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

Among a miscellany of recent releases (and one or two older),  Glengarry Wines have been offering interesting samplings of some of their import lines in Auckland and Wellington.  Tastings of chablis in particular are always good to check out,  to provide a reference point for chardonnay varietal style in the tricky unoaked chardonnay class.  That is not to say all chablis are unoaked,  but good chablis rarely depends on it.  Also,  some 2005 red burgundies have appeared at Glengarry.  This promises to be a great reference year for our rapidly emerging pinots.  And 2005 was good in Central Otago particularly.  

While there is no theme to this batch of wines,  the chardonnays include a couple of lovely New Zealand examples.  One or two of the pinot gris also provide an interesting slant on this elusive but popular variety.

A couple of worrying thoughts do emerge from the wines,  however.  A number of new wineries are represented.  Some of the wines are modest.  There is a great need for emerging wineries to price their wine based on a realistic assessment of the wine quality actually achieved relative to the market,  rather than on their costs of production,  or a short-sighted notion of what the market will bear.  It is hard to escape the conclusion that more tasting experience is a widespread need for some aspiring winemakers.

The second detail of concern is the thoughtless aping of Australian (and California / Washington) alcohol levels.  Nobody needs table wines at 14%-plus,  let alone the 15% we are now starting to see from Australia.  Yet too many of our wines are starting to sport those kinds of alcohols,  even in the case of reds with physiologically under-ripe flavours.  In our viticultural milieu,  with the varieties suited to it,  a good physiologically ripe wine at 12.5% to 13.5% will nearly always be a better wine in absolute qualitative terms (finesse,  florality,  complexity) than the same wine ripened or elevated to 14% or more (there are exceptions – viognier for example).  With the glorious innovation of some British supermarket chains now actively discriminating against higher-alcohol wines,  a whole lot more thought is needed on this topic in New Zealand.  


2006  Benson Block Chardonnay Gisborne Un-oaked
2004  Black Estate Chardonnay
2000  Carrick Chardonnay
2006  Church Rd Chardonnay Reserve
2006  Cloudy Bay Chardonnay
2004  Cloudy Bay Chardonnay
2005  Domaine de Courcel Bourgogne Blanc / Chardonnay
2007  Craggy Range Chardonnay C3 Kidnappers Vineyard
2007  Craggy Range Chardonnay Gimblett Gravels
2007  Distant Land Chardonnay
2004  Distant Land Chardonnay Black Label
2005  Felton Road Chardonnay
2005  Gem Chardonnay Single Vineyard
2005  Domaine Laroche Chablis
2005  Domaine Laroche Chablis les Blanchots
2005  Domaine Laroche Chablis les Clos
2005  Domaine Laroche Chablis les Fourchaumes Vieilles Vignes
2005  Domaine Laroche Chablis les Vaillons Vieilles Vignes
2005  Domaine Laroche Chablis les Vaudevey
2005  Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin
2005  Matariki Chardonnay
2005  Parr & Simpson Chardonnay
2007  Peregrine Chardonnay
Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2007  [ Walnut Block ] Blicks Lane Sauvignon Blanc
2007  Distant Land Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay
2007  Distant Land Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
2007  Elephant Hill Sauvignon Blanc
2006  Gem Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
2007  Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc Block 11 Cell Block
2007  Two Rivers Sauvignon Blanc Convergence
2007  Walnut Block Sauvignon Blanc
2007  Zephyr Sauvignon Blanc
2007  Peregrine Riesling
2007  Peregrine Riesling Rastasburn
2007  Waimea Riesling Classic
Pinot Gris
2006  Camshorn Pinot Gris Glenmark Gravels
2006  Corbans Pinot Gris Homestead
2007  Distant Land Pinot Gris
2006  Framingham Pinot Gris
2007  Gem Pinot Gris
2006  Gisselbrecht Pinot Gris
2005  Josmeyer Pinot Gris
2000  Josmeyer Pinot Gris Brand
2006  I Masoetti Pinot Grigio
2006  Montana Pinot Gris East Coast
2007  Pisa Range Pinot Gris
2004  Louis Sipp Pinot Gris Kirchberg de Ribeauville
2002  Louis Sipp Pinot Gris Kirchberg de Ribeauville
2004  Louis Sipp Pinot Gris Osterberg
  2005  Louis Sipp Pinot Gris Trottacher
2007  Two Rivers Pinot Gris Wairau Selection
2007  [ Waimea Estates ] Spinyback Pinot Gris
2007  Waimea Pinot Gris
2007  Distant Land Gewurztraminer
2007  Spy Valley Gewurztraminer
2007  Zephyr Gewurztraminer
Sweet / Sticky
2007  Trinity Hill Noble Viognier
All other white wines, blends, etc.
2007  Brown Brothers Vermentino
2007  Elephant Hill Viognier
2007  Waimea Viognier
2007  Gem Rosé
Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2006  Craggy Range Merlot Gimblett Gravels
2006  Distant Land Cabernet / Merlot Black Label
2006  Distant Land Merlot / Malbec
2006  Gem Merlot
2006  Mills Reef Cabernet Sauvignon Elspeth
2004  Peter Lehmann Cabernet / Merlot
Cabernet / Shiraz
Pinot Noir
2004  Black Estate Pinot Noir
2005  Domaine de Courcel Bourgogne Rouge / Pinot Noir
2005  Domaine de Courcel Pommard Fremiers
2005  Domaine de Courcel  Pommard les Croix Noires
2005  Domaine de Courcel  Pommard les Rugiens
2002  Domaine de Courcel Pommard les Vaumuriens
2006  Distant Land Pinot Noir
2006  Gem Pinot Noir Wairarapa
2006  Gladstone Pinot Noir
2007  Peregrine Pinot Noir
2005  Maison Nicolas Potel Pommard les Rugiens
2005  Maison Nicolas Potel Pommard les Vignots
2006  Stoneleigh Pinot Noir Rapaura
2006  Vidal Pinot Noir
2006  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Cellar Selection
Syrah = Shiraz
2004  Mount Langhi Ghiran Shiraz Billi Billi
2005  Red Dot Shiraz / Viognier
2005  Tin Shed Shiraz Melting Pot
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre & related blends
All other red wines, blends etc
2005  Brown Brothers Tempranillo
2004  Mills Reef Syrah / Cabernets / Merlot Reserve
2006  Poggio Basso Chianti
2000  Torracia del Plantavigna Ghemme
From the Cellar. Older wines.

