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


2007  Craggy Range Chardonnay Cape Kidnappers
2006  Escarpment Chardonnay
2006  Gunn Estate Chardonnay Skeetfield
2006  Stone Paddock Chardonnay
2007  Taylors Chardonnay / Viognier Eighty Acres
2002  Trinity Hill Homage Chardonnay
Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2007  Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc
2007  Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Avery
2007  Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Old Renwick
2007  Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Te Muna
2005  Craggy Range [ Sauvignon Blanc ] Te Muna [ Prestige ]
2007  Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Yacht Club
2007  Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc Reserve
2006  Stone Paddock Sauvignon Blanc
2007  White Rock Sauvignon Blanc Elevation
2007  Craggy Range Riesling Fletcher
2007  Craggy Range Riesling Glasnevin [ Waipara ]
2007  Craggy Range Riesling Rapaura
2007  Escarpment Riesling
2007  Matua Valley Riesling Reserve
Pinot Gris
2006  Escarpment Pinot Gris
2006  [ Escarpment ] The Edge Pinot Gris
2006  [ Matua Valley ] Shingle Peak Pinot Gris Reserve
Sweet / Sticky
2006  Escarpment Riesling Late-Harvest Hinemoa
2007  Forrest Gewurztraminer Late-Harvest
  2006  Stone Paddock Semillon Late-Harvest Isabella
All other white wines, blends, etc.
Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2004  Matua Valley Merlot / Cabernet Matheson
2004  Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon
2005  Stone Paddock Cabernet Sauvignon
2005  Taylors Cabernet / Shiraz / Merlot Eighty Acres
2005  West Cape Howe Cabernet / Merlot
Cabernet / Shiraz
Pinot Noir
2006  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Calvert
2006  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna
2005  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna
2004  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna
2006  Escarpment Pinot Noir
2006  [ Escarpment ] The Edge Pinot Noir
2006  [ Forrest ] TattyBogler Pinot Noir
Syrah = Shiraz
2005  Beresford Shiraz Beacon Hill
2005  Corbans Syrah Private Bin
2005  Esk Valley Syrah Black Label
2004  Pirramimma Shiraz Stock’s Hill
2005  Red Rocks Syrah The UnderArm
2006  Stone Paddock Syrah
2005  Taylors Shiraz / Viognier Eighty Acres
2005  Vidal Syrah Reserve
2005  Wolf Blass Shiraz Gold Label
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre & related blends
All other red wines, blends etc
From the Cellar. Older wines.

2006  Gunn Estate Chardonnay Skeetfield   19  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $31   [ screwcap;  whole-bunch pressed,  BF with wild yeast in new French oak;  MLF and LA and batonnage,  10 months in barrel;  www.gunnestate.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is exquisite varietal chardonnay,  total Puligny-Montrachet in style,  showing good barrel-fermented characters,  and fragrant white stone fruits complexed by baguette-crust lees-autolysis,  subtlest MLF,  and peaches and cream aromas.  Palate is wonderfully fresh,  rich yet not big or heavy,  delightful acid balance,  lingering cashew flavours in the stonefruit,  total harmony.  This is fine New Zealand chardonnay.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 10/07

2006  Escarpment Chardonnay   18 ½ +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14.2%;  $35   [ supercritical cork;  hand-picked;  100% BF and MLF in French oak 30% new;  dry extract 24 g/L;  RS 4 g/L;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw.  If the Skeetfield is a Puligny-Montrachet,  loosely speaking,  the Escarpment is total Meursault in style,  wonderfully mealy on extended lees-autolysis plus MLF following barrel fermentation,  beyond cashew to almost hazelnutty.  Palate picks up the hazel,  and is even more Meursault,  the MLF fractionally more tasteable than the Skeetfield,  the whole intensely oatmealy,  and all a little richer and broader than the Skeetfield or the Desert Heart.  Aftertaste is long and nutty,  so rich the residual is well concealed.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  One could easily pay $120 per bottle for French chardonnay of the quality of this wine,  or the Skeetfield.  GK 10/07

2002  Trinity Hill Homage Chardonnay   18  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14.8%;  $100   [ cork;  hand-picked @ c. 1 t/ac;  whole-bunch pressed,  100% BF with wild yeasts in French oak 100% new;  100% MLF,  and 15 months LA and batonnage;  pH 3.6;  www.trinityhill.com ]
Straw flushed with gold.  Bouquet is rich,  dramatically mendoza / golden queen peach,  fully mature but beautifully complexed with mealy lees-autolysis,  barrel fermentation,  and MLF into a toasted Vogel's wholegrain bouquet.  Palate shows the fruit at fractionally past peak maturity,  total golden queen,  still mouth-filling and rich,  just starting to dry a little – partly because of the very high alcohol.  Verging on an OTT chardonnay,  lots to like but not the finesse the price almost demands.  Drink up.  GK 10/07

