Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Esk Valley Merlot Hawke's Bay 2004

Does this winery make a bad wine? If so I've yet to taste one. Esk Valley have a wide ranging portfolio, including what was the only planting of Verdelho, until the sneaky tykes at Villa Maria poozled some, somewhat to Gordon Russell's chargrin?

But it was the 2004 Merlot that emerged from the cellar to go with Dad's roast lamb.

Upon opening this is all savoury, leathery cedar with dormant fruit but after an hour in the decanter it brightens up to purple notes of plums and smoke. The tannins so smooth as to be almost indistinguishable but for all that it is a plush, plump wine. A wine that defied my expectations as I'm starting to find many 2004 Hawke's Bay reds showing signs of too much vintage heat and too little restraint. However after that initial prune-y whiff the Esk Valley demonstrates an underlying freshness. Comfortable rather than impressive but who doesn't like a little comfort (or a lot?). a 3 (ah go on 4...) glass wine.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sal's Great Portfolio

Co-Pilot is one of my favourite distributors. They may not carry the big Nu Zillund names but they have a great, idiosyncratic selection of vineyards and encompass quirky to classic styles. Syrah from Kerikeri, the once ubiquitous but now sadly unfashionable Gisborne Chardonnay and other gems that have me champing at the bit to list (if only I could get the buying public to understand).

Koura Bay Sauvignon Blanc Awatere 2008
Made by Simon Waghorne of (Auckland fashionable favourite) Astrolabe fame and Simon's Sauvignons are stylish for a reason. As they're stylish and don't venture too much down the thiol route. The nose is punchy and unmistakabley Awatere. A little more fine boned perhaps with floral tones. The palate has wonderful, crunchy, Braeburn acidity that even the pregnant lady can handle (and right now my palate is highly tuned to acid above all else). Expressive and modish. a 3 glass wine

Johanneshof Riesling Marlborough 2003
Stones and stonefruit don't usually sit so comfortably side by side but this bone dry Riesling pulls off a mean trick with a delicate, refreshing, long mineral and lime palate without coming off austere. It's a great relief to find an enjoyable, dry local Riesling. There's no doubt we pull off the Germanic model with increasing ease but this wine proves that for dry Riesling a lie down in a cool place can do wonders for your personality in the summer. Quite something. a 1 bottle wine (if I didn't have to spit I would drink the bottle.... with food)

Brunton Road Chardonnay Gisborne 2007
Roasted nuts, warm peach and lots of jewellry make this an attractive model of Chardonnay. Drinking well this is mouthfilling without being huge with it. And that warm Gisborne sun makes short work of the citrus acids that are so prevalent in other local Chardonnay. 25% new French and American oak lend a touch of coconut to the already clement (but not flabby) drop. a 4 glass wine.

Okahu Chardonnay 2005
This wine uses a little fruit from their Northland vineyards with the balance coming from Hawke's Bay and is a powerful example of the varietal. A nutty, earthy lees-y nose gives way to a little orange fruit and a touch a deep greens. Baked apple sweetness and crust. The palate is fresh and elevated by fine acidity. Recherche.
a 3 glass wine.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Wine Nation?

I stumbled (quite literally) on this article by Laura Shapiro. And although penned (tapped?) to address the American condition it struck a chord thinking about the way Nu Zillund approaches wine. We may not have the "two-buck chuck" but this passage could desribe the kiwi nation as readily as America

As a nation, we have habits that go back centuries and make it almost impossible to incorporate wine comfortably into ordinary life. We eat and run, we swerve frantically between teetotaling and bingeing, we think of food as a necessity but wine as an indulgence, and we wouldn’t dream of raising our children to drink sensibly by offering a little watered-down wine at the dinner table. Wine-drinking nations see wine as an intrinsic part of the meal, a feature so unremarkable that food-and-wine practically constitutes a single entity. Americans just don’t think that way."

We've just come out the other side of the festive season, and all the excess that entails, and there's has been some mind-numbing navel gazing devoted to our binge-drinking culture which I don't really want to add wieght to. But, as a kind of belated New Year's resolution, I would like to push the envelope this year of wine and life, inextricably linked, as healthy and inclusive.

I'm starting a family come June and it would be nice to think I could play a (very small) part in helping Nu Zillund work towards the kind of wine culture we romanticise from the old world.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2005

This would be a pleasant but fairly unremarkable drop but for one thing.

The vintage.

Nu Zillund Savvy is usually drunk with no bottle age at all. The 2008 is mostly what you'll find, maybe a few 2007 lying about in dusty corners. But 2005. Crikey you'd be hard pressed to find much of the stellar 2005 Hawke's Bay Bordeaux blends still kicking about. More's the pity.

And this isn't from the Cloudy Bay Te Koko (Bordeaux Blanc) school of oak aging and late releasing. It's good, solid Villa Cellar Selection but nothing more.

A nose of celery but more than that. It's like quiche. The aromas of cooked asparagus mixed with creamy egg and the sweetness of ham. Those big, popular passionfruit thiols turning to something altogether different. At 14% the wine never lacked concentration and weight but with the benefit of almost 4 years the racy acidity has mellowed. It still shows length as the acids present a different kind of power, carpentry for the unfamiliar flavours rather than leap and attack. a 3 glass wine

Monday, January 5, 2009

Terriero Negroamaro Puglia 2006

A tiny tipple to accompany spring lamb with minted roast veg.

This is delicate and smells dry. Of baked earth and warmth. I'd refute the "masses of fruit' tag. There's red fruits and summer blackberry but they're lively flavours hemmed in by fresh acids which belies the slightly raisin-y colour. The tannins are round without being plump on the bramble berry palate and a hint of woody spice holds it all together. A fairly uncomplicated drop but not simplistic. It develops a malty, soy aspect in the nose as it sits and this carries through to the taste. a 2 glass wine.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I've come down in the world

Last New Year was seen in with Salon 1995, this year all I could get my hands on was Moet et Chandon Grand Vintage 2000. Still it would be churlish to complain.

Surprisingly pale despite its time in the bottle, the Moet Grand Vintage 2000 has a wonderful nutty attack that leaps from the glass, so much so that a colleague deemed it inappropriate after midnight as it was "too much of a meal in a glass". The fruit characters are subdued, tending more towards the softness of ripe pear and the yeasty, toasty elements are pleasingly correct, if a little dominant. a 3 glass wine.