Saturday, 29 November 2014

Nevis Bluff

Nevis Bluff Reserve Pinot Noir 2008 Central Otago 14%
The bouquet suggests a wine that has enjoyed some bottle development - with a savory, yet still quite fruity beginning; other aromas include - schist/rock like mineral/earthy aromas; old strawberry, red cherry and oak with brown oak spices and wood. On the palate - savory and dry, there's a mid - palate rush of fruit centering on red apple skin and cherry flavors; medium level well integrated tannins that are quite fine; the mix of oak and savory fruit flavors along with medium/+suggests a wine that will age and continue to integrate at least for the next 2 years.
3.5 Stars

Nevis Bluff Pinot Gris 2011 Central Otago 13.5%
A stony rocky mineral note unfurls into spicy pear skin and Asian pear mix of aromas as well as lychee nut - moderate complexity and distinctive bouquet. On the palate - quite dry with medium acidity and bottle development flavors - this wine is ready to drink and enjoy now. Softer flavors of apple and pear with a baked quality. Some fresh fruit flavors remain. 

Nevis Bluff Oak Aged Pinot Gris 2013 Central Otago 14%
The oak aged suggestion is obvious on the nose with a cream and vanilla suggestion - both quite mild, but there is plenty of fruit too with baked pear and white fleshed fruit aromas. On the palate - dry, medium+ body, warmish alcohol and generous of flavor from both the oak and fruit. This is a nice alternative to Chardonnay because of the use of oak, weight of wine and different fruit profile; balanced and well made.
3.5 Stars

Nevis Bluff Pinot Noir 2010 Central Otago 13.5%
A pleasant bouquet of red cherry fruits, freeze-dried raspberry and soft gentle thyme like herb notes; palate reflects the nose with similar fruit and herbal qualities or flavors; medium integrating tannins, medium+ acidity and light floral suggestions. A balanced wine that is still developing; a lighter bodied wine too. Overall a food oriented style.
3.5 Stars


Akarua Central Otago Pinot Rose 2014 13%
Fruity, ripe, lush and very inviting aromas of warm summer berries - simple yet effective. On the palate - lush, fruity and crisp with plenty of acidity to off-set the core of fruit which is what this wine is all about. Medium weight, slightly creamy texture; great Summer drinking. What are you waiting for!
3.5 Stars

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Ara Wines

Ara Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Marlborough 13%
An aromatic blend of sweet and fresh herbs alongside ripe and sweet citrus aromas; tree fruits and tropical suggestions; pungent and lively bouquet. On the palate - a vibrant and lively wine packed with citrus and peach flavors, lively yet calm herbaceous flavors; high acidity, light weight, incredibly drinkable with a moderate + finish. Well made.
4 Stars

Ara Single Estate Pinot Gris 2014 Marlborough 13%
A little skin contact has given this wine a touch of color (good!) and some extra oomph in the bouquet -  leesy and almost cheesy pear skin and flesh aromas, sweet yellow apple and a sweet wet stone mineral note. On the palate - just off-dry with a hint of sweetness, lush and juicy white fruit flavors, medium+ acidity and a refreshing finish with a touch of spice.
Balanced, well made and in a drink now style.
4 Stars

Catalina Sounds

Catalina Sounds 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 13%
Very youthful bouquet of citrus and apple; firm herbaceous character and vibrancy overall.On the palate - a strikingly pungent attack with high acidity leading the charge; once this settles the wine reveals its varietal roots with herbaceous grassy bell pepper notes and pineapple led tropical fruits; the apple and citrus suggestions are strong as well, light weight, medium length - overall a classically styled example. needs another 6-12 months in bottle.
3.5 Stars

Catalina Sounds 2014 Pinot Gris Marlborough 14%
Lots of fruityness in the bouquet with sweet pear and apple, poached pear and a hint of sweet white spice. On the palate - warm and spicy with 14% - this shows; the fruit concentration helps to calm this aspect down along with medium+ acidity to keep the palate lively; overall an easy drinking expression.