2006  Stone Paddock Chardonnay   16 ½ +  ()
Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $19   [ screwcap;  clones 95 & 15,  hand-harvested;  60% s/s ferment, 40 % BF in French oak some new,  several months LA and batonnage;  RS not given;  www.stonepaddock.com ]
Pale straw.  Bouquet is complexed by a number of factors,  including a high-solids approach to barrel-ferment and lees-autolysis,  which on balance produce a quite French kind of chardonnay bouquet.  Palate is reasonably rich,  some buttery notes from MLF,  the mealy flavours reminiscent of the Escarpment wine.  However the Stone Paddock is let down by a slight oxidation component,  as if it were on ullage at some stage.  In a modest way,  food-friendly and interesting wine.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 10/07

2007  Craggy Range Chardonnay Cape Kidnappers   16  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14.2%;  $25   [ cork;  hand-picked  @ c. 2.5 t/ac;  whole-bunch pressed,  mostly s/s ferment,  some BF 15% new;  4 months LA;  pH 3.3,  RS < 2 g/L;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is tending to an un-oaked chardonnay,  fragrant,  but with an almost tarty perfumed note to it,  which hopefully will marry away.  Palate is alcoholic and short,  a little acid and phenolic,  charmless,  as many scarcely-oaked new world chardonnays are.  There is also a trace of sourness,  suggesting slight reduction.  Highish alcohol and premature realease does not help wines like this,  but maybe it will look better in two years.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 10/07

2007  Taylors Chardonnay / Viognier Eighty Acres   15 +  ()
Clare Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  13.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  Eighty Acres designed as a ‘juicy down-to-earth' range of wines;  dawn harvest;  all s/s fermentation;  RS not given;  www.taylorswines.com.au/WebsiteAdditions/EightyAcresPopup.htm ]
Pale lemonstraw.  Bouquet is plain fruity stainless-steel chardonnay in style,  with an augmented fruitiness which may be the viognier – a tropical note.  Palate is broad and fruity,  quite rich,  a stainless steel plus oak chips wine maybe,  tending coarse and phenolic to the finish.  Not exactly more-ish,  or worth cellaring.  GK 10/07

Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2007  Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Te Muna   18 ½ +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $25   [ screwcap;  mostly machine-harvested @ c. 1.5 t/ac;  some whole-bunch,  some wild yeast,  fermented in both s/s 86% and the balance French oak 10% new;  4 months LA;  pH 3.3,  RS 3 g/L;  small crop due to frost,  available only at cellar door,  Terroir restaurant;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Palest lemon.  Bouquet is sweetly ripe and aromatic sauvignon blanc at a perfect point of ripeness,  dominated by black passionfruit,  but spiced by red capsicum and sweet basil.  Palate follows perfectly,  not phenolic or acid as good sauvignon so often is,  instead just limpid dry fruit in a relatively unsophisticated all stainless steel presentation of the grape.  This is lovely wine,  and though not particularly rich,  it will cellar for 2 – 10 years,  if mature sauvignon appeals.  This wine too,  like the Glasnevin Riesling (qv),  is very scarce,  available only from the Craggy cellar door,  due to the severely reduced 2007 crop in the Martinborough district.  GK 10/07

2005  Craggy Range [ Sauvignon Blanc ] Te Muna [ Prestige ]   18 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $44   [ cork;  this near-experimental wine does not appear to be on the website;  hand-picked;  100% BF in French oak with wild yeast,  trace MLF not by design;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Deepish lemon.  Bouquet is magnificent,  though to first sniff in a blind tasting,  the taster can be forgiven for interpreting the wine as chardonnay.  On closer examination,  hiding amongst the barrel-ferment and lees-autolysis mealyness and baguette crust,  there is the same beautiful sweet basil-influenced black passionfruit of the 2007 wine,  complexed also by trace MLF.  In mouth the wine is more clearly sauvignon,  with clear reminders of Cloudy Bay's Te Koko,  the same great fruit richness,  but all reined-in alongside Te Koko,  more subtle with much less MLF.  At the moment the oak is a little apparent,  but in a year's time,  this will be a great Graves-styled wine.  Options enthusiasts should note this wine is packed into a Dry River look-alike flanged bottle,  indistinguishable (especially when in a paper bag).  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 10/07

2007  Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Yacht Club   18  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $25   [ screwcap;  machine-harvested @ 3 t/ac;  all de-stemmed,  fermented with cultured yeast in s/s 100%;  2 months LA;  pH 3.3,  RS 2 g/L;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Palest lemongreen,  lacking as yet.  Bouquet is in the same style as the Te Muna Sauvignon,  but not quite so complex,  as if the whole wine were a notch riper,  with consequent partial loss of the complexing aromatics which make the Te Muna example so superb.  Palate clarifies the wine is in fact sauvignon blanc,  but the phenolics are a little more apparent,  probably because the residual sugar is lower.  In mouth this is essence of Marlborough sauvignon,  but very dry.  Craggy are taking a gamble in making several of their Marlborough sauvignons so European-dry in finish,  when the local market is habituated to New Zealand 'dry' equals 4 grams per litre.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 10/07