2006  Church Rd Chardonnay Reserve   19  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $34   [ screwcap;  clones 95, 15 and 9% of mendoza,  hand-harvested and sorted;  wild-yeast BF and MLF in all-French oak 58% new,  balance 1-year,  14 months LA in barrel with some batonnage;  RS < 1 g/L;  www.churchroad.co.nz ]
Full lemonstraw,  a wonderful colour,  just a little deeper than the Cloudy Bay.  Bouquet is all one could ask of New Zealand chardonnay,  showing superb golden queen peach fruit smelling more of mendoza than the percentage suggests,  coupled with barrel-ferment,  lees-autolysis and MLF complexity notes of baguette-crust quality.  Flavour amplifies these themes,  and both bouquet and flavour are wonderfully rich,  satisfying and lingering,  much more complex than the grape alone.  This is where winemaker artefact transcends the original.  And the wine is not harsh,  or excessively oaky,  alcoholic,  or acid.  Great New Zealand chardonnay to cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 04/08

2006  Cloudy Bay Chardonnay   18 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $37   [ screwcap;  clone mendoza predominates,  mostly hand-harvested @ 1.9 t/ac;  most of the juice is wild-yeast fermented in French oak with a small percentage new,  a smaller percentage starts fermentation inoculated in s/s,  but all of it completes fermentation in barrel;  complete MLF;  12 months LA and some batonnage in barrel,  then a further month or two in barrel;  www.cloudybay.co.nz ]
Lemon to lemonstraw.  Bouquet is immediately beautifully ripe mealy complex and nearly floral (acacia blossom) chardonnay which smells rich in the way good Puligny-Montrachet does.  There is a little more toasty oak than is usual in Burgundy,  introducing a new world thought too.  Palate follows on beautifully,  tactile pale stonefruit richness,  beautiful incorporation of the malolactic fermentation into barrel-ferment and lees-autolysis complexities,  with an acid balance that is harmonious and slightly more refreshing than the 2006 Church Road Reserve,  yet the whole wine is gentle,  mild and dry.  So many New Zealand whites fall down on their high acid.  The lingering richness of aftertaste is gorgeous – this wine is made at a grand cru cropping rate [ later confirmed ].  Fine New Zealand chardonnay,  providing a wonderful illustration of best Marlborough chardonnay,  to compare and contrast with top Hawkes Bay examples as illustrated by the 2006 Church Road Chardonnay Reserve .  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 03/08

2005  Domaine Laroche Chablis les Blanchots   18 +  ()
Chablis Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  New Zealand:  13%;  $123   [ cork;  obscure website,  PR more than info;  www.larochewines.com ]
Good rich lemon.  Initially opened,  bouquet is surprisingly mute.  The wine benefits from a splashy decanting.  It opens to a classical chablis bouquet,  a mineral crushed limestone and intangible white flowers pure chardonnay bouquet,  scarcely touched by oak.  The moment it is in mouth,  the wine snaps into focus,  gorgeous flesh and sapidity,  perfect acid balance but not aggressive like so many New Zealand,  a long rich floral and white stonefruits palate with this crushed limestone minerality that very good chablis has.  Needs several years to blossom,  cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 03/08

2004  Cloudy Bay Chardonnay   18  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  clone mendoza predominates,  mostly hand-harvested;  most of the juice is wild-yeast fermented in French oak with a small percentage new,  a smaller percentage starts fermentation inoculated in s/s,  but all of it completes fermentation in barrel;  most of the wine through MLF;  12 months LA and some batonnage in barrel,  then a further month or two in barrel;  www.cloudybay.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw,  younger than the 2005 Felton,  older than the 2005 Parr & Simpson.  This is a less subtle chardonnay than the 2006 wine,  primarily on account of the prominent charred oak quality,  which is a little more acrid than the Felton wine.  But the fruit quality and richness is so good,  it is not hard to forgive it this artefact character,  and indeed many people actively like it,  finding it walnutty.  Palate likewise is oakier than some wines here,  but the great fruit wraps it all up attractively into a buttered-Vogel's-toast rich chardonnay,  more mature naturally than the 2006,  but still with lots of life.  Cellar 1 – 5 years.  GK 03/08

2005  Domaine Laroche Chablis les Vaillons Vieilles Vignes   18  ()
Chablis Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $65   [ cork;  obscure website,  PR more than info;  www.larochewines.com ]
Lemongreen,  the best colour of the Laroche set.  Bouquet is greater on this wine than the Blanchots,  but in much the same style:  white flowers including subtlest acacia,  palest white nectarine stonefruit,  a thought of chalk.  Palate likewise is similar,  but not the dry extract of the Blanchots,  cropped at its grand cru rate.  Balance is beautiful,  the flavours crisp and classically varietal,  oak again restrained,  the chalky / flinty qualities a little more noticeable since the wine is leaner.  Fruit on the long aftertaste is lovely,  very delicate.  Cellar 2 – 8 years.  GK 03/08

2005  Felton Road Chardonnay   17 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $35   [ screwcap;  given the quality of this winery's production,  and the fact it is a reference point for the Otago district,   it is bizarre that technical info on current and all past wines is not available on the website,  such as Te Mata provide;  www.feltonroad.co.nz ]
A wash of light gold in lemonstraw.  Bouquet is much toastier than the Cloudy Bay,  with nearly a smoky / charry hint,  as described for the Neudorf Moutere in the previous batch of wines.  The wine gets away with it,  because it is so rich – it even smells rich.  Bouquet is complexed with a suggestion of acacia florals.  And in mouth,  the wine confirms the richness,  the same kind of viscosity on the stonefruit as the Cloudy Bay,  with mealy and nutty flavours all a little more oaky,  but again just on the right side of the line.  Total acid is higher than the Cloudy,  and the MLF mealy notes and body less,  so the wine seems drier.  The nett impression is to a degree related to Meursault,  but an oaky and acid one.  Those who wonder if wines can develop appropriately under screwcap should note how forward this wine is – there are suggestions of maturity already.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 03/08

2006  Benson Block Chardonnay Gisborne Un-oaked   17 ½  ()
Gisborne,  New Zealand:  13%;  $17   [ screwcap;  all s/s,  25% MLF,  3 months LA with occasional stirring;  3.7 g/L RS;  www.pernod-ricard-nz.com ]
Light lemonstraw.  In a blind tasting,  this wine sits more happily amongst the pinot gris than the chardonnays,  due to the lack of oak and other winemaker artefacts.  Instead,  bouquet is simple pure chardonnay,  a very pleasing lightly floral note on pale stonefruits.  Palate shows attractive richness,  pure white nectarine,  model un-oaked chardonnay with beautifully subtle alcohol,  made more interesting by lees-autolysis and MLF.  I'd swear there is a smidgen of barrel-fermented material in it – pretty well all 'un-oaked' chardonnay is improved with a subliminal fraction of oak to lift the wine out of the cinderella class.  Finish is pure fruit,  not bone dry,  but pretty close [ confirmed,  as above ].  Good chablis aside,  un-oaked chardonnay doesn't get much better than this.  [ In a later tasting,  this Benson Block compared wonderfully well with some 2005 Laroche chablis wines including grands crus.  Their prices ranged from $40 – $167. ]   Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 03/08

2004  Distant Land Chardonnay Black Label   17 ½  ()
Dartmoor Valley,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $24   [ screwcap;  clone mendoza, hand-harvested;  BF and MLF in French oak 50% new,  12 months LA in barrel with batonnage;  Black Label a barrel selection;  RS 3.8 g/L;  a Lincoln Wines label;  www.distantland.co.nz ]
Full lemonstraw,  no older than the Church Road Reserve,  good.  Initially opened,  there is quite a measure of toasty barrel char on classical mendoza fruit,  richly golden queen in flavour.  Palate shows more oak and less winemaking complexity than the Church Road,  but fruit is rich enough to carry that.  Finish is a little oaky,  but it serves to almost cancel out the residual sweetness,  so the wine just seems rich.  This is a good example of a familiar bold New Zealand chardonnay style.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 04/08

