Home
Page
Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
independent
analytical
non-commercial
Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.
RECENT RELEASES,  INCLUDING 12 WINES RATED AS GOLD MEDAL LEVEL


This batch of recent releases includes 12 wines rated as gold medal level (18.5 or more).  My medal thresholds for publication are to a more demanding standard than for commercial judgings,  where naturally enough in a panel format under a time constraint there is greater subconscious desire to highlight good wines.  Therefore,  some of the following should be particularly worth trying.

2004  Chivite Moscatel Gran Fuedo
2004  Kaituna Valley Chardonnay Canterbury
2005  Kaituna Valley Sauvignon Blanc
2005  Mount Riley Riesling
2004  Stonecroft Chardonnay Old Vines
2005  Stonecroft Rosé
  2005  Te Mata Chardonnay Elston
2004  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose
2004  Te Mata Syrah / Viognier  Woodthorpe
2004  Vavasour Chardonnay Anna’s Vineyard
2004  Vidal Syrah Soler
2004  Waimea Estates Gewurztraminer Bolitho Signature

Among them,  2004 Vavasour Chardonnay Anna’s Vineyard is exceptional.  But beyond this top bracket of wines,  there are good examples of riesling,  gewurztraminer,  sauvignon blanc,  rosé and syrah.  The reviews include the latest Te Mata and Stonecroft releases,  neither of which are entered in commercial judgings.

These reviews first appeared on the www.regionalwines.co.nz website during 2006.  With the change to Regional's website linking directly through to this one in March / April 2007,  they are now re-formatted and inserted here at their appropriate dates.  In general,  they are not updated.  The word [then] is inserted occasionally,  to emphasise that.  Obvious errors have been corrected.


LAYOUT – AND THE WINES REVIEWED:

White
Sparkling
Chardonnay
2004  Kaituna Valley Chardonnay Canterbury
2004  Manara Rock Chardonnay
2004  Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay
2005  Matahiwi Chardonnay
2004  Morton Estate Chardonnay White Label
2005  Mount Riley Chardonnay
2003  Moutere Hills Chardonnay
2003  Rimu Grove Chardonnay
2005  Stonecroft Chardonnay
2004  Stonecroft Chardonnay Old Vines
2005  Te Mata Chardonnay Elston
2004  Te Mata Chardonnay Woodthorpe
2005  Tohu Chardonnay Gisborne
2005  Tohu Chardonnay Marlborough Un-oaked
2004  TW Chardonnay
2004  Vavasour Chardonnay Anna’s Vineyard
2003  Waimea Estates Chardonnay Bolitho Signature
2005  White Rock Chardonnay Wild Ferment
Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2005  Clos Margeurite Sauvignon Blanc
2005  Kahurangi Estate Sauvignon Blanc
2005  Kaituna Valley Sauvignon Blanc
2005  Koura Bay Sauvignon Blanc Whalesback
2005  Lime Rock Sauvignon Blanc
2005  Matahiwi Sauvignon Blanc
2005  Morton Estate Sauvignon Blanc White Label
2005  Stonecroft Sauvignon Blanc
2005  Tapata Sauvignon Blanc
2005  Te Mania Sauvignon Blanc
2005  Te Mata Sauvignon Blanc Cape Crest
2005  Tohu Sauvignon Blanc
2005  Waimea Estates Sauvignon Blanc Bolitho Signature
2005  White Rock Sauvignon Blanc The Infamous Goose
Riesling
2005  Kahurangi Riesling
2005  Mount Riley Riesling
2005  Moutere Hills Riesling
2005  Waimea Estates Riesling Bolitho Signature
Pinot Gris
2005  Brick Bay Pinot Gris
2005  Waimea Estates Pinot Gris Bolitho Signature
Gewurztraminer
2005  Stonecroft Gewurztraminer Old Vine
2004  Waimea Estates Gewurztraminer Bolitho Signature
Viognier
Sweet / Sticky
2004  Chivite Moscatel Gran Fuedo
2005  Forrest Riesling Late-Harvest
  2005  Stonecroft Gewurztraminer Late-Harvest
All other white wines, blends, etc.
2005  Tahbilk Marsanne
2005  Tahbilk Viognier
2005  Te Mata Viognier
Red
Rosé
2004  Domaine de la Mordoree Tavel la Dame Rousse
2005  Moutere Hills Rosé
2005  Stonecroft Rosé
Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2003  J.P. Chenet Merlot
2004  Lime Rock Merlot / Cabernet Franc
2004  Manara Rock Cabernet Sauvignon
2003  Moutere Hills Merlot / Cabernet Franc
2002  Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon
2004  Te Mata Cabernet / Merlot Awatea
2004  Te Mata Cabernet / Merlot Coleraine
2004  Te Mata Cabernet / Merlot Woodthorpe
Cabernet / Shiraz
Pinot Noir
2005  Coopers Creek Pinot Noir Marlborough
2004  Lime Rock Pinot Noir
2005  Mount Riley Pinot Noir
2004  Mount Riley Pinot Noir Winemaker’s Selection
2004  Rimu Grove Pinot Noir
2004  Russian Jack Pinot Noir
2005  Strugglers Flat Pinot Noir
2005  Te Mata Gamay Noir Woodthorpe
Syrah = Shiraz
2004  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose
2004  Te Mata Syrah / Viognier  Woodthorpe
2004  Vidal Syrah Soler
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre & related blends
2003  Chapoutier Coteaux du Tricastin la Ciboise
All other red wines, blends etc
2004  Bodegas Munoz Artero Tempranillo
2003  Bodegas Munoz Legado Garnacha
2002  Castello di Cacchiano Chianti Classico
2002  Castello di Cacchiano Rosso
2001  Chivite Gran Fuedo Reserva
2004  Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
2003  Codice Vino de la Tierra de Castilla
2003  J.P. Chenet Cabernet / Syrah
2000  Kir-Yianni Ramnista
2004  Stonecroft Zinfandel
2004  Vina Alarba Garnacha Vinas Viejas
From the Cellar. Older wines.
1973  Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage les Meysonniers
1983  St Leonards Shiraz
 

White
Chardonnay
2004  Vavasour Chardonnay Anna’s Vineyard   19 +  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  whole-bunch pressed;  wild yeast,  BF in French oak 75% new,  and 10 months LA,  batonnage,  MLF etc;  www.vavasour.com ]
Rich lemon to lemonstraw.  Bouquet is sensational,  the kind of chardonnay smell one might encounter in a bottle labelled Corton-Charlemagne.  There is wonderful waxy stonefruit chardonnay fruit,  and superb mealy lees-autolysis and barrel-ferment components,  somewhere in character between apple shortcake and fine baguette crust.  Truly,  this is a beautiful chardonnay bouquet.  Palate does not lessen the impact,  with a weight of fruit which is tactile,   richer even than the 2004 Kumeu River Maté’s,  yet it is fresh and elegant,  the high alcohol surprisingly well-hidden in the big body.  This is great chardonnay,  one of the finest ever produced in New Zealand.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 02/06

2004  Kaituna Valley Chardonnay Canterbury   18 ½ +  ()
Banks Peninsula,  Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13%;  $20   [ screwcap;  100% BF in 30% new French oak,  12 months LA,  30% MLF ]
Lemon.  It is marvellous to see the evolution of fully floral chardonnays in New Zealand,  reminiscent of finest chablis.  This wine smells of acacia blossom,  below which is classic mendoza golden peachy fruit,  and attractive mealy lees-autolysis.  Oak is initially noticeable on bouquet,  but marries in quickly on palate.  Palate weight is grand cru chablis,  alongside the Corton-Charlemagne of the Anna's Vineyard,  but the quality of chardonnay fruit is superb,  with refreshing acid.  This is an exquisite wine which will cellar for 10 years.  It might be the best chardonnay from Canterbury,  so far.  GK 02/06

