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!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Good things come in small parcels. They also come in big parcels. As we saw today at a farewell function for The Little Aussie Battler. It was a rather fun and very nice affair as we toasted her as she was about to embark on a new stage in her life. The Drama Queen and Not Budgie were there along with all her good friends. She's a little package, but big in heart.

The Little Aussie Battler had never sabraged a bottle of bubbly before, and it's a process that works well on magnum bottles. Off came the top of a Deutz Marlborough Cuvee - in magnum. The wine was delicious. Soft bubbles, some intensified autolysis characters and a damn good sparkler to start the proceedings.

Then after another bottle of Cava, came a 2005 Ata Rangi 'Craighall' Chardonnay. Fully mature, rich and dense and packed full of sumptuous meal flavours on a lovely textured palate. Air time saw it get better and better. It was only a little 750 ml bottle. It should have been in 1.5 Litre packaging.

The piece de resistance was a magnum of 2003 Quartz Reef 'Bendigo' Pinot Noir. Rudi makes these wines to last, because that's what the grapes tell him to do. The wine is normally tight and unyielding. But this was perfect. Still fresh, it had primary and secondary notes. Red and dark berries, Some herbs and forest floor. Beautiful lusciousness from the acidity. SWMBO led the charge and pronounced it outstanding. We all concurred. The Little Aussie Battler has a special connection with Rudi, so it was most appropriate to open this wee beastie with her!

A lovely big package for a lovely little package.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Moving On

As wine drinkers, both individually and demographically, we are continually changing in our drinking habits. It's tough going back to older wines as we have moved on in viticulture and in winemaking. We do it so much better nowadays. And fashions move on. Two decades ago, it was claret style. But nowadays, we can't abide by the firm tannins of the Bordeaux varieties. It's Pinot Noir and Syrah that are hot.

To prove a point we looked at a trio of 1983 Kiwi reds with Mr Mace. He is actually involved in making Pinot Noir, so he may have been biased? I don't think so. First was the 1983 Goldwater Cabernet Sauvignon. Second release from this producer on Waiheke. It had gobs of fruit, extract anf depth. Pity it was green and unripe, with stalkiness and leaf. Our viticulture is much better now. Then a 1983 Morton Estate 'Black Label' Cabernet Sauvignon. Dilute. No depth. But in its favour clean and free of faults. Finally, a 1983 Matawhero Cabernet/Merlot. Soft, milky-lactic, with a sweetness of fruit, but also funky-not-totally clean. In some ways, drinking some history. The vintage was good in The Bay. Te Mata did well as did Cooks...

But in reality, these wines had moved on.