Friday, December 31, 2010

Arriving with the New

Seeing the New Year in with Gordy and Perfect P was a rather civilised affair; no outrageous antics, thank goodness, as the day has been action-packed with adventurous exercise and fun (?) household type work. Gordy and Perfect P had travelled some distance after finishing work, so it really was ideal.

SWMBO & I thought we might begin proceedings with a 2005 Paulinshof Bruneberger Juffer Riesling Spatlese on our own. A new producer for both of us, but with the Fritz Haag there doing great things there it was worth a try. Unfortunately this bottle was oxidised, so we thought it best if we waited til the arrival of our guests for thew new bottles. So we sipped on a rather delicious 2007 Mt Edward Riesling, full-bodied, off-dryish, a touch of secondary toast, but with a long way to go.

Then they arrived. 1996 Duval-Leroy Champagne was golden, scarily so, as it too looked oxidised. But instead it was oxidative, and rather heavily so. Rather gutsy and almost brutally so, and not the elegance of Chardonnay-influence I expected. Forward too, as the 1996s are reported to be. Then the most exciting new wine I'd seen in a while. 2009 FX Pichler 'Loibner Berg' Gruner Veltliner 'Smargd' was more like a gentle Gewurztraminer with refined unctuous textures and beautiful rose-petal spices. Gordy served it blind, and we all went Gewurz.... Amazing stuff! To see how good it was, out came a 2001 Rolly Gassmann Gewurztraminer 'Brandhurst' VT. This definitely was Gewurz with sugar and a touch of botrytis, all superbly melded together. Even more unctuous, and drinking on a plateau now. Lots of florals, honey and ginger here. This bottling was new to us, though Rolly Gassmann is well-known.

To see the New Year arrive, we finished off a wee bottle of Esk Valley Liqueur Muscat. 20 years in the making, and now showing the expression and complexity desired. Gorgeously lush with ripe/baked fruits and rancio-barrel complexity. Excellent cutting spirit. The acidity is high. This has been it's bugbear in the earlier showings, but it wall worked. And on top of it, it was packaged par-excellence in a clear 375 ml flute, capped with red wax and carrying a Jane Gray label. This rare wine has arrived, and with the arrival of 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Following On

The impetus had been gathering for a gathering. One had a devastating loss just a short while ago, and the many friends and acquaintances happened to realise that today was a time that we could all meet, eat, drink and see light in our lives, following on from tougher times. And even though there were a few of us who had not met properly before, in true fashion, there were only one or two degrees of separation...

The wines that turned up were many and varied, but I worked my way through the following. Firstly whites, a 2007 S.A. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, deliciously sweet and minerally, loved by all there, but resting on sugar in the final analysis. Then came a 2009 Starborough Marlborough Pinot Gris, subtly exotic, and easy to miss, following on from the Mosel wine. And a surprisingly structured and lolly-fruited 2009 Vynfields Pinot Rose. Still quite thirst-quenching, though a year after the latest release.

A couple of new reds followed on. A 2004 Conde de Valdemar Rioja Reserva, fresh, berried, up-front and thoroughly modern. Most people at the gathering loved it. To me, it started well, but did not finish. Nothing wrong with it, but just not the satisfaction the traditional Rioja can provide. Next was a 2005 Sacred Hill 'Brokenstone' Merlot. Just starting to see some game notes. Brett? I don't know or think so, though SWMBO believed it there. But sweet and clean, with no drying out. Just all there in great proportion, juiciness and ripeness. A star for me.

The serious reds followed on. History for many of us. 1983 Coopers Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. Grunty, herbaceous and grubby. Microbiological spoilage, or maybe rodent spoilage? The size of the wine was a residue of how this might have been impressive two decades plus ago. Then a 1984 Abel & Co Cabernet Sauvignon. Leafy and stalky, but with fruit sweetness and a silky texture. Drinkable really. Final in this triple trio treat was a 1985 Cooks Private Bin Cabernet Sauvignon. Light, ripe, but insubstantial. Easy to drink a not-much-there wine. But is that really pleasant? Well, this was not unpleasant.

Then The Angel brought out her specially saved Villa Maria Reserve Noble Riesling 1998. Golden, caramelised barley-sugar with a touch of oxidation. Rich, but acidic. Not ugly, but a former shadow of the beauty it once had. Some residue of grace was detectable. It would have been delectable a decade ago. There was nothing to follow on, but then again, there was no need.

Come Right

It's interesting how one's perspective can change on a wine with time. More often than not, for the better, when emotions and strong ideas have settled down. The holistic viewpoint is seen to be the best, and focussing on parts and aspects can be negative.

The 2005 Man O' War 'Valhalla' Chardonnay was all out of sorts on release. Ungainly and four-square. The oak was too prominent. But then just opened now, it was all together and complete. A bit of an old-fashioned, solid number, but actually really satisfying. Sure it was solid and stolid, and too oaky, but it worked, having come right!

Larry McKenna will admit in a weak moment that his 2006 Escarpment 'Hinemoa' LH Riesling is not as good as he would have liked. Rain at end of harvest diluted the wine in his opinion. He might even be a little embarrassed if it was served on the dinner table if he was there. But I've always liked it. It had elegance and all the right flavours. Lightness of feet. But on opening now, it has just put on the little bit more to tip it over the edge of elegance into decadence. If it wasn't right before, it has come right now...

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Decade

A couple of wines at around a decade of age showed how good or bad wines can develop, after a decade, which can be a bit of a magical number to do this sort of thing. Of course, we had it with Jube's special lamb dish, to allow the wines show their best.

A 2001 Daniel Schuster 'Selection - Omihi Vineyard' Pinot Noir was a bit of a stunner. Danny, whose Canterbury operation has now folded, was erratic with his output. Sometimes the wines were disappointing, other times brilliant. A bit like burgundy really. This 2001 was special from the start. An now, a decade down the track, it still is. Garnet hues to colour, this was distinctly secondary with tertiary notes too. Fungal, game and savouries. But ultra-smooth and velvety, yet with substance and fruit extract. New Zealand Pinot Noir can age...

To go with the lamb also was a 2000 Crossroads 'Talisman', the enigmatic creation of Malcolm Reeves. The varietal mix has never been made public, but no doubt there was Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, with Syrah, Malbec and two others, possibly including the likes of Tannat? The 2008 is gorgeous. But this 2000 was plagued by brett. Smelled like concentrated sweaty horses, the palate was all dried up. It was black as the Ace of Spades and dense as pitch, but the fruit and sweetness had gone. If only it was clean, it would have been a marvel.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Gestalt Drinking

The day's activities of relaxing and socialising meant a number of wines were opened, tasted or consumed. With all of the bottles opened, the psychological principle of gestalt came to mind. 'Sum of parts' and 'the whole' were phrases that were appropriate.
Two half bottles of NV Laurent-Perrier Champagne were opened. They've been sitting in the cellar a couple of years. Usually they get consumed quickly, as the 375 ml size is ideal for spontaneous opening. As we all know, 1.5 Litre magnums are ideal for keeping any length of time. These two were excellent. Quite dry and surprisingly so, but with the core of complex toastiness that comes from time on cork. They would be appreciated by those with 'English' tastes, which included SWMBO and me on this occasion. Here two half bottles gave better than one whole.

Then a stunning 2010 Saint Clair 'Wairau Reserve' Sauvignon Blanc. The different 'Pioneer Block' wines are all the constituent bits, it seems. The 'Wairau Reserve' one could imagine being the best bits put together. Sometimes that could be the case, other times it is the best performing block wine. We don't know. Whatever the case, this was incredibly refined, yet had the benchmark pungent passionfruit aromas and depth. With sheer class. You normally don't say this about wines from this variety.

We moved onto a 2008 Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett. This bottle a little out of sorts - or was it us? We usually drink Erni's wines in the context of his whole range. On its own, it was difficult to get the full perspective. I love the way this vineyard delivers exotic and ethereal florals. Here it was limes and minerals in a staid fashion. We opened this because of the Brazillette's new man of German origin being here.

With the meal, we paired 2006 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir with the single vineyard 2006 Ata Rangi 'McCrone Vineyard' Pinot Noir. The former made up of a blend of the best fruit from all the vineyards, the latter a special bottling of one special site. 2006 was a brilliant year in the region and it showed with both wines. Youthful, fresh, tight, vibrant and with tension. The healthy, ripe fruit was startling. The richness and depth of interest in fruit expression with textured palate weight made them international standard. The 'regular' wine was quite complete. Accessible now, with ultimate balance. It will keep a decade yet. The 'McCrone' still raw and primary. The componentry was in your face. Dark fruit depth, acidity, tannin structure and even the alcohol. Needing knitting together. Quite singular. It will come together, and maybe live 15 years easily. But tonight harmony and balance, completeness and togetherness won the day - or should I say night.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


It's wonderful how consistency is so reassuring. Our neighbours, the Triple Irish Connection, have always been excellent people to have next-door. They are friendly and helpful, and never intrusive. They are always fun, and if the need arises, alway dependable. Wines endear us with their consistent behaviour, and sharing a few bottles wine with the neighbours brought this point home.
We started with a few newbie whites. In the short history these have been around, they have been dependable. A 2010 Framingham Marlborough Sauv Blanc showed how Dr Andrew H. has stepped up with this variety. It's even better than the acclaimed 2009 vintage, richer, but more vibrant. Then a 2010 Starborough Marlborough Pinot Gris. Second release is as good as the first. Penetrating aromatics and a sleekness made this a goodie. Thirdly a 2009 Vynfields Martinborough Dry Riesling. It wasn't dry, but who cares when it is full of fruit breadth and depth, whilst retaining elegance. This will live 6-8 years plus. It follows a long line of good Rieslings from this excellent producer.
A 2009 Mt Beautiful Cheviot Pinot Noir set the scene with the reds. It's as good as the 2007 inaugural release and better than the early-maturing 2008. Good soft red fruits with racy acids. And then to a 2006 Man o' War Waiheke Island Merlot/Cab. In Magnum. Good job it was, 'cos it was a cracker. Nice dark berry and plum fruits spiced up with a bit of new oak. I hear this label is consistently on the up. We left about half of the bottle for the Triple Irish Connection to enjoy the next day.
On to the ridiculous. Another vertical tasting of Montana Marlborough Cabernet Sauvignon. Oh dear? But surprisingly interesting, as with last month's effort, only better. The way they display the vintage character is consistent with their simplistic varietal nature allowing it come through. Most experimental wines do so, to minimise winemaker signature. 1982 was acid and highly seasoned with oak. It had depth and weight, but the relative unripeness still came through. And out goes my assertion about winemaker input. I suppose wineries must buy new oak at sometime, and I'm sure this is when Montana did it. 1983 was riper, and very even in the way it came across on nose and palate. Lighter, plainish, but no acid sting. 1984 had the greens come through on the nose. We all expected an acid attack on palate, but no, it was a non-event and non-entity. This was the birth year of one of the Irish Triple Connection, but he's no non-event, to be sure! 1985 had a sulphidic nose, but everything else about it was decent. If you held your breath, it was a good drink. Amazingly, none of these were dying, and happily alive to show what they had, and how far we have gone in a quarter of a century. Interestingly, they had price stickers of $10.95 on them. Not cheap in those days.
We had to finish on a super-star. 1997 Penfolds Grange. The most consistently great red wine of the southern hemisphere. It was a treat. Plump, deep, ripe and youthful. Still tight, this was an infant with 20-30 years ahead of it easily. Maybe not the intense finesse and nuance of 1996 or 1998, but possibly more enjoyable now. Grange consistently delivers, as do our excellent neighbours.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Familial Farce

