Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay 2006

It's usual to write about wine that you like. Usually what is in the glass infront of you is something you're pre-disposed to wanting to drink. It's not usual to buy or order wine that you're going to dislike. So when presented with the Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay 2006 it's a struggle to come at it from an objective standpoint. Firstly, I've not met a Kim Crawford wine I was much fond of and secondly, I'm equally as enamoured of the Unoaked Chardonnay style (unless it's Chablis, bone dry and minerally). But here goes....

Deep gold with the faintest straw-brown tinge (what?). Doesn't smell like much. Melon, peach and hay (if I have to put down something). First impressions are a very grainy texture, slightly bitter with a paradoxical touch of sweetness. The palate puts me in mind of Nashi pear and alcohol. Apparently the juice underwent malolactic fermentation but this is not evident in a creamy mouthfeel or flavour.

This may be a bit old for an unoaked Chardonnay to be showing at its best but it doesn't change the fact that the lingering finish is of booze, and not distinguished booze at that. Prejudices are obviously very hard to put aside.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Testing Older Sauvignon Blanc

Somehow the wine I write about seems to over-represent Sauvignon Blanc as though that were all I imbibed. Not the case, but as I have just 'sup-ed' Sav...

The Kahurangi Heaphy Estate Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2006 was pulled out in an attempt to cull some of the older Sauvignons from the cellar.

Deep gold with a very tinned asparagus nose. The palate is sweaty-tropical, full of really ripe banana and end of summer stonefruit. The vegetal aspect is barely aparent in the flavour instead there is a grainy, limey, slightly stone-y pertness. This is pungeant, squishy and a bit divisive.

Rich thinks that it's lost its freshness and I still feel that these squashy flavours are worth seeking out.

We ended up using the Craggy Range Te Muna Road Sauvignon Blanc 2007 as a foil for the other wine's character. Sometimes tasting in tandem in this fashion can help to solidify (or change) your opinions about a wine.

A usual Sauvignion pale gold in the glass. Aromatically feijoa, papaya and peach with soft acids in the mouth. A pleasant, flirty palate and just a bit flinty. This Sauvignon has a very long finish yet still seems a bit frivolous. A texture like a gorgeous red autumn apple.

Surprisingly, despite the not insignificant charms of the Craggy Range, I won in the end with Rich admitting to a fondness for the Kahurangi after all. It seems, with the advent of screwcaps, wines like Sauvignon Blanc that we traditionally drank young can be interesting later in life.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Pair at Dinner

Whilst we eat cheese and chat the Delta Marlborough Riesling 2005.

Deep lime gold. 13% and aged for four months on lees prior to bottling. The texture is quite rich and reminiscent of natural yogurt, lime and honey. I like the weight of the wine and it is aging gracefully as Riesling should.

Try as I might I can't find any reference to this wine apart from the fact it won a silver in the Air New Zealand show and I suspect it is made for the wine club to which my father belongs.

The wine served with my Dad's lovely cooking was the Mills Reef Reserve Hawke's Bay Pinot Noir 2006. This wine presented something of an anomaly as Pinot Noir from the Hawke's Bay tends to do.

Deep Garnet red fading to brick at the rim. Damson Plum, tinned rasberry, spice and ink on the nose preceed a juicy purple wine gum character on the palate supported by a cuddly, cushy texture. All this wrapped in taut acid. The acid aside I would have believed I was drinking a Grenache of the label didn't so clearly state otherwise.

I believe that this will be the last vintage Mills Reef make of the Pinot Noir and that may be for the best. I love to drink Pinot Noir and there's no reason why it shouldn't work in certain sites in the Hawke's Bay. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are planted in close proximaty in Burgundy but, apart from a couple of examples grown in the limestone hills behind the Bay, this delicate red grape doesn't seem to produce at its best in this part of the country. The Mills Reef Pinot provides a good arguement for typicity.