2007  White Rock Sauvignon Blanc Elevation   17 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18    [ screwcap;  some viognier & chardonnay in blend (must be less than 15% total as labelled);  a subsidiary of Craggy Range;  wine not on website yet;  www.wildrockwine.co.nz ]
Palest lemongreen.  This is intriguing wine.  In a blind tasting,  it can be confused with riesling,  as ripe sauvignon can so often easily be.  There are almost freesia floral notes on dominant black passionfruit.  Palate is richer than the other Craggy Marlborough sauvignons,  not so explicitly varietal,  and though one cannot taste them,  the added complexity components of viognier and chardonnay seem to be contributing delightfully to mouthfeel of the wine.  This is clever (+ve) wine,  which is going to be successful commercially,  I think,  the enhanced body despite some residual making it even better with food than sauvignon naturally is.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 10/07

2007  Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $30   [ screwcap; machine harvested at night or earliest morning;  juice cold-settled 48 hours,  cultured yeast,  s/s ferment;  c. 2 months LA;  RS not given;  www.cloudybay.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen.  One has to put this icon wine into a blind tasting with a dozen other sauvignons,  to have any chance of judging it objectively.  Alongside the Craggy wines,  it is as clean and fresh as them,  but pitched a little lower down the ripening curve.  There are therefore both yellow and orange capsicum notes,  as well as red capsicum,  sweet basil and black passionfruit.  Palate is comparably a little more acid and stalkier than the Yacht Club or Te Muna variants from Craggy Range.  It is interesting comparing the Cloudy Bay with the Te Muna,  the slight difference in ripening levels being the difference between magic on the one hand,  and the more acid and stalkier flavour-profile of the Cloudy.  In a sense,  therefore,  the Cloudy is a little more an old-fashioned Marlborough sauvignon.  Cellar 1 – 3 years only.  GK 10/07

2007  Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Avery   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $25   [ screwcap;  machine-harvested @ c. 3.5 t/ac;  all de-stemmed,  fermented with cultured yeast in s/s 100%;  2 months LA;  pH 3.2,  RS 2 g/L;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Palest lemongreen.  This Craggy Marlborough sauvignon is in a rather different style,  tip-toeing towards Europe.  There is clear black passionfruit,  and some obscure honeysuckle and red capsicum,  but it is all veiled by sur-lie complexity,  which is threshold negative.  I've given it the benefit of the doubt,  but it depends on your threshold to reduced sulphur.  This is at the point of good Muscadet Sur-Lie.  Palate is quite rich,  but hardened by the sur-lie complexity,  so the whole wine needs a year or two,  in the hope it will blossom.  This wine is a good example of the sulphur-related palate firmness which so many me-too winewriters rush to describe as exhibiting the currently trendy wine buzzword 'minerality'.  Cellar 3 – 8 years,  maybe longer.  GK 10/07

2007  Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc Reserve   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $20   [ screwcap;  not on website;  www.matua.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen.  Bouquet opens slightly sulphur-congested and faintly sweaty,  which despite enthusiasm for that character in certain New Zealand quarters,  is in fact a negative feature in sauvignon as much as any other white varietal.  Below is a full spread of capsicum ripeness levels,  and some black passionfruit.  Palate likewise is mixed capsicum,  but the balance is the yellow ripeness level,  the body quite rich,  the flavours long and continuing musky.  This style has its devotees,  but hopefully will soon be seen as old-fashioned.  Cellar a year or two only.  GK 10/07

2006  Stone Paddock Sauvignon Blanc   15  ()
Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $19   [ screwcap;  machine-harvested;  90% s/s ferment,  10 % BF in 2-year French oak,  plus 2 months LA;  RS not given;  www.stonepaddock.com ]
Lemon to pale lemonstraw.  This is another clogged bouquet,  showing both sweaty and grapefruity characters on sauvignon ripened to a more tropical spectrum of smells and flavours,  a bit like gold kiwifruit.  Palate is reasonably rich,  but the clogging trace sulphur persists,  introducing cardboardy flat flavours.  QDW sauvignon in a riper style,  not worth cellaring.  GK 10/07

2007  Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Old Renwick   14  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $24   [ screwcap;  c. 2 t/ac;  all s/s;  2 months LA;  RS 2 g/L;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Pale lemongreen.  Bouquet is not exactly the strength of this wine,  it smelling mostly of entrained sulphur from a reductive lees-autolysis phase much more marked than in the Avery wine.  This is what so much Muscadet Sur-Lie was like 20 and 40 years ago,  and explains why latterly,  New Zealand sauvignon has been so prominent and well accepted in the UK wine market.  Palate is quite rich,  clearly varietal under the reductiveness,  again dryer than the New Zealand average,  more like a Sancerre of yesteryear.  Unusual for Craggy to slip up like this.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 10/07