2005  Te Mata Chardonnay Elston   18 ½ +  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $38   [ supercritical cork;  100% BF,  LA and batonnage in French oak 35% new for 11 months,  100% MLF;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Lemon,  scarcely different from the Woodthorpe.  Bouquet however is very different,  in one sense restrained,  showing the purer limestone minerality of good Puligny-Montrachet,  on pure white stonefruits chardonnay.  Palate develops this theme,  with a flinty quality on great fruit,  beautiful mealy and baguette autolysis,  invisible MLF,  and subtle oak.  It is still youthful now,  and alongside the Kumeu River pair it is a little harder and more restrained,  but with equally fine promise.  The suggestion of limestone minerality is a point of difference about Elston,  and the alcohol of 13.5% is as much to be applauded as the Kumeus (reported on 4 Mar 06).  This is grand cru-quality wine too,  like the Kumeus.  Cellar 6 – 10 years.  GK 03/06

2004  Stonecroft Chardonnay Old Vines   18 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $38   [ supercritical cork;  100% mendoza from 21 years old vines;  hand-picked,  bunch-pressed;  100% BF in 50% new oak,  LA and batonnage 12 months;  15% MLF;  www.stonecroft.co.nz ]
Good lemon.  Alongside the two South Island wines,  this is a little more oaky and boisterous.  The depth of golden peachy mendoza fruit is excellent,  however,  and there is a big baguette crust autolysis complexing it.  Palate is rich and waxy,  with long peachy fruit extended by the autolysis and by oak.  Classic Hawkes Bay chardonnay in a bigger style.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 02/06

2004  Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay   18  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $35   [ cork;  hand-picked;  six clones;  BF mostly wild yeast,  LA and batonnage,  and MLF in French oak 11 months;  www.martinborough-vineyard.co.nz ]
Straw.  This is a very worked and complex chardonnay,  the barrel-ferment and lees-autolysis components more developed,  bready and nutty than the other top wines – to the point where it could possibly be thought over-developed,  with a touch of butterscotch / caramel.  Palate is rich,  and the integration of rich chardonnay stonefruit with mealyness and cashew flavours is terrific,  giving a great mouthful of taste sensations.  Oak is at a maximum though,  and becomes a little obtrusive on the late finish.  This is an impressively complex and rich chardonnay,  all just a bit overdone.   Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 02/06

2004  Morton Estate Chardonnay White Label   18  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $16   [ screwcap;  ex 4 vineyards,  some wild yeast ferment;  BF in French oak;  www.mortonestatewines.co.nz ]
Light straw.  First impressions are a complex barrel-fermented and lees-autolysis etc chardonnay bouquet,  with good underlying freshness and white stonefruits,  and attractive mealyness grading into cashew.  Palate picks up all these flavours,  and melds them seamlessly into an attractive slightly acid wine which is quite European in style,  not unduly oaky,  and delightfully long-flavoured.  Button mushrooms develop on the aftertaste.  At this price,  this is a dramatic illustration of just how far New Zealand chardonnay has travelled in the last 25 years.  Delicious wine,  lighter and fresher than the Martinborough Vineyard,  though some of the same winemaking components can be tasted.  What a difference the extra year makes.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  VALUE  GK 02/06

2005  White Rock Chardonnay Wild Ferment   17 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $19   [ screwcap;  BF in French oak,  some cultured yeast;  label of Capricorn subsidiary of Craggy Range ]
Lemon to lemonstraw.  Like the Tohu,  initially opened this wine is estery,  oaky and disorganised.  With air it settles down into a more integrated wine than the Tohu,  good fruit richness,  the MLF component detectable,  acid a little less,  and palate mealyness and potential cashew flavours all attractive.  This will be good in another year,  and will cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 02/06

2005  Stonecroft Chardonnay   17 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $25   [ supercritical cork;  100% mendoza;  hand-picked,  bunch-pressed;  100% BF in 30% new oak,  LA and batonnage 8 months;  15% MLF;  www.stonecroft.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is pure mendoza chardonnay,  lightly fragrant,  good depth of peachy stonefruits,  subtle oak.  In mouth the wine is fresh,  pleasing fruit weight,  chardonnay fruit dominant over winemaker influences – though perhaps a little oakier than the Te Mata Woodthorpe example.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 02/06

2004  Te Mata Chardonnay Woodthorpe   17 ½  ()
Tutaekuri Valley,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $22   [ screwcap;  33% BF & LA in French oak 20% new for 3 months;  33% of the s/s wine subsequently aged in same oak 7 months,  MLF 33%;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is first and foremost chardonnay,  showing clear fragrant varietal character of mixed stonefruits,  and a hint of mealy complexity.  Palate is clean and fresh stonefruit again,  subtle oak and mealy lees-autolysis complexities,  beautifully balanced,  on the fresh side.  Needs another year to soften,  when it will be the kind of wine one can drink a lot of,  very easily.  Cellar 5 – 8 years on its purity and style.  GK 03/06

2003  Waimea Estates Chardonnay Bolitho Signature   17  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $26   [ screwcap; BF with wild yeast in French oak, extended LA;  www.waimeaestates.co.nz ]
Straw.  This is a complex and developed big chardonnay,  with marked barrel-ferment and lees-autolysis characters a little reminiscent of the Foxes Island.  These include some acacia florals,  some smoky and charry barrel notes,  and good fruit.  Palate reveals a wine which is forward for its age,  the golden peachy fruit hinting at dried fruit,  and the oak tending assertive.  The total result is clumsy,  in a rich way,  and needs quite strongly flavoured foods.  It is less suited to cellaring,  say 1 – 3 years.  GK 02/06

2005  Tohu Chardonnay Marlborough Un-oaked   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $19   [ screwcap;  www.tohuwines.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Amidst so many oaky and artefact-ridden chardonnays,  the simple,  fragrant,  ripe varietal quality of this wine is appealing.  It smells of honeydew melon and greengages,  and tastes similarly.  Presumably there has been a little skin contact,  for the tannin balance is excellent.  If you want to know the flavour of chardonnay the grape alone,  sufficiently ripe,  and with fresh acid balance,  try this.  Great with subtle seafoods and similar.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 02/06

2004  TW Chardonnay   16 ½  ()
Gisborne,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $27   [ screwcap; TW = growers Paul Tietjen & Geordie Witters;  www.twwines.co.nz ]
Straw.  Bouquet reveals a big ripe peachy chardonnay,  but in an old-fashioned oaky style.  On palate the fruit ripeness and richness is tactile,  and the flavours of barrel-ferment,  lees-autolysis and MLF creep in.  But in the mouth,  ultimately it is the oak that dominates,  not fruit,  and this lets the wine down both intrinsically,  and as an accompaniment to food.  This fruit is so good,  much more care with oak exposure is needed:  a lesser percentage of new,  and less time in it.  Worth cellaring 5 – 8 years,  to see if it marries down.  GK 02/06

2003  Rimu Grove Chardonnay   16 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $28   [ screwcap;  BF in French oak 30% new,  and LA and batonnage 10 months;  www.rimugrove.co.nz ]
Straw,  close to the Martinborough Vineyard in hue.  Bouquet is likewise quite developed on this wine,  with a lot of winemaker artefact on the golden peachy fruit.  The barrel-ferment and lees-autolysis component is a little charry / smoky in the style Corbans Cottage Block used to be.  Palate is immediately very oaky,  even moreso than the Martinborough Vineyard,  and there is not the same enchanting depth of cashew mealyness to distract the tongue.  Total fruit and autolysis complexity is nonetheless good,  but the aftertaste is oak.  Like the Rimu Grove Pinot,  this wine needs a more restrained approach to the oak handling.  The problem for new wineries can be,  how to get enough old but guaranteed-clean oak,  for these totally barrel-fermented wines.  Cellar 3 – 5 years only,  I suspect,  on the oak caveat.  GK 02/06

2005  Tohu Chardonnay Gisborne   16 +  ()
Gisborne,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $19   [ screwcap;  www.tohuwines.co.nz ]
Lemon to lemonstraw.  Initially opened,  the oak shows to excess,  raw,  unintegrated.  With air or decanting,  the fruit comes up attractively,  and reveals barrel-ferment,  lees-autolysis and MLF components,  but still youthful and relatively unintegrated.  In mouth,  the youthfulness is acute,  with a juicy and estery fruit lift maybe not bone dry,  and acid and oak still to integrate.  Should marry up into an attractive wine,  with another year,  and cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 02/06