TypicityWikipedia, the free encyclopedia - Cite This SourceTypicity is a term in wine tasting used to describe the degree to which a wine reflects its origins, and thus demonstrates the signature characteristics of the area where it was produced, its mode of production, or its parent grape, e.g. how much a merlot wine “tastes like a merlot”. It is used analogously for other foodstuffs, such as meat and dairy products.
Typicity derives from both historical precedent and a modern consensus on how a certain wine should “taste”. It is a straightforward concept but has controversial ramifications. For example, whether or not a particular area produces wines with typicity can be debatable, and especially controversial are the factors that may give rise to such typicity. The factors probably involve vineyard bedrock, soils and climate, together with the local viticultural and winemaking traditions, but their relative importance will vary and can be much argued. The extent to which such factors are encompassed by the term terroir is an especially charged issue. However, none of this detracts from the value of the term typicity as a starting point for discussion.
In some countries, such as Austria, typicity is used as part of a qualitative hierarchy that takes into consideration soil, climate and vintage. Austrian Qualitatswein (literally "quality wine") is tested for typicity, with the classification printed on the wine label. This can be considered a subjective and unreliable way to classify wine, opening the door to elitism with what has been criticized by some as viticultural racism.
French typicité, Italian tipicità

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Beaten to the punchline

I realise that it's all very well to say so after the fact, but I had been planning to pen a lengthy article about the state of Sauvignon Blanc in Nu Zild. It's a subject much on my mind what with it being our wine-y calling card to the rest of the world and yet holding on to the lower ranks of the ladder in most wine-makers estimation.

It also suffers being dismissed as simple stuff, not worthy of debate in the same fashion as Chardonnay or Pinot Noir and there's definitely a dichotemy in there waiting to be expounded and also there's much to love in Sauvignon Blanc despite its perceived failings.....

And it's all very well my starting out like this but the wine writer in the Viva has beaten me to most of these points in National print. I imagine there's no harm in singing the same tune but it's not as much fun as whistling your own melody. But there we go. Perhaps it's a subject deserving of a whistle anyhow.

In this vein the wine on offer was the Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc 2007, new to the wine list and so ripe for the tasting. It seems for some reason to be the de rigueur Savvy to pop on to the list and well known to Aucklanders of a certain socio-economic type.

My first impressions are not particularly of startling aromatics although my colleagues are exclaiming over the distinctive nose. It has a leafy, lime pith aroma but it is the palate the is most distinguished element. Grainy and long. Much like a peach skin or the tart shock of biting into a new-season yellow nectarine with all the fleshy, full bodied flavour to follow. This is interwoven with a thread of nutty complexity like sucking the flesh off the stone at the end. The wine ends long, full and fresh.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Distinctive Adult Sophistication

The Mountford Pinot Noir has been riding high in my estimation since I first tried the 2004 early last year so I guess I was a little biased when I got to try the Mountford Pinot Noir 2001 but it was everything I was expecting and more. My notes are perfunctory at best but I'm excusing myself on the basis that I was too busy salivating over the wine.

Garnet red with a dilute rim. Morello cherry and cinnamon buns. Mouthfeel primary plus. A silky feel. Very feminine. Lots of secondary bottle stuff (?) and no sappy aspect. So much life and such a delicious mouthful. Scrummy and so Mountford. Harmonous but youthful.

And then.....

Anita Baker (underlined)

And that's it. A little scrappy, non?

Still an excerpt from Anita Baker's biography makes more sense of my thoughts

With her classy, refined brand of romantic soul, Anita Baker was one of the definitive quiet storm singers of the '80s. Gifted with a strong, supple alto, Baker was influenced not only by R&B, but jazz, gospel, and traditional pop, which gave her music a distinctly adult sophistication. Smooth and mellow, but hardly lifeless, it made her one of the most popular romantic singers of her time.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Stratford Martinborough Riesling 2005

I'm finding this wine hard to pin down. Last night, after a few sips, I found it too austere for casual imbibing and gave up. Today in a less sleepy frame of mind and willing to turn my attention to the liquid in my glass I'm seeing the Stratford in a new light.

Lovely greeny straw colour with an aroma of lavender talc and lemons. If this wine isn't bone dry then it's close to and the chalky texture and zippy acidity certainly make it seem so. The palate is very puckering Granny Smith and lemony iced tea with a floral note bearing out the nose. Intriguing and sophisticated.