Friday, January 25, 2013

From South to North

Our friends, the Argent Couple are all things South American.  Wine and food is a major item for them to consider daily, and there’s a barbecued beast and slabs of red meat being cooked and served regularly, all accompanied by a few glasses of hearty red.  So it was a lot of fun and something different to serve them a couple of whites from places almost on the opposite side of the planet from where they see home.  We followed these with a couple of heftier reds, just in case they might have a grumble!

Leading the way was a 2009 Mathis Bastian Remich Primerberg Riesling Grand 1er Cru.  Big name for a nice but gentle white from Luxembourg.  For a tiny state that’s heavy into civil and grey with a cost to it all, this was a delight.  Maybe it’s that extra sprkle ofmaking good wine hat is the lift?  Soft and sherbet-like with its matty, lime and citrus, honey infused flavours, not quite the clarity of the Mosel cousins in Germany over the border.  But nevertheless an attractive and delicious introduction.  No shortage of presence with 12.5% alc. but not in any way overbearing.  It’s a little incentive to change my views of the country.

Then a 2010 Bodegas Terras Gauda ‘La Mar’ Rias Baixas.  Not an Albarino as one might expect from this north-western corner of Spain, but 85% Caino Branco with Albarino and Loureiro, grown in the O Rosal sub-zone.  Surprisingly yellow in colour, this combined the oily lanolin of Semillon with the exotics of Viognier and the acidity of Chenin Blanc.  Intriguing in aroma and flavour and with excellent depth, at 12.5% alc., that just kept on revealing more interest.  I could look at this for ages, and I did, until the bottle was empty.  I don’t know if the Argent Couple or SWMBO were quite into it as I was, but no matter. 

On going from the South to the North, one can experience a whole world of tastes.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Going Strong

It’s all so easy to flip-flop and follow fads and fashions, but staying true to the path will see the best results.  One must stay true to one’s dream and go strong towards it without being lured to deviate.  It doesn’t hurt to examine the alternative paths, and one can have a lot of fun and excitement in doing so, but it can slow down the progress.  Our Little Aussie Battler is a case in point, as she’s a head down person and moves forward, through strength of will.

Graced with the presence of the Little Aussie Battler, it was appropriate we opened a could of wines which show that pursuing long term goal results in rewards.  The 2000 Te Mata ‘Coleraine’ was the perfect example.  Many have suggested that the Te Mata team push for more ripeness, but they reckon the elegant claret model is what they do best, and it’s a classic across the world and has been for ever and a day.  Personally, I’ve been a fan for the riper, bigger 1998 Coleraine, and it is a magnificent wine.  But the 2000, initially on the tighter and leaner side in comparison with the 1998, has shown its true class.  Great finesse and concentrated richness, with everything in perfect proportion.  Lovely depth and fine-grained textures, unfolding layer upon layer of secondary complexities to guild the fruit.  The bottle didn’t last long…

Following was the 2006 Craggy Range ‘Le Sol’ Syrah.  Steve Smith and his team knew that Syrah was going to be special from the start.  The first few vintages were statement wines, but the search for finesse led to a toning down of ripeness, extract and oak.  A cooler vintage such as 2006 is a good thing for the style.  Initially closed and a bit savoury, without the fruitiness seen in new wines.  But developing that real savoury, gamy meaty and spicy lifted floral and pepper tinged Syrah fruit so reminiscent of top northern Rhone.  But cleaner, more modern.  New Worldy, but more than a nod to the Old World.  This won’t last as long as the Coleraine, but it’ll do very well.   

Monday, January 21, 2013

Building on the Event

The Eventress and her ‘New’ Man are true professionals who can’t help themselves in building on what they’ve achieved.  Our little and intimate get-together group with Brucie and the Bassinet Babe plus ourselves was added to with the Secret City Dwellers.  It all meant extra places at the table with extra food and wine.  The benefit of it all was a lot more discussion and a lot more wine.  No-one could complain, and indeed, we all applauded the building of this regular event.

The walk-in wine seems to be Champagne, and yet again the NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin ‘Yellow Label’ really delivers.  As volumes have grown under the LVMH umbrella, the wine has remained remarkably one of quality.  Freshness is a little more apparent than the days of old.  A little less autolysis and aldehyde.  Maybe even a tad lighter in weight too.  Some may see this as a change for the better, others, a little older in years, might say it’s less characterful.  I tend ever so slightly toward the latter camp.

With the creamy seafood pasta dish came two Chardonnays.  Brucie and the Bassinet Babe brought the 2005 Bret Brothers Pouilly-Fuisse ‘La Roche’, for a white burgundy distinctly more New Worldy than expected with ripe white and yellow fruits and noticeable oak spicing.  An absolutely up-front and delicious expression.  Sitting in both camps of tradition and modern, and working well for it.  It was paired with a 2006 Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay.  Much bolder and fuller win weight and richer in flavour. Plenty of oak in comparison with the Pouilly-Fuisse, but totally in style with the powerful flavours.  For a wine with 6 years of age, this looked youthful still, too.  The Bret Brothers was overwhelmed by the creaminess of the pasta sauce, but the Kiwi wine coped and in fact dominated a little.