The weekend has been a long one full of family celebrations. The Nippy-Nephew was marrying the Lovely Lisa, and there was plenty of family catch-ups, fun and mirth. Lots of good wines were supped on, of course, but they were not the focus. Rather, it was the nuptials.
As a bit of a joke, we found some old wines that were the birth year of the newly married couple, and some of their friends. They were opened in the spirit of fun, and since the family are all reasonably wine proficient, the exercise was a farce.
It was a vertical line-up of Montana Marlborough Cabernet Sauvignon. A farce in itself, and the wines of a family that represented a failed experiment. We all now know that unless Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in the most favourable of sites there, it is doomed to fail. The 1978 was dark, browned and somewhat grubby. There was a modicum of ripeness, but not sufficient to make it a decent drink, even though the body and texture was OK. Just a touch of acidity poked out. It was a hot year, and it had the potential to be positive. Then the 1979, light and fading mahogany colour, weedy and sappy, with aged, savoury flavours, quite thin and tart. The acidity was excessive. A lesser year, and it showed. Mildly preferable was the 1980. At the time, a better vintage, but we now can see it was only marginally so. Pepper and mint, with stalks and sap. A little, little more textured and bodied. But again the acidity was searing. 1981 was an average vintage, but this was the best of a baddish bunch. A little more colour and depth. Some fruit noticeable. Coolish Cabernet and bottle age. Actually clean, too. A liitle body and structure. I could drink it, but wouldn't.
The young family members knew not to drink these too. We have moved on a long way since then. 30 years ago, these wine were state-of-art commercial. Oh well.....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Another Go

The party continued the next night. We had another go. The encore never quite lives up to the main production, but it was nevertheless a pleasant event.
A 2008 Terrace Edge Waipara Riesling had a touch of toast to the limes, and a wonderful precision to the palate. It could last another 5 years, but not this bottle. Drinking well now too was the 2004 Craggy Range 'Les Beaux Cailloux' Hawke's Bay Chardonnay. Still steely-fresh, but ripe, intense, tight, with just the right amount of development. I reckon it could last another 4-5 no problem. I missed out on the 2009 Mt Difficulty Pinot Gris, but SWMBO said it was classical in its fruit and very Central Otago with its minerally acidity.
The star of the night was the 1999 Louis Jadot Musigny, brought along by The Real Mr Parker. We share a bottle a couple of months ago, and he couldn't help letting us have another go at it. Well, what a cracker! Big structure from the Louis Jadot house combined with floral elegance and intensity. A working mix of meatiness, undergrowth, ethereal fruitiness and a lithe feel overall, despite the size and projection.
Burgundy beats Bordeaux is the common finding nowadays, 'cos that's what we prefer. It was the case again this night. The 1982 Ch. Siran Margaux was bretty to the point of disgust. It was a big wine in its time, but it was all dried out and tannic now. Also big in its youth was the 1981 Ch. Les Ormes de Pez St Estephe. The greenness of the 1981 vintage now shows clearly. But it was sweet and fresh with acid, fruit liveliness and tannins to burn. Coolness can be a preservative.....
I missed the 1998 Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz. SWMBO said it had TCA tainting it, but the A-Prentice reckoned it was drinkable. We all concured SWMBO has a very keen and discriminating palate.

All Lined Up

It was party mode! The A-Prentices were plenty practiced at entertaining and they had a fabulous evening lined up. All the guests needed to do was contribute in food, wine, entertainment and good company. And so it was. There is a little tradition where all the bottles tasted and consumed are lined up, and often it is an impressive if not awesome sight. Of course, no-one went over the top. We all had little tastes, and over the length of an afternoon and evening, with hearty and substantial food, it was a very civilised affair.
The sparklings served were wide ranging in style. A 2010 Saint Clair 'Vicars Choice' Marlborough Sauv Blanc Bubbles was a delight. Very typical of what this company specialises in, but toned down in flavour, but still overt and refreshing. Much more serious was a 2006 Deutz Marlborough Cuvee Blanc de Blanc. Impressive autolysis now, and finesse with it. This has gotten better and better. Followed by the real thing, a couple of bottles of NV Taittinger 'Brut Reserve', elegant too, but with a textural quality allied to complete palate proportion. Some landed time on cork has always helped 'Tatts'.
Aperitif drinking went with a super selection of cheeses. A pair of trophy winning 2010 Sauv Blancs set the scene. Both from Saint Clair in Marlborough, their 'Pioneer Block' range. The 'Block 3 - 43 Degrees' was punchy, up-front and powerful with steel and pungency, the 'Block 21 - Bell Block' more restrained but with an impressive sumptuous richness and mouthfeel. I voted for the latter, but most voted for the former. I didn't get to try the 2009 Boulders Martinborough 'Prosecco Style' Riesling at 9% alc, but I have seen it before, and it was very pleasing at the time, quite gentle, attractively sweetish and true to vine. Two rose wines came out too. The 2009 Instinct Hawke's Bay Merlot Rose was firm, slightly tight and austere, but very workable. I found the 2010 Framingham 'F-Series' Montepulciano Rosata more serious with real red-berry fruitiness, and a substance for added richness. Good stuff indeed.
There's always some Chardonnay, and a 2009 The Pumphouse Martinborough was ripe with clear grapefruity-oaky aromas and flavours that made it a hit. A big flop was the 2002 Sileni 'Estates' Hawke's Bay Chardonnay in a 1.5 Litre magnum. Oxidation on nose and palate, whilst still fresh and acidic. This didn't make half-way down!
The other whites served during food were mixed up too. A true to style 2010 Heart of Gold Gisborne Gruner Veltliner, peppery and gooseberryish, all so gentle and drinkable. The 2009 Coopers Creek 'SV - Pointer' Marlb. Pinot Gris was off dry, softly sweet and rich, and clean as all Marlborough wines should be. A bit of a star was the 2008 Ostler 'Audrey's' Waitaki Valley Pinot Gris, steely, minerally, yet rich and delish with hints of spice and all things nice. Not so pleasing was a 2008 Grey Sands Tasmanian Pinot Gris. Hot, hard, minerals and earth, without the appealing softness the N.Z. wines had At 14.5%, it was pushing it.
A little line-up of Forrest 'Gibson Creek' Marlborough Cabernet/Franc/Merlot was great fun. The 1991 was light, smooth, mellow and imbued with cedar galore. What a top drop. The 1992 was softer still, and lighter, but it too had a mature beauty. Hints of cool fruit didn't bother any of us. The 1993 was definitely showing the effects of Mt Pinatubo. Lighter weight, a bit skinny and cool/sappy. We thought 1994 might be better, and it was riper and more structured, but not a beauty, more a sister not quite grown into herself. Maybe it never will. There was no 1995, and we assumed that the rainy weather precluded its production? 1996 could have been special, but it was spoiled by microbiology for sure. Yet it was very vigorous. The other N.Z. red was a 1997 Redmetal 'Basket Press' Merlot/Franc. Also a bit herby on nose, but what a lovely silky palate, which filled the mouth with lusciousness. It too came in a 1.5 Litre magnum.
Just to keep us honest came a series of international reds. The 2008 Santa Cantabria 'Seleccion' Rioja was full, bright, ripe and fruity, modern and good for it. A bit flat was the 2005 Frsscobaldi 'Nipozzano' Chianti Riserva. All the right things, such as bitter cherries, tannin and acid, but rather non-expressive. A poor bottle?
The Aussie contingent was sensational. Two vintages of Wynns 'Michael' Coonawarra Shiraz, both great years. They were true to vintage on release and now, two decades later, still the same. The 1990 was bold, round, ripe and full in itself. It shouted its presence. The 1991 was subtle, and sneaked up on you, and beguiled with its layers of nuance. Mint and eucalypt in the nicest way. The night ended on a 2006 Seppelt 'Original' Sparkling Shiraz. Not the gem it used to be, those old vines now long gone, but still exactly what it should be, in a straight forward way. Fresh, but plummy, spicy Shiraz with good effervescence to give cut and zest. But satisfying all the time. What a line up.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


A visit by the Aromatic Ace meant a chance to eat out and indulge. The eatery did not perform at our last visit, and it was rather unexpected then.. This time they performed brilliantly, and the meal was as good as it should have been that previous time.
The Aromatic Ace loves Riesling, but his contributions were very different and really unexpected. SWMBO and I had never had anything like these wines. Firstly a 2009 Les Cretes Valle d'Aosta Petite Arvino. 13% alc, but seemingly lighter. A delightful, subtle aromatic, and rather delicate number that was great as an aperitif and match with seafood. Then a 2009 Kuen Hof Sudtirol Eisacktaler Sylvaner, much more substantial at 14.5%. This had weight, presence, a touch of rustic grip, and actually workable with the richer dishes. Who would guess these would be so interesting?
With the red meat dishes, we had the 1982 Ch. Haut-Batailly Pauillac. Our experience with these lower classed growths has not been great lately. Either faded or bretty. Wow, this was unexpectedly stunning. Complex tertiary aromas, but incredibly sweet, lively fleshy and with years ahead. A plump number that just filled the mouth with fruit and open, but proper structure. A treat and wonderful experience!
We finished the evening off with another Bordeaux, a 2004 Ch. Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes. Though the odd numbered years are rated better, I'm a fan of the 2004s for their accessibility and typicity. Low VA, rich Semillon, and excellent noble rot, oak and substance. A treat as always. This property is hot. For those who think the best years are best, try the 2004s. Their quality may be unexpected by you, and you'll be surprised.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

