Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.

In addition to the stunning 2006 Waimea Estates Gewurztraminer,  the 2006 Peregrine Chardonnay,  2006 Highfield Riesling,  2003 Te Awa Merlot / Cabernet Zone 6,  and 2006 Peregrine Pinot Noir also look like gold medal wines.  Releasing pinot noirs within 12 months of vintage is a trend to be deplored,  though.    


2002  Highfield Elstree Marlborough Cuvee Brut
2005  Cave de Lugny Macon-Lugny les Charmes
2005  Cloudy Bay Chardonnay
2006  Craggy Range Chardonnay Gimblett Gravels Single Vineyard
2004  Highfield Chardonnay
2005  l'Aurore Macon-Lugny Chardonnay
2006  Millton Chardonnay Gisborne Riverpoint Vineyard
2005  Morton Estate Chardonnay White Label
2006  Peregrine Chardonnay
2005  Saumaize-Michelin Pouilly-Fuissé Fleur
2006  White Rock Chardonnay Wild Ferment
Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2005  Framingham Riesling Select
2006  Highfield Riesling
Pinot Gris
2006  Kerner Estate Pinot Gris
2006  Waimea Estates Gewurztraminer
Sweet / Sticky
All other white wines, blends, etc.
2006  Kerner Estate Pinot Blanc
2006  Bald Hills Blanc de Pinot Noir [ Rosé ]
Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
  2001  Ch Belingard
2005  Craggy Range Merlot Gimblett Gravels Single Vineyard
2005  Ch de Lucques Bordeaux Superieur
2005  Mills Reef Malbec Reserve
2005  Mills Reef Merlot / Malbec Reserve
2004  Milton Park Merlot
2005  Sileni Merlot Cellar Selection
2003  Te Awa Merlot / Cabernet Zone 6
Cabernet / Shiraz
Pinot Noir
2006  Babich Pinot Noir Marlborough
2005  Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir
2005  Framingham Pinot Noir
2005  Highfield Pinot Noir
2005  Kerner Estate Pinot Noir
2006  Peregrine Pinot Noir
2006  Strugglers Flat Pinot Noir
2005  Te Mania Pinot Noir
2005  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir
Syrah = Shiraz
2004  Babich Syrah Gimblett Gravels
2005  Bleasdale Shiraz Bird-Scarer VFG
2005  Logan Shiraz / Viognier Weemala
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre & related blends
2004  Domaine Magellan Syrah / Grenache Vieilles Vignes
All other red wines, blends etc
2005  Citra Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
2005  Framingham Montepulciano
From the Cellar. Older wines.

2002  Highfield Elstree Marlborough Cuvee Brut   18  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12%;  $35   [ supercritical cork;  PN & Ch 50% each,  hand-picked;  50% BF French oak,  balance s/s;  3 years en tirage;  RS 6 g/L;  www.highfield.co.nz ]
Straw.  Bouquet has attractive and clear-cut autolysis,  a bit more 'wholegrain' than white baguette crust,  subtly reflecting the barrel-ferment component,  delightful.  Palate is fresh,  rich,  clearly brut,  tasting chardonnay-dominant at this stage,  again with very attractive autolysis complexity,  and lovely acid balance,  not too tart.  Cellar 2 – 10 years.  GK 03/07

2006  Peregrine Chardonnay   18 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $21   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  part of the wine was BF in French oak 35% new,  then held in s/s,  the balance likewise but left in the barrels,  both batches 7 months LA,  some MLF,  RS 2 g/L;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Lemon.  A big bouquet showing clear varietal character,  and clear barrel-ferment and lees-autolysis complexity,  with nearly a suggestion of baguette crust,  pure,  attractive.  Palate does indeed introduce a thought of nougat (as the back-label suggests) and MLF complexity,  new oak but subtle,  very rich.  This is great oak handling,  and the wine should cellar well,  3 – 10 years.  The mealy aftertaste is delicious.  GK 03/07

2005  Cloudy Bay Chardonnay   18  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $33   [ screwcap;  mostly hand-picked;  some wild-yeast fermentations;  mostly BF in mostly older French oak;  12 months full LA;  www.cloudybay.co.nz ]
Full straw,  developed for its age.  Bouquet is complexed on extended lees-autolysis,  in a Puligny style (loosely speaking) with considerable breadcrust character,  on stonefruit chardonnay.  Palate is really stonefruit,  golden queen peaches,  the mealy autolysis rich and delicious,  but again the whole wine too forward.  Cellar 1 – 3 years only,  probably,  for the flavours are softening already.  GK 03/07