Catalina Sounds 2013 Pinot Noir Marlborough 13.5%
Moderately intense bouquet with a blend of ripe red cherry and cranberry fruits and spicy toasty oak of moderate+ intensity; On the palate - savory, earthy complexity with medium tannins and medium+ acidity; a dry finishing wine with plenty of flavor and food friendly attributes; balanced and well made.
4 Stars


Stoneleigh Marlborough 'Nature's Collection' Limited Release Rose 2014 13.5%
Grapefruit hues and very bright appearance
A very generous and lush bouquet of sweet ripe fruits - melon, strawberry and peach; floral too; just a hint of spice. On the palate - very fruity, very lush and creamy, red fruit flavors and peach return, medium+ acidity, fresh, lively and very drinkable.
Serve chilled.
3 Stars

Stoneleigh Marlborough 'Nature's Collection' Sauvignon Blanc 2014 13%
Fruity, lively grassy and classic in its bouquet: Mango and passion-fruit tropical suggestions with sweet citrus and apple notes - simple yet effective. On the palate - light, fruity and with just a hint of sweetness there is plenty to like; the wines dances a little on the palate - making it a fresh, drink now and through Summer 2015 style. Balanced and well made if not a little short on the finish.

Mahurangi River Winery

Mahurangi River Winery 'Field of Grace' Chardonnay 2013 Matakana 14%
A very fruity bouquet with a wild peach and stone fruits followed by some mild sweet oak notes and a touch of lees complexity - overall fruity and straight forward. On the palate - dry and fruity with an obvious bite of oak; medium+ acidity shows off the citrus and tree fruit flavors followed by some stone fruit flavors as well. Overall and very drinkable, balanced wine.
3 Stars

Mahurangi River Winery 'Field of Grace' Reserve Chardonnay 2013 Matakana 14%
A much more complete wine on the nose - with a bouquet led by a decent balance between the fruit and oak; aroma sof roasted stone fruits and baked apple followed by generous oak and oak spices adding complexity and charm. On the palate - dry and youthful; flavors of citrus and oak lead yet there is a sweetness to the fruit that adds length and ageing potential. Medium+ body and acidity and finish. A wine for the cellar (open and try again December 2015) or decant for service.
4 Stars

Mahurangi River Winery Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2013 Matakana 13%
High impact on the nose with ripe, fresh and vibrant red fruit aromas - wild raspberry, blackcurrant and Doris plum; medium+ oak suggestions. On the palate - a dry wine with flavors of red fruits especially the wild raspberry and plum with an herbaceous layer coming from the Cabernet; medium+ tannins and acidity - a young wine that could do with some cellar time or decanting. Serve with cheese or medium rare red meat dishes.
3.5 Stars

Mahurangi River Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Matakana 13%
High impact dark red berry and oak bouquet - blackcurrant and blackberry fruits, a hint of coal and marmite and varietal herb nuances. On the palate - youthfully dry - this wine needs cellar time or specific food to calm the high tannins impact from the fruit and barrel. Medium+ acidity too and even a light violet floral note. Decant for service well ahead of time or cellar for 2+ more years. Lots of black and red berry fruit flavors with some spicy charry oak. A wine with potential,
4 Stars

Mahurangi River Winery Reserve Syrah 2013 Matakana 13%
This is the best wine that Mahurangi produce - I feel that this vineyard is well suited to Syrah with the bouquet of this wine shining with raspberry and black fruit aromas, hints of leather and brown spice, the ripeness and generosity of fruit likes the level of oak used. On the palate - generous with a mild peppery spice, abundant tannins from fruit and oak alongside medium+ acidity, a balanced and well made wine with great drinkability now and cellarability as well. A generous and longish finish with the black fruit flavors completing the wine's message on the palate. Good Job!
5 Stars

The 3rd Man

The 3rd Man Semillon Sauvignon Waipara 2013 12.5%
Waxy and citrusy bouquet with aromas of grapefruit then tropical fruit - gooseberry, pineapple and peach come to mind, simple yet generous beginning. On the palate - dry, crisp and textured with flavors of grapefruit and lemon, red and green apple and hints of tropical fruit; medium++ acidity, medium- body and a crisp lingering finish. 
3 Stars

