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.