2005  Parr & Simpson Chardonnay   17 ½  ()
Pohara,  Golden Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $24   [ supercritical cork;  hand-harvested;  BF and LA 11 months in French oak 30% new,  partial MLF;  limestone-influenced soils ]
Lemonstraw.  Bouquet is remarkable on this wine,  exactly midway between the Marlborough Cloudy Bay and the Otago Felton.  That could be very appropriate for a Golden Bay wine.  Relative to the other two wines,  on bouquet there is more explicit mealyness expressed as Vogel's wholegrain lightly toasted,  against gorgeous stonefruits including golden queen peaches,  all more aromatic than the Cloudy Bay.  There is even a hint of grapefruit.  Palate is not quite so good,  total acid a little high,  as high as the Felton,  but the new oak component seems higher,  thus exacerbating the acid.  Total flavours however are ripe and good,  classical chardonnay at a premier cru cropping rate.  This should cellar well,  and mellow – so it may score higher in a couple of years.  Cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 03/08

2000  Carrick Chardonnay   17 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  www.carrick.co.nz ]
Light gold.  Bouquet is still clean,  sweet,  ripe,  winey and mealy chardonnay,  exactly the same parameters as when first tasted 22/8/01,  but now light gold instead of lemon,  golden peachy and biscuitty instead of citric.  It is still like lightish white burgundy age for age,  beautifully sustained mealy flavour complexity for the weight of palate,  the oak and acid then noticeable now more harmoniously mellowed into the total flavour,  all fully mature instead of youthful.  Some no doubt would think it too old,  sadly.  [ The earlier review noted:  Good lemon.  Clean ‘sweet’,  ripe,  winey,  and mealy chardonnay,  in an elegant restrained style reminiscent of premier cru Chablis or light Meursault.  Palate to match,  full LA and good MLF flavours,  soft, succulent,  some new oak just restrained enough,  penetrating acid to develop on.  Lovely wine,  not bone dry.  Cellar potential here. 18.5  GK  8/01 ]  Otago will be considered exciting for its chardonnays,  in years to come.  Drink up.  GK 04/08

2005  Domaine Laroche Chablis les Fourchaumes Vieilles Vignes   17 ½  ()
Chablis Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $69   [ cork;  obscure website,  PR more than info;  www.larochewines.com ]
Colour is straw,  contrasting vividly with the top wines.  Bouquet is clearly varietal,  not so much floral as stone fruits,  and a little less 'white' all through than the top wines.   Thus,  it tastes more like a chardonnay from Macon or similar,  tending faintly quincy alongside the top wines.  There is a faint suggestion of vanilla wine biscuits,  perhaps oak related,  perhaps imperfect cork,  yet the acid is chablis.  The whole wine is just a little more mature than is ideal,  and hence tastes broader.  A nice glass of crisp chardonnay,  though.  Cellar 2 – 5 years,  if this bottle is representative.  GK 03/08

2004  Black Estate Chardonnay   17 +  ()
Waipara,  Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $30   [ 1 + 1 cork ]
Full lemonstraw,  a faint flush of gold.  Bouquet is more developed on this wine,  showing bottled stonefruits complexed with barrel-ferment and extended lees-autolysis,   plus just a hint of vanilla wine biscuit maturity.  Palate is soft and rich,  faintly lifted / estery,  approaching full maturity with the oak starting to show,  relative to the old Carrick.  Cellar 1 – 2 years.  GK 04/08

2007  Craggy Range Chardonnay Gimblett Gravels   17 +  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $28   [ screwcap;  unspecified clones hand-harvested @ 2.7 t/ac in a vintage the firm considers exceptional;  whole-bunch pressed,  wild-yeast fermentation in French oak 48% new;  10 – 11 months LA;  RS 3 g/L;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Pale lemon,  a green wash.  Bouquet is in the very pale varietal style Craggy seems to be focussing on with their chardonnay,  as if there is no clone mendoza in the assemblage.  Instead mealy barrel-ferment,  lees-autolysis and MLF fermentation complexities dominate,  let down somewhat by high alcohol.  Palate  follows precisely,  burning alcohol but attractive flavours more artefact than fruit.  Some other chardonnays in this batch reconcile the components much better.  Craggy Range's chardonnays so far do not to me show the masterly grasp of wine style some of the reds do.  This is exacerbated both by over-ripening the fruit,  which reduces florality in the grape,  and releasing the wines prematurely.  More thought needed here.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 03/08

2005  Domaine de Courcel Bourgogne Blanc / Chardonnay   17 +  ()
Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $58   [ cork ]
Lemonstraw.  One sniff of this wine illustrates dramatically the flowback of new world technology to old world winemaking.  Here is a bourgogne blanc that is explicitly varietal,  devoid of H2S,  and attractively oaked – all scarcely thinkable 20 years ago.  The fruit has a golden queen peach quality to it suggestive of good New Zealand chardonnay.  Palate is oakier than suspected,  with some high-solids notes,  but it displays wonderfully full physiological maturity of the fruit at a given alcohol of 12.5% – enviable.  The point here is,  too many New Zealand chardonnays still are bedevilled by that hint of pineapple complexity bespeaking berries of mixed ripeness,  even at alcohols exceeding 14%.  This wine achieves relative perfection of ripeness at less than 13%,  indicating more work is needed on viticultural aspects of this grape in New Zealand.  This is a lovely example of the variety.  Pity the price isn't 50% less,  like the Drouhin equivalent labels.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 03/08

2005  Domaine Laroche Chablis les Clos   17 +  ()
Chablis Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $167   [ cork;  obscure website,  PR more than info;  www.larochewines.com ]
The moment it was poured,  this wine was outside the field.  The colour really is quite deep,  full straw already.  Bouquet is somewhat oxidative,  a quincy note apparent in good fruit,  but stylewise a long way from classical chablis.  This might be a defective cork (in the sense of oxidised,  not corked),  but a second bottle was not available.  Palate redeems the wine greatly,  with by far the greatest fruit richness in this bracket,  and a mealy texture which is almost Meursault,  giving lovely flavours in mouth – those older bottled nectarines again.  Hedonistically,  or for people who don't smell wine,  this could score highly,  but technically,  this bottle is lacking.  Whether it reflects the complete bottling I cannot say.  If representative,  cellar 1 – 3 years only.  GK 03/08

2005  Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin   17  ()
Chablis,  Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  obscure website,  PR more than info;  www.larochewines.com ]
Pale lemonstraw.  This wine opens well,  immediately smelling of fresh and fragrant chardonnay,  quite citric,  some pale yellow flowers such as primroses,  pure and lovely,  an eloquent tribute to the screwcap.  Palate includes the subtlest touch of oak,  clean fruit,  no great weight but an attractive style totally compatible with the AOC.  Cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 03/08

2005  Domaine Laroche Chablis les Vaudevey   16 ½ +  ()
Chablis Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $54   [ screwcap;  obscure website,  PR more than info;  www.larochewines.com ]
Lemon,  one of the good colours.  This wine benefits from pouring into a jug splashily,  to dissipate a soft simple-sulphur / stale washing note.  It opens to white nectarine fruit,  and tastes the same,  on firm acid and good concentration.  It is richer than the Saint Martin,  but not so pure,  with a curious phenolic nip to its tail.  Both bouquet and palate might tidy up in cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 03/08

