Saturday, 30 August 2014

Mudbrick Vineyard

Mudbrick Vineyard  Reserve Chardonnay Waiheke Island 13.5%
A rich bouquet with lots of peach and nutty burnt butter & vanilla aromas; medium+ complexity and a 'thank god it's Friday - I need a decent Chardonnay' feel. On the palate - dry with a citrus peel and stone fruit core wrapped in a blanket of oak, Medium+ nutty vanillin tones and oak spice and tannin; medium+ acidity keeps the palate fresh shows off the 2013 fruit; full-bodied and generous with a long finish. Medium+ complexity overall - a lovely wine.
5 stars

Brown Brothers

Brown Brothers 'Patricia' Shiraz 2009 Heathcote 14.5%
A familiar complex bouquet of mature Shiraz fruits - sweet raspberry and brown spices, some violet and red velvet florals and a big smokey oak overture; medium++ complexity. On the palate - a big fruity, oakey, familiar and enjoyable distraction. what I like about this wine is that it is not trying to be a block buster - rather it has moderate power with torque; medium acidity, medium+ tannins; a fruit core that reflects the nose and a longish finish. Balanced, well made and very enjoyable.
4.5 Stars

Mills Reef

Mills Reef Reserve Cabernet Merlot Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay 2012 13%
A pure fruit bouquet begins this story with violet laced red fruits of raspberry, plum and black berry fruit; medium+ oak with vanillin and toasty wooded suggestions; medium+ subtle but true complexity. On the palate - dry with a core of fruit that reflects the nose; there's also a complexity that pushes the flavors of a nutty oak and soft red flowers; medium+ tannins and acidity; balanced and really well made with a long finish.
4.5 Stars 

Mudbrick Vineyard

Mudbrick Vineyard Reserve Syrah Waiheke Island 2013 14.5%
Great color; Power and richness on the nose with a masculine, big shouldered bouquet; roasted raspberry, blackcurrant and Doris plum fruits emerge first; noticeable well placed oak with toasty features and medium+ complexity. On the palate - dry, rich and flavorful with lots of red and black fruit flavors, hints of dried meats and bacon; medium+ tannins and acidity, a youthful wine that is still coming together and requires decanting or cellar time for 2-3 years. Well made with a longish finish.
4.5 Stars

Mudbrick Vineyard Reserve Tempranillo Waiheke Island 2013 13.5%
A generous display of fruits with old strawberry and ripe red fruits bouquet, sweet spiced oak and a harmonious moderate complexity that I find inviting; medium oak and a savory earthy complexity. On the palate - dry and fruity with flavors that reflect the nose, medium+ youthful acidity, medium tannins with a mix of fine and not so fine textures; dry finish with medium+ (ish) length. Well made. Fabulous to see a variety like Tempranillo making its mark in the NZ wine scene.
4 Stars

Mudbrick Vineyard Reserve Merlot Cabernet Waiheke Island 2013 14.5%
Red and black fruits aligned with a rich stony earthy bouquet; Doris plums, blackberry and blueberry pie aromas; medium+ oak with vanilla toasty suggestions; On the palate - dry with the tannins leading - showing ripeness and textures of fine sand and cinnamon; black and red fruit flavors follow; medium+(ish) acidity, medium++ length and finish. Savory notes and a  noteworthy core of fruit; A serious wine for Merlot Cabernet devotees.
4.5 Stars

Mudbrick Vineyard 'Velvet' Waiheke Island 2013 14.5% (
A complex bouquet of smokey earthy and fruit laden smells (the cork closure leaves some residual woodiness that dissolves after a few minutes) a vast array of black and red fruit aromas begins to emerge with black berries, currants and red stone fruits; medium+ oak of a serious nature and a youthful intense burst of fruit suggesting a wine that requires plenty of integration time; On the palate - dry with highly textured powdery firm tannins, medium+ acidity and youthful dark red fruit flavors; complex and powerful, drinkable now if decanted otherwise 5 years in cellar. Fabulous wine and highly recommended.
5 Stars (90 points)

Tinpot Hut

Tinpot Hut 2013 Marlborough Pinot Gris 12.5%
Juicy and almost sweet smelling pear and apple aromas - hints of white pepper and wet stone mineral. The palate is creamy, soft and flavorful with flavors of sweet apple and fresh juicy pear - even a little Asian pear - actually a touch of lychee; medium acidity, balanced and well made with medium finish.
3.5 Stars

