Wise Owl 'Hooting White' 2013 13% No grape varieties suggested on the label - so here goes! Aromas of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc lead the bouquet with hints of white fleshed Pinot Gris fruits then perhaps a little Riesling with the mandarin note and a touch of Viognier or Gewurztraminer suggested as spice-note - Who knows! On the palate - just dry with flavors that reflect the nose; medium+ acidity; a refreshingly simple palate with lively fruit flavors - balanced and well made.
Wise Owl 'Swooping' Sauvignon Blanc 2013 13% Classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc bouquet with wild tropical fruits, apple and crisp red bell-pepper, grassy and bold. On the palate - dry, crisp and fruity and refreshing with medium++ acidity. A simple fruity expression with medium length, balanced and well made. 3 Stars
Gunn Estate 2013 Marlborough Pinot Noir Reserve 13.5% Vibrant red fruits with black cherry and plum, suggestions of smokey wood spice and stony soils. On the palate - dry with flavors of spicy plum and cherry fruits, a little rose and red apple skin; medium tannins - quite fine yet youthful, medium+ acid and finish. Well made with a spicy kick on the finish. 4.5 Stars
Thistle Ridge Waipara Chardonnay 2013 14% Fruity, fresh and lifted bouquet centering on the aromas of sweet white fleshed fruits - nectarine and peach - then ripe apple and even a little apple juice; lively and youthful. On the palate - dry, lively, fruity and fresh. A Chardonnay for the masses - plenty of fruit character and not too much oak; medium+ acidity with a moderate finish; balanced and well made. 3 Stars
Gladstone Vineyard 'Auld Alliance' Reserve 2010 14.5% Suggested as a Bordeaux styled wine - so there be Cabernets and Merlot here A distinctive bouquet of aged Cabernet and Merlot with a moss-wood and cigar-like herbal character; well integrated too with the red fruit aromas well blended into the oak. On the palate - old School - with some sweet fruit and sweet oak layers alongside a savory and well integrated expression. A dry wine with medium tannins and acidity; medium+ length and moderate complexity; there is a rose-like finish that I find quite appealing - this wine does grow on you if you give it a chance. 3.5 Stars
Gladstone Vineyard 'Sophie's Choice' Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012 13% This barrel fermented and barrel aged wine's bouquet suggests green melon and peach alongside sweet apple and citrus aromas; the barrel-ageing shows with a savory/herbal/sweaty/angelica combination. On the palate - dry and again savory with flavors of citrus and peach then lightly toasted barrel notes; that fresh herb - angelica note returns; medium+ acidity and medium length; balanced and well made. Take note of the silty soil terroir layer - pretty cool. Another surprising wine form the Gladstone stable. 3.5 Stars
Gladstone Vineyard PInot Gris 2013 13% White spices and white fleshed stone fruits lead the bouquet; sweet red apple and pear follow; a light savory quality adds to the overall moderate complexity. The palate is fruity and just dry; there are a few phenolics to tame with food, but the overall expression of this Gris is solid. Balanced with medium+ acidity and medium length a well made wine. 3 Stars
Sacred Hill 'Sauvage' Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Hawke's Bay 13%
Extremely bright in appearance with developing golden hues
Quite a rich and developing bouquet that is both savory and complex - all the hallmarks of Sauvignon Blanc are on show but each with a toasty and savory edge - the oak - is just enough; medium+ complexity overall.
On the palate - dry, wild and complex - the wild ferment flavors punch through supported by oak spices and savory complexity; the fruit signature of Sauvignon Blanc remains with citrus and stone fruit suggestions; lovely balance and finish. Buy!
Sacred Hill 'Virgin' Chardonnay 2013 Hawke's Bay 12.5% Floral, gently fruity, hints of indigenous ferment with a subtle savory complexity and 'pure' in its fruit expressions. Overall an elegant and sophisticated bouquet. The palate follows through with white Spring flowers, a light cheese-rind note and a taut attention seeking acid grip; white peach and crisp red apple keep the Chardonnay message in tact along with a long gentle finish. A wine that will stand the test of time and should be decanted if opened today 5 Stars (90 Points)
Sacred Hill 'Brokenstone' 2011 Hawke's Bay 14%
The super-ruby core and fuschia rim suggest a much younger wine - aromas of ripe dark berries and wild berry pie; toasty oak overtones and pepper spices.
On the palate - dry with medium+ tannins from oak and ripe fruit maceration; flavors of dark berries remain laced with vanilla and toasty savory theme; big tannins that need time to integrate fully; balanced with a long finish. A wine very much in its development stage - if you must open it then decant and sit for the day first.
Sacred Hill 'Helmsman' 2011 Hawke's Bay 14%
Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc
Now we're talking - an immediately complex bouquet of a wine that has aromas of harmony and integration; ripe - highly scented Cabernet Sauvignon commands the nose with the softer side of Merlot flanking left and right; the Cabernet Franc is however the star in this blend - with a savory, coffee bean and bitter chocolate signature.