2007  Distant Land Chardonnay   16 ½  ()
Dartmoor Valley,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $24   [ screwcap;  clone mendoza;  an all s/s wine,  some LA in tank,  RS 6 g/L;  a Lincoln Wines label;  www.distantland.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw.  Bouquet is fragrantly fruity,  fruit dominant over oak,  stonefruit and grapefruit,  all  needing a little more time to harmonise.  Palate is dominated by pleasantly flavoured peachy and juicy stonefruit,  but there does seem to be an aromatic lift presumably reflecting some oak chips.  The residual sugar is 'popular' but not too obtrusive,  total acid being quite high.  Needs a year to marry up.  Cellar 2 – 4 years.  GK 04/08

2005  Matariki Chardonnay   16 ½  ()
Gimblett Gravels 84%,  Havelock district 15,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $27   [ screwcap;  4 clones including mendoza,  hand-harvested;  some of the wine started fermentation in s/s,  most BF,  all ended up in barrel;  oak all French,  26% new;  10 months LA in barrel, some batonnage,  20% MLF;  www.matarikiwines.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw with a wash of light gold.  Bouquet is to first inspection soft,  rich,  with full barrel-ferment,  lees-autolysis and MLF complexities on golden queen peach fruit.  In mouth however,  it shows up the weaknesses of an earlier style of (sadly,  then endorsed) New Zealand chardonnay,  with slightly pineappley fruit with acid and stalky streaks,  both exacerbated by oak.  So the wine though varietal lacks the harmony of the more highly pointed chardonnays,  and could be hard to drink.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 03/08

2005  Gem Chardonnay Single Vineyard   16  ()
Gisborne,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $28   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  fermentation in barrel some new,  LA for 11 months;  www.gemwine.co.nz ]
Straw,  a wash of gold,  old for age.  Bouquet is quite rich and fruity,  but with some quincy notes on the stonefruit bespeaking excess development for its age.  Palate confirms that,  the fruit still rich,  but some phenolics showing through stonefruit,  quince and biscuitty flavours,  dry.  Use in the next year or so.  GK 04/08

2005  Domaine Laroche Chablis   16  ()
Chablis,  Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  obscure website,  PR more than info;  www.larochewines.com ]
Bright lemon.  Bouquet is reputable but not immaculate chablis,  clear pale white chardonnay again with faint slightly sacky / stale washing notes in an old-fashioned European style.  Palate improves things,  some white nectarine,  possibly 2 – 3 g/L residual sugar,  a pleasant more commercial example of un-oaked chardonnay,  light and crisp.  Cellar 1 – 5 years.  GK 03/08

2007  Craggy Range Chardonnay C3 Kidnappers Vineyard   15 ½  ()
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;  RS < 2 g/L;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Palest lemongreen.  Freshly opened,  the wine shows a little SO2 still to assimilate.  Otherwise,  in a blind tasting amongst 19 pinot gris and chardonnay wines,  the bouquet gave me no varietal cues at all – it seemed pure but empty.  Palate is perhaps more like pale chardonnay,  some body,  but it is raw to even harsh,  prematurely released,  far too young.  The people at Craggy thought I was much too severe on a previous sample,  and in terms of the re-assessment of wine guidelines set out in the preface / site introduction,  asked me to look at the wine again.  I waited until I had an appropriate batch of wine styles to hide it in.  One of the pinot gris is remarkably similar,  so I did not recognise the wine.  The model for this wine is chablis,  apparently,  but good chablis is floral (consequent on lower alcohol),  and has a delicacy and sapidity this wine lacks.  I think this Kidnappers wine misses the boat,  primarily on over-ripeness and alcohol,  scoring no higher this time than previously.  Some reservations about the Craggy Range chardonnay approach are expressed for the Gimblett Gravels wine.  Cellar 2 – 7 years,  maybe to develop some flavour.  GK 03/08

2007  Peregrine Chardonnay   15 +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $21   [ screwcap;  2007 not on website;  the 2006 was hand-harvested;   all BF and LA but not all oak-matured,  finished at RS 2 g/L;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Lemon.  This reminds me of the 2007 Craggy Range Chardonnay Kidnappers,  at this stage seeming uncoordinated and prematurely released.  Additionally,  there is an unattractive plastic-y / high-solids taint on the bouquet,  on indeterminate fruit and alcohol.  Palate is rich,  spirity,  firm acid,  but the fruit is hard to come to grips with,  and the plastic-y note continues.  This should develop in bottle,  but there is not the evidence to allow a better score yet.  Cellar 3 – 8 years,  doubtfully.  GK 04/08

Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2007  Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc Block 11 Cell Block   18 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $27   [ screwcap;  100% s/s;  minimised skin contact;  RS 3.5 g/L;  www.saintclair.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet epitomises stainless steel Marlborough sauvignon,  with fruit ripened through the capsicum colours to aromatic black passionfruit,  plus sweet basil herbes,  and a touch of sweat at an acceptable musky level.  On palate there is a little retained red capsicum adding depth and zing,  on marvellous fruit richness and length which is attractively 'dry'.  This is lovely wine,  in its body reflecting a 'grand cru' cropping rate,  enriched by lees-autolysis maybe,  but not complexed with oak [ these impressions recorded before the website data checked ].  Cellar 2 – 10 years.  GK 04/08

2007  Zephyr Sauvignon Blanc   17  ()
Lower Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $24   [ screwcap;  website not complete yet;  www.zephyrwine.com ]
Palest lemongreen.  Bouquet displays clear Marlborough sauvignon ripened more to the yellow capsicum level,  but with suggestions of red capsicum and black passionfruit raising complexity.  Palate is well-fruited,  quite gentle in its phenolics,  presented at the standard Marlborough 'dry' point of around 4 g/L.  There is a lack of correlation between the given alcohol,  and the flavour ripeness,  which suggests a lower brix.  It is not quite ripe enough to be a good cellar wine,  but 1 – 3 years OK.  GK 03/08

2007  Two Rivers Sauvignon Blanc Convergence   16 ½  ()
Awatere & Wairau Valleys,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $23   [ screwcap;  website not established yet;  www.tworiversmarlborough.co.nz ]
Palest lemongreen.  Bouquet is clear-cut Marlborough sauvignon,  but not quite ripe enough,  more a 1980s style maxxing at about the yellow capsicum point.  It is therefore fragrant,  but a little cool,  not showing much black passionfruit and complexity.  Palate is sweeter than the class norm,  pushing the boundary I'd say,  but the whole wine is fresh and flavoursome,  the flavours quite concentrated.  Not one to cellar though,  due to the ripeness level,  a year or two only.  GK 03/08