Black Estate

Black Estate Riesling 2013 Waipara Valley 12%
Great bouquet with aromas of mandarin peel, rose, sweet fresh apple and lots of mineral suggestions - chalk and slate like ideas. On the palate - light, fresh and delicious with flavors that reflect the nose adding a notable citrus layer; high acidity with a steely edginess and medium+ length. Great balance varietal lift on the finish.
Lovely example.
4 Stars

Black Estate Waipara Netherwood Rose 2013 12%
Firm cherry laced red Pinot Noir fruits with a red melon and red flowers - I like the complexity and charm of the bouquet. On the palate - just dry with juicy light red fruit flavors - again suggesting cherry, melon and now strawberry; medium+ acidity and finish. A delightful wine that deserves your attention. 
4 Stars+


Giesen Vineyard Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 12.5%
Marlborough freshness with peach, citrus and a tropical fruit platter, plenty of Marlborough herbal attributes as well. On the palate - just dry with punchy acidity that leads to the flavours of lemon skin and peach, hints of tropical fruit and white floral notes. Balanced, well made and a very enjoyable finish.
3.5 Stars

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 13.5%
Gentle bouquet with soft yet obvious waves of peach and vanilla with hints of honey suckle and mild toasty oak features. The palate reflects the nose well with a soft and creamy texture, medium+ acidity and medium+ finish. Balanced, well made and a wine to please many a Chardonnay fan. 
4 Stars

Giesen Vineyard selection Marlborough PInot Noir 2013 14.5%
Varietal, clean fresh and crisp aromas of Pinot Noir with sweet cherry, red apple skin and raspberry notes; very mild oak keeping the fruit forward attributes leading the nose. On the palate a dry wine that emphasises the fruit signature of Pinot Noir with lots of light red fruit flavors, mild yet fine tannins and a little more oak now showing adding to the finish. Light bodied, dry finish, balanced and well made.
3.5 Stars

Friday, 29 August 2014

Craggy Range

Craggy Range 'Aroha' Te Muna Pinot Noir 2012 Martinborough 13%
The volume of pinosity is turned up with this wine - a lot of generous and striking light red fruit aromas - dark strawberry, raspberry and plum with a layer of red cherry; a large helping of oak further defines the Craggy style (I like it). On the palate a dry wine with medium+ acidity, oak, fruit and complexity. The tannins are as soft as they are volumous with a fine texture reflecting both the oak and fruit origins. A lengthy finish with a light yet obvious dovetail of fruit.
4.5 Stars 

Nautilus Estate

Nautilus Estate Pinot Noir Marlborough 2012 14%
Generous rich and very inviting bouquet - Clive Jones more than gets Pinot Noir - he is an expert at capturing the heart and soul of Pinot Noir (gush). Dark red cherry and raspberry fruits laced with five spice oak, toasty with a full complement of Marlborough fruits. Great complexity and charm with personality and pinosity (gush again). On the palate - it all comes together with warmth, depth and complexity. The flavors of medium to dark red fruits with toasty vanilla oak spice and a mild savory layer make for a very smart wine overall. Can you tell that I like this wine! Medium++ length and finish a wine for decanting if serving tonight or cellaring for 5 years.
5 Stars (90 Points)

Te Kairanga

Te Kairanga TK Pinot Noir 2013 Martinborough 14%
Ripe, clean, varietal and showing pinosity - this benchmark Pinot from TK reveals a lot of drink now qualities with aromas and flavors of plum, cranberry, strawberry and cherry fruits held in place with a decent measure of oak, but definitely not too much showing a mild spice and toasty layer; medium tannins and medium+ ish acidity. Balanced and well made in a drink now expression.
3 Stars

Te Kairanga TK 'John Martin' Pinot Noir 2013 Martinborough 14%
A bouquet that shows a big hand at the outset with a bold statement of oak equally showing generosity of fruit and complexity; specific barrel choice shows the seriousness of this wine with complexity and depth; dark plum, roasted cherry pie and black strawberry add to the fruit core. On the palate - dry yet very juicy with a lovely concentration of fruit flavors; medium+ tannins and acidity; medium+ oak and a longish finish. Memorable and more than drinkable.
5 Stars