2007  Craggy Range Riesling Glasnevin [ Waipara ]   18 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  9%;  $25   [ screwcap;  second crop,  hand-harvested @ < 0.5 t/ac with no botrytis;  whole-bunch fermentation in s/s,  3 months LA;  pH 3.1,  RS 23 g/L;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Colour is palest lemongreen.  Bouquet is essence of pure riesling,  all lime-zest,  cooking apples and citrus,  some vanilla florals,  and underlying white stonefruits.  Palate is remarkable,  a limpid varietal purity which is totally youthful Mosel in style,  good kabinett,  very beautiful,  potentially soft,  fragrant.  Finish is medium-dry,  yet subtle and nectary.  This is a potentially great New Zealand riesling,  but unfortunately it is never going to have a chance to be seen at anything approaching full development.  Craggy Range have decided,  unwisely in my view,  to restrict the wine to restaurant-only sales.  Some may be fleetingly available,  though Craggy's cellar door outlet (cellardoor@craggyrange.com,  Terroir Restaurant,  Havelock North).  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 10/07

2007  Escarpment Riesling   18 +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  12%;  $24   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  s/s ferment;  pH 2.84,  RS 15 g/L;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Palest lemongreen.  Bouquet is nearly as explicitly varietal as the Craggy Glasnevin,  clearly lime-zest and cooking apples again,  just a hint of cinnamon-like spice,  as if there is a little more skin influence.  Palate is totally extraordinary.  It tastes dramatically riesling,  and in effect,  totally dry,  with low phenolics.  Alongside the known-to-be-dry Craggy Rapaura,  the Escarpment tastes drier and finer.  Yet on examination of the numbers,  the latter is 15 g/L residual sugar,  normally a clear medium-dry to medium.  This remarkable sensory contradiction is a function of the phenomenally low pH on this wine,  2.84,  which suggests it should cellar for 10 – 20 years.  It is a wine to buy by the case,  and study for years to come.  It will score higher,  later.  GK 10/07

2007  Craggy Range Riesling Rapaura   18  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $25   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested @ < 3 t/ac with 5% botrytis;  whole-bunch fermentation in s/s,  3 months LA;  pH 3.0,  RS 4 g/L;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Palest lemongreen.  Bouquet is classical pure non-botrytis riesling,  showing fresh-cut apple and lime-zest aromatic fruit,  with a hint of the same kind of resins as in finest pale lager hops.  Palate is richer and stronger than the Craggy Glasnevin,  mainly because it is a dry style,  and the resiny phenolics are more noticeable,  a little boney at this youthful stage.  It is exactly a wine to compare with the top Grosset rieslings,  from the Clare Valley.  Personally,  I consider none of these rieslings should be released in their current year of vintage.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 10/07

2007  Craggy Range Riesling Fletcher   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12%;  $25   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested @ c. 1.5 t/ac with no botrytis;  whole-bunch fermentation in s/s,  3 months LA;  pH 3.0,  RS 12 g/L;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Palest lemongreen.  In style,  this falls midway between the Rapaura and Glasnevin Craggy rieslings,  but is a little less than either.  It is less giving on bouquet,  clearly varietal,  but a little austere,  with a trace of VA.  Palate is clearly sweet,  seemingly sweeter in taste impression than the Escarpment wine,  though the grams per litre are less.  The phenolics on this wine are a little coarser again than the Rapaura wine,  but it will harmonise into a good lime-zest approach in three years or so.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 10/07

2007  Matua Valley Riesling Reserve   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $19   [ screwcap;  not on website;  www.matua.co.nz ]
Palest lemon.  Though clearly riesling,  this wine is not cut from such fine cloth as the Craggy and Escarpment examples.  Bouquet is bigger and coarser,  with tropical fruit-salad notes,  and melon.  Palate is dry,  phenolic and quite boney,  the fruit not wrapping that side of it up at all well.  It is more a commercial Australian dry riesling in approach.  Cellar 3 – 5  years.  GK 10/07

Pinot Gris
2006  [ Escarpment ] The Edge Pinot Gris   17 ½ +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $23   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  all s/s,  no MLF,  stop-fermented @ 6 g/L;  pH 3.1;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is transparently pinot gris,  fragrant in a slightly cramped way,  only just hinting at yellow florals,  but with clear pearflesh.  Palate shows clear pinot-family flavour and body,  but with a suggestion of hardness from phenolics making it taste slightly stalky,  offset by subtle residual sugar.  Net impression is dry,  firm,  and reasonably well-bodied,  a little phenolic,  but clearly varietal.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 10/07