2007  Distant Land Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay   16  ()
Dartmoor Valley,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $19   [ screwcap;  some LA in tank,  RS 6.7 g/L;  a Lincoln Wines label;  www.distantland.co.nz ]
Light straw,  hue less than optimal for an '07 wine.  Bouquet contrasts vividly with Marlborough sauvignon (in general),  showing a much warmer-climate spectrum of sauvignon aromas,  vaguely in the pepino and black passionfruit zone,  but here just a touch oxidised.  Palate brings up more of the varietal aromatics of the variety,  some red capsicum flavours now,  in indeterminate stonefruit.  Finish is on the fruity / popular side of sauvignon 'dry'.  Cellar a  year or two.  GK 04/08

2007  Distant Land Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough   15  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $19   [ screwcap;  some LA in tank,  RS 5  g/L;  a Lincoln Wines label;  www.distantland.co.nz ]
Lemongreen,  not as concentrated as the Saint Clair.  First opened,  bouquet is tending reductive / sulphury,  and needs pouring from jug to jug a couple of times.  It opens to a less ripe wine than the Saint Clair,  with yellow capsicum notes in a less floral / more aromatic version of the grape.  Palate has some green and yellow capsicum,  mixed with riper black passionfruit qualities,  the more phenolic herbaceous elements offset by what seems a slightly higher residual sugar than is optimal for 'dry' Marlborough sauvignon [ confirmed ].  Total style is tending old-fashioned.  These Lincoln sauvignons do not show ideal technical control,  one being a little oxidised ,  the other a little reductive.  Not suited to cellaring beyond a year or two.  GK 04/08

2007  [ Walnut Block ] Blicks Lane Sauvignon Blanc   15  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap;  cropped at 4.5 t/ac,  night-harvested;  extended LA in s/s;  RS 2 g/L;  www.walnutblock.co.nz ]
Colour is palest lemongreen,  in effect water-white.  Initially opened,  total sulphur load on this wine is too high,  with both SO2 and reductive phases.  Vigorously aerated it cleans up somewhat,  into a winestyle reminiscent of Muscadet-sur-Lie a generation ago,  still reductive.  Fruit concentration and the suggestion of gooseberry flavours are good,  the dry finish is attractive,  but the sulphur handling is not ideal.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 03/08

2007  Walnut Block Sauvignon Blanc   14 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  hand-picked @ 3.5 t/ac,  c. 15% BF in old French oak,  some wild-yeast ferment;  RS 4 g/L;  www.walnutblock.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen.  Whereas the Blicks Lane from Walnut Block is reductive,  this main label is volatile.  They therefore on the one hand provide a great teaching / learning opportunity for keen wine people,  but on the other imply much tighter QC is needed in the winery.  Palate is under-ripe,  more the greenish capsicum spectrum of flavours than the gooseberry of the Blicks wine,  on a Marlborough 'dry' finish.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 03/08

2006  Gem Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough   14  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $27   [ screwcap;  100% s/s;  9 months LA and stirring;  www.gemwine.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw.  Initially opened,  this wine is excessively reductive.  It needs much aeration,  jug to jug.  Appropriately treated,  it opens to a complex sauvignon blanc with barrel-ferment,  lees-autolysis and high-solids complexities,  roughly in the style of Te Koko but without the MLF or the purity.  Palate is rich,  very dry,  the oak just balanced by the fruit,  but the whole bogged down by sulphur-related compounds and high-solids flavours of a less attractive kind.  Complex barrel-fermented approaches to sauvignon are an interesting development in New Zealand,  but this one needs refining.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 04/08

2007  Elephant Hill Sauvignon Blanc   13  ()
Te Awanga,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $22   [ screwcap;  website not established yet;  www.elephanthill.co.nz ]
Water-white.  Initially opened,  the wine is unacceptably reductive,  and it does not respond to normal aeration procedures.  Fruit concentration and flavour is good,  but it will not come right in cellar.  In terms of building a new winery's reputation,  not a good idea to release a wine like this at a serious price.  Technical advice needed.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 03/08

2007  Peregrine Riesling   17 ½ +  ()
Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap;  2007 not on website;  the 2006 was finished at RS 5 g/L;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Pale lemonstraw.  Bouquet is floral and fragrant,  but in the blind tasting confusing as to variety,  showing some rosepetal and pearflesh notes leading to pinot gris.  But there are also good white stonefruits and a lime-zest underpinning.  Palate is very youthful,  with clear Meyer lemon citrus notes joining the white stonefruit and lime-zest terpenes,  on beautifully subtle residual sweetness in the riesling 'dry' class.  This wine should have much more to say in a year or two,  and score more highly.  There are similarities to the Grosset Polish Hill,  but the Peregrine is sweeter.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 04/08

2007  Waimea Riesling Classic   16 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  11%;  $21   [ screwcap;  some clean botrytis,  RS 15 g/L;  www.waimeaestates.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen.  Bouquet has a little SO2 to assimilate.  With a good swirl,  delicate apple blossom florals show through,  but not immediately convincing as to variety.  In mouth,  the wine is a little odd,  a clear flavour of stewed rhubarb when not enough of the stalks are red.  The palate is acid,  with extra sweetness to cover that.  If that sounds disjointed,  at the moment the wine is.  It should have been released a year or more later.  Once the label is sighted,  there are some Mosel analogies here,  with its finegrain acid.  It should cellar very well – maybe to surprise.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 03/08

2007  Peregrine Riesling Rastasburn   16  ()
Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap;  neither 2007 or 2006 on website,  info on 2005 minimal;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is not as focused as the 'dry' Peregrine Riesling.  There is a white floral component,  and maybe a trace of lime juice.  Palate is awkward,  with no flavour development as yet,  higher phenolics and acid,  and mawkish sweetness.  This tastes like the pressings,  after the free-run went to the dry label.  It should taste more harmonious in a couple of years,  and cellar 3 – 10 years,  but as a more flavoursome / coarser wine style.  GK 04/08

Pinot Gris
2002  Louis Sipp Pinot Gris Kirchberg de Ribeauville   18 +  ()
Alsace Grand Cru,  France:  13.5%;  $49   [ cork;  the serious wines have around a year on lees in old oak foudres;  noteworthy (relative to New Zealand achievements with the variety) the website mentions that grand cru pinot gris can be cellared for 15 – 20 years;  www.sipp.com ]
Lemonstraw,  also a wash of gold.  The precise varietal character of pinot gris is more apparent on this wine,  since there is less botrytis and other luscious complexities.  The floral notes span primroses through to yellow honeysuckle,  with pale stone fruits below.  Palate is fairly rich but fully mature,  the fruit shortening a little,  allowing the phenolic components to peep through.  Aftertaste is long on the stonefruits,  and nearly 'dry'.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 04/08

2007  Waimea Pinot Gris   18  ()
Waimea Plains,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  14%;  $21   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  cool and stop-fermentation,  2 months LA on lees in s/s;  RS 8.5 g/L;  www.waimeaestates.co.nz ]
Palest straw.  This pinot gris has a lovely bouquet,  illustrating dramatically that pinot gris is indeed a pinot,  and should display some of the floral qualities which characterise good pinot noir,  but are lost in both pinot noir and pinot gris when the grape is over-ripened.  This wine almost smells as if the bouquet might have been augmented with viognier,  which is not such a silly idea.  That grape could sit more happily with pinot gris than the gewurztraminer commonly used for titivation.  Palate is firm,  beautiful fruit,  varietal phenolics perfectly judged against off-dry residual sugar.  If you've ever wondered what pinot gris should actually smell and taste like,  grab a bottle of this affordable wine.  Make sure you leave a couple of inches in the bottle,  and taste it again 24 hours later,  to get the complete picture.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  VALUE  GK 03/08