Peregrine Pinot Noir 2011 Central Otago 13.5%
A generous and toasty warm bouquet of red fruits centering on red plum and raspberry, the black cherry notes I also get are emphasised by the judicious use of oak - which is obvious but certainly not overdone; medium+ complexity and inviting. On the palate - dry, tasty, chewy and complex with cherry and red fruit flavors, a touch of Otago wild brush, a dry stone almost schist-like quality to the minerality; the tannins are fine and tense with a mix of oak and fruit origins and with the oak at the fore in this still very youthful example; medium+ complexity and finish. A fine wine to be included in your next cellar purchase.
4.5 Stars

Te Mania

Te Mania Nelson Pinot Noir 2013 13.5%
Lots of cranberry laced red fruits drive the bouquet of this example: raspberry fresh and dried, plum and cranberry fruits, a touch of red apple skin and red floral. On the palate - dry, crisp and youthful with flavors of crisp and youthful red fruits especially cranberry and strawberry; medium tannins that still need a year or so the integrate into the wine more (so put a few away please); medium length and a mild finish with the oak and oak spice elements emerging on the finish - nice!
3 Stars

Mills Reef Winery

Mills Reef Winery Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Hawke's Bay 2013 13.5%
Immediately appealing with a complex and attractive bouquet of sweet lemon and grapefruit flesh, red and green apple and spice; there is a core of fruit at the heart of this wine. On the palate - dry and fresh, packed with flavor and a dash of subtlety, high acidity emphasises the old fashioned lemonade quality; a dry and wet stone layer adds a mineral note as does a dash of spice natural peach and ginger tea. medium+ finish, balanced and well made.
4.5 Stars

Brancott Estate

Brancott Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014 13%
The punchy and fragrant aromas of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc are well embraced in this example: passion fruit and lemon, red apple and grapefruit, wet stone and sweet crisp air are easily identified. On the palate - very crisp and almost dry with lush fruit flavors and vibrant palate appeal. There's no mistaking the signature of Both Brancott and Marlborough in this wine. Overall a lovely example that is sure to please many who like Sauvignon Blanc in this style.
4 Stars 


Grover Zampa 'Art Collection' Sauvignon Blanc 2013 13.5%
Varietal with an herbaceous lift - varietal with a grassy and zesty bouquet laced with lemon skin and other citrus fruits; apple and tropical notes. On the palate a crisp wine with an immediate herbaceous quality followed by some citrus flavors; this transitions into a another spectrum that I suspect is linked to the yeasts of the region and even some terroir elements - a quinine and lemon zest combination - that I associate with tonic water (and gin).
Overall a sound, light bodied and dry finishing wine.

Grover Zampa 'Art Collection' Cabernet Shiraz 2013 14%
A very fruity bouquet packed with aromas of dark red fruits and black currant; the sweet fruit lift often associated with a wine from South Australia is obvious to me - a little jammy. A mild wood element adds a hint of complexity. On the palate - dry with flavors of reds fruits - mostly currant and plum based, medium acidity and mild tannins - a very approachable wine - now - perhaps not for the cellar. Overall a sound wine with medium length and a mild finish.

Grover Zampa 'Grover Vineyards La Reserve Nandi Hills 2011 Cabernet Shiraz 14%
The Shiraz component drives the bouquet with a peppery dark fruits laden beginning; the oak is noticeable yet well placed; the Cabernet follows with blackberry fruits and a light herbaceous quality. On the palate - dry with sweet and lush fruits laced with oak and a quinine like layer - adding a touch of complexity and charm - certainly a point of difference. Like the Art Collection Shiraz Cabernet there is a warm climate Australian feel about the wine; medium+ tannins - smooth yet integrating still, medium acidity and finish. A well made wine with potential.
3 Stars