O for Oarsome

It was a night for 'O'. She's awesome. She and her 'A-Man' got a number of pals together for a nice meal at a bit of 'nutty' eatery. Nice food, with a mix of styles. And a number of wines that were a little mixed in style too.
We started off with a 2002 Veuve Clicquot Champagne Rose, lovely fruity number, sweeter in fruit and dosage than I thought it should be, or what I remember the style to be. And not quite the autolysis. Very friendly structure, soft and plumpish. Delicious nevertheless. Then a 2008 Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett, quite substantial, for what I normally see as an ethereally exotic wine. Also delicious. Both lovely aperitif wines as is expected, but these both were more full than just starter wine status; they'd both be food wines too.
Then it was into two Chablis. Firstly a 2002 Raveneau Chablis 1er 'Montee de Tonnerre'. Tight and super minerally, a touch reduced, but classical and traditional. It was paired with a subtle, modern 2005 Moreau-Naudet Chablis GC 'Valmur'. Less flinty and minerally, but it evolved to show more in glass. A nice pair, too.
Two white burgundies to go with the entrees. starting with a 2004 Henri Boillot Puligny-Montrachet 1er 'Pucelles', classy, refined and another wine that just grew in the glass. It had it all, but if you were critical, it rested on its acidity. This paired with the 2004 Lucien Le Moine Meursault 1er 'Genevrieres', broader and fatter, the same bracing acidity, but showing oxidation, well actually madeirisation. A bad cork? Then our 2001 Craggy Range 'Beaux Cailloux' Chardonnay. Big, clumsy, the others saw oak. We saw reduction. We thought it was over the top. We know recent releases are much more refined. The Craggy Range wines were statement wines at first, and this was their first release.
The refresher white between courses was a 2005 Dagueneau 'Pur Sang' Pouilly-Fume. How did he build so much power with restraint? Great varietal character with boldness and textures, allied to class. A treat, as we know the 'wild man' has now left this mortal coil.
Main course time. The reds were a mixed bag too. Firstly the mandatory burgundy. a 2001 Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er 'Goulots'. Tight and skinnyish, a little hard and not quite the sweetness. Nor the game and 'blood and fur' character it might have had. It was a good match with the duck mains, giving cut through the fattiness. We then moved to our 1982 Ch. Boyd-Cantenac Margaux. Still dark, full with game and leather on nose and quite fleshy on palate. No Margaux perfume or class, but surprisingly fruity, despite the brett notes. Good refreshing acidity too. It's not the first time the 1982 Margaux wines have surprised. But essentially a bit gutsy. A step better was the 1996 Ch. Lynch Bages Pauillac. Black colour, black fruits, and complex game nuanced to the flavour. Still sweet and bold, with flesh and structure to boot. This was a baby that could handle another decade.
An in a way, it signified what 'O' and 'A-Man' had going. They were still babes that will develop over time.


We celebrated Guy Fawkes night in our now-regular way, heading to a great vantage point, Jameski and family connections afforded us the view in comforting surroundings, and we were joined by the Pet Pals, as is becoming the norm.
The two bottles we contributed were possibly promising. But unlike the fireworks provided by the ratepayers, they were slight fizzers rather than explosively exciting. The 2006 Te Mata 'Elston' Chardonnay was properly mature with rich mealy flavours and complex toast notes, but unfortunately somewhat stolid and chunky. Pleasant and more, but just not inspiring. It could have been the bottle? And a 1992 Esk Valley 'Terraces'. A cool year, and it showed in its lighter nature only. Rather delicate, soft, fully developed to mellowness, and really, too even and flattish now. In its favour was no trace of green unripeness. Well-integrated, as it should be. We've had far more disappointing Kiwi wines of this age, so in that context, it was good. It just didn't fire.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Overwhelmed by Over Oldies

The weekend was one of oldies. Overwhelmingly so, some good, some not so good. The Saturday featured a dinner with The Two Docs at B&B's lovely old home. The two B&B's had amassed a lot of old wines that needed sorting out, but they couldn't see the Forrest for the trees. We helped them out, and a number of these Forrest wines came out for the dinner.

We started with bubbles - 2005 Forrest 'Bubbles for Brigid' Methode. Quite big and bold, with plenty of body and flavour. Not fine and elegant as great bubbles should be, but a most pleasing introduction to the night with good fruit and autolysis, sort of in a 'Bolshi' way. The ex-Doc 'B' created the meal and it was better than the wines, bar the next, the 2005 Forrest Riesling. This was everything aged Riesling should be, off-dry, with limes and toast. Very interesting to follow and drink in the glass. The more you sipped, the drier it seemed. Then you needed another sip to counter the dryness. Very clever. Just what the Doc prescribed! A 1999 Forrest Gewurztraminer was not as successful. Golden coloured, it showed oxidation, but the varietal hair-oil and esters spice came through in an unctuous, oily way. 'Unctuous' has good connotations with wine and not so good with other foods. This time it fitted in with the latter, being sickly-so. The 2000 Forrest Pinot Noir was similarly oxidised, and the decrepit notes merging well with forest-floor and decay, all in a lighter, cooler, old, savoury red fruited way. Still tannic in mouth and drying out. The finale was the 1997 Forrest Botrytised Riesling, again somewhat oxidised. Poor on nose, but better on palate. Caramel and figs on an acidic palate, laced with old apples. These oldies were truly over it. However the food was great and the company too.

Sunday night brought out very old friend Doc Lindy and her man Fly High Si. SWMBO and Doc Lindy had been mates for decades and the conversation was very much on old times. The blokies couldn't get many words in, and we were a little overwhelmed by the nostalgic talk - for a while. Some wines showed very well. A 2008 Mt Edward Riesling was floral, citrus and honey tinged, making a great aperitif. This could develop more quickly than the 2007 we are familiar with - say 4-6 years. Then a 2009 Clearview Reserve Chardonnay. Rich, ripe, vibrant and well-tensioned, this label has been modernised somewhat, without losing its essential ballsy nature. Lovely stuff indeed. Reds started with a 2007 Two Paddocks Pinot Noir. Seemingly light at first, this just grew into itself, to become a fine, firmly structured wine with elegant, but seriously flavoured and constructed wine in a burgundian way. It was popular and went down a treat by going down quickly. This was followed by a 2001 Kingsley Syrah, a Tri-Nations winner. We were told to decant it as it might be reductive. We did, and it worked. Great dark and youthful colour. Intense and concentrated black fruits, savoury nuances, pepper, and perfect. The palate the same, just so sleek and slippery. Great wine. Then finishing with a 2009 Spade Oak Reserve Noble Viognier. This gets better and better each time we try it, richer, more together, nutty notes now, less VA lift, more good unctuousness. Creamy and oily with complex nutty-savoury elements. Quite a star. But it could be overwhelming for some people. However, us oldies had no trouble with it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Family Connection

We finally did it. Got the two sisters to come visit us at the batch. Mags and Jube and partners all enjoy a good talk, laugh and glass of wine. After our first day filled with activity, we settled down to the inevitable vino. Of course, there was lots of talk and laughs, and glasses of wine!
Two wines with bubbles as their connection were opened. Firstly a NV Cloudy Bay 'Pelorus' Methode, this bottle solid and ungainly, not the usual class and finesse that this label delivers. Is the corporate ownership and direction taking its toll on the quality, would be whay SWMBO and I would ask? But it was a warm and sunny evening, with nice nibbles around, and the bottle was drained quickly. This was followed by a very tight 2004 Soljans 'Legacy' Methode. Clean, cutting, delicate autolysis, this could have handled more bottle age. We all made the connection from the name 'Legacy' that the three families all drove Subaru 'Legacy' cars among others!
Then came a progerssion of whites, including a spicy, exotic, but still young 2010 Starborough Marlborough Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay dominant 2009 Heart of Gold Gisborne Chardonnay/Viognier that satisfied the big wine drinkers. We then had a visit from The Brazilette who opened her 2008 Salomon Undhoff Riesling Pfaffenberg, a classical, steely, intense wine with considerable minerality. We wished we had some shellfish at that point!
With The Brazilette in attendance, it was time to open some reds, all from the Cabernet Sauvignon family, but spanning some two decades, from different countries. The 1989 Te Mata 'Awatea' Cabernet/Merlot showing real cool-climate stalkiness and acidity, in a small-framed way. Still alive and kicking, and not the best red wine to go with lamb rack. The 1979 Ch. Giscours Margaux was a surprise. Fullish and rounded, but somewhat understated. A solidly presented wine that filled the mouth, but left you searching. Acidity was the underlying factor holding it together. Good savoury flavours, tending a little gamey, but hardly objectionable. Then a 1998 Jacobs Creek Limited Release Barossa Cabernet Sauvignonm, which marked JC's 25th Anniversary of 1976-2001. This was an extraordinary wine in its day with real herbaceousness that the Aussies craved after as varietal character. It still had it, but the euc'y notes now appearing. It was a true-blue Ocker in the end, but that thread of acidity through the line of the palate.
It was the end of the night. All the family members were tired, and that was that!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


We've been meaning to catch up with The Real Mr Parker for some time. Business took him to Oxford University for a presentation. We'd been busy with plans for a new endeavour. But we managed to plan a get together finally. It was going to be a quick gossip session with some nibbles.

We thought we'd open the proceedings with a 1999 Tyrrells 'Vat 1' Semillon. We brought it back from the Hunter Valley, and planned to have it with The Chairman, but, he'd be very familiar with it, so we'll find some other treasure for him. It was a shame to open it, as it was deemed to be in an ugly phase. Unforthcoming on the nose, but with more on palate. Tight, brooding oily lanolin and green grass at this stage. If it was younger, it would have been delicate, fresh and nuance. It it was a decade older, then it would have been gloriously toasty. You can't plan for these things sometimes.

A 2004 Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot brought back from the States by Mr Parker came next. Pristine cork, and a dark coloured wine that combined lovely ripe liquorice and plums with a thread of elegant herbaceousness on nose. Palate very fine-grained, yet rich and intense. More European than Australasian. It had to be Californian. A wonderful bottle with the three cheeses served.

We brought out a 1998 Grant Burge Barossa 'Meshach' Shiraz that SWMBO acquired years ago. Remarkably elegant and fresh with lively acidity, yet great concentration, sweetness and depth. Multi-layered with savoury, spicy notes emergent with breathing. A bit obvious, but typical Aussie in doing so.

We finished with Mr Parker's treat he bought in the Rheinpfalz, a 1985 Burklin-Wolf Deidesheimer Kalkofen Riesling Spatlese. Golden, gloriously honied and toasty on nose, yet definably Riesling with floral notes. A drier wine than expected on palate - but after all, it's only a Spatlese! Rich, dense, full, concentrated, but even and light enough to float in the mouth. Not quite ethereal. Soft through lower acidity compared to the Mosel. Mr Parker felt it drying out. SWMBO and I thought it still on the plateau.

We made plans to make a bigger affair of it in a few months time. After all, that's what good wines are for - to share with friends and make occasions memorable. Like this one, planned in a way, but taken to a direction mot imagined.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Growing Gurus

Over the last three seasons, it has been a pleasure to have Steveski and Donnaski as our friends. They are gurus in their own right, masters of the white fluffy stuff, and SWMBO has been the beneficiary of their technical expertise, while both of us have enjoyed their company immensely. When these gurus came to town, it was amazing to see their understanding and enjoyment of wine take a leap forward as they were engaged in different vinous activities. Being passionate people in their own right enabled the igniting of the latent wine interest.

Coming into home, we opened a 2009 Framingham Sauvignon Blanc. Stock standard fare, and drinking well now. In no way should this sound derogatory. This won accolades in Decanter magazine, and quite rightly too. Then a 2008 Church Road Merlot/Cabernet. Vibrant, purpley, supple and absolutely delish. The output from this Hawke's Bay winery has been superb of late, and this punches way above its station. Then a more savoury 2005 Pegasus Bay Merlot/Cabernet. While ticking all boxes, there's an underlying thread of sap which comes out in an ungainly way with air time.