On the palate - a rock star wine with all the flavors and texture you need in a blend that represents the best of Hawke's Bay; the oak is obvious yet luxurious and necessary. Powerful tannins; A long finish and a wine that can be enjoyed now and into 2020.
Tussock Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Nelson 13% The organically farmed fruit shows immediately with a bouquet of gently honeyed stone fruit and ripe citrus aromas; wild white flowers and a light toasty savory layer. On the palate - dry and crisp with flavors fresh stone fruits and citrus juices woven together with high acidity and a savory complex undercurrent; balanced and lengthy finish with medium+ subtle complexity. 4.5 Stars
Tussock Pinot Rose 2013 Nelson 13% Sweet lifted light red fruit aromas of red cherry and bing cherry; rose-like and suggestions of Summer Berry Pudding; On the palate - the same - crisp and refreshing flavors of Summer red fruits; medium++ acidity and a dry, crisp finish. Balanced and well made - a wine for everyone (bold but true statement). 3.5 Stars
Crush Pad New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2014 12.5% A wine by Moana Park Very fruity and youthfully vibrant with lots of crushed tropical fruits; sweet apple and sun warmed lemon; simple and inviting. On the palate - dry and fruity with fresh fruit flavors of citrus and tree fruits; high acidity and a crisp appeal; medium- length and finish. Balanced and in a 'drink now' style. 3 Stars
Rochfort Rees Sauvignon Blanc Awatere VAlley - Single Vineyard 2013 13.5% Plenty of impact here with a grassy and herbaceous attack - vegetal too with a green bell-pepper note; the fruit expression centers around some tropical and citrus suggestion - not high impact. On the palate - dry and immediately the same as the nose suggest - grassy, herbal and vegetal - no doubt a specific expression of SB - one that only pushes a few buttons for me. Overall a style that would suit gazpacho soup and even shallot-laced fresh oysters.
Babich 'Black Label' Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 13% Vibrant, richly fruited and classically styled Marlborough expression - waves of gooseberry, nettles and tropical fruits; plenty of sweet apple and grapefruit aromas too. On the palate - just dry and immediately herbaceous with nettles, roughed-up hay, red bell-pepper and then lemon/grapefruit flavors; green apple emerges after a while; medium++ acidity, medium- weight; balanced, very drinkable. 5 Stars
Juicy and fleshy fruits bouquet with aromas of sweet ripe pear, Asian pear and canned pear; golden delicious apple and a hint of honey.
On the palate - off dry with just enough residual sugar to tease the palate; medium+ acidity and flavors that reflect the nose; medium length and moderate complexity.
A drink now style and a wine to savor through Summer 2015.
Babich 'Irongate' Chardonnay 2013 Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay 13% Lots of sweet peach and vanilla oak punch lead into creamy stone fruit and toasty oak suggestions; on the palate - dry with lots of creamy texture and peachy flavors off-set by medium+ acidity and a little sweet citrus. Still quite youthful overall and would be best served with food - you decide. Balanced and well made with medium+ length. Drinking well now and through 2015. 4 Stars Babich 'Winemaker's Reserve' Hawke's Bay Merlot 'Gimblett Road' 2012 12.5% Gentle and softer plum and black fruits aromas followed by medium+ oak aromas of vanilla and toasted wood; overall moderate+ complexity. On the palate - dry and every bit a Merlot with roses and plums; black currants and black boy peach; medium tannins and medium+ acidity; balanced with medium length and complexity. I could down a glass of this with venison (rare) and celeriac puree and jus. 4 Stars
Greystone Waipara Valley Sea Star Riesling 2013 13% Lovely perfume and fragrances of sweet lemon and mandarin with white rose and red apple flesh highlights. On the palate - dry and very crisp with flavors of white fleshed fruits - apples and pears followed by tart mandarin; plenty of fresh mineral water notes add a little depth; crisp acidity; balanced with light weight, medium+ length and developing complexity. A wine to serve as an aperitif. Will cellar well for 2+ years. 4.5 Stars
Muddy Water Waipara James Hardwick Riesling 2013 13.5% Gently honeyed with red and green apple aromas heavily laced with citrus, honeysuckle and white flowers. On the palate - dry with lots of fresh and ripe citrus flavors - laced with fresh grated apple and honeysuckle notes. The mineral flavors and level is noteworthy - medium and adds a layer of depth. Balanced with medium+ length and medium complexity. 4 Stars