Kalex Wines

Kalex Wines 'Alex Kaufman' Riesling Central Otago 2013 9%
Sweet mandarin, green apple and mineral laden white flowers greet the nose - quite an impact and with everything I like about Riesling from Otago - generous, fruity and rich in character. On the palate - this is an off-dry style - but don't let this sway your decision - the wine is packed with vibrant acidity and flavors of citrus and tree fruits with a hot lemon juice finish. The minerality is obvious and adds much to the completeness of this example (can you tell I like it?). The finish is long and persistent with a subtle white flower layer. Delish!
4.5 Stars

Kalex Wines 'Alex Kaufman' SV Pisa Terrace Riesling Central Otago 2013 12%
This wine is a little denser and richer in its bouquet - compared with its lower alcohol brother (above); the bouquet does have a fine mix of mandarin, tangerine and sweet apple aromas, a touch of apple tart-tartin and loads of mineral messages as well as white rose. On the palate - off dry at first then drier as the acidity kicks in; flavors of citrus and apple return with a strong mineral layer and quince fruit note. Generous medium+ length and finish. Lovely!
4.5 Stars

Alex K Pinot Noir 'Big Backyard' Central Otago 2013 13.9%
A very 'Pinot Noir' bouquet with lots of ripe red cherry fruit suggestions supported by plum and brown spices from barrel. On the palate - just dry with lots of fruit impact - cherry and plum once again; medium+ acidity and medium fine tannins; the oak is a layered component adding complexity and some generosity to the palate. Overall simple, effective and very drinkable. Medium length and well made.
3.5 Stars

Kalex Wines Pinot Noir Central Otago 2012 14%
Great bouquet with some bottle maturity adding complexity; lots of aromas of red fruits with brown spiced cherry and raspberry fruit suggestions; there is still some integration required from the oak as it is quite bold; overall quite complex. On the palate - as the nose suggests with some bottle development complexity, plenty of fruit but not fruit weight, dry with medium+ acidity and medium tannins, balanced and well made. A food wine that requires decanting for service. Enjoy through 2015.
3.5 Stars

Kalex Wines Pinot Noir Rose Brut Central Otago 2011 13.5%
A copper/salmon coloured appearance - very bright and oozing with fine bubble.
Quite a rich earthy and savory bouquet with a plenty of autolysis up front; fruit aromas include baked strawberry and quince with red apple nuances. On the palate - savory, crisp, earthy and dry - quite masculine in nature. The fruits do return for a wee wave, the wine seems built around its savory and bottle development characters. The mousse is bold and intense at first then subsides quickly to a quiet prickle. Overall  - good, dry, very drinkable and should work well with food. In fact am off to a Thanksgiving lunch - I'll test its potential there.

Sacred Hill

Sacred Hill 'Deerstalkers' Syrah 2012 Hawke's Bay 13.5%
A wave of fruit, oak and subtle complexity hits the nose then slows down to reveal a bouquet of sweet raspberry and ripe Christmas red cherry aromas laced with layers of spicy French oak; a complex bouquet too as these attributes seesaw in intensity - each getting a turn. On the palate - dry, packed with spice-laden red fruit flavors and a chewy texture. A very complete wine on nose and palate with medium+ acidity, tannins and flavor with a long finish and a little flick of violets on the very end. Frankly - a marvelous expression!
5 Stars


Taylors Merlot Clare Valley Australia 2013 14%
Ripe plum and black fruit aromas with black cherry a highlight; a judicious amount of oak adds depth and a caramel note. On the palate - dry with some generous red and black fruit highlights - again the black cherry and plum stand out; moderate oak, mild tannins and depth of flavor, a balanced and well made wine that will suit quite a range of dishes.
3 Stars

Taylors Promised Land Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia 2013 13.5%
Lots of Cabernet black fruit aromas with blackberry and ripe red currant suggestions; roasted coffee bean and a charry oak layer add generosity to the bouquet. On the palate - dry and very fruity with lots of black fruit flavors, black cherry and Doris plum flavors; some sweetness to the fruit alongside the charry oak adds lots of power to the palate overall. Moderate tannins and acidity. Balanced and well made - will suit many a palate who like sweet red meat dishes.
3.5 Stars