2005  Mount Riley Chardonnay   16  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $18   [ screwcap;  www.mountriley.co.nz ]
Light straw.  A big bouquet,  in a raw fruit plus oak style,  plus underlying barrel-ferment and lees-autolysis.  In mouth,  the wine is juicy,  acid,  very oaky,  and again tending raw and unintegrated.  There is plenty of fruit below,  with white stonefruit and citrus flavours.  This will look more attractive in a year’s time.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 02/06

2005  Matahiwi Chardonnay   15  ()
Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  not [then] on website;  www.matahiwi.co.nz ]
Pale straw.  Bouquet is fragrant but artificial,  nearly banana,  with a hint of mint (perhaps from raw oak) detracting.  Palate is acid and short,  and although there are signs of barrel-ferment,  lees-autolysis and related complexities,  the underlying fruit seems stalky and physiologically under-ripe.  Thus the wine lacks harmony,  and is straightforward,  not easy drinking.  Better in a year or so, but not worth cellaring.  GK 02/06

2004  Manara Rock Chardonnay   14 ½  ()
Limestone Coast,  South Australia,  Australia:  13.5%;  $14   [ screwcap;  bottled in NZ by Villa Maria group;  not on website ]
Good lemon.  Bouquet is ersatz banana-y fruit-salad chardonnay,  in a lowest-common-denominator Yellowtail style,  but purer.  Palate has fair fruit in the same banana-y style,  some residual sugar,  added acid harshness,  and simple oak perhaps chipped.  Industrial wine,  expensive as such,  but sound.  Cellar 1 – 3  years.  GK 03/06

2003  Moutere Hills Chardonnay   14 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13%;  $19   [ 1 + 1 cork;  BF in French and US oak;  www.mouterehills.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw.  Bouquet is very oaky with a strange hint of camphor (presumably indicating un-conditioned / raw oak),  but below is clean fruit.  Palate is simply too oaky,  the oak exacerbated by fresh acid,  even though the fruit seems of good quality.  This would be wearying to drink through a meal.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 02/06

Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2005  Kaituna Valley Sauvignon Blanc   18 ½  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $19   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  some LA,  no oak,  no MLF ]
Elegant pale lemon.  Clean ripe complex sauvignon fruit,  ripest red capsicum,  black passionfruit,  stone fruits, and a hint of herbes.  Palate is beautifully rich,  the flavours at a peak of integration and lusciousness,  yet drier than most Marlborough sauvignons.  There is lees-autolysis complexity and mineral austerity too,  the latter said to characterise the Awatere Valley,  versus the Wairau district.  This wine has come together marvellously in the last two months.  Cellar to 10 years,  to taste.  GK 02/06

2005  Koura Bay Sauvignon Blanc Whalesback   18  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  RS 4 g/L;  www.kourabaywines.co.nz ]
Good lemon.  This is a huge but conventional sauvignon bouquet,  really fresh and chockful of both red capsicum and black passionfruit,  as well as passionfruit and hints of tropical fruits.  Underneath there is just a hint of less ripe capsicum,  say the orange ones.  Palate is strong too,  a big flavour,  juicy,  firm acid,  residual slightly higher than some.  This might not cellar so well,  on that less ripe capsicum note,  which could go asparagus-y.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 02/06

2005  Tapata Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $15   [ screwcap;  all s/s;  www.tapatawines.com ]
Lemongreen,  a super colour.  This is another of those lovely fragrant sauvignons one suspects has 10% riesling in it,  so strong and sweet is the honeysuckle component.  Below is the full suite of ripe sauvignon congeners,  from reddest capsicum to black passionfruit.  This is the most attractive bouquet in this group of seven sauvignons.  Palate is a little less,  being very crisp,  pure and dry,  but a little short on body alongside some of the others.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 02/06

2005  Lime Rock Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Inland Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $24   [ screwcap;  vineyard 250 m,  north-facing;  hand-picked;  short LA;  RS 1 g/L = bone dry;  www.limerock.co.nz ]
Good lemon.  A fragrant sauvignon in a very different style here,  less piquant than Marlborough with little capsicum character.  Rather the aromas are reminiscent of mature Hunter semillon,  showing vanillin florals,  English gooseberries (ripe),  and suggestions of Eden Valley riesling.  Palate is firm,  drier than most,  lovely.  This will be a great food wine,  and is a refreshingly different take on New Zealand sauvignon.  It should cellar well,  to 10 or more years.  Just a pity it is so expensive.  GK 02/06

2005  Morton Estate Sauvignon Blanc White Label   17 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $16   [ screwcap;  all s/s,  no MLF;  www.mortonestatewines.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw.  Bouquet is confusing on this wine,  very fragrant,  smelling and tasting as if there is a fair dollop of riesling in it.  The two varieties share quite a lot of chemistry,  and the touched-up approach is perfectly legitimate (up to 14.9%).  It  does make the wine hard to identify blind,  or in Options,  however.  Alternatively this sweet ripeness may merely be the warmer-climate Hawkes Bay expression of the grape.  Palate continues the clean approach,  showing a ripeness almost beyond capsicum,  well into black passionfruit,  plus some attractive stone fruits,  yet all fresh on fine-grained acid.  The nett result is classic dry Hawkes Bay sauvignon,  contrasting vividly with Marlborough.  These wines are delightfully food-friendly.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 02/06

2005  Te Mata Sauvignon Blanc Cape Crest   17 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $27   [ supercritical cork;  SB 86%,  S. Gris 8,  Se 6;  hand-harvested;  BF in French oak 30% new plus 8 months LA,  weekly batonnage,  nil MLF,  nil RS;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Immediate impression is of a very oaky modern sauvignon,  with a lot of added winemaker character from barrel-ferment in charry oak,  and prolonged lees-autolysis.  The nett result is to produce an aromatic tang on bouquet remarkably like some premium virgin motor oils.  Infused through that are red capsicum and almost grapefruit-zest complexities.  Palate shows fine fruit richness both from the fruit and the lees-autolysis,  and the flavour lingers well.  Total wine style is converging in an oaky way with Cloudy Bay’s Te Koko (but without MLF),  and both are aiming for very modern Graves styles,  rich in mouth and great with food.  The flavours are so bold,  care with food matching is needed,  but the results can be exciting.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 03/06

2005  Tohu Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  no wine detail on website;  www.tohuwines.co.nz ]
Paleish lemonstraw.  Bouquet is clean sweet mainstream Marlborough sauvignon ripened to the red capsicum,  honeysuckle and black passionfruit pulp stage.  In addition,  there is an intriguing aromatic hint of herbes / bouquet garni.  Palate is full-flavoured,  straight stainless steel,  quite acid,  and with the residual sugar higher than some to balance that.  The latter details take it off the top shelf,  but this is characterful wine.  Cellar 2 – 4 years.  GK 02/06

2005  White Rock Sauvignon Blanc The Infamous Goose   17 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $17   [ screwcap;  a label of Capricorn subsidiary of Craggy Range ]
Palest lemon.  This wine opens a little disorganised,  and is a more subdued bouquet alongside the Tohu,  but it is still clearly varietal.  Characters on bouquet include a high solids component and what seems like a barrel-ferment component,  as well as sauvignon fruit.  The result is the palate is much more impressive than the bouquet,  with a richness,  roundness,  and good sugar / acid balance to it that Tohu lacks.  Finish is ‘dry’.  This seems a modern and experimental style of sauvignon blanc,  with a lot more winemaker input,  which will score higher in a year.  It should be very good with food.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 02/06

2005  Matahiwi Sauvignon Blanc   16 ½ +  ()
Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  12%;  $18   [ screwcap;  website [then] not up-to-date,  last year’s wine had 10% BF;  www.matahiwi.co.nz ]
Pale lemonstraw.  Improves with breathing,  to reveal another complexed sauvignon bouquet,  with suggestions of high solids,  barrel-ferment,  and lees-autolysis on clear sauvignon fruit.  Palate shows an attractive balance of these elements on a ‘dry’ slightly acid finish.  In some ways this is a more European-styled sauvignon,  reminiscent of a successful Muscadet-sur-lie.  I acknowledge that it is damnably difficult to tell if sauvignon has been subtly oaked or not,  so references to it here are to describe the smells and tastes,  not state how it was made.  I check these details later from the website (when possible).  Cellar 2 – 5  years.  GK 02/06