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Tony Bish

Tony Bish 'Fat n Sassy' Chardonnay Hawke's Bay 2013 13.5%
A gentle Chardonnay bouquet with a soft unfurling of sweet stone fruit; this builds  as the wine begins to open up over a few minutes. The aromas of oak are mixed with roasted and fresh stone fruits especially peach, layers of vanilla and toasty oak add complexity.
On the palate - a lush and full bodied wine with lots of Chardonnay finesse and charm; plump stone fruit flavors with creamy golden delicious apple suggestions; a brioche nutty note adds to the complexity; A lovely example that will capture many on its texture alone; while this wines finishes dry it offers a sweet and lush feel with a longish finish.
4 Stars

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Washington State Wine Tasting

I am in Seattle for the Society of Wine Educators Conference.
This is no Junket!
Attended some great tastings today at conference - then a fabulous dinner at The Glasshouse where a Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition provided a stunning backdrop

Among the many wines I tasted - before dinner - I wanted to share some highlights of wines to look out for if you get the chance to be in the State or spot them on a wine list:
Brief notes and images below.

Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica Riesling 2007

5 Stars - Wow what a sterling wine - powerful bouquet of sweet citrus laced apple fruits; high acidity and a long floral mineral finish.

Sparkman Cellars Yakima Valley

4 Stars - a Roussane, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc blend - perfectly balanced with medium+ acidity and playful texture - lightly creamy; a lovely aperitif or entree wine.

4.5 Stars - Perhaps the jewel in the crown of this producer - dark, broody, rich and flavorful, youthfully aggressive tannins with a ripe and supple edgyness; medium+ acidity and a longish finish.

Avennia Wines Yakima Valley Syrah 2012

5 Stars - A complete wine with an astounding bouquet of dark red berries, wild violets and complexity. What I like most about this producer is the way in which he captures textures and synergy from the first taste to the last sip - there is great mouth feel with this wine - the hands off but attention to detail in the process style works here completed with a minimum fining and filtration.

Betz Family Winery Columbia Valley 

All the wines in the line up today are worthy of mention - however the one that shows off this producer the most is the Besoleil GSM blend (2nd picture below). 

4 Stars - a charming fragrant and floral bouquet with lush red fruit leading the way; juicy tannins and medium+ (ish) acidity with a lengthy finish. A wine and style this producer should embrace and make lots more of. Looking forward to trying more in the range some time soon.

Gramercy Cellars Syrah 2011 Walla Walla

A flagship style for the state and Syrah - Greg Harrington MS and assistant Winemaker - Brandon Moss clearly demonstrate their understanding of Syrah and its boundaries with this expression - bold, rich, calm fruit and broody tannins - a bit like a Stallion chomping on the bit ready to race. Fabulous structure and balance; medium+ acidity, controlled alcohol, long finish.
5 Stars

Some images from the Chihuly exhibition below:

Friday, 8 August 2014

Te Kairanga

Te Kairanga 'Runholder' Pinot Noir 2013 Martinborough 14%
A vibrant bouquet with lots of red cherry and cranberry fruit suggestions; as the wine opens up it reveals more raspberry fruit suggestions as well as light brown spice notes; the oak shows proud. On the palate - a dry wine, but has plenty of juicy fruit flavors with sweet raspberry and cherry leading; acidity is medium+ and tannins youthfully taut; a wine easily enjoyed with food or just left to mature in a decanter for a few hours. Cellar worthy attributes of 2-4 years; balanced with a youthful vibrancy and medium+ finish.
3.5 Stars

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Peregrine Wines

Peregrine Wines Saddleback Pinot Noir 2012 Central Otago 13%
Varietal, fruity, soft and inviting bouquet of raspberry and red cherry fruits, light brown spices from mild yet generous oak. A dry wine flavors that reflect the nose, medium tannins and acidity, some feminine floral notes; balanced, generous and memorable. An easy selection for by the glass and super food friendly.
4 Stars

Peregrine Wines Mohua Pinot Noir 2012 Central Otago 13%
Lots of vibrant and forward raspberry centred fruits with plenty of strawberry and cherry suggestions as well; mild oak and an inviting varietal presence. On the palate  - dry and fruity with just enough tannin grip to entice and capture attention; medium+ acidity, balanced and well made. Like the Saddleback an easy by the glass choice and food friendly.
3.5 Stars

Peregrine Wines Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 12.5%
Lots of fresh apple pear fruits with tropical ideas from passion fruit and even a little lychee. On the palate - just dry with plenty of acidity pushing the freshness buttons; all the fruit flavors described above return; medium length - refreshing and balanced. A wine that will please many a SB from Marlborough fan.
3.5 Stars

