Every year, a sizeable contingent of NZ wineries take a little trip onto Australian shores to show off their wines. It should be well-regarded that the time of NZ being strictly associated with standardised Sauvignon Blancs is over. But that I’m reminding readers again is based on personal experience with a large number of casual winedrinkers who still only associate NZ with cheap fruity SB. There is no doubt that the over-commitment to planting Sauvignon Blanc has created an unfair image of the NZ wine industry, and a detriment to some growers. However, there is an abundance of examples of well-crafted, elegent wines with complexity so desired by serious wine drinkers and the astute buyer. These take the form of Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling and blendings (inclined towards Bordeaux).
However, IMHO, a big problem exists with these and that is these high-quality wines are not priced to be competitive for the global market. We’re not just limiting a comparison of which Australian or NZ wine you can get for $50 and how they’d stack up quality wise. With the strong Australian dollar at the moment, wines from France, Spain and South America continue to be readily accessible, both product and price-wise. Coupled with what I’d like to be as becoming an even stronger push to promote Australian wine in the local markets, NZ winemakers are going to be find it an uphill task to make stronger inroads into the Australian market.
Anyway, on to the wines. These tasting notes do not cover all the wines that were on offer during this event as I was limited for time. I decided to make random tasting stops rather than taste selected wineries or in alphabetical order. Overall, the wines were of good-high quality with several interesting offerings such as the Vinoptima Guwerztraminer. There are several wines priced at good-value too that would be worth purchasing.
Archangel Pinot Gris, Central Otago 2011
$35 A very straight-forward attractive Pinot Gris with notes of light lemon fruit and ruby grapefruit. It is easy on the palate with plenty of clean, refreshing acidity. Good balance and long finish. 91/100.
Archangel Riesling, Central Otago 2010
$35 I am less impressive with the Riesling compared to the Pinot Gris at the same price. This is a rather typical run-of-the-mill Riesling with clean white grapefruit aromas and a flavour mix of lime and grapefruit. It is a simple drink that is rather one-dimensional with a finish that fades off without leaving any impression. 87/100.
Maude Pinot Gris, Central Otago 2011
$26 Nice perfume with lifted aromas of pear juice and apple musk. White grapefruit with sweet pear and green apple flavours. A balanced wine with crisp acidity, easy finish. Drink now. 88/100
Maude East Block Riesling 2010, Central Otago
$30 Made in a ‘Kabinett style’ with 9% alc and 65grs. Mellow melon notes with lighter wafts of honeysuckle and white lime flowers. Sweet orange blossom, honey, lemon and rock melon flavours. Plush body with crisp lively acidity. Tasty. Drink now – 2017. 91/100.
Maude Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009, Central Otago
$50 Medium ruby colour. Earthy red tea, smokey cranberries, red currants and cherries. Med-bodied wine with an attractive palate, lighter flavours with shade of complexity but lacking in body. Nice though. 90/100
Mount Maude Pinot Noir 2009, Central Otago
$68 Medium ruby colour. An enticing nose that beckons you to probe further. Cherry blossom, strawberry, blackcurrants, fresh tree bark and dried 2-day old tea. Med-bodied wine with youthful tannins and ripe fruit flavours. Good acidity with the berry fruit. Decent finish. 91+/100.
Vinoptima Ormond Gewurztraminer 2006, Gisborne
$55 Notes of Japanese cherry blossom, black tea, orange peel, pickled pink ginger and a hint of white pepper. Dry, med+-bodied that fills the mouth out almost like a tasty Semillon dessert wine. Flavours of dried pineapple and apricots, honey and bees wax. Lean and ungiving, this has enough complexity to grab my interest but it really needs more time to develop. Probably revisit in 5 years time, 2017 – 2025. 92/100. *I bought some of this*
Martinborough Vineyards Te Tera Pinot Noir 2010, Martinborough
$35 Interesting nose on this one that reminds me of Nestea black peach tea, soft aromas of forest twigs and dark berries. Medium bodied wine that has a bit of everything for everyone – berry flavours, refreshing acidity and silky tannins. Drink now – 2017. 90/100. *I bought some of this*
Martinborough Vineyards Pinot Noir 2009, Martinborough
$85 A very nice wine boasting good aromatics which are subtle, nothing too forward. Notes of bright red cherries and red currants, counterpointed by a fatty element (this is a good thing, it didn’t make it seem flabby). A dry, med-bodied wine that balances nice red berry flavours with tight acidity. Soft velvety tannins hold all that together on the long finish. 92/100.
Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2010, Hawkes Bay
$42 Clear, deep inky colour with youthful notes of pepper, river pebbles and blackcurrants. A dry, full-bodied wine packed with plush tannins. A nice flavour load of concentrated peppery blackcurrants matched by the high level of acidity. A well rounded wine with a long, easy finish. Drink now – 2017. 91/100.
Trinity Hill Homage Syrah 2009, Hawkes Bay
$150 A lifted nose with perfume of black and blue berries, green peppercorns, fleshy stalks and bark peel. A young dry wine, full-bodied and packed with diffuse tannins. It has concentrated flavours of black / blue berries, pure and simple. A well-balanced wine, good acidity that doesn’t tire out the mouth, and long savoury finish. Despite the quality, I wonder how the price tag is justified. Drink now – 2020. 93/100.
Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Chardonnay 2010, Marlborough
$52 Oak! Melted butter on toast, cashews – both raw and roasted, lighter white berries. Dry, bordering sherry-like. A linear wine and I find the sourish acidity very unattractive. Ce vin n’est pas bandant. 85-6/100.
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2009, Marlborough
$45 Medium inky ruby in colour. Attractive youthful aromas of pomegranate juice, strawberry and sweet clove. Med+ bodied wine, pleasantly full of flavours – strawberry, red berries, weightier cherry-like elements. Ripe tannins. A straight-forward but long finish. Drink now – 2015. 88/100.
Villa Maria Southern Clays Pinot Noir 2009, Marlborough
$72 Med+ ruby-purple in colour. This has nice depth to the aromatic profile – red berries, strawberry, earthiness of summer herbs. Med-bodied, ripe flavours of red currants, fleshy plums and strawberry smoothie. Good level of acid to keep the palate fresh. Nice finish. Drink now – 2019. 91/100
Man O War Ironclad Bordeaux Blend 2008, Waiheke Island
$27 A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. A lovely bouquet of blackcurrants, peppery red currants and black plum flesh. Fresh flavours with ripe acidity and chocolatey tannins. Dark fruit flavours, dash of pepper and hint of bay leaf. However, as enjoyable as the journey has been, the finish is short and disappointing. Time to jump off the cab. Drink now. 88/100.
Man O War Dreadnaught Syrah 2008, Waiheke Island
$46 Med+ ruby colour, notes of blackberry, pepper, clove, aged coke, dark berries. A dry, med-bodied wine with nicely diffuse tannins. A concentration of ripe cherry preserve and raspberry fruit flavours but these are kept in check by an appropriate level of acidity. There is sufficient stuff going on in this one to maintain interest. Relatively good value too. Drink now (decant) – 2017. 92/100. *I bought some of this*