2005  Louis Sipp Pinot Gris Trottacher   18  ()
Alsace,  France:  13%;  $45   [ cork;  www.sipp.com ]
Light straw.  This is the most affordable introduction to reasonably clear pinot gris character.  It is not quite as delicate and prettily floral as exact primrose,  but the florals are clearly yellow,  with fruit below.  Palate is clean stonefruit,  the varietal phenolics beautifully contained,  finish above New Zealand's 'dry' maximum = 7 g/L residual sugar,  for aromatic varieties.  Lovely wine,  to cellar perhaps three years only – it is a little forward.  GK 04/08

2000  Josmeyer Pinot Gris Brand   17 +  ()
Alsace Grand Cru,  France:  13.5%;  $76   [ cork;  website more PR than detail;  www.josmeyer.com ]
Lemonstraw,  a better colour.  Bouquet on this wine is a little off-centre,  showing some stonefruit,  some botrytis and a suggestion of lanolin,  presumably oak-related.  Palate is quite phenolic,  masked by a similar sweetness to the Gisselbrecht.  There is a slight clumsiness here,  but plenty of fruit and flavour,  so the score is generous.  Cellar a couple of years only,  with those phenolics.  GK 04/08

2006  Gisselbrecht Pinot Gris   17 +  ()
Alsace,  France:  13%;  $45   [ plastic closure ]
Paler straw.  This is an intriguing wine,  much closer in style to New Zealand.  It is palely floral,  more in a linden blossom way,  fragrant but hard to pin down.  Palate tends to the pearflesh and white nectarine approach,  a slight spiciness from the phenolic component hinting at cinnamon,  as in some New Zealand.  Finish is drier than some of the top wines,  perhaps around the New Zealand upper 'dry' limit for aromatic varieties of 7 g/L.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 04/08

2007  Two Rivers Pinot Gris Wairau Selection   17 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $27   [ screwcap;  website not established yet;  www.tworiversmarlborough.co.nz ]
Palest lemon.  Bouquet is understated,  the main character being white pearflesh in the straightforward New Zealand pinot gris style,  not initially attracting notice.  The wine improves markedly in the mouth,  the pearflesh having some body,  with clear firmness from varietal tannins,  and a long-lasting but light flavour,  slightly acid,  but quite rich to the finish.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 03/08

2006  Camshorn Pinot Gris Glenmark Gravels   17  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13%;  $26   [ screwcap;  Pernod-Ricard group;  some limestone in subsoils;  RS 10 g/L;  www.pernod-ricard-nz.com ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is fragrant on bottled stonefruit aromas,  mostly white nectarine.  There is some maturity here,  a suggestion of bottled quince aromas too.  Palate has good richness and is clearly varietal,  showing some white pearflesh now.  This wine tastes a little younger,  purer and drier than the Corbans,  with the varietal phenolics showing a little more.  Cellar 1 – 2 years.  GK 03/08

2006  Framingham Pinot Gris   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $27   [ screwcap;  winemaker aiming for the richer Alsace style,  not dry Italian pinot grigio;  RS 11 g/L;  Framingham's thoughts on the taste of the var. have long been evocative,  worth quoting:  Lifted, fruit-forward aromatics reminiscent of apples, pears, raisins and cream with some underlying mineral notes. Generous “apple strudel”-like flavours of apple, pear, quince, raisins, dough and custard. Rich, slightly oily palate with excellent weight, texture and mouthfeel culminating in a long, creamy finish;  www.framingham.co.nz ]
Palest lemon.  Bouquet here is more in the modest New Zealand pinot gris pattern,  some pearflesh,  some older bottled nectarines,  maybe a faint trace of oxidation.  Palate is sweeter than the higher-rated ones or the Corbans,  filling it out and papering over any defects.  It is surprisingly developed though.  Cellar a year or two only.  GK 03/08

2007  [ Waimea Estates ] Spinyback Pinot Gris   16 ½ +  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  '07 not on website,  '06 similar but simpler elevation to the Waimea Estate wine,  RS around 7 g/L;  www.waimeaestates.co.nz;  www.spinyback.com ]
Light straw.  Bouquet is almost as clearly varietal pinot gris as the senior Waimea wine,  but at less volume.  It all smells a little drier,  more spicy,  more phenolic,  and less floral / fleshy.  Palate is indeed spicy,  a suggestion of chewing on cinnamon stick,  but with some pearflesh and nectarine fruit.  The higher phenolics make it taste drier than the main Waimea wine.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 03/08

2007  Gem Pinot Gris   16 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $27   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  part of the wine in old French oak,  whether BF not clear;  www.gemwine.co.nz ]
Pale lemon.  Bouquet shows a clean lightly aromatic fragrant wine,  with some pale stonefruits,  some pearflesh,  and a confusing black passionfruit note reminiscent of ripest sauvignon blanc.  Palate suggests some lees-autolysis enhancement,  possibly with trace oak [ confirmed ],  fair fruit,  and subtle residual sugar to balance some varietal phenolics,  'dry' finish.  Cellar 2 – 4 years.  GK 04/08

2004  Louis Sipp Pinot Gris Osterberg   16 ½  ()
Alsace Grand Cru,  France:  12.5%;  $57   [ cork;  www.sipp.com ]
Pale lemon.  Bouquet is light,  clean and showing delicate apple blossom florals only.  On palate the wine seems a bit under-ripe,  for the total acid is high,  and the spare white stonefruits flavours are short but attractive,  and near-dry.  This should develop in cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 04/08

2006  Corbans Pinot Gris Homestead   16 +  ()
New Zealand:  13%;  $16   [ screwcap; Pernod-Ricard group;  2006 not on website,  2007 (presumably similar) has 2 months LA and stirring in s/s;  RS 10 g/L;  www.corbans.co.nz ]
Straw.  Bouquet is lifted by light VA,  showing fully mature varietal pinot gris,  fading rosepetal,  some older bottled nectarines,  pleasantly fruity.  Palate is quite rich,  the finish medium-dry,  rich enough to cover the varietal firmness.  Fully mature already,  drink up.  GK 03/08

2007  Distant Land Pinot Gris   16  ()
Dartmoor Valley,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $19   [ screwcap;  some LA in tank,  RS 7 g/L;  16% of the wine matured in older French oak;  a Lincoln Wines label;  www.distantland.co.nz ]
Salmon-flushed straw,  permissible for pinot gris.  Bouquet is quite strong,  lifted by a little VA,  and by more gewurztraminer than is subtle,  when titivating pinot gris.  Palate too has a lot of flavour,  both pinot gris stonefruits and phenolics,  and the gewurztraminer component seeming both phenolic and botrytisy.  Fruit is quite rich,  and sweetness seems above the 'dry' cut-off point.  With luck this will mellow in cellar 1 – 3 years.  It certainly has plenty of flavour,  and could be popular.  GK 04/08