2005  Saumaize-Michelin Pouilly-Fuissé Fleur   17 ½  ()
Pouilly-Fuissé AOC,  France:  13%;  $36   [ cork;  available via Maison Vauron,  Auckland ]
Straw.  Bouquet is clean,  soft,  and ripe,  obvious MLF,  finest butter suggestions,  old clean oak.  Total style is classic Macon.  Palate is exactly the same,  broad attractive buttery fruit,  oak a little more noticeable,  attractively balanced to a dry finish.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Morton Estate Chardonnay White Label   17  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $17   [ screwcap;  not on website;  www.mortonestatewines.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw.  Bouquet is a much simpler take on chardonnay,  more a South Australian musk-melon style with simple French oak,  all clean and pure and just a little innocuous.  But the palate is attractively balanced within this simpler approach,  showing good fruit,  balanced oak,  fresh flavours with a hint of cashew,  not out to impress,  just quaffable and pleasing.  Cellar 1 – 5 years.  GK 03/07

2006  Craggy Range Chardonnay Gimblett Gravels Single Vineyard   16 ½ +  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $27   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested @ 2.5 t/ac;  wild-yeast BF in French oak 44% new,  and LA for 10 months;  bone-dry;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is a little aggressive,  on pale chardonnay fruit,  in a desiccated coconut and hessian oaky framework.  Palate is distinctly rich,  a hint of palest caramel on the MLF component,  the flavours coarsening in mouth,  on excess oak.  Aftertaste is not so good,  though there are white stonefruits in there,  but at this youthful stage it is all a bit rough on the oak / alcohol interaction.  Should look better in 18 months or so – it has the richness to mellow out.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 03/07

2004  Highfield Chardonnay   16  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $33   [ screwcap;  BF in French & American oak,  10 months LA;  RS 4 g/L;  www.highfield.co.nz ]
Full straw,  very forward though it is an '04.  Bouquet is tending old-fashioned,  the kind of chardonnay the North Island beyond Hawkes Bay used to specialise in,  bold pineappley fruit in oak but also a suggestion of stalks and mixed ripeness,  all tending aggressive.  Palate likewise is old-fashioned,  excess oak,  awkward MLF,  the stalks and acid obtrusive.  OK in its style,  will mellow a little as it ages prematurely,  but basically too old-fashioned to be worth cellaring.  GK 03/07

2006  White Rock Chardonnay Wild Ferment   16  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $20   [ screwcap;  9 months in oak for an unstated percentage of the wine;  www.wildrockwine.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is an unsubtle kind of chardonnay,  as if a high-ester banana-y yeast has been used,  as well as the wild-yeast fraction.  Palate is fruity,  obvious fruit salad flavours tending broad and frankly commercial.  But one has to note these banana-y chardonnays have popular appeal,  and it is not long ago since one won a gold medal in a New Zealand judging.  Finish might not be bone-dry,  and is a little phenolic.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 03/07

2006  Millton Chardonnay Gisborne Riverpoint Vineyard   14 ½  ()
Gisborne,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $21   [ screwcap;  biodynamically-grown grapes;  small part handled in older oak,  RS 2 g/L;  www.millton.co.nz ]
Brassy straw.  Bouquet is old-fashioned,  with a mix of fruit characters from over-ripe to under-ripe,  figgy to green stalky.  Palate shows oak,  MLF and unknit acid,  reasonable physical fruit,  but the flavour is even more old-fashioned on the mixed ripeness.  Not worth cellaring,  hard to drink (on the acid and stalks).  GK 03/07

2005  l'Aurore Macon-Lugny Chardonnay   14 ½  ()
Macon-Lugny AOC,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $20   [ cork ]
Lemon.  Bouquet has a veil of European sulphur over the white-fruits chardonnay,  all rather modest.  Palate has fair fruit,  but suggests the wine might be a concrete vat one rather than oak,  the flavour relatively easy-drinking but excessively straightforward.  Cellar 1 – 3 years only,  I suspect,  in fact not worth cellaring.  GK 03/07