The next day, we headed off over the hill, to visit our local vignoble. We took with us as swapsies a decadent 2009 Terrace Edge Pinot Gris, paired with a 2009 Mt Beautiful Pinot Gris, more sinewy, tighter and longer. But both on the full, rounded and riper style, rather than the boney Pinot Grigio way. Also brought along to show the locals were a 2005 Carrick 'Excelsior' Pinot Noir - rich, ripe, structured, almost surly, but good with it. This was paired with a 2005 Fromm 'Fromm Vineyard' Pinot Noir, which was unfortunately corked. However, looking past the TCA, one could see the silky-smooth, fine-grained texture and superb poise.

26 bottles, one tank and three barrels later, everybody's expertise had gone up a notch. Dinner with Diamondski and Bobski meant sipping on a complex, full-bodied 2008 Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay and perfectly poised 2008 Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir. Tasted on the tasting circuit during the day, these were stand-outs. On the dinner table, they melded and merged with the food. It's amazing how wine does that, and reflects how wine should be a natural and unforced accompaniement while eating. Bobski pulled out a number of cellared wines, but SWMBO chose a gloriously honied-toasty 2000 Pegasus Bay Riesling. Perfection to drink and its slight sweetness just magic.

A hard day's work saw a number of bottles opened as a reward. Three aromatic/new whites set the scene. The 2010 Forrest 'Doctors' Arneis was clean and correct. I just can't see the point of elevating this variety on a pedastal. It can only go so far. However the 2010 Forrest 'Doctors' Gruner Veltliner was a different proposition. Great aromatics, and good elegant follow-through on palate. As vines get older and winemaking settles, this could be very interesting. The 2010 Forrest 'Doctors' Riesling is another success. All the earlier vintages have been stars. The lightness of feet from low alcohol and seduction from sugar with botrytis hints makes this a winner. Then a remarkable preview of Larry McKenna's single vineyard Escarpment Pinot Noirs from the yet-to-be-released 2009 vintage. 'Pahi' was elegant, bright and light. Clean and pure for sure. 'Kiwa' took it up a step in weight, dimension and richness. I loved it, as did everyone else. The undisputed winner in the line-up had to be the complex, textured 'Te Rehua'. As Larry would say, this is what it's all about. The flagship 'Kupe' was a big, ripe, softie, very complex and out there. It will prove to be a talking point, as it should be, for many years. To finish off the night with a household of honoured guests, including the Pet Pal family, Gizzie Gold Gal and the Island Man, we broached a 1982 Ch. d'Yquem Sauternes. Not quite as fresh and lush as the one tasted in August, but still mpressive with honey, caramel, toffee and barley-sugar, on a weighty, dense palate. A touch less lively than expected after the August bottle, but a source of astonishing wonder, nevertheless.

You'd suppose this was to be the finale in the growth of the gurus' enjoyment, but lunch the next day with Toniski was enhanced by a particularly beautiful 2009 Vynfields Classic Riesling. Honey and flowers. Just delightful. We did need an interlude, but eventually dinner beckoned, and at the posh place, on the hill, we started proceedings with an elegant, tight and eminently drinkable NV Quartz Reef Methode. We had met Rudi coming off a plane at the airport the day before, so it was appropriate to toast him. A 2007 Escarpment Chardonnay was chosen to toast Larry. This opened up in glass, revealing lots. Probably a little too much in the malo department, but that's being picky. Steveski and Donnaski supped on glasses of 2005 Yalumba 'Signature' Cabernet/Shiraz. We toasted Robert Hill Smith, inspiration of the modern face of Yalumba and an Aussie guru in our eyes.

It has been gurus all round, and to see Steveski and Donnaski grow in appreciation of all things vinous has been a joy. We know they won't stop growing.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


It's a time of relaxation. A surprise visit by Pedro led to a meal out with him and Lady Gala, and it was indeed a bit of a carry-on. That's what happens when you're relaxed.

We started the proceedings with an NV Louis Roederer 'Brut Premier'. Great nose with loads of autolysis and depth, but surprisingly lighter on palate. Surprising as the one we had last week was pretty well perfect. Maybe this bottle was very fresh. Nevertheless, very delish.

We moved onto a 2006 Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay. Big, full, broad from development, complex, and at peak maturity. And in no way over the top or flabby. What a wonderful drink good Chardonnay is. By comparison, a 2008 Auntsfield Chardonnay was very tight and unyielding. For 2008, it was backward, so it really had potential. With our main courses, a 2006 Poderi Colla Nebbiolo d'Alba was very varietal. Fragrant, complex and savoury, with great extraction and acid. Pedro, Lady Gala and SWMBO were in raptures. The tannin build-up got to me at the end of the bottle.

We were all pretty mellow by the latter part of the evening and our host Jameski shouted a Muscat Beaumes de Venise, producer and vintage forgotten. But it was absolutely clear-cut, clean and everything it should have been. Relaxation does have its problems, and memory can be put on hold. An interlude with Dows 10 y.o. was a let down. Too fruity. Not enough rancio. One to pass by. However the Delamaine XO was unforgettable in every detail. Glorious bouquet of intensity and finesse. Wonderful oak, but with fruit sweetness. Cognac is so stylish. And Delamaine is class.

Now that made us relax....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


It was a time to reflect on the past, and think about endings. Such topics arise in all situations. After a function where we tasted the wines made by The Dice Man, it was appropriate to end the night with a meal, accompanied by some good drinks. So off we went to the local ethnic eatery, bottles in hand.

It was lovely to compare two German wines, Riesling Spatlesen no less. A 2007 Loosen Erdener Treppchen was pure and fine with exciting acidity, and that hint of exoticism that this site injects into its wines. Match to a heavier, denser, more compact, but bigger 2006 Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke. To me the Loosen won out - partly the vintage as a factor. A red is mandatory, drier and textured for food purposes, of course! Here The Enduring One brought along a 2006 Clos Salomon Givry 1er Cru. Lightish, softening, and savoury, all in a nice way. But that was it. However, his 2004 Conterno-Fantino Barolo 'Vigna del Gris' was quite spectacular. Very ripe dark fruits, almost chocolate and liquorice, with tannins and acid to die for. Great finesse, in an obvious way.

The meal finished, and we really didn't want it to end, so we all headed off home. The Library Man and the Brazillette hadn't been our way before, so it was novel for them too. In honor of all the Burgundy lovers present, SWMBO thought it was good to bring out the twin=set from Domaine Bertagna. A rare 2007 Bertagna Vougeot Blanc 1er ' Les Cras'. Faintly reductive and tainted by TCA, but rather four-square without the deft and delicate nuance that makes real southern white burgundy special. But 'it is what it is' and was accepted. Slightly better received was the 2006 Bertagna Vougeot 1er 'Clos de la Perriere', quite modern, dark berry fruited and all good, but unexciting and without soul in the final analysis.

In honour of The Library Man, who has a liking for Ch. Montrose, we brought out a 1980 Ch. Montrose St Estephe. Darkish, almost ripe, clean from horses, a little green and acid, but actually enjoyable and a revelation for a poor vintage. The Library Man was enamoured. So the 1979 Ch. Montrose St Estephe was to be a step up for him. But no, he kept on liking the 1980. Everybody else preferred the 1979, bigger, denser, sweeter, livelier and with a future still. And no brettanomyces! The Enduring Man was taken.

This should have been the end, but we thought we'd better do it properly. So out came a 1986 Penfolds Grange. A great year. Still youthful, and very Aussie, but not sickly so. Instead, refined massiveness, and just the beginnings of secondary complexities. Softened tannins, but still substantial with grip. Most thought it a decade younger. The Brazillette had only tried one Grange before....

It all settled down to a quiet time with The Dice Man, SWMBO and me. The End, it had to be. So a nice wee half bottle of 2004 Ch. Suduiraut Sauternes. Liquified hokey-pokey, but with the Semillon lanolin undercurrent, and lush fine, clean mouthfeel. Decadent, yet pure. Technocrats would say too much VA. Too much oak. But no, it was perfect to sip. To the end.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sharing and Caring

What a fun night with three blokies who are supported by three babes. Of course I'm backed by SWMBO. The New Man by The Eventress, and Brucie by the Bassinet Babe. A dinner for six saw a lovely collection of wines served with a yummy dinner, that The New Man put together.

Arrival saw our fave, an NV Veuve Clicquot Champers, soft and rich, but with good depth. A delicious slurpy-sippy start that got the conversation going. It's hard to beat a great bubbles for that. And that 'yellow' label ensures consistency and quality.

Served with fish entree were a 2008 Greenhough 'Hope' Riesling and 2004 Montana 'Terroir Series' Waiherere Chardonnay. Both worked well with the fish, the slight sweetness of the fish enhanced by the sugar in the Riesling. Nice hints of honey and toast too in it. A bit of a beauty. But a bit of a beast was the Chardy. Fat, rich, sweet and nutty with ripe tropical fruits, mealiness and coconutty oak. Yet not flabby or overblown in anyway, it was well poised. And it's freshness worked with the seafood.

Main course was a meaty casserole with new season asparagus, carrots, finely sliced Dauphinoise spuds. Classic winter/spring fare. Two rather excellent reds came out. A super, lush, smooth 2001 Craggy Range 'Sophia' Merlot/Cab. Tannins seemingly resolved, but with excellent structural and harmony. Aromatics to die for. Piece de resistance was the 1998 Te Mata 'Coleraine' Cab/Merlot. Dark, vibrant, classy Cabernet line and extract. Real ripeness with fresh acidity that is remarkable for such a hot, dry year. This was still youthful in essence and should keep another 10-20 years, based on this bottle. Fantastical stuff!

To finish the evening with the caramel and apple cake and was a rare 2006 Felton Road 'Block 1' Riesling. 9.5% alc, medium sweet, and very fine with it. You'd be a blockhead to not love it.

It was a night of sharing and caring all round, lubricated with nice wines. Another night was agreed for the agenda.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The last few days have enabled clarity of thought and vision. Life circumstances all coming together allows this. And the wines have been all the better for it.

With the Planning Man and Mrs Well-Planned, we supped on a 2008 Vynfields Classic Riesling with a wide range of Asian dishes. What a beauty it is. Gorgeous and lush, with a perfect balance that did not allow it to err on the side over too sweet. And just a touch of toast and honey. It went with all the food!

Then a Majestic catch-up with the Little Aussie Battler. She's off to Austria soon, so no better wine to serve than Groo-Vee! A 2010 Forrest Doctors' Gruner Veltliner was chock full of exotic tropical fruits, laced with youthful bubble-gum esters. Off-dry, the sugar adding to its pleasure. Wait 'til this settles down. It's a cracker now and will continue to be. Then a 2006 Brundlmayer Ried Loiser Berg Gruner Veltliner from Kamptal, at 13.0% alc. Somewhat firm, steely and hard. Better with food and some air time. But I don't think it'll get better now. There's promise with GV in countries outside its home.