2007  Pisa Range Pinot Gris   15 +  ()
Cromwell district,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $27   [ screwcap; hand-harvested,  3 months LA;  www.pisarangeestate.co.nz ]
Colour is in effect water-white.  Bouquet confirms this wine is released far too prematurely,  for not only is there no colour development,  there is no varietal character yet either (in the blind tasting).  First impressions are of clear spirit and vaguely white pearflesh,  all a bit raw.  Palate is spirity too,  but there is the fruit to imply this wine should develop in bottle.  Meanwhile,  total acid is high too,  exacerbating the rawness.  As noted previously,  when pinot varieties are over-ripened,  the floral beauty of the grape is lost.  Acid balance has to be tackled another way.  Since it is pure otherwise,  purer than the Italian which it resembles in being very dry,  it may be much more interesting in two years.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 03/08

2004  Louis Sipp Pinot Gris Kirchberg de Ribeauville   15 +  ()
Alsace Grand Cru,  France:  12.5%;  $48   [ cork;  www.sipp.com ]
Pale lemongreen.  Two bottles of this wine were opened,  due to a varying sulphur component.  It needs a pretty splashy decanting,  jug to jug.  It then opens as a light,  clean and reasonably pure wine,  the flavour of the white stonefruits a little pinched and phenolic,  'dry'.  It should look better in 3 – 5 years,  and cellar to 8,  but can't be scored more highly at the moment.  GK 04/08

2006  I Masoetti Pinot Grigio   15  ()
Venezia IGT,  Italy:  12.5%;  $19   [ plastic closure ]
Pale straw.  Freshly opened,  bouquet is a bit odd,  as if slightly corked.  Since it is a plastic closure,  and since the wine doesn't taste as if it has seen oak,  that is unlikely.  So nett bouquet is slightly oxidised / older bottled nectarines,  in pearflesh surprisingly like older New Zealand examples of the grape.  Palate however lacks the purity of New Zealand examples,  there being a congested undertone,  with hints of oxidation and cardboard in reasonable fruit,  the acid noticeable since the wine is totally dry.  QDW,  not worth cellaring.  GK 03/08

2005  Josmeyer Pinot Gris   14  ()
Alsace,  France:  13%;  $46   [ cork;  www.josmeyer.com ]
Lemongreen.  This is the old-fashioned European approach to white winemaking,  with total sulphur excessive,  obscuring bouquet and flavour.  There is vaguely varietal fruit underneath,  on a hard near-dry finish,  but I doubt this wine will escape its sulphur burden.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 04/08

2006  Montana Pinot Gris East Coast   14  ()
Marlborough 85%,  Hawkes Bay 15,  New Zealand:  13%;  $17   [ screwcap;  3 months LA in s/s;  RS 7.5 g/L;  www.montana.co.nz ]
Palest lemon.  Bouquet is muted,  vaguely old-style European,  no clear variety.  Palate confirms the wine is tending reductive,  with dull cardboardy flavours on vaguely white pearflesh and acid fruit,  all surprisingly dry.  Straightforward QDW,  not worth cellaring.  A protest must be lodged about the extension of the diffuse locator 'East Coast' to here embrace Marlborough.  Majority useage is Gisborne / Hawkes Bay only,  which would be worth maintaining.  GK 03/08

2007  Spy Valley Gewurztraminer   18 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $21   [ screwcap;  all s/s,  4 months LA;  RS 10 g/L;  www.spyvalleywine.co.nz ]
Marvellous rich lemon.  Bouquet is very youthful gewurztraminer,  showing beautiful flowering wild ginger,  citronella and rosepetal explicitly varietal floral qualities,  some lychee and pale stonefruits,  plus suggestions of muscat (at this youthful stage).  Palate is richly flavoured,  excellent acid balance for gewurztraminer,  the intriguing varietal phenolics balanced by residual sugar just above the maximum 'dry' level [ confirmed ].  This will gain complexity in bottle over the next two years,  and cellar very well indeed for 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/08

2007  Zephyr Gewurztraminer   17 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $24   [ screwcap;  website not established yet;  www.zephyrwine.com ]
Colour is an elegant lemon,  very attractive.  Bouquet is forthcoming,  floral and fragrant in a yellow florals sense – wild ginger blossom,  honeysuckle,  etc – with underlying stonefruit.  It is all a bit yellow for lychee,  but attractively so.  Palate is not quite as good,  a slightly harsh note as if acidified,  which fights with the varietal phenolics.  But total flavour is clearly varietal and long-lasting,  on a near-dry finish.  Much to like here.  Cellar 3 – 8 years,  maybe to soften attractively.  GK 03/08

2007  Distant Land Gewurztraminer   16 ½ +  ()
Gisborne,  New Zealand:  14%;  $19   [ screwcap;  an all s/s wine,  some LA in tank,  RS not given,  but some;  a Lincoln Wines label;  www.distantland.co.nz ]
Straw.  Bouquet is in a very particular style,  botrytis-affected gewurztraminer showing root ginger complexities on top of wild ginger blossom,  lychee and bottled stonefruits.  Palate confirms the botrytis,  the phenolics being quite accentuated,  balanced by some residual sugar to give a flavoursome medium-dry  wine.  It is bold verging on coarse,  and is the kind of wine one would expect to collapse early,  given the botrytis.  In fact,  the 1979 Babich Gewurztraminer was just like this,  and it is still a pleasant wine.  Cellar 3 – 6 years,  to mellow.  GK 04/08

Sweet / Sticky
2007  Trinity Hill Noble Viognier   18 ½ +  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12%;  $30   [ screwcap;  sequentially hand-harvested;  BF in French oak,  plus a further 6 or so months LA in barrel;  RS 199 g/L;  www.trinityhill.com ]
Rich lemon,  the faintest wash of gold.  Bouquet is immediately fragrant,  clean,  enticing,  not aggressive on VA,  showing wonderful botrytis and gentle citrus blossom on slightly aromatic white stonefruit aromas.  It almost reminds of some Rheingau very late-harvest rieslings.  In  mouth,  the true varietal quality opens up,  lovely gentle canned apricots with a thought of lychees too,  the waxy botrytis continuing totally noble,  with refreshing acid to balance the sweetness delightfully.  Viognier is usually  a quickly-maturing wine,  and presumably even a highly-botrytised pure example like this wine won't cellar for too long – say a maximum of five years.  This is much the most elegant and satisfying botrytised viognier from Trinity Hill (or New Zealand) so far.  GK 04/08

All other white wines, blends, etc.
2007  Waimea Viognier   16 ½ +  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  14%;  $21   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  95% cool-fermented in s/s,  5% warm-fermented in seasoned oak,  resulting blend 2 months LA in s/s;  RS 14 g/L;  www.waimeaestates.co.nz ]
Palest straw.  Initially opened,  this wine is attenuated.  It really needs more time in bottle,  or meanwhile,  pouring into a jug for a few hours,  to breathe / expand.  That is not to say there is any defect to air off,  it is merely to promote a little esterification.  It then shows light but clear yellow florals on delicate canned apricot fruit.  In mouth the wine is both sweeter and more acid than good Hawkes Bay ones (or Condrieu),  but the whole thing is attractive.  Waimea has a great feel for aromatic whites,  and this wine fits in with their established successes with gewurztraminer etc.  The problem is ripening viognier properly,  south of Hawkes Bay,  and this example reflects that.  Cellar 2 – 4 years.  GK 03/08