2005  Cave de Lugny Macon-Lugny les Charmes   13  ()
Macon-Lugny AOC,  France:  13%;  $21   [ cork ]
Straw.  Bouquet is riddled with H2S,  destroying varietal character.  The reasonably rich palate is sour,  pro rata.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 03/07

2006  Highfield Riesling   18 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  11%;  $24   [ screwcap;  hand-picked off a single vineyard;  pH 3.04,  RS 36 g/L;  www.highfield.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is as clear-cut as the Highfield Sauvignon,  showing pinpoint ripe riesling varietal characters.  These include freesia florals and nectar,  with an undercurrent of lime-zest.  Palate is rich,  a suggestion of lees autolysis,  clearly medium in sweetness,  but perfectly balanced to acid,  all very long.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Framingham Riesling Select   16 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  9%;  $35   [ screwcap;  RS 60 g/L;  www.framingham.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is subtle,  clean,  pale stonefruit and a hint of hoppy resin,  but not complex.  Palate is in a late-harvest medium to medium-sweet style,  pleasant but lacking depth of varietal flavours,  reminding of some Blass late-harvest Barossa Rieslings of previous decades.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 03/07

Pinot Gris
2006  Kerner Estate Pinot Gris   17 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $22   [ screwcap ]
Straw with the faintest salmon flush.  Bouquet is delightfully clean,  and clearly varietal in the pale white nectarine and pearflesh New Zealand style,  with just a hint of cinnamon-like aromatics.  Palate firms up on the variety's tell-tale phenolics,  but is quite rich,  and fairly dry – perhaps around the dry boundary of 7 g/L.  Aftertaste is a little phenolic,  but that can be hard to escape in a rich 'dry' version of the variety.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 03/07

2006  Waimea Estates Gewurztraminer   19  ()
Waimea Plains,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  whole-bunch pressed;  www.waimeaestates.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw.  Bouquet is classic rose-petal and wild ginger blossom with a beautiful hint of complexing citronella,  sweet lees autolysis and almost mealy complexity,  on equally classic lychee and pale stonefruit.  Palate is both rich yet crisp,  beautiful fruit and texture in mouth,  near-dry,  a delicate gewurz bite giving classical varietal definition,  the whole wine totally Alsatian in style,  long and satisfying in mouth,  and not alcoholic.  Apart from excess alcohol,  most gewurzs fail the absolute quality test at the aftertaste stage,  so many going barley-sugar and inelegant in mouth.  This one sails on magnificently,  refreshing and lingering for ages.  It is quite simply one of the best gewurztraminers thus far made in New Zealand.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 03/07

All other white wines, blends, etc.
2006  Kerner Estate Pinot Blanc   16 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $22   [ screwcap ]
Lemonstraw.  Bouquet is oak first and foremost,  so the wine presents as a chardonnay.  Pinot blanc is much too subtle and floral a grape to carry this oak load.  Within this context,  there is good fruit and some attractive fruit flavours,  but the oak is pervasive.  Finish is dryer than the pinot gris,  but not bone-dry.  I would like to see this fruit handled in much older oak,  say all more than five years old.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 03/07

2006  Bald Hills Blanc de Pinot Noir [ Rosé ]   17 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $18   [ screwcap;  not on website;  www.baldhills.co.nz ]
Rosé.  Bouquet is very fragrant indeed,  the epitome of blackboy peach pinot varietal character,  presented as rosé.  Palate is juicy,  nearly dry,  yet with a clear tannin grip.  Pure pinot rosé is often unsatisfying,  but this is good.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 03/07

Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2003  Te Awa Merlot / Cabernet Zone 6   18 ½  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $30   [ cork;  DFB;  wine info obscurely filed under 'Buy Wines',  but this one not on website;  www.teawa.com ]
Ruby and velvet,  quite dense.  Bouquet is rich and dark,  with a suggestion of sur-maturité in the cassis and darkest plum,  yet still perhaps some violets florals,  and subtle oak.  In mouth the fruit-richness is terrific.  There seems to have been a worthwhile increase in palate weight in the Te Awa reds lately.  Does this bespeak a lower cropping rate,  for the upper-level wines ?  Flavours are classic bottled black doris plums and rich cassis,  made beautifully aromatic on the balanced oak.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Craggy Range Merlot Gimblett Gravels Single Vineyard   17 +  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $27   [ cork;  DFB;  Me 86%,  CF 14,  hand-harvested @ 3.5 t/ac;  20 months in French oak 50% new;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Carmine,  ruby and velvet,  dense.  Initially opened,  this wine is somewhat dulled by retained fermentation odours,  and the oak is prominent.  It needs a good splashy decanting.  Well breathed,  it is rich,  and shows dark florals which are good merlot varietal violets,  on dark bottled plums.  In mouth the wine roughens up again,  the oak excessive in youth,  the retained fermentation components tasteable.  This is a flawed version of last year's exquisite wine,  but it has the richness to bury its youthful awkwardness.  In five years time it should be looking much better.  It is intriguing to see Craggy see-sawing between too much aeration and consequently VA,  and here not enough.  But better wines will result from this experimental approach.  In the meantime,  last year's 2004 wine shows exactly how to do it,  so grab any still left on the shelves.  This 2005 will cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Mills Reef Merlot / Malbec Reserve   17  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $21   [ screwcap;  DFB;  this vintage not on website yet;  www.millsreef.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet.  Initially opened,  this wine is a little awkward,  with a lactic quality on plummy fruit,  all very youthful.  Decanted and breathed it opens out considerably,  to quite rich dark plummy fruit,  clearly aromatic like omega plums,  oak creeping up in the palate and including American,  I think.  This should look more mellow in three years,  and cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Sileni Merlot Cellar Selection   16 ½ +  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $20   [ 1 + 1 cork;  website lacks detail;  www.sileni.co.nz ]
Lightish ruby,  overlapping with some pinot noir.  Bouquet is lightish too,  but delightfully fragrant,  with clear merlot floral characters quite outclassing the (surprisingly good) Milton Park.  Below is cassisy to ripe plummy fruit.  Palate is lighter than the bouquet promises,  but fine-grained,  varietal,  remarkably like a minor satellite St Emilion,  just a trace of stalk.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Mills Reef Malbec Reserve   16 ½  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $21   [ screwcap;  DFB;  this vintage not on website yet;  www.millsreef.co.nz ]
Dense ruby,  carmine and velvet.  Freshly opened,  bouquet is marcy and skinsy,  rich,  but with a suggestion of retained fermentation odours.  Decanted and breathed,  it opens up to dark bottled plums and blackcurrant.  Palate is intensely flavoured,  but oaky and very acid,  so the whole thing is rather piercing at this stage.  Concentration is excellent,  giving a dry vintage port suggestion to it.  I wouldn't touch this for five years,  when it could surprise and demand re-rating.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/07

2004  Milton Park Merlot   16  ()
Eden Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  13.5%;  $12   [ 2 + 2 cork;  short ferments,  early bottling;  www.miltonparkwines.com ]
Older ruby,  some velvet.  This is a familiar kind of Aussie bouquet,  either early-picked to retain freshness,  or machine-picked with mixed ripeness.  Either way,  there is simple red berry with clear leafy undertones,  and a hint of mint.  Palate is more minty,  quite rich,  more berry too,  ranging from stalky red fruits to quite dark plum.  The wine is reasonably subtly oaked,  quite long-fruited,  good QDR more cabernet / merlot than merlot in style,  probably not bone-dry.  Cellar 2 – 5 years,  probably.  GK 03/07

2001  Ch Belingard   15 ½  ()
Bergerac (east of Bordeaux),  France:  12.5%;  $18   [ cork ]
Ruby.  Bouquet is clean and straightforward basic Bordeaux,  much purer and more fragrant than the basic Bordeaux of a generation ago.  Palate is stalky cassis,  clean,  dry,  oaky a little to excess,  but all tending a little under-ripe and austere.  Cellar 5 – 10 years to mellow,  for it is quite rich and correct,  in a minor sense.  GK 03/07

2005  Ch de Lucques Bordeaux Superieur   15  ()
Sainte Croix du Mont,  Gironde,  Bordeaux,  France:  12.5%;  $20   [ 1 + 1 cork ]
Older ruby,  lightish.  Bouquet is winey and European,  old-fashioned,  with mixed ripeness and mixed styling.  In the leafy florals is a clear suggestion of Crozes-Hermitage.  On palate it is more a stalky somewhat old-fashioned cabernet / merlot,  fair fruit,  a little bretty.  More a minor Bordeaux QDR style,  better in a year or two,  but not particularly worth cellaring.  GK 03/07