Taylors Promised Land Shiraz Cabernet South Australia 2010 13.5%
The floral and peppery lift of Shiraz leads the bouquet - albeit light in intensity it marries up to the Cabernet component well - red and black fruits; a touch of brown sugar highlights the oak layer. On the palate - dry, balanced and well made with a nice balance between the oak and fruit components while the mix of varieties used speak well to each other. Fruity with a moderate length and finish. Medium+ tannins and medium acidity. An easy drinking style that many should like.
3.5 Stars

Taylors 'Eighty Acres' Clare Valley Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2011 14%
Lots of sweet and ripe lifted red fruit aromas of blackberry and lightly spiced plum and red currant aromas; moderate oak influences add a layer of complexity and harmony. On the palate - dry and fruity with a generous blend of fruit and oak flavors, medium tannins and acidity all add texture and length. Balanced, well made and drinking nicely now and through 2015.
4 Stars

Taylors 'Jaraman' Shiraz Clare Valley McLaren Vale 2012 14.5%
Generous, variety, fruity and complexity from some bold use of oak - vanilla and toasted spices. Black currant, roasted raspberry fruits, light peppery notes and and an earthy chocolate note. On the palate - dry with sweet fruits, spiced currant flavors, vanilla and charred oak barrel notes. Fuller-bodied expression with plenty of character and expression. Medium+ tannins and acid to match. Smart buying.
4.5 Stars

Taylors 'Eighty Acres' Shiraz South Australia 2013 14%
Sweet red raspberry and cherry red fruits bouquet laced with brown sugar and peppery spice - not too much though. On the palate - sweet and juicy red fruit flavors dominate with medium acidity bringing some balance to the wine; the raspberry and red cherry flavors dominate the palate with some very mild oak influences; just dry on the finish; very easy to drink style; short finish.
3 Stars


Neudorf 'Maggie's Block' Pinot Gris 2014 14%
A generous and enticing bouquet of Gris aromas - white peach and fleshy pear under-pinned by a white floral and mineral suggestion. On the palate - just dry with some residual sugar and warming alcohol to fill the palate with temptation; flavors of tree fruits and a little citrus peel add to the story nicely. Medium weight and length, balanced and well made.
3.5 Stars

Neudorf 'Moutere' Chardonnay 2013 14%
This is what Chardonnay is all about - balance, generosity, complexity and persistent flavors on the palate: a seamless bouquet of ripe stone-fruit aromas laced with decent measure of oak; just enough lees stirring and solids contact to add complexity and some complex sulphide notes. On the palate - just the same with a seamless transition into flavors and textures that make Chardonnay fans stay exactly where they want to be. Generous, rich in texture and flavors of stone fruit and mineral nuances, noticeable oak without interference. Well done Neudorf - this is the best yet!
5 Stars (94 Points)

Neudorf 'Twenty Five Rows' Chardonnay 2013 14%
Aromas of sweet peach and fresh barrel greet the nose first then evolve into a complex bouquet of mineral, stones and fruit as the wine begins to reveal its true self. There is a mix of some new and older barrel aromas as well as core of fruit that hugs the oak and oak spice suggestions. On the palate - dry, creamy, leesy, fruity and gentle spices show off a wine with power and impact. This is such good Chardonnay I am almost speechless - the textures and length on the palate are superb; medium+ acidity and weight and a long winding finish. Outstanding example!
5 Stars (95 Points)

12,000 Miles

12,000 Miles Pinot Gris Gladstone 2014 13.5%
Plenty of varietal aromas to tease the nose with - sweet pear and crisp yellow apple alongside peach and dusting of powdered sugar; On the palate - dry with a firm Gris expression of white fleshed tree fruits, some white peach and lemon peel; medium+ acidity, light+ body; balanced and well made. A food wine for sure.
3 Stars

The Paddler

The Paddler Marlborough Gruner Veltliner 2012 13% - A wine by Matt Thomson
A fruity, varietal and generous expression of Gruner on the nose - a mix of stone fruits and citrus as well as some vegetal Gruner attributes including a touch of white pepper; On the palate - dry, crisp and with a mix of Gruner vegetal flavors as well as citrus and citrus peel notes. Very much a food wine requiring a specific menu consideration involving higher acid dishes or even Italian with lots of capers. Overall - Good.