And then Kristal Kirsty and the Stromboli Import ambled in to our neighbourhood eatery. After a false start, we settled on a 2008 Villa Maria 'Fletcher' Riesling. This was a wow wine with sheer delicacy and finesse. Low alcohol - 10.5%, some rs, and the barest toastiness, all making a very delicate and crisply sumptuous aperitif. Then a classical 1982 Ch. Beaucaillou St Julien. I was a bit paranoid about brett and TCA, especially with our experiences of this vintage and this property. It seemed stinky and funky on opening. I condemned it. But again, with breathing, true clarity of character come through. This was very, very elegant, fresh and lush even for the normally austere style of the label. Sweetness and concentration, and time ahead - another 10-15 years easily. Funny how these oldies seem to have slower aging as they get older. I was a little hung up on 'resiny oak'. SWMBO probably still saw brett. KK and SI had no problem.

Ah, isn't this the joys of wine. It's so clear to me that we gotta share!

Friday, September 3, 2010


The straight up-and-down approach is best. Honest and being open. We love PB - Push Biker - he's as straight as they come. Gritty anf fun with it. He knows how the make wine too, so it was a pleasure to spend an evening with him. SWMBO, the AC Electric Man, and AM Academic Man, all had a night ambling into our favourite neighbourhood eatery, then heading home for a vertical tasting.

Over dinner, we were presented with an Albert Mann Cremant d'Alsace. Fresher that what I remember it last and good for it. Not really complex, but hey, it's not Champers! Then hearty main courses accompanied by a 2006 Ch. Leoville Poyferre St Julien. Black, shiny, tight and silky, and refined with a complex intensity lurking below. Referring back to the recently tasted fleshy Lynch Bages and exotic Gruaud Larose 2006s, this had classiness.

So off home to a vertical of Ch. Montrose St Estephe. From the 'long-left cellar', we had two bottles without labels, damage from years of neglect. But my guess they were from 1976 and 1978. In between was the 1977, label intact. So out came the corks, breaking them all on extraction, they turned out to be 1975, 1977 and 1978. The 1975 seemed a bit stinky at first, as many of these oldies get, after being cooped up for such a long time. Then breathed off to reveal ripe, sweet fruit, meaty and gamy to be sure, but actually clean with secondary character rather than brett spoilage. It took us a while to make that conclusion. Not too tough and tannic, as this vintage can be. The next night a little musty, in the 'best' sense. But still soft and very together. Montrose in those days was a bit robust, and the experts then said it needed decades to come around. They were right.

1977 was a cool year, and sure enough, stalks, herbs and high acid. Nice texturally, if you ignored the acid sear. And some freshness of fruit. Quite remarkable in that sense. Some development, but really quite backward in expression. It went into the lamb shanks stock the next day. The 1978s are proving to be less and less attractive with time. Indian Summer saved the day, so they said. But we know that accelerated end-of-season heat just can't make up for a long poor growing season. Lean hard and dryish. But dark fruits showing. Sort of Jekel and Hyde for me. Hard to drink, so off went the remainder of the bottle into the lamb shanks stock too. I bought these wines in the early 1980s for under NZD $25.00. What a great buy, looking back nearly 30 years later.

To treat ourselves with some ripe fruit and sunshine, we opened up a 1998 Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon. A great, great year as we easily saw. Wow, this was backward and tight. To me, Bin 707 is the essence of Australia using Cabernet Sauvignon. As opposed to the Wynns 'John Riddoch' Coonwarra Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the essence of Cabernet Sauvignon, using Australia. But this 707 was truly varietal, intense quality black fruits at the ripe, chocolate, licorice and mocha end of the spectrum. Hints of eucalypt. Very fine extraction, but massive with it. This will keep over two decades more. The quality was superb, just like in the 1998 RWT Shiraz we had earlier this year.

Then a little something to reminds us all that time in bottle can change an outlook. The 2001 Felton Road Riesling was pretty reductive on release. It will never be good was a call. But now, the sulpjides have integrated, keeping the fruit fresher than expected - no toast or kero. But this was a savoury Riesling now, not really racy and aromatically pure. Different, but now good.

At the end of the night I was still vertical. The others sloped off, one by one, to become horizontal. Being older, you learn how to keep going...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sugar, Sugar; Honey, Honey

A vertical tasting of Ch. d'Yquem is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I've been the recipient of three now. All due to the generosity of the Appliance Couple. They've applied themselves to collecting this ultimate dessert wine, and they have a need to share the collected bottles with their friends when the appropriate big birthday comes along. I send them a Christmas card regularly, and I keep getting invited, so I'll keep up my end of the deal...

This was a thirty plus bottle affair, with most of the wines served at a serious, sit-down tasting. These went from 1946 to 2006. Afterwards, there were three vintages served at a designed dinner, all from big bottles. The extravagance! But no, they were shared among a lot of people, and the word generosity must be applied. Here's my run down on them, from old to young, in the logical and natural groupings they appeared to be, for me:

The Older Wines: 1946 - 1969
These were past their plateau, with the 'dark side' showing. That's burnt toffee and caramel, full blowsy palates, and lower acid profile. It should be said some of these look young and fresh, with many years to age, but they were a surprise. The 1946 was one of these, quite pale in colour and lively in the mouth. Then two dark coloured wines, brown, mahogany and tawny looking. The 1955 malty and rich, and quite lush, the 1958 a bit of a dense old beast with fortified-like character, including rancio. Our 1960 had TCA, pinching it, giving it some bitterness and grippy texture. The 1967 was a little beauty, all pristine in a medium weight style. Quite pretty indeed. Unfortunately the 1968 was flat and dull, one of the lesser wines of the whole tasting, but this was made up for by the 1969, a wine with excellent drive and length, needing some extra liveliness to be great.

Wines at Full Maturity: 1970 - 1983
The room of 30+ tasters all agreed this was the period they would drink Ch. d'Yquem. Who am I to disagree? They were all on their plateau, some doing better, others worse. It all depends on the vintage and the condition of the bottle. Our 1970 had everything there, but not quite the dimension to go to the top. But the 1971 did have it all, until the slightly drying finish. We are being picky here! 1975 and 1976 are the twins to compare. Most people like the size and power of the 1975, and this was starting to get to full maturity, with darker complexities. I love the 1976, more elegant, more acidity, more detail. And fresher. I think I'm right in this. 1978 has never quite been up there, lacking the noble rot required for greatness, but it looked harmonious here. 1979 has always been reasonably well-rated, but I've never seen it this way, and this bottle had TCA dulling it all down. I've always enjoyed the 1980 for its soft elegance and it was that today. Punching above its station was the 1982, ripe tropical, driven with real length. However 1983 has always been a star, and a star it was here, immensely concentrated, elegant and fresh still, multi-dimensional. A wow wine.

The Younger Wines: 1986 - 1999
Here the brashness and obvious nature of youth was displayed. You could, however, tell where these children were going to end up. As good adults, or not quite as good adults. 1986 seemed to make great wine everywhere classic wine was grown. But our bottle lacked a bit of lustre. It was a difficult year in 1987, and it shown on the sour nose, however redeemed by a nice, soft, attractive palate. 1988 is a cracker year, and this was locked down, waiting to blossom. When it does, it'll be one of the greats, as one can sense its quality. It was a pity about the 1989 being corked. I was in a 5.0 Litre bottle too. Normally a decadent wine, but here, dulled and dryish. I could still drink it - no trouble! Slight oxidation on the nose on the 1990 was more than made up for by the wonderfully layered and harmonious palate. That dreaded cork-taint also got the 1991. Medium weight, smaller, musty and flat. TCA also knocked the 1993, but the wine fought back with its richness. The problem with the 1994 was huge volatility on the nose. but a solid palate redeemed it into the pretty good category. The faintest mustiness on the nose on the 1996 did not prevent this being seen as a wine that will become a classic. Make sure your bottle is clean! Wow, the 1997 is a big, rich, statement wine. Served from a 5.0 Litre, it was coming along. It may age quicker than some around it. The 1998 will also mature relatively quickly, its softness making the integration happen. And likewise the 1999, a medium weighted goodie, with all the right things, but a little wallflower-shy.

The Recent Releases: 2001 - 2006
New wines, all easy to identify componentry, not unlike other sweet wines of the world. You can still detect the d'Yquen essential nature, but 'terroir' has yet to come. 2001 will be one of the greats. The perfect young d'Yquem. 2002 maybe a little ignoble? Some lolly notes, only OK. But 2004 is a sleek and beautiful wonder. Almost as good as the 2001. Ours came from magnums. I hope it gets there for sheer elegance. The 2005 clean, oily and unctuous, for the medium term, but nice with it. And finally a very smart 2006, absolutely clear-cut and oozing potential to be near the top echelon.

Its all easy to condense the notes and scores to a few flip words. But the occasion was a most special one. We all cheered and saluted the Appliance Couple. There have been better words written than this blog, and they'll come out in time. They'll do justice to the wines and the kind folk behind the tasting.

Monday, August 23, 2010


We had the big event. Tasting around three dozen vintages of Ch. d'Yquem. I'll do another blog on these soon, after I gather my thoughts. At the big dinner, there were lots of other wines. Some of these were great wines with immense pedigree. Yet in the context of the day and night, they were incidentals. However, they deserve respect and a report on how they showed - well at least to me. I only tasted about 15% of what was going around the dining room, on the other tables. Sort of in style order, and not how they were 'served', they follow:

A rather plain 2002 Schloss Vollrads Riesling Spatlese. Shy, muted, in the past noted for its VA, but I'm not good on that. However clean in other ways. Not that rich, really.

A series of Chardonnays. The 2005 Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay had lots going for it, quite complex, but in the context of the next two, rather up-front. The 2005 Drouhin Corton-Charlemagne beautifully fresh and fine. I can see why Corton-Charlemagne and Grand Cru Chablis can get mixed up. Then a 2002 Jadot Puligny-Montrachet 1er 'Folatieres'. I was going to be scared to look at this because of premature oxidation, but not here, this was complex, nutty, steely and with substance in a gritty-grunty style.

A couple of Pinot Noirs. Funny how these can look a bit light when in the company of monsters. For Pinot and burgundy to shine here, they need to be truly ethereal, or big enough to take the clarets and Rhones on their own level. The 2002 Senard Corton 'Clos du Rois' was pretty and clear, without the herby-fungal base these wines can be made around. Modern stuff indeed. The 2001 Quartz Reef 'Bendigo' Pinot Noir was not outshone by the previous wine, still shy, tight and with legs to go, as this label usually has.

Rhoney things looked good in this dinner context. A 2007 Domaine la Boussiere Gigondas full of juicy Grenache fruit - brilliant! Not quite so endearing was the 1996 Rostaing Cote-Rotie 'Landonne', somewhat herb and vege tinged, to a still youthful, structured palate. Not pretty, but serious. The 1990 Wynns 'Michael' Coonawarra Shiraz was a wow. A great year. This was still fresh, minty-fruity with pepper, black berried fruit and spices on a supple palate. Yum yum.