Pinot Noir
2006  Peregrine Pinot Noir   18 ½  ()
Gibbston Valley,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $33   [ screwcap;  10 months in French oak,  35% new,  RS < 1 g/L;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Carmine,  ruby and some velvet,  excessively youthful.  After the glorious 2005,  will Peregrine be able to achieve that standard again with the 2006,  particularly since the '06 vintage is being talked up in Otago ?  It is almost a disappointment to see this wine released less than a year after vintage,  for it is hard to assess at this early stage.  Bouquet is intensely floral,  in the boronia and violets style last year's wine showed.  Palate shows good black and red cherry fruit and real texture,  balanced by subtle oak to give good length.  Might the acid be a little soft ?  The score contains an element of wishful thinking – it will be easier to be definite in six months.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Highfield Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $35   [ screwcap;  no procedural detail on website for this wine;  www.highfield.co.nz ]
Rich pinot ruby.  Bouquet is clearly varietal,  with florals extending to boronia depth plus the faintest black peppercorn spice,  all pure and varietal.  Palate is rich,  with both red and black cherry fruit,  darker than the Cloudy Bay.  Like it though,  there is a trace of stalk.  This is a confusing,  rich but exciting wine with some Otago attributes,  compared with the usual Marlborough approach.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $39   [ screwcap;  tech. notes refer to 'an idyllic Marlborough vintage';  7 clones of pinot hand-harvested at c. 2 t/ac;  100% de-stemmed,  several days cold-soak,  c. 21 days cuvaison;  11 months in French oak up to 50% new;  www.cloudybay.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is delightful,  real varietal florals extending from lilac and rose nearly to boronia,  sweet and gentle.  Below are red more than black cherries.  Palate is good,  red cherry fruits of good weight,  balanced acid and oak,  just a touch of stalk,  an elegant young pinot.  I don't have any others alongside,  but I suspect this is the most concentrated Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir yet.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  up to 10 days cold-soak;  up to 14 days cuvaison;  11 months in French oak 30% new;  due to small crops,  there are no individual vineyard wines in 2005,  just this one label;  www.twopaddocks.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  older than some '05s.  Alongside the Cloudy Bay,  bouquet on the Two Paddocks is slightly more complex and French in style,  but less floral.  Palate is no richer,  but it is a little riper in its tannins,  which coupled with brett at an absolute threshold level,  gives it lovely savoury depth.  This will be great with food,  and will mature gracefully in cellar for 5 – 8 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Framingham Pinot Noir   17  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $31   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  up to 8 days cold-soak;  part of the wine in French oak some new for 9 months;  www.framingham.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  a little fresher than the Te Mania.  Bouquet opens quietly,  but with air shows good buddleia and lilac florals,  on attractive red cherry fruit.  Palate is richer than the bouquet suggests,  attractive cherry fruit,  clearly varietal at a red-fruits Volnay level.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 03/07

2006  Strugglers Flat Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ screwcap;  the website is more medium than message / info for this wine;  www.wildrockwine.co.nz ]
Good youthful pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is clean fragrant redcurrant and red cherry,  completely in style for sound straightforward new world pinot noir.  Palate is very youthful,  a pity it is being released so soon.  The red fruits are good,  but oak and acid have yet to meld with the fruit,  and acid is a little higher than some.  Should be looking more fragrant and attractive in 12 months time,  and may score higher.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Te Mania Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $18   [ supercritical cork;  40% of the wine in oak for 8 months;  www.temaniawines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet shows fragrant fruit with cherry and plum and some florals,  but entwined in the florals is a stalky thought.  Palate is quite rich in a slightly stewed cherry and red plums style,  but the stalky note continues and interacts with the oak to be awkward at this stage.  Should look better in a year,  and cellar 5 – 8 years,  but retaining the stalks.  GK 03/07

2005  Kerner Estate Pinot Noir   15  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $24   [ screwcap ]
Good ruby.  Bouquet is in a much older kind of slightly dull pinot noir,  as if there were some pinotage in it.  Perhaps there is a lot of clone bachtobel.  But in mouth it is clean and reasonably fragrant,  fair berryfruit but this 'black' thread continuing in the flavour,  tending phenolic.  May not be quite bone-dry.  Sound but tending dull,  not worth cellaring.  GK 03/07