2006  Escarpment Pinot Gris   17 +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $29   [ supercritical cork;  hand-picked;  100% BF and MLF in old to very old French oak;  pH 3.4;  RS < 1 g/L;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw.  This is a very different take on pinot gris,  compared with The Edge wine.  Here winemaker artefact quite dominates varietal character,  to give a result that is pleasing,  but in a blind tasting more likely to be identified as chardonnay than pinot gris.  The 100% barrel-ferment and MLF in old oak have introduced vanilla biscuit aromas and flavours,  with the thought of nectarines and custard too.  Palate is much broader than the stainless steel Edge wine,  the lactic-custard flavours lingering well and softening the varietal phenolics.  These two pinot gris are hard wines to score.  The stainless steel wine is much more varietal,  but the richer broader barrel-fermented one will appeal to many more people,  so style sometimes triumphs over varietal precision.  That's OK.  In these notes I have favoured varietal precision.  Just for the record, a 7.5% addition of this Escarpment wine to The Edge version makes a far more varietal wine than either of the wines as bottled,  amplifying the bouquet,  and taking the edge off the phenolics on palate,  without any hint of the MLF component showing.  Quite magical – in a blind tasting it seemed a gold medal wine.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 10/07

2006  [ Matua Valley ] Shingle Peak Pinot Gris Reserve   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $20   [ screwcap;  some of the fruit BF in French oak;  RS 5.2 g/L;  www.matua.co.nz ]
Straw,  quite clearly salmon-flushed,  reflecting skin colour in this pinot variant.  Bouquet is superior to the two Escarpment wines,  there being clear varietal pear and pale stonefruits,  a suggestion of cinnamon,  plus an undertone suggesting barrel-ferment and lees-autolysis components,  but no MLF.  Palate is however clumsy alongside the other two,  the varietal phenolics excessive,  and giving an almost quincy note.  Not sure if this will mellow in cellar or not,  3 – 5 years.  GK 10/07

Sweet / Sticky
2006  Escarpment Riesling Late-Harvest Hinemoa   18 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  10%;  $29   [ supercritical cork;  hand-picked with c. 30% botrytis;  100% s/s ferment;  pH 3.3,  RS 123 g/L;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw flushed with gold,  a little forward for its age.  Bouquet is simply wonderful,  classic botrytised riesling,  beautifully pure.  Fruit aromas range from cherimoya to pineapple,  with quite a lot of apricot along the way.  Palate likewise is a little fruit-salad,  but it is fresh,  richly fruited,  luscious with botrytis but not unduly sweet (as the maker says,  about beerenauslese in sweetness),  all needing another year to really harmonise.  Larry McKenna has always had a great feel for sweet wines,  being scrupulous in excluding any hint of ignoble rot.  His 1987 Muller-Thurgau Late-Harvest made for Martinborough Vineyard is still superb.  This 2006 wine is a little different,  being richer,  and the true riesling introducing a terpene aromatic that makes one suspect there is a hint of oak – not so.  Cellar 2 – 10 years,  maybe longer.  GK 10/07

2006  Stone Paddock Semillon Late-Harvest Isabella   18  ()
Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12%;  $23   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  no detail on website as to fermentation vessels,  maturation,  or RS;  www.stonepaddock.com ]
Gold,  forward for its age.  Bouquet is rich,  sweet and clearly in the sauternes style,  with no hint of under-ripe or leafy fruit.  Being as developed as it is,  there are already some creme brulée qualities,  and light VA - positive here as it freshens the wine.  Palate is very rich,  lots of golden queen peach-like fruit,  the acid tending jangly as if added,  some oak influence.  This should look attractive in another year,  though that acid may fight with some desserts.  Cellar 2 – 5 years,  maybe longer.  GK 10/07

2007  Forrest Gewurztraminer Late-Harvest   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  11.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  RS 100 g/L;  www.forrestwines.co.nz ]
Pale lemonstraw.  Bouquet is exotic in the extreme,  perfumed beyond rosewater and Turkish delight,  almost hairdresser-scented.  I am giving it the benefit of the doubt,  hoping more explicit wild-ginger blossom aromas will develop,  as it settles down from extreme youth.  Palate is similarly perfumed,  almost lemon-balm notes (not necessarily appealing in wine),  but also with fragrant lychee and apricot suggestions,  in elegant varietal fruit.  It is not a big or very sweet wine,  I don't think there is much botrytis complexity,  but in two years it should be much more together and compelling than it is now.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 10/07

Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2004  Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon   19  ()
Spring Mountain District,  Napa Valley,  California,  U.S.A:  13.9%;  $ –    [ cork;  CS,  some CF,  Me,  PV;  US$100;  wild-yeast fermentation;  MLF in barrel;  bottle courtesy of Philip Rich,  Melbourne;  no website found,  but some info at:  http://www.internationalcellar.com/184897?id=EetRECKz&mv_pc=352 ]
Ruby and velvet.  Bouquet is dramatically cassis,  wonderfully concentrated,  very pure.  There is a little brambly / blackberry richness,  but unlike so many Californian reds,  this wonderful wine is neither over-ripe,  or bretty.  Palate is very intense in youth,  all cassis,  austere in the sense it seems 100% cabernet sauvignon,  yet rich too.  There are hints of cedar and complexity to come,  best Mouton-like.  Cellar 5 – 25 years,  perhaps longer.  GK 10/07

2005  West Cape Howe Cabernet / Merlot   17 +  ()
Great Southern,  West Australia,  Australia:  13.5%;  $28   [ screwcap;  CS 65%,  Me 35;  18 months in French and American oak 20% new;  RS < 1 g/L;  www.westcapehowewines.com.au ]
Ruby,  some velvet,  much the same hue as the 2000 Matariki.  Bouquet is unequivocally Australian,  with mint going on euc'y fragrance,  on cassis and soft plummy berry.  Palate is aromatic on the euc,  but not intolerably so,  with attractive berryfruit in a fragrant quite rich wine,  showing aromatic oak which is not excessive.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 10/07

2005  Taylors Cabernet / Shiraz / Merlot Eighty Acres   16  ()
Clare Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  Eighty Acres designed as a ‘juicy down-to-earth’ range of wines;  dawn harvest;  100% de-stemmed;  all s/s fermentation;  MLF and 12 months in US oak 10% new;  RS not given;  www.taylorswines.com.au/WebsiteAdditions/EightyAcresPopup.htm ]
Ruby and velvet,  denser and older than the Shiraz / Viognier.  Freshly opened the wine is dominated by charry oak,  unattractively so,  nearly acrid.  With air,  it opens up to a rich juicy non-varietal coffee-tainted wine,  but the acrid oak kicks in on the aftertaste.  This is pretty burly (and bretty) stuff,  hard to drink more than a glass of,  I would think.  Cellar 5 – 15 years,  to lose some tannins,  hopefully.  GK 10/07

2004  Matua Valley Merlot / Cabernet Matheson   15 ½  ()
Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  Me & CS cropped at less than 3 t/ac;  RS 2.5 g/L;  www.matua.co.nz ]
Ruby, old for age.  This is in the familiar fragrant New Zealand cabernet / merlot style,  under-fruited relative to the oak,  but initially beguiling.  In mouth,  however,  the cassis and plum are short and drying prematurely on both brett and oak,  finishing a little acid.  This is looking old-fashioned.  Cellar 2 – 5 years,  only.  GK 10/07

2005  Stone Paddock Cabernet Sauvignon   13 ½  ()
Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $23   [ screwcap;  CS 90%,  Me 10;  16 months in French oak,  RS not given;  www.stonepaddock.com ]
Ruby.  This wine opens reductively,  and needs splashy decanting.  Even so,  the wine underneath is under-ripe,  short and stalky,  with some odd aromas from the cooperage.  Finish is thin and tending sour.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 10/07

Pinot Noir
2006  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Calvert   18 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $47   [ screwcap;  hand-picked  @ c. 2 t/ac;  100% de-stemmed,  fermented in French oak cuves with wild yeast;  9 months on lees in French oak 45% new;  RS nil;  the intriguing thing about this wine is,  the fruit from the one vineyard is shared between Craggy Range,  Felton Road,  and Pyramid Valley,  resulting in three different wines reflecting the winemakers' vision for the one variety – all three are now on the market;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  a great colour.  Bouquet shows beautiful clarity and depth of precise dark rose and boronia florals,  on clear red and black cherry fruits.  And then on palate,  the floral qualities are diffused right through the crisp,  perfectly pure,  dark cherry fruit.  This is a great New Zealand pinot in the making,  not big but very beautiful.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 10/07

2005  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna   18  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  hand-picked  @ c. 0.75 t/ac;  100% de-stemmed,  fermented in French oak cuves with wild yeast;  9 months on lees in French oak 45% new;  RS nil;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet.  Either this wine is transformed from when I last saw it,  or the previous bottle was scalped / cork-affected in a non-obvious way.  Bouquet is now explicitly floral,  dark warm red roses and boronia,  a soft beguiling blackboy peach and dark cherry fruit,  all made deliciously aromatic by subtle cedary oak.  Palate is very sweetly fruited,  rich,  long,  not quite as black cherry as the Escarpment 06,  and a little more fleshy,  but still exciting wine.  A preview of the 2007 Te Muna Pinot Noir suggests it will be between this 2005 and the 2006 in character.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 10/07