Campo Viejo Rioja 2005 Gran Reserva 13.5% Exotic red fruits are all sweet and laced with brown spices; baked fruits too and even some older dried red fruit suggestions - complex, but also very alluring and seductive - I guess that's what the wine making team wanted - I'm seduced. There is a lot of oak as well - toasty, vanilla, brown spices and saw dust. On the palate - high impact; dry and with all the flavors suggested above plus a meaty, coffee and leathery layer adding more complexity; the oak does stand out, but with all the sweet fruit and warmth from the alcohol this is a taste and flavor profile that is easily absorbed; watch out for the VA note - its there, but seems to be part of the wine; balanced and drinking extremely well now with a long finish. Go for it! 5 Stars
Gibbston Valley 'Gold River' Pnot Noir 2013 Central Otago 13% Ripe and sweet dark cherry & plum bouquet - very appealing and persistent; mild yet obvious oak signature and that 'Otago' undergrowth/thyme note so liked by many - including me; medium complexity. On the palate - vibrant, fresh and tasty dark berry fruit flavors, a little pepper enhanced by some toasty oak features; medium tannins and medium+ acidity; balanced, fresh, lively and charming; well made. 4 Stars
Thistle Ridge 2013 Pinot Noir Waipara Dense and even a little broody mid to dark berry fruit aromas - lots of black cherry and strawberry with loads of raspberry as well, a little jammy; mild toasty oak and vanilla aromas, overall a smart and attractive bouquet. On the palate - dry with taut chalky tannins and medium+ acidity; a very young tasting wine and one that needs several more months - if not a year and a bit - in bottle to settle and begin to integrate a lot more. Light berry fruit flavors with plum as well; medium+ (ish) length, not yet in balance, but promising. 3 Stars
Greystone Waipara Valley 'Sand Dollar' Pinot Gris 2013 14% Lots and lots of fresh sweet and ripe Asian pear and poached white pear aromas; honey suckle and exotic white flowers; varietal? absolutely! On the palate - off-dry with a little residual sugar; medium+ acidity; flavors of white fleshed fruits and white spices, lightly creamy texture and a balanced medium finish. Easy drinking for many to enjoy. 3.5 Stars
Urlar Riesling Gladstone 2013 12% That wonderful 'ah' feeling one gets from the aroma of a natural ferment (wild ferment for some) is certainly evidenced here - the lightly spiced apple alongside spring flowers and sweet honey suckle and even a little savory earthiness creeps in as well. On the palate - dry with a pristine acidity laced with flavors of lemon and crisp green apple; a gentle savory spice returns and a strong mineral note; balanced, dry, medium+ length and very drinkable. Aperitif - check! 4 Stars
Urlar Sauvignon Blanc Gladstone 2013 13.5% Great wild sauvignon nose with spicy gooseberry, wild honey and wild flowers; lots of citrus oozing out as well especially pink grapefruit. On the palate - dry, crisp and lively with flavors of citrus then light tropical fruits; some white floral notes; high acidity with chalky mineral tones, medium length and simple complexity; balanced and well made. 3.5 Stars
Urlar Pinot Gris Gladstone 2012 13% Lots of vibrant, clean aromas of white fleshed fruits - nectarine and Asian pear; apple follows - but is quite mild; a hint of citrus and mild complexity overall. On the palate - dry with medium+ acidity; for a 2012 there is a lovely intensity of fruit and flavor - white nectarine and Asian pear flavors, pear and apple make a cameo appearance; balanced with medium length drinking well now and through Summer 2015. 3.5 Stars
Saving the best for last... Urlar Pinot Noir Gladstone 2012 13% Fragrant and alluring bouquet of of wild and fresh cherry fruits, gentle savory layer with brown spice oak and smokey layers; a little red apple skin and red rose. On the palate - dry with medium+ acidity and medium tannins - quite fine yet retain a youthful tautness and needing more than year more to settle in completely; flavors of light red fruits return alongside medium oak presence; a gentle mineral layer leads to a longish finish with medium+ complexity overall. Well worth your time. 4.5 Stars
Kalex 'Alex Kaufman' 'Single Vineyard Pisa Terrace 2013 Riesling Central Otago 12% Honey suckle, sweet pear and apricot smothered apple, sweet lemon and rose; mineral aromas of wet stone and schist. On the palate a just dry wine with acidity pushing high; flavors of lemon and lime with apricot and peach; a sweet citrus peel note adds length to the finish; phenolics broaden the the texture on the palate and will be a challenge for some, but think of them in terms of citrus zesty textures and flavors; Overall a smart dry finishing wine with medium length and finish. 3.5 Stars
Kalex 'Alex Kaufman' Riesling Central Otago 2013 9% Crisp, lifted, green and red apple, a lemon twist and sweet white rose bouquet, like the SV Pisa Terrace wine - there is a mineral layer that is very appealing; honey suckle notes also add depth. On the palate - off dry with a sweet lemon and sherbet note; high acidity is well balanced against the residual sugar; flavors of apricot, citrus and apple dominate the fruit while wet stone and schist on the mineral side; balanced and well made with medium+ length, finish and complexity. 4 Stars