2005  Clos Margeurite Sauvignon Blanc   16 ½  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $20   [ screwcap ;  RS 4 g/L ]
Lemon.  Plenty of bouquet greets the taster,  but its smells more like sweet hay,  and more phenolic than the top wines.  There are suggestions of capsicum and stone fruits,  but a sweet vernal grassy note dominates,  more dried than fresh.  Palate is bold and flavoursome,  more skin contact here,  plus a little more sweetness to cover the obvious phenolics.  A bit clumsy alongside the top wines.  Cellar 1 – 2 years only.  GK 02/06

2005  Kahurangi Estate Sauvignon Blanc   16 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13%;  $16   [ screwcap;  website [then] not up-to-date, ’04 was 4 g/L RS;  www.kahurangiwine.com ]
Pale lemongreen.  A sauvignon in a different style here,  more the nettles and English gooseberries of Sancerre,  and less of the capsicum and black passionfruit of Marlborough.  Palate is similar,  firm acid,  cooler all through,  but not unduly leafy, and certainly not weak – interesting.  Finish is ‘dry’.  Such wines can cellar well,  5 – 8 years.  GK 02/06

2005  Stonecroft Sauvignon Blanc   16  ()
Tutaekuri Valley,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $19   [ supercritical cork;  3 g/L RS;  www.stonecroft.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet on this wine is right outside the sauvignon square,  in a blind lineup.  There is a dubious perfumed quality almost hinting at gewurztraminer,  and a golden queen peach tending to dried peach note,  plus an almost camphory suggestion.  Palate is rich,  clean,  stone fruits in a dry way,  no oak.  There is something in the complex smell and flavour of this wine reminding me of Castrol GTX,  yet with a winey twist to it.  Interesting dry white,  certainly in the Hawkes Bay ripe almost stonefruit spectrum of sauvignon flavours,  far from Marlborough.  Cellar uncertain,  several years.  GK 02/06

2005  Waimea Estates Sauvignon Blanc Bolitho Signature   15  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $23   [ screwcap;  partly BF in French oak;  www.waimeaestates.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw,  deeper than most.  Initially opened,  the wine is tending pongy on entrained sulphur.  It breathes off relatively quickly – a good splashy decanting will do – to a more straw-y version of sauvignon blanc,  in quite a big wine.  Palate is big and rich,  the fruit ripened beyond capsicum,  but quite extractive and tending coarse.  These big flavours could be good with boldly-flavoured smoked seafoods or similar,  but in the judging lineup it misses the cut.  Not a good cellaring prospect.  GK 02/06

2005  Te Mania Sauvignon Blanc   15  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  cropped @ < 2 t/ac;  RS 3.8 g/L;  www.temaniawines.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw.  Bouquet is let down by not careful-enough selection of the grapes at the harvesting stage,  with a little mustiness from less-than-perfect grapes showing through,  on clearly varietal fruit.  Palate is straightforward sauvignon a little over-developed for its age,  mixed capsicum flavours and black passionfruit skins,  ‘dry’,  a hint of bouquet garni.  Not a cellar wine.  GK 02/06

Riesling
2005  Mount Riley Riesling   18 ½  ()
Nelson & Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $15   [ screwcap;  website [then] not up-to-date;  www.mountriley.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen.  A sweet clean and floral / freesia unequivocal riesling bouquet,  with vanillin undertones,  plus lime-zest and grapefruit.  Palate is unashamedly juicy,  but dramatically riesling in flavour,  fine-grained acid,  sweetness medium-dry.  Not a complex wine,  but so varietal and delicious that it deserves gold-medal rating.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 02/06

2005  Kahurangi Riesling   16 ½ +  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  13%;  $16   [ screwcap;  website not [then] up-to-date, ’04 was 11 g/L RS;  claimed to be the oldest riesling vines in South Island (though Canterbury may challenge);  www.kahurangiwine.com ]
Pale lemongreen.  A clean but obscure bouquet,  very youthful,  with a suggestion of high solids damping it down somewhat.  Palate has much more to say,  revealing nectary varietal fruit in the vanillin and citrus zest style,  good acid balance,  and good length.  Finish is probably just outside the dry class.  This could blossom in bottle,  but the bouquet has pulled the score down for now.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 02/06

2005  Moutere Hills Riesling   16 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  11.5%;  $26   [ 1 + 1 cork;  www.mouterehills.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen,  elegant.  Bouquet is floral and fragrant in the style of freesias,  with enchanting purity.  Palate is lesser,  a bit short acid and phenolic,  with a distressing suggestion of root ginger.  Finish is short too,  despite being medium-dry.  A little more residual might have helped marry this wine up.  Cellar 2 – 5 years only.  Pricing unrealistic.  GK 02/06

2005  Waimea Estates Riesling Bolitho Signature   16 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  11.5%;  $23   [ screwcap;  not [then] on website;  www.waimeaestates.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  A slightly confused riesling bouquet,  some varietal notes but some stalkyness too,  in the style of some straightforward South Australian Rieslings.  Palate has good fruit and well-handled phenolics,  but not a lot of flavour,  and is nearly ‘dry’.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  Rieslings this price need to be good.  GK 02/06

Pinot Gris
2005  Brick Bay Pinot Gris   18  ()
Matakana,  North Auckland,  New Zealand:  13%;  $30   [ cork;  hand-harvested;  s/s ferment,  small % aged in oak;  RS not given;  www.brickbay.co.nz ]
Pale lemonstraw.  A lightly floral and fragrant bouquet,  with some English white flowers on fresh pearflesh,  attractive.  Palate is clean,  with a flush of stone fruit flavours (pink nectarine) on the pearflesh,  beautifully judged phenolics and near-dry finish – perhaps 4 g/L.  The Brick Bay Pinot Gris has been quietly evolving into one of our most satisfying yet understated examples of the variety,  with bouquet and flavour achieved at praiseworthy alcohols and pleasing dryness.  Not cheap,  but very food-friendly.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 02/06

2005  Waimea Estates Pinot Gris Bolitho Signature   17 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  14%;  $26   [ screwcap;  partly BF in French oak;  www.waimeaestates.co.nz ]
Full straw,  slightly flushed.  One sniff and this smells exciting,  clearly reminiscent of a late-harvest Alsatian pinot gris style (though one five years old,  not one).  On palate the intriguing florals and stone fruit develop a more dried peach flavour,  with good richness and concentration.  On the downside,  the wine is  tending extractive and indulgent,  and will I suspect age prematurely.  In the short term,  the medium-dry sweetness covers the phenolics neatly,  and the nett impression is fairly dry and very flavoursome (and varietal) indeed.  Cellar 1 – 3 years only,  probably.  GK 02/06

Gewurztraminer
2004  Waimea Estates Gewurztraminer Bolitho Signature   18 ½ +  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  14%;  $26   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  www.waimeaestates.co.nz ]
Rich lemon,  a super colour.  Bouquet is out and out gewurztraminer,  marvellously varietal with wild ginger blossom and  citronella perfumes on rich lychee and peach fruit,  plus the faintest hint of smoky bacon – perhaps a small part of the wine was barrel-fermented.  The volume of varietal bouquet here is in the top flight of New Zealand gewurztraminers.  Palate is rich,  pure,  full of character,  which combined with the near-dry finish means it will be much too spicy,  strong,  and nearly bitey for some tasters.  This is a great success for South Island gewurztraminer,  which all too often has tended to be a little wishy-washy.  It would be good to taste this alongside Gisborne’s Vinoptima wine.  Cellar 2 – 10 years, maybe longer,  though gewurztraminer loses its freshness after a time.  GK 02/06

