowers; a gentle lees quality enhances an already abundant mineral layer.
On the palate - dry with a white pepper like acidity; the flavors of apple, pear and citrus emerge with a floral highlight; light bodied, generous and quite long on the finish.
4.5 Stars (89 Points)
A delightful wine to serve as an aperitif on its own or with (gluten free) crackers topped with avocado & prawn dressed with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and cracked pepper

Misha's Vineyard Limelight Riesling 2013 (11.5% abv 31 gpl rs)
A very telling bouquet  - full of sweet citrus, mandarin and lime flower laced with crushed apple and sweet mineral water suggestions; lively, attractive and seductive.
On the palate - off dry with an immediate medium sweet quality - almost simultaneously contrasted and enhanced by pristine high acidity; the gently sweet flavors of mandarin, lime and tangerine envelop the taste buds - each with a lightly sweet highlight; beautifully balanced wine with a long, crisp and clean finish - that is ultimately dry.
5 Stars - Superb! (95 Points)
Serve with Tuna ceviche (with all the trimmings) dressed in a little coconut cream and topped with toasted sesame and a dash of honey.

Misha's Vineyard The Starlet Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (14% abv)
Central Otago Sauvignon Blanc is fortunately a completely different beast from its more famous neighbor up north in Marlborough.....the immediate and obvious varietal signature of SB is here (some tropical fruits, lots of citrus and a sweet herbal layer), but there is also and equally and very distinctive mineral quality - stony, quartz and crisp sweet schist-like attribute; in other words - a Central Otago/Bendigo signature. A little herbaceousness adds a subtle layer.
On the palate - just dry with crisp, pure and clean flavors of SB that dance happily on the tongue enhanced by the flavors of citrus, light herb and stony mineral.
Overall an attention seeking wine that delivers on balance, length (M+) and complexity (M+).
4.5 Stars (89 Points)
The perfect wine to serve with freshly shucked oysters drizzled with a little lemon juice, grapefruit and cracked pepper infusion

Misha's Vineyard Dress Circle Pinot Gris 2013 (14% abv 8 gpl rs)
A charming and classic bouquet of PG - with sweet, fresh and poached green pear, yellow apple, a hint of white pepper and a distinctive layer of white florals & hint of mineral* - something of a *signature in wine maker Olly Master's wines from Misha's Vineyard.
On the palate - an immediate fruity quality gives way to individual flavors of white fleshed tree fruits, a little Asian pear and white pepper spice; although there is a little residual sugar the wine is essentially dry on the finish. Balanced and very well made.
4 Stars (88 points)
If you like Asian fare with a (Kiwi) medium level of spice (so hardly any spice at all) then this is a smart wine choice - shredded chicken in a light green curry with sweet basil - and a glass of Misha's DC PG 13.

Misha's Vineyard The Gallery Gewurztraminer 2013 (13% abv 12 gpl rs)
Gentle and charming, exotic and alluring - this is a Gewurz' that easily ticks all the boxes of its variety in the bouquet, but what I really like is the soft and gentle unfurling nature of the bouquet; lightly spiced white fleshed fruits, a cushion of white flowers and a crisp mineral water layer (Central Otago-ness).
On the palate - just off-dry bordering medium with a crisp layer of acidity; lots of white fruit flavors with a twist of citrus; lovely balance and medium+ length - I could drink this wine all day long.
5 Stars (90 points)
If you have any pate that needs finishing - spread a thin layer onto some (gluten free) Melba-toast topped with a little cream fresh and sprinkle of paprika.

Misha's Vineyard The High Note Pinot Noir 2010 (14% abv)(6 PN Clones in the blend)
Lots of ripe and sweet smelling dark red berries - cherry first then a little wild raspberry & a large helping of plum; dark baking spices add a layer of complexity as does a little clove and star anise. Overall med++ complexity.
On the palate - dry, taut and firm - still very much a wine in a development stage (based on this tasting another 2-3 years to really settle in) but the flavors of PN start emerging with some force - plums and other red berries, crushed black cherry and brown spices all jostling for position on the palate. Medium+ oak suggestions, Medium+ fine yet noticeably youthful tannins, medium++ acidity and a long finish.
5 Stars (93 points)
This is a wine for investment and cellaring - at least 2 years before you check it again and will likely age through to 2020 with ease.
If you insist of drinking this wine before a couple of years have passed - then beef is where you have to go with food - pan seared to medium rare and served with roasted beets, fresh thyme and a sticky sweet jus.

Misha's Vineyard Pinot Noir Impromptu 2012 (14% abv)(7 PN Clones in the blend)
Generous, ripe and rich with red cherry and plum aromas, a little spice, rose and red flowers and mild toasty oak suggestions. Moderate complexity overall.
On the palate - dry with all of the flavors described above especially crushed cherry, strawberry and yellow plum; medium tannins with a youthful firmness, medium+ acidity and a moderate+ length.
Overall a charming wine that will age well for a few years, but perhaps best enjoyed over 2014/2015 with food.
4 Stars (88 Points)
Veal - in a light creamy sauce laced with a little nutmeg and cracked pepper - finished with button mushrooms and a sprinkle of aged gouda.