But tonight it was claret night. A host of clarets that I only got to try a few of. Two 2006s were pretty smart. The 2006 Ch. Lynch-Bages Pauillac was full, broad, open, but packed with powerful cassis juiciness. The 2006 Ch. Gruaud-Larose St Julien was more aromatic, and lush. Slight bretty notes lurking, but not detracting at this stage. The other Mr Parker would love this. However, jam-packed with Mr Brett was the 1990 Ch. Batailley Pauillac. For this label, it was well-built - probably the best I've seen made under this label. But the brett.... As was the 1986 Ch. Montrose St Estephe, still vibrant and dark. Powerhouse in its day no doubt, and still there. But alas chocka full of brett. Drying too. Thus, this was well overstructured. And a 1982 Ch. La Lagune Haut-Medoc. Very aged, savouriness and complexity. Also plagued by brettanomyces. The tertiary characters and brett melding together. Still some sweetness, but also sourness. At time of release, the other Mr Parker loved it...

At the end of the night, there appeared some 1950 Calem 'Quinta da Foz' Single Quinta Port. Tawny and quite clear and light. Very elegant. Truly tawny in style with drying finesse through the palate and rancio kick-in on the finish.

All these would have been great on their own. And they were fabulous to taste - and drink. But on this day and night, they were unfortunately incidentals.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Casual Catch Up

Big Weekend. Preamble. Staying with old school friend and his family of girls. Noisy and fun.
Off to the pasta and pizza joint.

A trio of casual wines to set the scene - because we were to have some special wines later. But more on this in a later blog. Sometimes it's great not to think too hard about the wines you are drinking, and you get very pleasantly surprised, as was the case here.

A 2007 Mount Edward Central Otago Riesling. SWMBO loves this, and with reason. This was clean, fresh and delicately refreshing, but with enough body to handle the food situation. Nice wine that will live for some time. If you gave it some thought, it was shy, though.

A 2008 Single Paddock Central Otago Pinot Noir stole the scene. Delightfully vibrant, juicy, simple and gulpable. Made for a supermarket chain. But at that moment, it was all you needed. With air-time, its true colours came out. It was obviously (then) picked too early and green. It got a bit meaner and harder to drink.

Finally a 1996 Saltram Classic Barossa Shiraz. Great year in the Barossa. Great winemaking team too. Thoroughly integrated and a soft, smoothy. But with air time, the animal came out. Brett was rife in the past. It made for tasty, flavoursome, gamey-tasting wines that were deemed European in style. Hah! We know better now.

Eating and drinking in a fun environment made them all good. So there!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Near Perfect

What a lovely night we had with the real Mr Parker. It was full of news, not all the best, but that's what is happening in real life. In a perfect world it would be a bit dull in the end?

And the beverages were that way too. Over a meal at the favourite eaterie, we had a 2007 Loosen Erdener Pralat Riesling Auslese (white cap, not Gold). The Goldcap has that much more richness, botrytis and textural depth, and a little more 'extra' nuance that makes it pretty much the ultimate. This white cap was a little less rich, but cleaner, more poised, more acidic, and pretty well just as perfect as the God cap, but in a different space and different way. Delicious with the Asian food, and probably better than the Gold cap would have been. And surprisingly not overly sweet! It unfolded more and more, but kept its stylishness.

Also sipped on was a 1999 Jadot Musigny, a Louis Jadot domaine wine, of course. Mr Parker would not have anything but the best! A bit scary to open, particularly with the lightish Asian meal, as Jadot's way is big, serious and meaty - the the vintage is a strong one. On broaching, it was full of funky, complex bits, tight and densely solid. It wasn't a pretty Musigny for sure. But as these burgundies do, it developed in the glass. The terroir of Musigny appeared on bouquet. Silky nuances of meaty perfumes. The palate remaining acidic and alive. And coming harmonious, with nuance and interest. My early summary was "Musigny on the nose and Jadot on the palate", and this held true. No hurry with this one - another decade easily.

We went home for a nightcap. SWMBO and I couldn't think of a better occasion than having Mr Parker share our 2002 Eitelsbach Karthauserhofberg Riesling Eiswein. Only 6.0%, so he could drive home! Golden colour, and the most amazing depth and concentration of florals, minerals and ice, with toast and honey on the nose. It was on drinking it that its glory was revealed. Incredible depth of flavour, amazing presence and acidity, as Eisweins have. The inclusion of botrytised fruit giving it a forward flavour edge. If it wasn't showing the development, it would be perfect. But then less enjoyable on the night for us. So perfect, really!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

An Event

A long-due catch-up with the Eventress and her new man made the evening an event in itself. We are now up to speed with the goss, and there are plans to interact in the near future. We didn't know it, but the new man was a wine man too, so the bottles brought out were appreciated.

Starting with the cellar-door-only NV 'Pelorus' Rose Methode Traditionnelle, this was a beautiful aromatic-floral and small red fruits wine with medium body but a fullness and completeness, and no heavy spots at all. Quite a delight and we played games with the wine in different Riedel glasses. Those 'La Grande Dame' glasses really bring out the bouquet. Then a more settled, clean, fresh, and elegant 2009 Starborough Pinot Gris from Marlborough. Slippery and fine, with minerals and pears with a touch of spice.

The meal meant red wines. A comparison, a 2001 Dry River Martinborough Pinot Noir was dark, deep, full, with savoury cherry and plum flavours. Quite big and lively, not quite the detail and nuance, but lovely secondary truffle notes now. No real hurry. Paired with the unusual 2000 'Pinot Noir2001' N.Z. Reserve Pinot Noir, a blend of juice from the 64 participating wineries at Pinot Noir 2001, elevaged by Larry McKenna and 'friends'. Garnet, cooler, sappy notes, high acid and lean. Not particularly enjoyable, but the acidity will keep it going, but no-where great.

Back to reality. The 2007 Te Mata 'Bullnose' Syrah came straight out of the cooler downstairs cellar. It was tight, refined, superbly peppery with florals and spices. The proportion of this wine on palate is excellent. As the conversation moved to different parts of the world we had visited, we went to California with a 2007 Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel at 15.5% nominal alc. Powerful black fruits, spices and pepper. Not sure about 'blueberry pie' as is oft-quoted for the variety. Firm structure and somewhat hot. A bit too much after a series of more elegant reds.

Then the finale, the new man's dessert wine. A real blast from the past - 1993 Rongopai Botrytised Chardonnay at nine-comma-five% alc. Dark mahogany, but brilliantly clear. Loads of toffee, caramel and brown barley sugar, and even more sweetness, but countered by massive acidity. The flavours were showing the downhill path, but the mouthfeel still had a long way to go. A treat to finish the bottle and to finish the evening.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Getting It Together

It was an odd evening with formalities. SWMBO was on another mission, so I was solo at first. A quick phone call made it possible for us all to get it together for a meal, followed by another bottle or two.

In the end it was a merry group. The Tall Waiheke Man was the guest, and the AC Electric Man and Natty were in attendance. We were joined by Peeler and Dan Young Man from our favourite eatery. We started off with a pair of young 'uns. A 2007 Bischoflische Priesterseminar Trittenheimer Apotheke Riesling Spatlese at nine-comma-five! A touch reductive on nose, opening up to a lovely limey-honied soda-pop palate that was carried by the sugar, but nicely so. Then a seriously sleek 2007 Remiziere Hermitage 'Cuvee Emile', modern, dark in colour and fruit, with ripeness galore and loads of oak. Deep and tightly bound, but a smooth beauty to put away for 10+ years really to do it justice.

Then the main feature. 1983 vs 1982 Ch. Leoville-Barton St Julien. The corks slid out firmly in one piece and a quarter soaked. A good portent? The '83 dark coloured, dark berry fruited and refined with intensity. A touch hard and lean moving to game then horses with air time. Still with grip, but on a plateau. The '82 quite glorious with its richness, sweetness, sumptuousness and liveliness and any other 'nesses you'd like to add! You couldn't get a better example of an 1982 claret. As good as it gets and it'll last another 15-20. It had it all together.

Then off home for something sweeter. We though we'd try the 1983 Deinhard Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Auslese. Pale gold and reticent on bouquet. Sweet, but not very so. Plenty of defining acidity. Subtle toast, honey, creaming soda and caramel as these old Mosels get when they're getting it together. Two conclusions: One - it will always be a bit narrowed. After all, Bernkastel is over-rated as a top village compared to Graach, Wehlen, Erden, Brauneberg, and even poor old lost-its-way Piesport? Two - This is still a baby, with another 25 years ahead of it. I like this scenario better, but deep down I don't believe it...

The final act was a 1990 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port. A bit murky to the ruby-garnet, and it wasn't bad decanting. Soft, muffled nose with savoury, ripe red fruits. The spirit was excellent, but the wine a little dull and flat for me. SWMBO and most of the others had no problem. Damn node day on the biodynamic calendar? Or was it the full-moon the day before?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Long Timer

It has been a long time since we had a long weekend on the go wine-wise. A night or a few nights interspersed with some gaps has been relatively easy to handle. But this weekend was all action from Friday to Sunday. SWMBO and I were the guests of Caz-Whizz and Brucie-Bro, who I must admit took it easy on us, but it all added up. Secretly, I thought they were the worse for wear too, but they wouldn't let it show.

Anyway, a highlight was the Saturday night roast. Caz-Whizz did a great job on this and the meat was juicy and tender. The beverage list was gentle and built up. First in the glass was a 2009 Mt Beautiful Cheviot Hills Pinot Gris. Weighty, ripe, honied and with some spice. We thought it had some botrytis adding positives, but I've been told the fruit was spotless. This will get better. Then on to a remarkably good 2007 Kemblefield Gewurztraminer. Loads of gongs, and it was still pale and fresh. A little grip on the palate, but that's what Gewurz does. The red was a 1983 Ch. Brane Cantenac from Margaux. Elegant, lively acidity, red fruits, moderated tannins and a touch of animal. All rather pleasant and quite drinkable, rather than a wow wine. In its day a modestly rated number, but as we've found, these old clarets take on a life and personality far better than ratings by Mr Parker. Then finishing with a developed 2005 Framingham Noble Riesling. Golden, full of caramel and honey, but with a power of acid zing. Moving along for me, but still able to hang in there a few more years.

All of these would be classified as long timers for what they are or were. Just like SWMBO and I, plus Caz-Whizz and Brucie-Bro, who will go a long way.

Monday, July 5, 2010

New Babes

A visit from The Chairman and his new babe was a pleasure. The last one got the stamp of displeasure..... So nice new wines, some of them babes in the wood were brought out.

We had a pair of pretty sparklers to match the new babe. An NV Moet & Chandon 'Brut Imperial' with Diamantes came first. It sparkled on the outside, but was soft and less bubbly on the inside. Maybe store in heat? But the Chairman's NV Mumm 'Cordon Rouge' was fresh, delicate and fine - exactly what it should have been, and showing why this house is on the up.

Two heavyweight table wines. Firstly a 2007 Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay. Still too young. A real baby. But great depth of mealy, nutty, stonefruit flavours and the sulphide complexities that wine judges love. Great wine in the making. Followed by a 2006 Chapoutier Cote-Rotie 'Mordoree'. In the context of a big Chapoutier line-up, this looks so elegant. But on its own a bit of a brooding child. Quite massive in structure and deep black fruits. Not really perfumed. A SWMBO and The Chairman noted a touch of funk that I accepted as 'interest'.