2006  Babich Pinot Noir Marlborough   14  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $20   [ screwcap;  extended cold-soak,  11 months in oak some new;  www.babichwines.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is dull,  with retained fermentation odours well entrained,  not shifting even with decanting.  Palate shows fair body,  but is likewise dull,  and finish is a little bitter.  This misses the boat,  not worth cellaring.  GK 03/07

Syrah = Shiraz
2004  Babich Syrah Gimblett Gravels   17  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $20   [ screwcap;  22 days cuvaison,  c. 6 months in French & American oak,  some new;  www.babichwines.co.nz ]
Good ruby.  Bouquet is clear-cut syrah in a Crozes-Hermitage style,  some redfruits,  clear cracked peppercorn,  a hint of stalks.  Palate is a little more stalky,  but the cassis and cracked black peppercorn is quite rich and attractive.  Great to have this flavour in Hawkes Bay at 12.5 degrees alcohol – a remarkably exact northern Rhone figure.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Logan Shiraz / Viognier Weemala   16 ½  ()
Central Ranges,  New South Wales,  Australia:  13.5%;  $17   [ screwcap;  website erratic,  info not located;  www.loganwines.com.au ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet.  Bouquet is clearly Australian,  euc'y,  heavy berryfruit,  some stalks too suggesting mixed ripeness / machine-picking.  Palate is frankly commercial,  boysenberry fruity yet still some stalks,  oaky,  not quite dry to the finish,  and maybe some viognier apricot suggestions there too (+ve).  Rich QDR,  wholesome,  quite good as such.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Bleasdale Shiraz Bird-Scarer VFG   16  ()
Langhorne Creek,  South Australia,  Australia:  14.5%;  $14   [ screwcap;  no info on website;  www.bleasdale.com.au ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet.  This is very Australian too,  with raspberry / boysenberry simple shiraz,  plus what seems like US oak (though the label says French) giving a buttered pancakes quality to the bouquet.  Palate is raw and youthful,  probably a stainless steel and chips wine,  the oak a bit burning and unintegrated.  Finish not bone-dry.  Wholesome juicy QDR shiraz,  rougher than the Logan,  supermarket style.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 03/07

Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre & related blends
2004  Domaine Magellan Syrah / Grenache Vieilles Vignes   16 ½ +  ()
Vin de Pays de Cotes de Thongue,  Languedoc,  France:  14.5%;  $23   [ plastic;  Vieilles Vignes understood to be 20 years plus;  well-distributed wine in the US,  a Maison Vauron wine in NZ ]
Ruby,  a little older than the Belingard.  Bouquet is syrah-dominant in a dianthus and leafy / fragrant way,  reminiscent of straightforward Crozes-Hermitage.  Palate is better than bouquet,  riper,  again syrah-dominant,  with well-balanced newish oak.  This is attractive relatively one-dimensional wine,  in its slightly stalky Crozes-Hermitage style.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 03/07

All other red wines, blends etc
2005  Framingham Montepulciano   17  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $27   [ screwcap;  18 months in French & American oak,  some new ]
Carmine,  ruby and velvet,  youthful.  Bouquet is intriguingly different,  very berry-ish,  a suggestion of savoury herbes,  light oak.  Palate shows the herbes too,  in bitter dark cherry fruit,  good richness,  subtly oaked,  tending acid,  seemingly not quite bone-dry,  but may be fruit richness.  Hard to say,  against the acid.  An intriguingly different wine,  which I'd like to see in a couple of years.  Cellar potential for the variety is unknown in New Zealand,  but looks good for 3 – 5 years.  A bit pricey.  GK 03/07

2005  Citra Montepulciano d'Abruzzo   15  ()
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DoC,  Italy:  13%;  $15   [ 1 + 1 cork ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet.  Bouquet is textbook brett,  on plummy dark fruit.  I am tolerant of brett,  but this is OTT,  interfering with varietal quality and giving horsey qualities to bouquet and palate.  Otherwise,  flavour is plummy / fruity,  good ripeness,  bone-dry,  still juicy,  but very bretty.  Score would therefore vary wildly,  depending on views on brett.  Perfectly acceptable in its style,  but not a cellar wine for same reason.  QDR,  or buy it to see a definitive example of this spoilage yeast.  GK 03/07