2006  Escarpment Pinot Noir   18  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $45   [ supercritical cork;  hand-picked;  fermented in French oak cuves;  11 months in French oak 30% new;  dry extract 30.2 g/L,  RS < 1 g/L;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  quite deep for pinot noir.  Bouquet is immediately black cherry varietal,  deep,  darkly floral and slightly mysterious,  a whisper of savoury complexity adding vinosity.  Palate has exact pinot noir crunchy texture,  dark cherry flavours,  great saturation and depth as befits achieving a dry extract of 30 g/L,  but some tannin to lose at this stage.  We must all celebrate whenever a New Zealand red surpasses the magic goal of a dry extract at this figure.  I suspect in 18 months this will be more sweetly-fruited,  and scoring higher.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 10/07

2006  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna   17 ½ +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $47   [ cork;  hand-picked  @ c. 1.6 t/ac;  100% de-stemmed,  fermented in both French oak cuves and s/s with wild yeast;  9 months on lees in French oak 35% new;  RS nil;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Elegant pinot noir ruby,  fractionally lighter than the 2006 Calvert.  Bouquet is classic pinot noir,  some red florals on beautifully varietal red and black cherry,  subtly oaked.  Fruit in mouth has the precise fresh crunchy texture of good pinot.  The whole ripeness spectrum is several notches above the 2004,  but less than the 2005,  presenting a classical interpretation of the grape.  It is not quite as beautifully saturated with floral qualities as the 2006 Calvert,  however.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 10/07

2004  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna   17 +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  hand-picked  @ c. 1.6 t/ac;  10% whole-bunch,  fermented in French oak cuves with wild yeast;  9 months on lees in French oak 50% new;  RS nil;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  some maturity creeping in.  Bouquet is softly floral and fragrant,  in a lighter and cooler spectrum than the 2006,  embracing buddleia as well as roses and boronia.  Below is cherry fruit with a hint of strawberry,  clearly red cherry,  delivering a pinot which is reminiscent of Cote de Beaune in style.  Length of fruit is attractive,  on slightly fresh acid and faint stalkyness,  plus subtle oak.  An attractively varietal wine from a tending cool year,  good now or cellar 1 – 5 years.  GK 10/07

2006  [ Escarpment ] The Edge Pinot Noir   16  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $45   [ hand-picked;  screwcap;  s/s ferment;  limited exposure to oak;  dry extract 27 g/L,  RS < 1 g/L;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  This is a simpler wine,  alongside the Craggy and Escarpment offerings.  Bouquet is clearly varietal,  blackboy peach and bottled red plums,  rather than cherry.  Palate has fruit,  but there is a one-dimensional suggestion of austerity to it,  contrasting with wines which see a higher percentage of barrel maturation.  Finish is thus tending hard and stalky.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 10/07

2006  [ Forrest ] TattyBogler Pinot Noir   14  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago & Waitaki Valley,  North Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $33   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested from fruit cropped at c.1.6 t/ac;  de-stemmed;  up to 10 days cold soak;  extended cuvaison;  12 months in French oak 20% new;  tattybogler is said to be pioneer Scottish for scarecrow;  www.forrest.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is odd,  with both a Castrol GTX note,  and a catty note,  on red fruits lacking specificity.  Blind,  one might think it plain valpolicella or similar.  Palate is lesser,  red fruits but short and astringent,  finishing metallic.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 10/07

Syrah = Shiraz
2005  Corbans Syrah Private Bin   18 ½ +  ()
Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $25   [ screwcap;  2005 not on website,  if like 2004 is hand-picked,  100% de-stemmed;  MLF and 12 months in French oak 30% new;  www.corbans.co.nz ]
Dense ruby,  carmine and velvet.  Freshly poured,  this wine has a slightly closed-in character to it.  It benefits from decanting,  to reveal a robust northern Rhone-styled syrah remarkably like some wines from Cornas:  deep cassis,  blackest plum,  and cracked black pepper all through bouquet.  Palate is even more Cornas or Hermitage proper,  good concentration,  intense dry cassis flavours,  oak needing to mellow a little.  This is lovely rich wine,  needing five years in cellar to blossom.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 10/07

2005  Vidal Syrah Reserve   18 ½  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $55   [ screwcap;  Sy 100%  hand-harvested;  de-stemmed,  50% whole-berry,  cold-soaked;  MLF and 20 months in French oak;  www.vidal.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  not quite as deep as the Corbans Private Bin.  Bouquet is very distinctive,  an enticing plum-tart,  blueberry and vanilla wafer quality to it,  which mixes some aroma cues,  yet is delightfully syrah.  Palate brings up a little more cassis firmness,  good berry,  subtle oak,  a lovely fleshy yet firm fruit quality which lingers well in mouth,  still with the vanilla wafer.  It is softer and richer than some other top Hawkes Bay syrahs of the year.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 10/07