Blank Canvas

Blank Canvas Marlborough Riesling 2013 9%
Quite a striking bouquet with clean, fresh and clear varietal character - lemon, grapefruit and crisp green apple aromas; some light flora; and mineral water notes. On the palate - off-dry with a medium to dry palate; lots of refreshing acidity brings the flavors of apples and citrus alive; medium length, moderate weight, balanced and well made; crisp dryish finish.
3.5 Stars

Blank Canvas Marlborough Gruner Veltliner 2013 13%
Some varietal characters of sweet pea and radish alongside aromas of citrus and white fleshed tree fruits, a very light herbal quality, mild in impact overall. On the palate - quite a dry wine with a very mild flavor and impact. Short finish.

Mr Difficulty Wines

Mt Difficulty Lowburn Valley Central Otago Riesling 2014 10.5%
A delicious bouquet of sweet mandarin, ripe lemon and crisp red apple aromas topped off with mineral & floral scents. On the palate - off-dry with some pretty obvious residual sugar - this is balanced however by lots of refreshing acidity; flavors of sweet red apple and citrus return along with the mineral and stronger floral scents; balanced and well made with both sweet or spicy starters or slightly sweet dessert courses.
4 Stars

Mt Difficulty 'SV Long Gully' Bannockburn Central Otago Chenin Blanc 2014 11%
A fruity and enticing bouquet of CB - with aromas of crisp and sweet red apple, green pear and a light dusting of raw brown sugar, a floral/mineral mix adds a layer of complexity. On the palate - off dry with some noticeable sweetness at first, but this soon dissipates to reveal a wine with a juicy and crisp character with a mix of mineral and fruit flavors. Medium in weight and medium+ length - love it!
4 Stars

Mt Difficulty 'Grower Series' 'Pisa Range' Gewurztraminer 2014 Central Otago 14%
The bouquet for this wine unfurls quickly and quite intensely with aromas of wild lavender, stony minerality, softly spiced white fleshed fruits and a commanding presence. On the palate - off-dry to dry, oily, floral and densely flavored - white flesh and stone fruit flavors, medium acidity, a hint of tannin and squeezed citrus peel fills the back palate; medium+ finish, wonderful balance and length and presence. Very very very good.
5 Stars

Sunday, 2 November 2014


Neudorf Chardonnay 2013 Nelson 14%
When first considering this wine be careful not to make your judgement on the first 2 sips immediately after opening - this is a wine that requires 10 minutes in glass with a few swirls to allow it to really open up and show what lies beneath. This tasting note is therefore based on a post opening 10 minute - rest period: 
Vine-age and smart wine making has brought a real depth to the bouquet of this example - there is complexity surrounding the youthful fruits of lemon and apple; the depth and calm of new and older oak envelopes the nose almost masking a line of stony almost silty minerality.
On the palate - dry and quite creamy tempered by youthful acidity and warmth of alcohol; flavors of lemon, apple and white peach emerge then a stony mineral undertone; medium+ (ish) in weight. There is a real charm and even elegance about this wine that many Chardonnay fans will find appealing - I do.
4 Stars

Saturday, 1 November 2014


Crossroads Winemakers Collection Syrah 2013 Gimblett Gravels 13.5%
Fabulous bouquet of ripe, sweet red and black fruits; sweet meats and kid leather; a vibrant and youthful package of aromas - centering on the core of fruit.
On the palate - dry with lots of texture from the tannins; loads of red and black fruit flavors, some peppery moments, but not too many; youthful yet complex; juicy and long. A wine to decant, cellar or just enjoy. remarkably good!
5 Stars (92 Points)

Crossroads 'Talisman' 2012 Hawkes Bay 12.5%
The blend is a secret, but there's Cabernet X 2 and Merlot in here for sure
There's a silkyness to the way in which this wine reveals its core - lots of black fruits drive the varietal campaign with black doris plums making a show a long the way; there's no doubt about the complexity and masculine drive. Violets.
On the palate - very youthful indeed with loads of tannins and acidity, plenty of bold black fruit flavors, complex and long. A charming wine in its early years. A long adventurous finish. Well made.
5 Stars 