Next was a real sweetie. A 2004 W. Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese. Rich and decadent, yet beautifully racy and cutting. Real complexities of toast coming into the scene, and marmalade hints of botrytis. This was a new babe coming of age. And a beauty it was.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Homage to the Masters

It is indeed a treat to have The Master visit. His easy, breezy attitude is a joy to see and he knows so much that his experiences are great stories. We pull out the stops to have a good time and it all adds to the occasion. The last two nights have meant going out to dine at our favourite eateries. Firstly to the best in town, a Temple of Gastronomy. On first impression, it looks expensive, but at the end, the quality delivered makes it worth more. Great finesse and feel in the food is the result of the best produce and skilled hands in the kitchen. Then to our local Ethnic Magic. Tasty, decent food, just delivered with friendliness. These two places are Masters at what they do.

Of course the wines had over the two nights have been fun too. In an order of style and place, I list them here: An NV Mumm 'Cordon Rouge' Champagne, soft, full and gentle, maybe bottle-aged, but drinking well on a plateau. Delicate autolysis and subtle complexities came through well. Great on its own. It was given to the cause by The Chairman, so we called him up and toasted him! The Master provided a 2004 Bell Hill Chardonnay from Canterbury. Also approaching a plateau with savoury and secondary nutty, mealy complexities, but still fresh and citrussy. No hurry, and a great match with warm, moist, smoked eel.

Reds at the ends of the spectrum all delighted us. Very restrained and burgundian was a 2008 Villa Maria 'SV -Southern Clays' Marlborough Pinot Noir. Soft red fruits, understated, but building in intensity, showing how seriously structured it was, with breathing. And what a treat to compare the 1982 and 1983 Chx Margaux pair. The 1982 full, rounded, rich and with massive structure. Quite accessible, but this got funkier with brett, bottle age interest and possibly TCA? Not quite pristine, but impressive nevertheless. A typical 1982. The 1983 was darker, more narrowed, tighter, fresher, with lifted dark fruits and scented berry characters. This seemed a little over-firm, but developed finesse and style. Not as rich as the 1982, but sleeker and livelier. Most of the votes went towards the 1982 first, but changed with time! The Dog Men were in town and they passed a glass of 2005 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Wow, perfumes, very fine, subtle raspberries, warmth, and a tannin mouthfeel to die-for.

And a too-young 2006 Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Riesling Spatlese. Softer than the acid-based Mosels we've been used to seeing lately. But just as pristine, and softly rich. A decadence waiting to happen. It must have been immaculately conceived as it was so clean. These 06s aren't the greatest, but in the hand of a Master, they can be pretty damn smart.

It was indeed a couple of days of paying dues to the best. Homage to the Masters.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sweetness Rules

We had The Master come to stay with us and there's no better excuse to try some sweet and delicious wines, especially over a good meal.

At the florid eatery, we struck out good with a 2005 Neudorf Moutere Riesling which was beautifully balanced at 11.0% alc and 30 g/L rs. Just starting to show a touch of toastiness along with the lime and minerally elements. Wonderfully restrained with its sweetness too. The Master was impressed. Mind you, it was his call to get it to the table.

We've been drinking some Riojas recently, and it pays to mention all three tried, though it was the latter we had for dinner. The 2006 Beronia Crianza seemed a bit pinched and the 2005 Beronia Reserva not as rich as I thought it should be. But wow, air help transformed them to another level. Richness, weight and sweet fruit and sweet vanilla of American oak. A 2001 Marques de Caceres Gran Reserva had immense concentration, grip and depth. This was still a baby. All of these traditional Riojas are imbued with plenty of acidity - just what you need with food.

Off home and The Master insisted on a 2006 Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Auslese in a half bottle. It was all that was needed. A hint of toast and reduction on the nose gave way to the most impeccably balanced palate. Lime marmalade, honey, flowers and minerals, with super zingy acid. But it was sweet and gorgeous.

Sweetness does rule!

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Sibling get togethers are not common nowadays, even though we are in the same city. Busy lives seem to prevent the frequency, but when they occur, it's a lot of fun catching up on the gossip and to talk of old times. We did manage a session last night, at the Amble-Inn eatery, one of our favourites, where food and service was spot-on. It was 'Mags', 'Jude' and myself with our other halves. We all like eating, drinking and talking, telling tales, and it was a busy night. Of course, a few bottles were emptied...

Bubbles is a great way to begin, and the NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Blanc de Blancs was very dry, steely, minerally and almost austere. Perfect to whet the appetite. I do like the vintage version with a little more depth, richness and character, but this did the job. Some good oysters would have set it off. Then onto something richer, a stunning 2007 Spade Oak Gisborne Viognier, rich, weighty, lush, and loads of fruit fat, apricot, zest, and oak too. This went down a treat, so a back-up white was called in, a 2007 Bret Brothers Macon-Uchizy 'Martine', made by two organically focused siblings, stylish, almost refined and understated, but with a subtle build up. It should have come before the Viognier, but then we didn't count on my siblings' sipping power!

The main courses chosen had plenty of fillet beef. So reds were ideal. Two 'sibling' Margaux wines were the chosen ones, both from 1983, a good vintage for the commune, better than the rated 1982 vintage for most commentators. The 1983 Ch. d'Angludet started off sleek and vibrant with perfumes lifting black fruits and bright acidity. As air time took effect, the funky animal brett came out and dominated the proceedings and the tannin grip started to show dryness through the palate. It was a great match to see how the 1983 Ch. du Tertre changed too. Seemingly grubby on opening, this calmed down and began to show varietal Cabernet vitality, within a rather classical framework of tannin structure that allowed fruit sweetness come through. These lesser claret growths can really do the job, and this was one occasion.

We ended up saying our farewells to the wines, the eatery's good people and the siblings. A good night it was.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Iberian Bliss

After a long gap, it was a pleasure to get together again with the Brit Biker, Tiggs, Teacher Ma'am and Niggle over a mainly Iberian themed evening. The feature was a paella and pair of ports, with a few other wines to bolster up the evening.

On arrival, we were greeted with a 2007 Villa Wolf Gewurztraminer from the Pfalz, an Erni Loosen creation. It spoke of Germany first, with variety second and was a very pleasant and surprising start to the proceedings.

Into the excellent meal prepared by Tiggs, we had a 2008 Baluarte Rueda Verdejo, an excellent refreshingly acidic white that had a bit of a mineral and herb twist. The racy mouthfeel made it a wine to work with any food, 'cos there was good weight and presence. But it was the reds that were eye-opening here. Firstly a 2001 E & E Barossa Sparkling Shiraz, rich with ripe berry and eucalypt-infused fruit with lovely cedary oak, all harmoniously held together in a froth-filled palate. A touch of sweetness (sugar?) just made it delish. Then matching this bubbly in fruit profile was a 2005 Telmo Rodriguez 'M2 de Matallana' Ribera del Duero, with its spicy oak and ripe dark peppery berry flavours and very fine textured tannins. Modern fruit style, and oaky for sure, but with the food, it worked well matching chorizo heat.

The vinous highlight had to be the two Vintage Ports from the legendary 1963 harvest. The same year as Niggle's arrival on this earth! The 1963 Croft was full, broad, still big, almost robust, and softening out with acidity freshness dropping away. But big fruitcake secondary and foresty tertiary notes, good extract, but rounding out and away. Cedar, spice, savoury and earthy, and a great drink now and over the next 5-10 years no problem, but peaking now. The 1963 Dows was one of those unforgettable, magnificent wines that will remain a memory marker and benchmark. Fading colour, ethereal dried roses, and a remarkably fresh, lively palate with racy acidity and tension. Wonderfully fresh florals, and distinctly sweet, and the spirit standing out still. The quality of the spirit was sheer class, and all up, this had another decade or two ahead of it. SWMBO was over the moon.

It was an evening of Iberian bliss for sure, and one that we should try to repeat.....

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Spice and Nice

It was a pleasant night out with the Cho-sen Ones and friends, talking on all subjects. It got a bit spicy and risque, as it can do sometimes, adding a bit of life to the conversation. Along with it were a few wines to tie it all together.

Starter was a lovely fresh 2008 Mt Edward Central Otago 'Drumlin' Riesling, attractive medium style at 12% alc, but you wouldn't think it was so high. Florals, minerals, honey and oh-so-delicate spices. Very gentle, and I'd have said 9.5% alc max.

Then with a gorgeous roast beef we tucked into the reds. A brace of multi-gold and multi-trophy winning siblings from the Villa Maria Estates group. The 2007 Villa Maria Reserve HB Syrah was succulent, seamless, Asian spices and smooth, while the 2007 Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Syrah was full, plump and structured, less spicy, and more black berry fruited. It's a good job they are quite different.....otherwise you'd wonder if they could be the same wine with different labels - if you were a cynic of the Kiwi wine industry.

Then a treat from Timbo Medic Man, a 1993 Grant Burge 'Meshach' Shiraz, one from 100+ y.o. vines from the Barossa Valley floor. Still fresh with tension, but beautifully integrated, super ripe plums and prunes, some spice and liquorice. Wonderfully elegant too. It was no super blockbuster that was tough to drink, but rather a wine that crept up on you. Nice indeed!

We finished with a 2008 Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d'Asti, 5% alc, raisins and grapes, and spicy green tea leaves. Gorgeously soft and delicately frothy. No trouble putting it alongside the Cho-sen's apple crumble, lifted somewhat by the inclusion of feijoas.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Refreshing Change

With The Lady Chairman in town, it was an occasion to splash out. After a whole lot of wines tasted over the course of the early evening, it was time to relax with some wines to drink and enjoy. Off we went to a good eatery with the Tiddler in tow, and it was a nice group indeed.

The start of the proceedings was a bottle of NV Taittinger Champagne Brut Reserve. Gosh, what a soft, refreshing pick-me-up. The dosage seemed higher than a lot of the bubbles we've had lately, and its gentleness was a refreshing change. Well done SWMBO. Over the meal we had a 1985 Ch. Mouton-Rothschild. Dark and vigorous in colour, quite stylishly restrained on nose with nice dark berry fruits, the lovely earthy secondaries and only the barest hint of funk. What surprised us all was the thread of racy, fresh acidity running through the length of the palate. The whole thing wasn't a biggie, but more an elegant number, still with depth. In comparison with the 1986s, the 1985s were always softer, more supple and accessible. And certainly more enjoyable. Like tonight. In the morning, a glass left out had a little more animal, but in a nice way. Certainly no drying out of the palate. What a refreshing change to have a real nice older claret. It was well-liked by all of us.