The red bracket with the lamb racks promised much.  A pair Pinot Noirs led by a 2008 Hudson ‘John Henry’ Martinborough wine.  Fulsome and broad with plenty of savoury flavours, quite secondary, but sweet with fruit.  Very typically Martinborough with its structure.  Arguably the star wine of the night was the 2009 Felton Road ‘Block 3’ Central Otago wine.  Black fruited and plenty of floral aromatics, it was the vitality and richness of the fruit that was the feature.  Great concentration, finesse, suppleness and incredibly detailed and long on the finish.  This is a keeper for sure. 

Then onto a pair of Bordeaux varietal wines.  The 2002 Craggy Range ‘Sophia’ Merlot/Cabernet anoth dark coloured and dark fruited wine with a lifted component.  VA and oak lift detracting somewhat, but at the core great richness and drive.  Density allied to finesse.  Then the oldie.  A 1986 Stonyridge ‘Larose’ Cabernet Sauvignon dominant wine from Waiheke Island.  The crop size was bigger.  Goldwater declassified their wine into Nob Hill.  This Stonyridge was lighter, but an improvement over the inaugural 1985.  But it was not a patch on the 1987 that made the world stand up an notice.  Now 27 years down the track, a lot greener and acidic, lighter too.  But still with integrity, flavour flow and proper structure and proportion.  I know it’d look good against most other 1986s that we’ve tried to date.  Lovely cleanliness of fruit and no extraneous funkiness that can mar early winemaking efforts .

There was a plethora of dessert wines, but the final two are what I’ll note.  A commercial offering that punches above its weight was the 2011 Selaks ‘Heritage’ Gewurztraminer/Riesling blend rom Gisborne and Waipara.  An ungodly mix?  Maybe, but it worked with its fizzy, muskiness, identifiably Gewurz, but with a clean floral cut.  Then the finale, a 2002 Church Road Noble Semillon from Hawke’s Bay.  Deep golden with VA lifted toffee and caramel.  Oaking absorbed, and now with secondary savoury flavours and an unctuous texture just hinting at drying out now.  This was a bold and robust beast in its early days, and still is, just with the edges knocked off.

Our dinners with The Eventress and the rest of the crew maybe going up a level.  That’s what happens when you build.     

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


The Planner is in the middle of a project.  It’s an involved one that goes beyond his area of expertise, but is in the realm that SWMBO and I dabble in, so it was a plan to get together to discuss some finer points.  At the local Asian eatery, many of these points were covered, with a couple of bottles of wine accompany the meal of course.  But it’ll be an on-going project, and I’d imagine a good number more meetings will be required, with the bottles as well.  Sounds like a plan!

Two Pinot Noirs from Martinborough stood out.  The 2009 Escarpment Pinot Noir seemed surprisingly light at first.  But in the glass, it grew to become fully-fledged.  Lovely red fruits, and a little whole bunch savoury-herby perfume quite noticeable.  Lovely and sweet in fruit, with very fine and supple tannins.  The structure certainly there, but all very harmonious.  On first sip, I thought I was going to be disappointed, but this just get better and better.  It was hard not to finish the bottle quickly!  This was an excellent year for the Martinborough region, maybe the wines a tad lighter and full of potential than 2006 or 2008 which are seen as among the top vintages, but it’s not far behind, and it shows.  I think the ‘Kupe’ structured style might have been a little moderated by the year.

Matching it was a 2007 Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir.  This was a frost-affected crop and as a result a tiny, tiny vintage.  However, the intensity and the quality quite startling.  I think the 2007s have matured more gracefully than the 2005s, which are another low yield year.  The 2007s have retained riper flavours and freshness of fruit, whereas the 2005s seem to show their greener personality now as the develop their secondary flavours.  So the case with the Martinborough Vineyard.  Lovely sweet and vibrant fruit full of vitality, the tannins and acids in balance.  But as the wine saw air, distinctive toasty oak appeared.  A little too much in the end.  But it too was just delicious.

The plan about planning is a good one.   

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Big Start to the New Year

One notable big bottle to start the year and to start the blog posts for 2013.  We’d been saving a magnum of 2000 Redmetal ‘Basket Press’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet Franc for a special occasion, and this was it. I was gifted the wine about a decade ago, and it signalled the new millennium too.  And we had Jubes and family and the WRXers as company, and they like their red wines.

Still dark ruby-garnet colour, I was a little perturbed by the bouquet.  Greenish stemmy and funky notes, no meat or horse thankfully, but not what was expected.  Although 2000 wasn’t a super-ripe and hot year in The Bay, the Bordeaux-styled reds haven’t appeared unripe, with the likes of Te Mata Estate saying that 2000 was a classic for them, with elegance being their preferred style, the 2000 ‘Coleaine’ better than the monumental 1998. 

Back to the Redmetal, still vigorous and juicy on palate, with dark berry and herby fruits, some black earth and secondary flavours, all backed by grunty extract and robust tannins and a flash of acidity.  Sinewy in a big way, and still with another decade of life ahead of it.  I don’t think it’ll evolve into finesse and layers, but it’ll drink well.  The bottle was drained, in addition to a number of others in the course of the night, and SWMBO, who can be critical of brett, green and undrinkability was pretty happy with it.  The WRXers beamed smiles as the supped up.