2005  Stonecroft Gewurztraminer Old Vine   18  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $38   [ supercritical cork;  7 g/L RS;  www.stonecroft.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  Alongside the Waimea Signature,  this is a subtle presentation of gewurztraminer.  It shows beautiful fruit in the cherimoya and vanillin style,  with subtle florals,  lychee and spice.  Palate firms the wine up,  with excellent concentration,  and a deepening varietal flavour which is still very youthful.  Flavours include suggestions of flowering wild ginger,  citronella,  lychee and stone fruits,  a hint of feijoa, and some spice.  For those who find the Waimea too strong,  this elegant near-dry wine is the one to go for.  From memory,  it does not have quite the varietal depth of character of the 2004 Old Vines,  but it is more refined.  Alan Limmer (winemaker) thinks it is his best thus far.  It will cellar beautifully 5 – 12 years.  GK 02/06

Sweet / Sticky
2004  Chivite Moscatel Gran Fuedo   18 ½  ()
Navarra DdO Califica y Garantiza,  Spain:  12%;  $25   [ cork;  hand-picked;  www.bodegaschivite.com ]
Brilliant lemon.  Bouquet is stunningly pure,  sweet,  and varietal,  muscat ripened to perfection,  no toothpasty / minty undertones,  instead nectary and yellow stonefruit florals in profusion.  Palate is full sweet,  fat as if some botrytis,  silky,  yet with enough acid and skin contact to produce structure in the wine.  This is elegant – always exciting to find in muscat.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 03/06

2005  Forrest Riesling Late-Harvest   18  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  8.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested,  botrytis ‘small %’,  97 g/L RS;  www.forrest.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen.  Bouquet on this riesling is in a way bigger even than the Mount Riley,  but not quite so clearly varietal.  It smells vinifera,  glucosey,  light vanillin,  sweet and pure,  like a youthful Mosel wine.  Palate takes up the glucose and expands it into botrytis sweetness balanced by fine acid,  and the fruit is now more clearly riesling.  Tasting this now is infanticide,  but in its Germanic auslese style it will cellar very well indeed.  And probably score higher in three years.  Cellar to 15 years,  particularly noting the screwcap.  GK 02/06

2005  Stonecroft Gewurztraminer Late-Harvest   17 ½ +  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12%;  $25   [ supercritical cork;  some botrytis;  BF in French oak;  100 g/L RS;  www.stonecroft.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw,  a little deeper than the Old Vines Gewurz.  Bouquet is even more floral than that wine,  due to a VA lift,  with wild ginger blossom and almost freesia florals,  plus an intriguing hint of citronella and a sweet herbe.  Palate reveals some botrytis,  a beautifully silky-sweet texture,  academic VA,  and a succulent yet fresh aftertaste where the gewurz spice kicks in,  and extends the flavour in mouth.  A subtle and delicate wine,  finessing gewurz almost too much.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 02/06

All other white wines, blends, etc.
2005  Tahbilk Marsanne   17 ½  ()
Nagambie Lakes,  Central Victoria,  Australia:  13.5%;  $17   [ screwcap;  www.tahbilk.com.au ]
Good lemon.  Bouquet is clean and fresh,  but (to a lesser degree than the Tahbilk Viognier) the floral component is also tending to banana and yeast-influenced,  rather than the precise dianthus-family floral characters the variety shows in its homeland (and in the best years of Tahbilk Marsanne).  Palate is rich,  dry,  and mineral,  finer-grained than the Viognier,  presumably on nil oak,  the grape flavours lingering attractively.  If the bouquet were less yeast-influenced,  this would be impressive.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 03/06

2005  Te Mata Viognier   17 ½  ()
Tutaekuri Valley,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $27   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  80% BF in almost all older oak plus 7 months LA,  weekly batonnage,  nil MLF;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Good lemon.  This is a subtler and purer wine than the Tahbilk,  with light but clear viognier varietal character expressed as mineral stonefruit and yellow florals,  reminiscent of canned Otago apricots.  Oak is more apparent than the Tahbilk,  however,  adding an aromatic character,  but the wine is much gentler than last year’s.  Palate has the oak to a max in fair fruit which is attractive in mouth.  A little more concentration would make the wine more impressive,  with ideally even less new oak influence.  Cellar 1 – 4 years.  GK 03/06

2005  Tahbilk Viognier   17 +  ()
Nagambie Lakes,  Central Victoria,  Australia:  14%;  $21   [ screwcap;  partial BF;  www.tahbilk.com.au ]
Bright lemon.  A clean,  strong but slightly banana-y / aromatic-yeast bouquet,  with varietal apricot qualities too,  and minimal oak.  Palate is bone dry,  quite rich,  fruit dominant again in the canned apricots and mango style,  a little mineral on added acid.  Good,  but doesn't sing.  Cellar 1 – 4 years.  GK 03/06

Red
Rosé
2004  Domaine de la Mordoree Tavel la Dame Rousse   19  ()
Southern Rhone Valley,  France:  14.5%;  $25   [ cork;  Gr 100% ]
Good rosé,  flushed with red cherry,  a little deeper than the Stonecroft.  Bouquet is stunning,  an alcohol-lifted woomph of rose petal and strawberry-like (+ve) berry and fruit,  immaculately pure.  Palate shows wonderful dry extract,  so rich that,  like the Stonecroft but moreso,  one wonders if it is bone dry,  or perhaps 3 g/L or so residual sugar.  Tannins are great,  making it serious rosé,  and the flavour lasts well,  even with the high alcohol.  A benchmark wine,  illuminating that most New Zealand rosé is too sweet,  catering to the pinot gris mass market.  The flavours in New Zealand rosé can be so good now,  and our potential for making fine subtle world-class rosé is likewise so high,  that it would be worthwhile winemakers marketing standard and reserves rosés,  the latter dry or virtually so (3 – 4 g/L or less).  I guess that is an ideal,  so to match the chardonnay judging specification,  let's say 5 g.  Cellar the Mordoree several years,  to taste.  GK 02/06

2005  Stonecroft Rosé   18 ½  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $19   [ supercritical cork;  not a saignée wine,  but made from scratch with all the zin;  5 g/L RS;  www.stonecroft.co.nz ]
Perfect rosé hue.  Bouquet is superbly clean and lightly berried,  and knowing it is made from zin,  one imagines it is blueberries.  There are strawberries too.  Whatever,  it smells like serious rosé,  made from red grapes.  Palate is ripe (how,  at the Brix indicated by the alcohol,  I cannot imagine),  with a marvellous balance of fruit to tannins,  against slightly fresh acid.  Finish is either bone dry,  or so close to it as doesn't matter,  beautiful fruit,  very sophisticated and more-ish.  The whole wine style is reminiscent of Tavel.  This will cellar for several years,  to taste.  GK 02/06

2005  Moutere Hills Rosé   17 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  12.1%;  $21   [ 1 + 1 cork;  Ch dominant,  Ri,  Me & CS;  www.mouterehills.co.nz ]
Palest salmon flushed rosé,   too pale.  Against the Stonecroft,  this is rosé in a Loire style,  the red varieties dominating in character with clear red currants,  the minutest trace of cardboard continuing the French connection,  otherwise clean and fragrant.  Palate is freshly berried,  some strawberry creeping in,  the right balance of tannins to cleverly suggest it is made from red grapes.  Finish is a little above a desirable rosé 'dry',  but not much.  Attractive wine,  not for cellaring beyond a year or so.  GK 02/06

Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2004  Te Mata Cabernet / Merlot Coleraine   18  ()
Havelock Hills,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $70   [ cork (superb 55 mm);  Me 45%,  CS 39,  CF 16;  hand-harvested;  two years in 75% new French oak;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby and velvet.  Bouquet is initially oaky and a little austere.  With air it opens up to a cassisy Bordeaux style showing good berry richness and potentially cedary oak.  On palate,  however,  there is not quite the fruit richness and ripeness hoped for,  and though the plummy,  cassis and tobacco flavours are pleasing,  there is a slightly stalky undertone,  which middling classed growths would not show in a good year such as 2004 (in Hawkes Bay).  It is hard making such comparisons,  but Coleraine invites them by its latter-day pricing,  as well as the declared style aspirations.  All that said,  the elegance of the wine is beyond dispute,  and it is clearly the richest of the three 2004 Te Mata cabernet / merlot blends,  and the most cellar-worthy.  It should cellar attractively for 10 – 20 years,  marrying up the oak and becoming more cedary as it goes,  but ending up a little lean – like the 1978 Medocs now.  There is a nice point to be discussed as to whether the wine should be labelled Merlot / Cabernet.  Using the reverse presumably implies the cabernets together,  but popular useage would say that cabernet alone is cabernet sauvignon.  Cabernets / Merlot would cover the issue.  GK 03/06