Then at home, we talked into the wee hours over a trio of sweeties. The 2007 Gunderloch Nackenheimer Rothenberg Riesling Spatlese was full, and clumsily Rheinhessen, spoilt by reduction. The Lady Chairman was OK on it, but it went down the slowest. Then a pre-release 2009 Spade Oak Gisborne Late Harvest Viognier. Forward and weighty, this showed too much VA at first, but in the glass it came together. Lotsa caramel flavours. We needed something more special, so out came a 2004 Loosen Erdener Pralat Riesling Auslese (not Goldcap). Tight and classy, toasty nuances with hints of cream and custard. Not quite the exotic power that we usually see, so maybe it was in a bit of a hole. But its sheer refreshing Mosel character came through. A refreshing change? Maybe not, as we seem to be doing this regularly.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Share the Love

It was about time to open a few big names, and what better occasion than the arrival of a couple of wine-lovin' guests. After a look at a number of Iberian numbers, which were no slouches, we headed on out to the Cafe Gal's for a quick bite to eat. There were six of us in the end, including SWMBO and myself: The Chairman, Young Mad Turk, AC Electric Man and The Russian.

We started off with a 2007 Bruno Giascosa Roero Arneis, clean, crispish and surprisingly light, almost insubstantial, but positive. Then on to the heavyweights straight away. 1983 Ch. Lafite-Rothschild and 1983 Ch. Latour. The classic comparison at the top level. Both were pleasingly dark colored, indicating no hurry. The Lafite started hard, lean austere and tannic, the Latour sweeter, rounded and more complete. But with air time, as Lafite does, a perfume and ethereal quality, with fruit filling in the gaps. Really this was still quite unresolved. SWMBO and The Chairman were fans of this. The Young Mad Turk and myself fans of the Latour. We all agreed that 1983 came in the shadow of 1982 and was underestimated. We need to check this out more... It was fun to share these treats.

Then a young treat in the same class as the Bordeaux first-growths. A 2004 Ornellaia 'Masseto', 100% Merlot and outstanding with it. A dose of VA at first, and all over the place. As it breathed, the depth, richness and class came very evident. This weas my wine of the night, as probably was for the Young Mad Turk. Mind you, it was his bottle... He shared the love with this one.

And to follow at the Cafe Gal's place was a 2007 Gunderloch Nackenheimer Rothenberg Riesling Auslese 2006. Light golden hued, with a smoky wild yeast nose mixing it with the pure fruit. Not promising to me. But boy, did it deliver decadence on the palate. Breadth with weight, almost Rheinpfalz in style. Yellow fruits, exotic fruits, botrytis too. But enough acidity to make it work. The Russian loved it with his exotic fruit pudding.

We headed home for another couple of bottles. The 1996 Penfolds Bin 707 Cab Sauv was dull, flat and lacking fruit. The Chairman said probably oxidised. We agreed with the Chairman, as we should all do. So a 2001 Ch. Suduiraut finished off the night. Magical how these '01s are so classical and maturing up now. It has lost its VA annoyance. Oily Semillon and lots of bot with good alcohol body. Starting to soften a tad, but in no way broad. What a lovely wine to share!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mild Shock

Apologies for leaving the blog. Not much chance to taste the cellared stuff lately.

It was with a little trepidation that I opened two of six bottles of 1988 Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc that we uncovered in a bit of a cellar re-organisation. I was going to open them and just tip them down the drain, as who would expect a 22 year old Savvie, from Cyclone Bola year be in any fit state? And on top of that, the last couple of bottles opened were oxidised to heck!

It was a bit of nostalgia, nevertheless. Those pale green bottles, Bordeaux shaped, with the Montana crest moulded into the shoulder. The crest printed on the label prominently, and branded on the cork. Those were the days...

Anyway, out came the corks. Damp to 7/8ths of the way, but still firm and they didn't break. They poured a light golden yellow, but thankfully not brown. The aromas of asparagus gently wafted up, out of the glass I poured them into. Acid, thin, some oxidation, but not dead! Mild shock-horror! Then I poured them down the drain. Shame on me! I must be a snob?

I gave two bottles away, and still have two to go. I'll save them for a special ocassion. Not.
I promise to have some good wine to write up next, now that the re-organisation has been done.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


It's been a little while since the last post. I suppose you must go through phases with writing for the blog. For me, it has been a lot of work taking precedence. But a vist by a special guest meant that good bottles and good meals were on the card.

This time we headed off to the wee eaterie on the hill. That was after a thirst-quenching bottle of 2008 Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett. Pale, minerally, austere and quite chalky-seaside, but clean, crisp and refreshing, with potential to last a decade. At a young phase, no doubt. At the bistro, we started with a surprisingly lean, raw and green-flavoured 2008 Moss Wood Margaret River Semillon. We expected something a little more lanolin textured, but this was a treat with its fine features. Sort of like a toned-down N.Z. Savvy-Sancerre cross, but more. Good to see the Aussies go through this phase of greater elegance...

But it was the red wine pairing that was intriguing. We've been disappointed by the 1982 Bordeaux we've tried of late. Lotsa horses and stinky brettanomyces, and dried out wines, even in the big names. So it was with a bit of trepidation we opened two Right Bank jobbies from this so-called star vintage. The Ch. Belair St Emilion 1er GCC started of animal like, but cleaned up in glass to become fresh, vigorous, structured and complex. It's funny, 'cos way back in the 80's, guru Parker didn't rate this wine. I though I'd keep it anyway. It didn't let me down over two decades later. Things become more equal with age. SWMBO and our special man thought this wine super. Then on to the Vieux Chateau Certan Pomerol. Not quite as dark, not quite as grunty, but more elegant, some VA lift, silky smooth fruit and feel, and still fresh, though secondary in evolution. I liked this one the most.

As wine drinkers, we are going through a phase of preferring the Burgundy and Rhone styles, and we are tending to put in the background the Bordeaux wines, because they need time to show well. Hopefully this will change, otherwise we will miss out on some of the glories of the wine world by being impatient.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


It was an evening of unexpected amusement and good feelings as we tottered off to drinkies to celebrate the Russian's engagement. Two distinct generations of people, of which we fitted in with the older. Of course, with age comes mellowness and a coming together, an engagement following its path, I suppose.

A number of wines had come together pretty well. A young 2009 Framingham Marlborough Pinot Gris, full, with depth and quite ready now. A 2008 Starborough Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, now a little asparagussy, but rich and smoothly textured in a good way. A bit of a treat was a mature 2001 Te Mata 'Elston' Chardonnay with its complex mealy and tropical-grapefruit flavours and broad, substantial palate which kept its class.

The reds also showed well. A rare 2002 Gillman Merlot/Franc/Malbec from Matakana. The first vintage ever and one barrel made. Tight, Bordeaux-styled and resting on its acidity. This will keep and develop in an elegant way for another 5-8 years, getting more savoury-cedary. And looking extremely good was a 1998 Sileni 'EV' Merlot/Cabernet, dense chocolate and dark plums, dense and fully extracted in the past, but perfectly together with the fruit richness. Some bottles have been plagued by brett, this one perfect.

It can be wonderful when things come together...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Au Revoir

It was a lovely homely dinner to send off The Little Aussie Battler as she went off on her way in the world of wine. She and the Drama Queen made a night of it with laughs galore and some significant wines on the way.

An introductory 2007 Hiedler Gruner Veltliner 'Spiegel' gave that soft peppery herb and spice note that makes the variety such a good starter. The Little Aussie Battler might have a hand in making wine from this variety later this year!

Then on to her love Pinot Noir and Burgundy. It was a three-way comparison: a fantastically rich, plump but structured 2008 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir. Simply outstanding indeed, and a wine that whilst easy the slurp down now, will keep a decade. In comparison a 2007 Cristom 'Mt Jefferson' Pinot Noir was harder, drier, less rich and more forward. Not a bad effort really, but sort of 'piggy in the middle'. SWMBO found it over-oaked Because the 2006 J-F Mugnier Nuits-St-Georges 'Clos des Fourches' was exceptionally pure and sleek, only a little shy at present. This will go a decade and a half we all reckoned.

A respite from red in the form of a German Riesling, something we all love. A 2001 von Kesselstatt Piesporter Goldtrofchen Auslese was perfection. Decadent, but restrained. Complex yet so accessible. Toasty, creamy nuances with fresh acidity. Drinking well now, but will keep to 2020 maybe!

With the Battler's dessert came a Gonzalez Byass PX 'Nectar' Dulce sherry. Soft raisins and seamless sultana essence. Just wonderful sticky, but not overly sticky stuff. With a finish, or should I say, "Au Revoir" to end the night, because there will be a catch-up with people, wine food and occasion!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Name Dropping

It was a special night out with the big names. Jelly-Bean Girl got a group together with J-Walker, and The Chairman, Lady Chairman and the Motel Madam. All important people, but good mates and no pretension on their part at all.

The wines had to suit the occasion and people. What do you think? We started off with Mumm de Cramant, wonderfully pristine, minerally and fine. Perfect as a quenching aperitif and so gentle. Relatively rarified, it was a spectacular, but stylish drop. A couple of whites continued the big name procession. A tight, and still to develop 2008 Ata Rangi 'Craighall' Chardonnay, real potential for the next 4-6 years, no doubt, and a soft, lush, plump 2004 Vinoptima Gewuzrtraminer, made by one of N.Z.'s long time family winemakers scion- Nick Nobilo.

The old stuff came next. A 1982 Ch. Latour-a-Pomerol, rated really high by 'His Bobness' the other 'Mr Parker'. It was indeed a serious 'fleshpot', and if it wasn't spoiled by brett, it would have been a treat from the stars. As it was though, you could still taste the richness of fruit. Pity about the farmyard. Then to finish, a 1983 Deinhard Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Beerenauslese from the Rheingau. Orange in colour, the nose was high-toned citrus marmalade and old intensified barley sugar, echoed on the palate, along with searing acidity. This was still going to last another decade or two. We mentioned the big-name German best-seller at the time - Deinhard 'Green Label' Mosel. But it shouldn't have been in the same breath.

Then the next day, the Library Man opened the historic 1982 St Helena Canterbury Pinot Noir, mushroom and forest-floored to the max, but with fruit sweetness still. In actuality a better drink than the 1982 Latour-a-Pomerol. How can this be? I'd drink the not-so-big name out of these two!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Flat and Flattering

With AB in town there were several chances to try wines at lunch and dinner. It's good how food flatters wines, and this was the case as we 'Ambled Inn' to one of our fave eateries.

First up was a 2004 Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg 'L'Inedit', which was chosen 'cos it's normally a stunner with its richness allied to linear minerality. Surprisingly, it was soft and rounded. Impressively unctuous, but forward. Still flattering though. AB has the 2001 which was in better normal form.

Our 'Amble Inn' host with the most, bless him, chose two reds, affected by the big 'B', but they were drinkable, as they were soft and flattened and flattered so, especially with the food. SWMBO is a bit sensitive to bad horsey notes and found it all a bit tough, but if you're thirsty, you can put up with it. Both the 2000 Clarendon Hills 'Blewitt Springs' Shiraz and 2003 Rocca delle Macie 'Sergioveto' had their varietal and origin identities masked by the brettanomyces, and in fact made them seem polar opposites. The Ocker was dried and furry-earthy with eucalypt appearing later, the Eytie sweet and ripe, partly because of the vintage.

As the evening progressed we got to a 2008 Alluviale 'Anobli', 100% Sauvignon in the Sauternes style. Last year, it was raw, searingly acid and oaky, now come together deliciously and flattened out to a harmonious stage.

See, 'flat' ain't all bad, as it can be flattering!