Saturday, October 18, 2008


Our special and notable visitor, who we see every quarter or so was in town again to do some work. Also in town was the tall Waiheke man, expounding his wares and the Island's. Down here, in Welly, it's quite some distance to that popular spot in the Hauraki Gulf, and the wines from there just don't get the exposure or the continued promotional push. But the tall Waiheke man overcame distance and re-ignited the flame for these northerly wines in many of the wine lovers down here.
So a dinner out at our favourite pan-Mediterranean eating house was in order. A drop of the ever-improving Bollinger 'Special Cuvee' was madatory before heading out. Fresher, more subtle than in the past, whilst retaining the complexity that the house is known for. At the restaurant, a lovely introductory 2007 Neudorf Moutere Riesling, Germanic in style and delicious, the sugar noticeable, but not intrusive. And a taste of a yet-to-be released 2007 Obsidian 'Weeping Sands' Syrah, lovely and spicy, with a touch too much oak toastiness showing at this early stage.
But the feature was a comparison of 1983 Ch. Haut-Brion and 1983 Ch. La Mission-Haut-Brion from the outskirts of Bordeaux city. Neighbours and rivals at the time, and the distance between the properties negligible. Yet in taste and style terms, the distance was a gulf (not a Hauraki Gulf!). The HB started out piercingly resiny-woody and linear with lightness and leanness. The LMHB full with lovely ripe Cabernet. It looked good. Then through the night, the ethereal nature and harmony, plus subtle nuances came out with the HB. It had 'line and length', and was indeed beautiful. However, our special visitor put a case forward for LMHB with its richness and size. Volume was a feature. Both had the Graves 'bricky' note, but it didn't dominate. Pleasingly, neither wine showed the dreaded brett that seemed to be pervading the clarets at the time.
We had a pleasant night with an old friend and a new one, both who live some distance away. But with friends, distance doesn't matter.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sweet Success

After a good night's work, we needed a few wines to settle down. Winemaker men from Hawke's Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago were in attendance.
First up was the new Bollinger Special Cuvee Rose NV. Fuller, softer, broader than the regular 'blanc' Special Cuvee with sweet berry fruit aromas appearing in and out. Not quite the sweet success it was at its first showing a few weeks back.
Then on to a mystery red, which most of us failed in playing wine options. The 2002 de Vogue Chambolle-Musigny was pretty meaty, full and bretty. Or was it lady-bug excretion as with the 2004s? But it all worked in spite of these menaces. More an expression of the vintage than of de Vogue? It was somewhat atypical for de Vogue from whom I expected something more fragrant and ethereal. A sweet success? I'd say so.
Followed by two Sauternes. Would these be sweet successes? The 1986 Ch. Lafaurie-Peyraguey was pale, lifted by VA, but tight and youthful. A lovely dry finish put Hawke's Bay wine man in a spin, as he wished he could replicate it. This was a wine that could handle another decade easily. Then on to the 1989 Ch. d'Yquem, in a half bottle. Intriguingly darker coloured with more evolution. Broad and barley-sugar like, this was medium weighted and still very lively. It didn't climb all over the previous wine, but we imagined what a 1986 Ch. d'Yquem would be like. Both this and the Ch. Laufaurie-Peyraguey were really sweet successes.