2004  Te Mata Cabernet / Merlot Awatea   17 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $33   [ cork;  CS 34%,  Me 33,  CF 20,  PV 13;  hand-harvested;  20 months in 45% new French oak;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Colour is a fresher ruby and velvet than Coleraine,  and of similar density.  This wine too is oaky to initial bouquet impressions,  with similar cassis and plum undertones.  I would prefer these first perceptions to be the other way round.  To casual taste,  the flavour is much the same as Coleraine,  but going back and forth between them,  Awatea is a little narrower and less ripe,  less oaky,  and less concentrated,  with the impression of higher total acid.  Length of palate is certainly shorter,  as is the aftertaste.  But considering the wine is half the price of Coleraine,  one is getting more than half the taste of it.  Interesting to reflect that in the early years (1982 on) Awatea and Coleraine were priced the same.  Now they are clearly price-differentiated,  the pressure is on for Coleraine to excel,  relative to Awatea.  Awatea will cellar 8 – 15 years,  and become a fragrant and cassisy Hawkes Bay blend.  GK 03/06

2004  Te Mata Cabernet / Merlot Woodthorpe   17  ()
Tutaekuri Valley (mostly),  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $22   [ screwcap;  Me 42%,  CF 28,  CS16,  PV 8,  Sy 6;  15 months in French oak `± 30% new;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby with some carmine and velvet,  fresher again than Awatea,  reflecting less exposure to oak.  Bouquet is classic Hawkes Bay merlot / cabernet,  clearly cassis and dark plum,  fragrant on berry,  slightly leafy.  In some ways,  it is more immediately appealing and better balanced than Awatea or Coleraine,  in the sense fruit is dominant over oak,  on bouquet.  Palate however is not as dry and serious as the other two,  being quite fruity,  supple,  and accessible.  This is stylish wine at the price,  reflecting Te Mata’s relatively long experience with Hawkes Bay / Bordeaux blends.  And it is great to see a little syrah in the blend,  optimising the character of Hawkes Bay blends in their own right,  rather than slavishly copying Bordeaux.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 03/06

2002  Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon   16 ½ +  ()
Nagambie Lakes,  Central Victoria,  Australia:  14%;  $21   [ cork;  lack of wine detail on website ;  www.tahbilk.com.au ]
Ruby and velvet.  Initially opened,  the wine is minty going on euc'y,  and even liniment,  which detracts.  Decanted and well breathed,  it remains euc'y,  but the rich fruit does expand and compete more effectively with the off-odours.  One can imagine cassis and plum flavours,  even if all one can taste at this stage is euc (sadly overt euc’y character does not disappear,  even after decades).  The degree of oaking exacerbates the euc’y character,  particularly since the ratio of new oak has increased over the last 15 – 20 years.  This raises the risk of the reds losing their essential Tahbilk character and charm.  Traditionally,  Tahbilk reds were not as euc'y as this one,  so either 2002 was much hotter in the Tahbilk district than some favoured parts of South Australia,  or the trees are relatively closer / denser / more influential than they used to be.  Cellar for 10 – 15 years,  maybe longer.  The 1971s for example (from a very rich year) currently show no sign of demise.  GK 03/06

2004  Manara Rock Cabernet Sauvignon   16  ()
Barossa Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $14   [ screwcap,  bottled in NZ by Villa Maria group;  not on website ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet.  Bouquet is clean simple cassis,  plum and mint,  slightly stalky as if from machine harvest,  not much oak.  Flavour is likewise pure and simple minty berryfruit,  good ripeness,  the oak unintegrated and maybe chips,  all absolutely wholesome.  With a couple of years in cellar,  this could marry up and be more interesting,  for it is both quite rich and dry.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 03/06

2004  Lime Rock Merlot / Cabernet Franc   14 ½  ()
Inland Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $23   [ screwcap;  Me 92%,  CF 8;  screwcap;  vineyard 250 m,  north-facing;  hand-picked;  8 months in French oak;  www.limerock.co.nz ]
Light rosy ruby,  a little deeper than the pinot noir.  Like the pinot noir,  the wine has a great bouquet,  in this case of red currants,  red plums,  and red rhubarb stalks.  On palate the actual weight of fruit is good,  but fresh acid dominates fresh berry flavours,  and I suspect there are 3 grams or so of residual.  After a couple of years in bottle,  this will be very fragrant wine indeed,  which will accompany some foods well.  But the colour is such that it is hard to score at a medal level for red wine.  If this wine (with slightly less time in oak) were marketed as rosé,  it would be brilliant – matching in a more classical way the perceptibly sweeter but gold-medal winning Esk Valley wine (which is under $20).  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 02/06

2003  J.P. Chenet Merlot   14  ()
Vin de Pays d’Oc,  France:  12.5%;  $12   [ basic composite cork ]
Ruby and garnet,  older than the cabernet / syrah.  Bouquet is both fruity / over-ripe pruney and figgy,  but also less pure than the Cabernet / Syrah,  with some of the skunky aromas of ancient and unclean cooperage.  The wine is also slightly oxidised,  so it is in one sense charmingly old-fashioned.  Palate is pro rata,  quite rich,  but these kinds of old-fashioned flavours were more common in the 50s,  60s and 70s than latterly – they were commonly found in cheap shippers' Bordeaux Rouge,  for example.  Quite rich but plain hot-climate vin de pays QDR,  easy drinking,  but not worth cellaring.  GK 03/06

2003  Moutere Hills Merlot / Cabernet Franc   14  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  12.1%;  $25   [ 1 + 1 cork;  www.mouterehills.co.nz ]
Ruby.  Bouquet is intriguing,  austerely cassis,  but hidden in the cassis is a Bordeaux and Medoc undertone,  on a hint of cedar.  Palate has some of that flavour too,  but the fruit is too acid and the wine too austere to be popular.  1965 Bordeaux reds were something like this,  but not as acid.  Light QDR,  claret-style,  which will mellow for several years,  but not really worth cellaring.  Pricing unrealistic.  GK 02/06

Pinot Noir
2005  Te Mata Gamay Noir Woodthorpe   17 ½  ()
Tutaekuri Valley,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12%;  $20   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  whole bunch and maceration carbonique ferment;  3 months in old French oak only;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Fresh ruby.  Bouquet is immediately reminiscent of Beaujolais,  real Beaujolais.  Winemaker Peter Cowley is really pinning this variety and winestyle down.  It smells of rosepetal,  blackboy peaches and reddest / ripest rhubarb stalks cooked and sweetened,  lovely.  Palate is delightful too,  soft,  fleshy yet not flabby,  faintly stalky (+ve).  The three months Te Mata give the wine in oldest oak is brilliant,  just firming slightly.  This wine is well on the way to matching cru Beaujolais,  needing only a little more concentration.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 03/06

2004  Russian Jack Pinot Noir   16 ½ +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  some BF in French oak;  third-tier of Martinborough Vineyard group,  below Burnt Spur;  no info on website;  www.burntspur.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is lightly floral and cherry varietal fruit,  with slightly smokey / savoury complexity,  clearly in style.  Flavours in mouth are red and black cherry,  fair fruit weight,  slightly austere,  good oak,  attractive savoury suggestions.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  VALUE  GK 02/06

2004  Lime Rock Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Inland Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.8%;  $23   [ screwcap;  vineyard 250 m,  north-facing;  hand-picked;  8 months in French oak;  www.limerock.co.nz ]
Light ruby,  lightish even by classical pinot noir standards,  but within bounds.  Bouquet makes up for colour by being voluminous – this is quite the most fragrant Hawkes Bay pinot noir yet.  Berry includes redcurrant,  strawberry,  blackboy and maybe red cherry,  with quite a red floral lift.  Palate is not quite as good,  the strawberry and warm climate flavour coming through (though to judge from the other Lime Rock wines,  the site is far from warm,  so some confusion there).  It finishes a little stalky.  Even so,  in a couple of years this will be an attractively burgundian (lean year) wine,  good with food.  GK 02/06

