Thursday, October 22, 2015

In the Face of Adversity

 It seems wrong to think of the 2013 vintage in Hawke’s Bay as adverse and challenging.  After all it is being talked about the best for growing grapes and making wine in living history.  The growing season was very warm and very dry and the grapes ripened easily and in excellent health.  It would have been a crime if you didn’t make great wine in a year such as this.  But the challenge was that the conditions would have meant it was too easy to make over-ripe wines.  It could have been adverse it the desire was to make wines of freshness and elegance. 

Two producers of icon labels picked early to preserve fruit freshness and acidity.  The result is vitality of fruit and refreshing, refined textures and mouthfeel.  The Logisticers were celebrating two birthdays, and SWMBO and I were invited.  We ended up tasting and drinking the icon 2013 wines, and even though they were based on different cepages, there was a remarkable similarity in the way they presented themselves.

The 2013 Te Mata ‘Coleraine’ Hawke’s Bay has been a leading Cabernet Sauvignon-based label for 30 years.  That’s forever in New Zealand terms.  Some modern views see it as being too elegant and showing less than full ripeness.  Te Mata have stayed true to the classic claret style though.  This was black coloured and black-fruited.  Blackcurrants and cassis.  But ripe.  A dense texture and considerable tannin structure, quite brooding and taut.  With coaxing, the sweetness and ripeness emerges to make the wine complete.  It’ll be a keeper for sure.  It’s in the same vein as other great years for Coleraine, bar the super-ripe 1998.

I love the 2013 Craggy ‘Sophia’ Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Hawke’s Bay for its sweetness of fruit, aromatic character and beautiful vitality.  It had it again, with a slightly more approachable plumminess.  But under it all, huge extract and the structure became evident.  This has become more brooding, and grew so in the glass.  It too is complete and will live two decades easily.  Merlot still reigns supreme in The Bay for its greater consistency.  Craggy Range have it right.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Honey, I’m Home

The meeting was arranged.  I was home.  SWMBO was driving back some distance, and the Writer Joll was in town.  I chilled down the white and opened a red so there was no going back.  I just sat down to rest after all the chores, and in came SWMBO with “Honey I’m Home”.  A few moments later our guest arrived.  Perfect timing.  Our session of catching up with the gossip begun.

The white was a 2011 Clemens Busch Punderreicher Marienburg Riesling Spatlese Goldkapsel.  This is the other traditional side of the coin to the modern drier, higher alcohol, site expressive wines to what Clemens Busch is arguably more famous for.  So it was like going home to the fruit-sweet style.  This is the style I was brought up on, having really started enjoying German wines from the late 1960s.  This was light golden, smooth and seamless on nose and palate, unfolding layers of ripe yellow tropical fruits with honey and toast.  The classical cream and custard flavours and textures from development.  Wonderfully unctuous, but with enough acidity to still be lively and fresh.  Then waves of talc and musky botrytis, taking over from the fruit, and reaching to satisfy the senses and the soul,  I couldn’t think of a better homecoming.