Villa Maria

Villa Maria Organic Merlot Hawke's Bay 2013 13.5%
Lots and rich and black plum and black cherry fruit aromas, medium+ (ish) oak suggestions; fresh and quite intense; on the palate - fruity and dry with moderate+ intensity and soft layers from gentle fruit handling; medium tannins add a lovely texture and length. Lovely balance and finish.
4 Stars

Villa Maria Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Cellar Selection 12.5%
Lots of bold and expressive red fruits - from dark plums to blackberry then suggestions of milk chocolate and marmite; a toasty note reveals the oak; medium complexity - bold and giving. On the palate - dry, fruity and flavorful with dark cherry, black fruits and little chocolate; lovely balance and finish with moderate oak adding complexity and finish. In the drink now style with or without food. Medium tannins and medium length. Smart buying.
3.5 Stars

Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Gimblett Gravels 2012 13%
Big and bold with black and dark cherry red fruits; the Cabernet makes its mark with its black fruit and vegetal attributes of blackberry and baked bell-pepper; youthful with very fresh fruit suggestions. On the palate - dry, medium+ to full-bodied and flavorful with black cherry pie and blackberry flavors; medium+ oak; medium+ tannins and acidity; a core of fruit; a well made wine with both longevity and food friendly attributes; reliable and bold.
4.5 Stars


Thornbury 2013 Merlot Hawke's Bay 13%
Quite bold and intense with black and red fruits - dark plum and blackberry, some black current suggestions and violet tones. On the palate - dry with with a fresh youthful attack; a wine laced with violets, roses and black cherry flavors; plums and blackberry fruit return, medium+ acidity with medium+ tannins. Well balanced and well made; a very smart wine with a drink now and cellar potential (2-3 years).
4 Stars

Thornbury Chardonnay 2013 Gisborne 13.5%
A gently creamy bouquet with lots fresh peachy fruit suggestions and crisp apple notes; there's also a light nutty oak appeal and light cheesy edge - very nice! On the palate - dry, creamy and packed with character; some charming fruit qualities with peach and light lemon notes, a light nutty appeal and light lees notes adding texture and finish; medium+ complexity; a wine that surprise many with its development over the next 2-4 years.
4.5 Stars

Thornbury Pinot Noir 2012 Central Otago
A full-on bouquet with black and red fruits - plums and cherry then a raspberry cola mix; red velvet roses and moderate oak; overall plenty of character, charm and varietal lift.
On the palate - dry, juicy and textured with medium+ red fruit flavors, plenty of vanillin from the use of oak, medium tannins and generous finish. Well made.
4 Stars

Richmond Plains

Richmond Plains 2012 Riesling Nelson 12.5%
A lovely forward bouquet with gently honeyed citrus fruits - plenty of lemon and apple suggestions; mandarin flower and white floral notes.
On the palate - dry, fruity, lemony and crisp. The honeyed edges to the fruit add both depth and a little complexity. A balanced a well made wine.
3.5 stars

Richmond Plains Blanc de Noir 2013 Nelson 12.5%
I like the bouquet of this wine with suggestions of peach and yellow plum, moderate floral notes and even a natural mineral layer, medium complexity and lots of charm. On the palate - dry and very flavorful with peach, light citrus and apple notes; a mineral layer adds complexity. Medium+ acidity, medium+ weight and length. A great expression of fruit with charm and finish.
4 Stars

Richmond Plains Pinot Gris 2013 Nelson 14.5%
A richer bolder bouquet with slightly riper white fruit suggestions - still very fruity though with golden apple and canned pear notes; moderate complexity and medium mineral suggestions.
On the palate - delicious - just dry with a nudge of sweetness; medium fruit intensity with white fruits and a little citrus; just medium+ acidity, balanced and well made with a very likeable finish.
4 Stars

Te Mania

Te Mania Nelson Riesling 2013 11.5%
Refreshingly fruity bouquet with sweet red and green apple aromas, old fashioned lemonade and lime flowers; on the palate - just dry with a little residual sugar, crisp and fresh with flavors of citrus and tree fruits; medium+ acidity; balanced and well made.
3.5 Stars