2005  Mount Riley Pinot Noir   16  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $19   [ screwcap;  not [then] on website,  previous vintages have included some Nelson fruit;  www.mountriley.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby.  Needs a breath of air,  opening to a deep,  ripe,  but obscurely varietal red wine bouquet,  pleasant.  Palate becomes more aromatic,  with a suggestion of syrah-like pepper.  This is quite a full wine with good fruit,  reasonable oak,  all very youthful and disorganised,  with some fermentation odours still to bury – it is a pity it has been commercialised so soon.  May score higher if more varietal character emerges.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 02/06

2004  Rimu Grove Pinot Noir   16  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  11 months in French oak 35% new;  www.rimugrove.co.nz ]
Slightly drab older pinot ruby.  A pinched pinot bouquet,  the austerity from excess oak as well as cool red fruit.  Palate confirms the cool impression,  the fruit a little leafy and under-ripe,  some red currants in the red cherry,  excess oak not helping.  Total flavours however are varietal,  rich and in style (cool year),  but the wine is too expensive for the lack of physiological / flavour maturity,  as opposed to sugar ripeness.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 02/06

2005  Coopers Creek Pinot Noir Marlborough   16  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $19   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  www.cooperscreek.co.nz ]
Younger ruby,  quite big for pinot noir.  Newly opened,  this wine is raw and youthful,  and makes one wish yet again for a tradition of not selling wine prematurely in New Zealand.  Witness the wonderful harmony the two 2004 chardonnays in this batch show.  Decanted and left to settle,  it opens out into a blackboy and cherry bouquet.  Palate is lesser,  raw and oaky,  too alcoholic,  clumsy.  In two years this will be a more pleasing bottle.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 02/06

2005  Strugglers Flat Pinot Noir   15  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap;  a label of Capricorn subsidiary of Craggy Range ]
Dense ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  not an appropriate pinot noir colour.  One sniff,  and this wine is off the pace,  when compared with previous Strugglers Pinots.  It smells like a double-skinned wine being pushed into a syrah style,  and tastes even more like syrah.  The actual fruit is terrific,  and though the oak is to a max for syrah or pinot,  there is a syrah-like floral component which appeals greatly.  This is going to evolve into an rich round wine reminiscent of modern Languedoc,  which will drink well.  In a Cotes du Rhone tasting,  for example,  it could score highly,  as syrah dominant.  So,  well worth trying.  But as varietal pinot noir,  it misses the boat.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 02/06

2004  Mount Riley Pinot Noir Winemaker’s Selection   15  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $27   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  not [then] on website;  www.mountriley.co.nz ]
Older ruby.  Bouquet is smokey oak with coffee undertones,  with fruit barely getting a look-in.  Palate isn't too different,  though one can detect a physical fruit sensation,  if not any varietal flavour.  Wines such as this which show no relation stylistically to international pinot noir,  make one wish that winemakers held more themed study tastings,  as keen amateurs do.  OK as QDR if you want coffee in your wine,  and would cellar several years,  but not worth cellaring as pinot.  GK 02/06

Syrah = Shiraz
2004  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose   19  ()
Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $42   [ cork;  Sy 100% from a single vineyard,  oldest vines planted 1990;  includes clone 470 for first time,  hand-harvested,  de-stemmed;  extended cuvaison 3 + weeks,  followed by 16 months in French oak 40-ish % new;  superb website info;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  a great colour.  Bouquet on this wine is sensational,  showing precise syrah varietal complexity as found in the northern Rhone – dianthus and rose florals,  cassis and dark plum berry,  freshly cracked black peppers,  and subtle complementary oak.  Palate continues perfectly,  the fruit velvety yet spicy throughout,  the flavours lingering wonderfully.  It is a little more floral and fragrant than the Craggy Range Block 14 Syrah,  but slightly less rich.  I wrote up the newly-released 2004 Te Mata Rhone winestyles rather enthusiastically in October 2005,  so was keen to see if I had overdone it,  in my blind re-tasting subsequent to the Te Mata presentation.  That allowed the two Te Mata syrah wines to be assessed blind in a group of 22 reds,  and Bullnose clearly was the top wine.  It is undoubtedly Te Mata’s greatest achievement for the 2004 vintage.  It shows a finesse,  ripeness and style comparable to that achieved in the 2002 Trinity Hill Homage Syrah (though I have not seen them alongside).  These wines really challenge the Rhone,  and Hermitage specifically.  With all eyes on the Jaboulet ’03 la Chapelle (expected imminently) to see if that iconic label has found its way out of the wilderness of the last 10 years,  it will be exciting to see if it matches or beats this 2004 Te Mata Bullnose Syrah.  A tasting to look forward to.  2004 Bullnose will cellar for 10 – 15 years,  maybe 20.  It will be great with food,  and should be in all wine enthusiasts’ cellars.  GK 03/06

2004  Vidal Syrah Soler   18 ½ +  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $42   [ screwcap;  not [then] on website;  www.vidal.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet.  Bouquet is intensely plummy and nearly blueberry,  with a cassis and black peppercorn edge making it clearly syrah,  plus spicy oak adding appeal.  Palate is mouthfilling and rich,  wonderful berry,  almost lush,  with great length of flavour in which the berry dominates the oak – unlike earlier Vidal’s syrahs.  This is very ripe Hawkes Bay syrah,  so ripe it is almost in danger of losing some varietal complexity (though the oak adds to the aromatics,  in lieu).  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/06

2004  Te Mata Syrah / Viognier  Woodthorpe   18 ½  ()
Tutaekuri Valley,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ screwcap;  Sy 95%,  Vi 5,  co-fermented even though Vi then super-ripe;  extended cuvaison 3 + weeks,  followed by 15 months in French oak 25% new;  www.temata.co.nz ]
This wine too was in the blind tasting,  and again it excelled.  If the Bullnose is Hermitage in style,  this wine is Cote Rotie,  more floral,  more supple,  faintly more leafy,  highly varietal,  amply meriting its earlier gold medal score.  Each of these two marvellous wines should be cellared.  A case lot will be needed to check on one per year,  over their expected lifespan.  Great pleasure will accrue from such an investment.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 03/06

Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre & related blends
2003  Chapoutier Coteaux du Tricastin la Ciboise   15  ()
Coteaux de Tricastin,  Cotes du Rhone,  France:  13%;  $16   [ cork;  Gr 60%,  Sy 30, Ca & Mv 10;  15 days cuvaison,  10 months in vats only;  www.chapoutier.com ]
Light ruby.  Bouquet is fragrant but pale raspberry grenache,  with hints of cinnamon and spice.  Palate is a relative let-down however,  light,  stalky,  very dry,  short.  A pleasantly inconsequential southern French quaffer,  to cellar a year or two only.  GK 03/06

All other red wines, blends etc
2004  Vina Alarba Garnacha Vinas Viejas   18  ()
Calatayud DdO,  Spain:  14%;  $20   [ 1 + 1 cork;  vines 40 – 100 years old;  Bodegas y Vinedos del Jalon ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet.  Red fruits with slight cinnamon spice make this attractive on bouquet,  fruity but not quite as juicy as the Codice.  Palate is more juicy,  again in a roto-fermenter or similar style,  firmed with oak which seems American,  so rich and fruity the wine seems not quite bone dry in its spicy plumminess,  but it is dry.  Finish includes some furry cinnamon.  This is good modern grenache,  which should  cellar for 10 – 15 years even though it is made for much more instant gratification.  GK 03/06

2001  Chivite Gran Fuedo Reserva   17 ½  ()
Navarra DdO Califica y Garantiza,  Spain:  12.5%;  $21   [ cork;  Te 80%,  CS,  Me;  long maceration;  18 months in French and US oak some new;  www.chivite.com ]
Ruby and some velvet.  The bouquet of this wine is oaky and fragrant in a more traditional Spanish style,  except there is a lot of new oak.  Palate is very dry,  youthful and relatively raw,  with high tannins from the clean and potentially cedary oak,  plus surprising acid.  The fruit richness can probably sustain the wine,  though,  and this should cellar well.  Tempranillo-dominant wines can be very long-lived,  and the makers note that adding cabernet and merlot increases cellaring potential.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/06