Paritua Vineyards

Paritua Vineyards '21.12 Twenty. One. Twelve' 2010 Hawke's Bay 13.5%
Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Cabernet Franc
Ripe, rich and Bordeaux-esque bouquet with loads of black fruit aromas, gun metal, stony hard soil and complexity that is hard to find in a NZ red of this nature. 
On the palate - equally rich and complex, but with a fabulous harmony and richness. The core of fruit key to a wine like this is not lost and carries the palate through it bold use of oak, high tannin and acid count and finish - which is long and complex!
Well done - really good wine.
5 Stars

Elephant Hill

Elephant Hill 2013 Syrah Hawke's Bay 13.5%
Fabulous color of rich ruby, and purple with a pink rim
Stony, gravelly minerals layered with rich and opulent fruits of smoked raspberry, blackcurrant and wild berries; loads of oak only enhances the complexity and polish this wine has on the nose.
On the palate - dry and lush, vibrant and fresh, new leather and smokey oak, meaty and rich; there's more than enough concentration of fruit so soak up the oak; medium+ acidity, peppery (ish) and plenty of tannin; gravelly minerals, long finish - excellent example.
5 Stars (91 Points)

Tin Pot Hut

Tin Pot Hut 2012 Hawke's Bay Syrah 13%
Smokey meaty and vibrant bouquet with the volume of each set to the mid-point: varietal with wild and fresh raspberry and black currant fruits; dried meat suggestion and plenty of oak to bring them altogether.
On the palate - dry with juicy red fruit flavors, medium+ acidity and tannins, mild white and black pepper and medium+ use of oak. Everything works well with this wine - complexity and harmony seem to be a natural attribute; longish finish - well made.
4.5 Stars


Ellero 2012 Pinot Noir Pisa Terrace Central Otago 13.9%
Romance in a glass - there really is something special about the wines of Ellero - particularly the Pinot Noir - a signature of minerality, vibrant light red fruit and specific oak choice all in harmony - yet youthful enough still to know there's development time ahead.
On the palate - tense and poised with a vibrant youthfulness that demands cellar time; medium+ acidity and tannins; lots of oak bite, but complexity too. The oak drives the palate for the moment, but this will change. Pretty long finish that ends with a reminder of the fruit and mineral.
5 Stars

Ellero 2014 Gewurztraminer Central Otago 14%
Softly spoken aromas of Traminer with suggestions of rose and white spring flowers, white fleshed fruits and a gentle spice layer; there is a powdered rock note that I find enticing. On the palate - dry with gently white pepper spice layer to the white fruits and a layer of citrus adds breadth to the palate; as the wine warms in glass it reveals a mineral, crushed rock layer; floral, medium+ acidity, balanced and well made with a medium+ finish. Lovely example - gentle, subtle and memorable.
4.5 Stars

Black Estate

Black Estate Pinot Noir 2012 Waipara Valley 13%
A bouquet with complexity and depth - mature vine aromas melded with well chosen oak alongside gulps of pinosity: mineral laden light red fruits and gently spiced oak and lite-brown spice suggestions.
On the palate - lots of pinosity and youth - a wine still in development. Dry with flavors of light red fruits and plum, lots of fine tannins with the fruit and oak sources competing a little - again a wine still in development; complex with a great mineral signature and finish.
4 Stars

Mud House

Mud House 2013 Pinot Noir 'Claim 431 Vineyard' Central Otago 14%
Vibrant ruby appearance with aromas to match - ripe red plum and raspberry with a spice layer, forward in its fruityness, but also has a mineral layer that is easily missed as the fruits are so bold.
On the palate - dry - lushousley fruity, lightly smokey and very flavorful; reminds of a Passe tout Grains and Beaujolais combined with its hint of whole berry flavor; mild brown spice notes; medium+ acidity, fine tannins, balanced and well made. Will please many who have a glass of this.
4.5 Stars