2005  Red Rocks Syrah The UnderArm   18 +  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $23   [ screwcap;  Sy 100%  hand-harvested @ < 0.5 t/ac;  de-stemmed,  s/s ferment;  14 months in French oak 15% new;  www.wildrockwine.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  nearly as dark as the Corbans Private Bin.  Bouquet is deep,  dark and complex,  with some dusky rose florals,  clear cassis,  cracked black peppercorn and bottled black doris plums,  plus subtle older oak.  There may be a touch of brett,  adding savoury complexity and excitement.  Palate is rich,  soft like the Vidal Reserve but the oak older,  no vanilla wafer.  This is remarkable quality for the affordable price it is offered at,  and will cellar 2 – 10 years.  GK 10/07

2005  Esk Valley Syrah Black Label   18  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $33   [ screwcap;  Sy 100%  hand-harvested;  de-stemmed,  MLF and 18 months in barrel;  www.eskvalley.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  not as deep as the Corbans.  This is another syrah with beautiful florals,  dianthus and dusky red roses,  yet also hinting at boronia,  so in a blind tasting,  on bouquet one wonders about a dark pinot noir.  But in mouth the cassis and black peppercorn come out,  giving a very long crisp flavour to the berry,  not pinot at all.  If wines with trace brett don't appeal,  this is the one to choose relative to the Red Rocks,  for it is very pure,  though fractionally lighter.  There is a little oak and acid still to marry up,  but this is going to end up remarkably St Joseph-like syrah.  It is not as weighty as the Corbans,  but it is more fragrant.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 10/07

2005  Taylors Shiraz / Viognier Eighty Acres   17 ½  ()
Clare Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  Eighty Acres designed as a ‘juicy down-to-earth’ range of wines;  dawn harvest;  100% de-stemmed;  all s/s co-fermentation;  MLF and 12 months in US oak 10% new;  RS not given;  www.taylorswines.com.au/WebsiteAdditions/EightyAcresPopup.htm ]
Deep ruby and velvet,  nearly carmine.  Bouquet is really fragrant,  on charry US oak and eucalyptus as well as boysenberry and fruit,  all in a familiar hearty Australian style.  In mouth,  the oak continues prominent,  with rich unsubtle flavours that are a bit ashy and charry (and bretty) from the cooperage.  Flavours are all somewhat too bold to say if the viognier is detectable,  though it is easy to imagine an apricot component.  This should cellar for 5 – 15 years,  in the way some of the commercial but nonetheless big rich Penfolds shirazes used to in the 60s.  GK 10/07

2005  Wolf Blass Shiraz Gold Label   17  ()
Barossa Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14.5%;  $17   [ screwcap;  15 months in French and American oak some new;  not on website –  appears untouched for some years;  www.wolfblass.com.au ]
Ruby and velvet.  Bouquet is a more stylish affair than some of the shiraz-labelled wines in this batch,  with good fruit and the oak showing some of the fragrance of Blass wines of earlier years.  Palate is strongly boysenberry,  some blueberry too,  juicy berry complexed by the oak,  slightly acid to the finish,  all relatively straightforward.  At least it is not euc'y.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 10/07

2004  Pirramimma Shiraz Stock’s Hill   16 ½  ()
McLaren Vale,  South Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $22   [ screwcap;  no useful wine info on website;  www.pirramimma.com.au ]
Ruby.  Colour and bouquet are relatively mature for the wine's age.  On bouquet there is a lot of browning boysenberry in older oak,  all smelling a bit leathery and old-fashioned.  Flavour is rich,  but with a brackish undertone,  sound in a slightly oxidised boysenberry way,  straightforward.  Cellar 3 – 10 years,  in its style.  GK 10/07

2006  Stone Paddock Syrah   15  ()
Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $23   [ screwcap;  clones Chave & 174,  hand-harvested;  s/s ferment,  10 months in French oak mostly one-year;  RS not given;  www.stonepaddock.com ]
Ruby,  old for age.  This wine benefits from decanting,  to reveal a curious bouquet,  reminiscent of roast chook with a blueberry and sage stuffing,  not unpleasant,  some VA.  Palate continues the blueberry,  with clear white pepper also apparent,  all a little oxidised,  stalky,  and old-fashioned.  Pleasant QDR syrah,  to cellar a year or two only.  GK 10/07

2005  Beresford Shiraz Beacon Hill   15  ()
McLaren Vale,  South Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $12   [ screwcap;  2005 not on website,  but the 2004 spent 3 months in US oak,  and was finished at < 1 g/L RS;  www.beresfordwines.com.au ]
Ruby.  This wine benefits from decanting / swirling / aeration in glass,  to reveal a straightforward but still tending-reductive boysenberry shiraz of no great concentration or sophistication.  Flavours are lesser,  hard and stalky as if machine-harvested.  It has the fruit to mellow somewhat in a year or two,  if desired.  It does seem to have some genuine wood maturing.  Cellar 3 – 8  years.  GK 10/07