2003  Codice Vino de la Tierra de Castilla   17 ½  ()
Castilla,  Spain:  12.5%;  $20   [ 1 + 1 cork;  tempranillo;  a budget line from Dominio de Eguren;  website [then] very slow to load;  www.dominiodeeguren.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet.  A rich fruity modern plummy red bouquet with roto-fermenter or similar softness to it,  similar to some Australian shirazes made via such technology.  Palate is amply plummy in a cooked black doris style,  very low oak (much less than the Alarba Garnacha),  soft rich and round,  but not flabby.  An attractive example of both the modern approach and the grape,  which will cellar well for 5 – 10 years.  GK 03/06

2002  Castello di Cacchiano Chianti Classico   17 +  ()
Chianti Classico DOCG,  Italy:  13.5%;  $31   [ cork;  cepage – the policy of the company is to optimise “the inimitable characteristics of the autochthonous grape varieties (especially Sangiovese and Canaiolo)”,  even though the new plantings in the vineyard include Me;  grown at 400m,  hand-picked,  French oak,  good winery and vineyard profile on the website [then available,  not now];  http://futurewine.it/schedaazienda.htm?idazienda=1008〈=en ]
Ruby.  Initially opened,  a little corked.  It breathed off to a fragrant and red-cherry classical red cherry sangiovese,  with a little brett (+ve).  Palate is very fragrant and elegant,  delicate alongside the more robust Rosso and less oaky,  yet lingering beautifully on fine cedary fruit.  Good food wine,  which will cellar 5 – 10 years.  A pristine bottle may well score higher.  GK 03/06

2002  Castello di Cacchiano Rosso   17  ()
Toscana IGT,  Italy:  14%;  $23   [ cork;  Sa mainly,  some canaiolo, grown at 400m in the Classico zone,  hand-picked,  French oak,  non-filtered;  the website shown provided a good winery and vineyard profile,  but is not now available ;  http://futurewine.it/schedaazienda.htm?idazienda=1008〈=en ]
Ruby,  some age.  Bouquet is red cherry / bitter cherry clearly sangiovese,  in an oaky but clearly Tuscan way.  Palate is firm,  very dry,  acid,  yet with great cherry fruit.  Though a bit oaky and bretty,  this is a good robust and winey sangiovese blend to cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 03/06

2004  Stonecroft Zinfandel   16  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $35   [ supercritical cork;  18 months in US oak;  not [then] on website;  www.stonecroft.co.nz ]
Ruby,  a little lighter than the Young Vine Syrah.  Bouquet is initially withdrawn,  like the Serine Syrah,  but clears with air to a recognisably varietal blueberry and red fruits aroma.  Palate is not so good,  the wine too acid in mouth,  more acid than the Serine,  but the taut red currant and blueberry flavours are interesting.  It tastes as if made in much the same way as the syrah,  with restrained and older oak.  This could be scored more highly as a New Zealand zin,  but it is wise to keep an eye over the horizon,  to the home of the real thing.  This acid would not be countenanced,  there.  A much purer wine than the Kemblefield offerings of this variety,  but the flavours here show the variety is not really practical as red wine for Hawkes Bay (since 2004 was a good year) and therefore New Zealand.  The Stonecroft Rosé made from zin is however excellent.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 02/06

2003  J.P. Chenet Cabernet / Syrah   15  ()
Vin de Pays d’Oc,  France:  12.5%;  $12   [ basic composite cork ]
Ruby,  older for age.  Bouquet is plummy,  with a touch of almond,  prune,  brown fig and brett,  very ripe indeed.  Palate is rich,  velvety on low acid and old oak,  old and a bit grubby for its age,  but plummy,  pruney,  mellow,  and dry.  This is honest mouth-filling non-varietal vin de pays QDR,  quite rich,  hot climate in style,  scarcely oaked.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 03/06

2000  Kir-Yianni Ramnista   15  ()
Naoussa AOC,  Greece:  13.5%;  $24   [ cork;  made from 100% old-vine xinomavro,  the commonest grape of northern Greece,  aged in oak a ‘long time’ (c. 16 months) in grande reserva style;  a Boutaris group winery;  good profile on the website shown;  www.greekwinemakers.com/czone/winemakers/Kir-Yianni.shtml ]
Light ruby.  Bouquet is very traditional eastern Mediterranean,  showing dry berry,  some oxidation and some brett,  yet winey.  Palate is devastatingly dry and tending tannic and old oaky,  though there is some red berryfruit.  Not exactly a contemporary winestyle,  for  the new world.  Would probably cellar quite well,  in the sense of holding its present style,  but only for enthusiasts.  GK 03/06

2003  Bodegas Munoz Legado Garnacha   14 ½ +  ()
Castilla,  Spain:  13.5%;  $12   [ plastic closure;  3 months new US oak (only a part,  I suspect) ]
Older ruby.  A modest,  old-fashioned,  old oaky,  but fruity bouquet,  with some oxidation and some brett.  Palate shows raspberry fruit in its pleasantly rustic style,  with old oak which is nearly varnishy.  At the price,  could work as a rustic European red.  Not one to cellar,  however.  GK 03/06

2004  Bodegas Munoz Artero Tempranillo   14  ()
la Mancha DdO,  Spain:  13.5%;  $14   [ plastic closure;  Te 100%;  10 days cuvaison ]
Ruby and velvet.  Bouquet is softly berried and fragrant,  reminding why tempranillo is described as the pinot of Spain.  Palate is fleshy,  but tending acid / organic / composty,  with either very old wood or concrete vatting.  A QDR wine in a grubby Montepulciano d’Abruzzo style,  not worth cellaring.  GK 03/06

2004  Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo   11  (-)
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC,  Italy:  13%;  $12   [ basic composite cork ]
Ruby and velvet,  slight carmine.  Bouquet is unclean / nitrogenous / uriney,  though quite rich.  Palate is consistent with bouquet – verging on a DNPIM wine.  Surprisingly ordinary,  considering the wine renaissance underway in Italy.  GK 03/06

From the Cellar. Older wines.
1983  St Leonards Shiraz   17 ½  ()
Rutherglen,  Victoria,  Australia:   – %;  $ –    [ cork;  www.stleonardswine.com.au ]
Ruby,  garnet and velvet,  still rich.  Bouquet is soft,  rich and mature,  still with plenty of berryfruit in the rasp / boysenberry style,  but now grading into brown edges,  chestnutty complexity,  and all a little hot climate and roti.  Palate is rich,  fine tannin balance from mostly older oak,  the fruit dominant and lingering attractively in mouth.  This is a classic example of soft Australian shiraz before the new oak boom,  and surprisingly complex for its warm Murray River / central Victorian origins.  A gold-medal winner in its day,  sold here through Wilson Neill.  Mature,  but no hurry at all.  Benefits from decanting and breathing a few hours.  GK 02/06

1973  Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage les Meysonniers   17 +  ()
Northern Rhone Valley,  France:   – %;  $ –    [ cork;  www.chapoutier.com ]
Garnet and ruby,  much older than the 1983 St Leonards.  Against the Australian wine,  this is the bouquet of mature syrah,  not shiraz,  with floral and fading cassisy notes in generalised fruit and invisible oak.  Palate is surprisingly fresh and vital,  and though the berry is going brown,  there are still suggestions of cassis plum and raspberry lifted by carnation and peppercorn-like aromatics on the tongue.  Palate richness and sensory pleasure in this wine is much better than any number of northern Rhones of that era,  now.  Needs drinking,  though.  Sold through Avalon Wines & Spirits,  then a distinguished wine merchant.  NB.  Vintage is not stated on the label,  due to Chapoutier going through a non-vintage phase for some of its labels,  at the time (a mistaken response to the American market).  The age is assumed from other wines landed in the same shipment,  in early 1976.  GK 03/06