2007  Brown Brothers Vermentino   15  ()
Murray River,  Victoria,  Australia:  11.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  some LA in s/s;  2007 not on website,  but 2006 had 6 g/L RS;  www.brownbrothers.com.au ]
Palest lemon.  This wine opens poorly,  with sulphur and cardboardy notes.  It responds well to simple splashy decanting preferably into a jug,  a couple of times.  It then opens to a simple fruity vaguely floral and citric winestyle,  off-dry,  confuseable with plain riesling rather more than pinot gris.  But who needs another obscure plain white grape like this,  let alone a less than sparkling-clean one.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 04/08

2007  Elephant Hill Viognier   14 ½ +  ()
Te Awanga,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ screwcap;  website not established yet;  www.elephanthill.co.nz ]
Palest lemon.  Initially opened,  the wine is sulphury and unacceptable.  It needs pouring from jug to jug 10 times,  which transforms it.  There is now clear pale apricot fruit,  which in mouth tastes from a riper spectrum than the Waimea.  However,  whereas the Waimea is pure,  this wine is carrying a total sulphur load that is too high,  so there are cardboardy undertones.  Score generous / conditional on treatment.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 03/08

2007  Gem Rosé   17 +  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $19   [ screwcap;  Sy,  Me;  wild yeast fermentation,  some time in older oak;  www.gemwine.co.nz ]
Colour is a pretty pale rosé.  Bouquet is neat,  an attractive fresh presentation of light rosé which smells like the stated syrah and merlot,  and reminds of some Cotes du Rhone rosés.  Palate follows well,  the merlot fraction dominating now and taking the winestyle more towards Cabernet d'Anjou.  But in detail,  the wine does not quite match either of these two models,  being a little sweet to the finish.  Not very sweet,  but more than is subtle.  It will be good when New Zealand rosés become more serious / better international in approach.  The fruit qualities here suggest a more sophisticated rosé could have been essayed,  below 5 g/L.  Cellar a year or two.  GK 04/08

Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2006  Craggy Range Merlot Gimblett Gravels   17 ½  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $29   [ cork;  DFB;  Me 85%,  CF 15;  75% hand-harvested @ 3.25 t/ac;  inoculated ferment in s/s;  18 months in French oak 45% new;  RS nil;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  not the weight of the Block 14 Syrah.  Bouquet is reticent initially,  in the manner of many young cru bourgeois / Bordeaux.  Any floral component is yet to emerge,  but there is clear dark berry in a bottled black plum style,  more aromatic than expected for merlot.   Palate is firm,  in the blind tasting seeming more Medoc-like / cabernet-dominant to first inspection than merlot.  Like the syrah it shows a certain leanness and fresh acid.  For this winery on the Gimblett Gravels,  these two 2006 wines from Craggy Range seem not to show the perfect ripeness the 2005s achieved,  and indicate a physiologically cooler year.  From memory,  this 2006 Merlot may not even be quite as generous and varietal as the 2004,  but time in cellar may change that view.  It seems probable a beautifully fragrant wine will emerge.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 03/08

2006  Distant Land Cabernet / Merlot Black Label   17 ½  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $32   [ screwcap;  CS 71%,  Me 20,  CF 9,  hand-harvested;   c. 7 days cold-soak;  MLF and 18 months in French oak 50% new,  RS <2 g/L;  a Lincoln Wines label;  www.distantland.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  a good colour.  Bouquet has an obvious plummy merlot component almost reminiscent of Australian roto-fermenter wines,  yet with cabernet cassis complexity also introducing thoughts of modern Bordeaux.  Palate is very youthful and unknit,  yet a floral quality in the berry makes one think of violets.  Oak is appropriate to the fruit concentration,  giving a fairly serious Bordeaux blend,  with better richness and oak-handling than some higher-priced Lincoln reds have shown in recent years.  Cellar 5 – 12 years,  to mellow.  GK 04/08

2006  Mills Reef Cabernet Sauvignon Elspeth   16 ½  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $36   [ cork;  DFB;  2006 not on website,  2005 hand-harvested;  18 months in French oak;  www.millsreef.co.nz ]
Ruby,  quite petite.  Bouquet is reserved,  northern Medoc in style,  a leanness of cassisy berry,  but with aromatic oak more noticeable than Bordeaux would be.  Palate reinforces the lean thought dramatically,  with light firm red and blackcurrant berry,  and firm acid and tannin exacerbated by oak.  The actual concentration of fruit is good,  but the ripeness is austere.  A wine for the committed cool-climate claret fan,  to cellar 5 – 12 years,  ending up with a fragrant crisp light wine.  GK 03/08

2004  Peter Lehmann Cabernet / Merlot   15 ½ +  ()
South Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $22   [ screwcap;  DFB;  CS 70,  Me 30;  12 months in French & US hogsheads;  www.peterlehmannwines.com ]
Ruby,  some velvet.  Initially opened,  the wine is leathery and euc'y simple Australian QDR.  With air it freshens up somewhat,  to reveal clear leafy cassis in the early-picked Australian short-flavoured cabernet style,  with reasonable fruit,  and not too over-oaked.  The eucalyptus does persist,  however,  detracting.  Sound straightforward varietal red,  to cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 03/08

2006  Distant Land Merlot / Malbec   14 ½  ()
Dartmoor Valley,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $19   [ screwcap;  Me 80%,  Ma 20;  c. 7 days cold-soak;  9 months in French oak 30% new,  RS <2 g/L;  a Lincoln Wines label;  www.distantland.co.nz ]
Lightish ruby,  old for age.  Bouquet is intriguing for the extent to which it matches a minor and leafy merlot-dominant under-ripe wine from Entre Deux Mers.  Fruit is ripened to the red currants level of complexity only,  but with a nice tobacco note.  With such delicate under-ripe leafy flavours,  oaking is subtle and well done.  Finish is not bone-dry,  but few will notice.  QDR,  not worth cellaring.  GK 04/08

2006  Gem Merlot   14  ()
Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $28   [ screwcap;  some juice taken off for the Rosé;  14 – 16 months in French oak 40% new;  www.gemwine.co.nz ]
Ruby and some velvet,  old for age.  Bouquet shows why,  with some oxidation and VA detracting from the fruit,  plus an obvious euc'y quality.  Below is plummy berry.  Palate picks up the lesser side of the wine,  estery and unstable,  some brett too,  but fair fruit concentration.  More QDR than varietal,  not priced as such however,  not worth cellaring.  GK 04/08

Pinot Noir
2007  Peregrine Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $33   [ screwcap;  2007 not on website at time of writing;  notes for the 2006 include 10 months in French oak 35% new,  the wine finished at RS < 1 g/L;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Ruby,  a flush of carmine and velvet,  quite big for pinot noir.  Bouquet is fresh and fragrant,  yet raw and youthful,  not really smelling quite together enough to release.  Trying to integrate the raw materials,  there is a good floral component,  in a darker spectrum from red roses to boronia,  on red and black cherry.  Palate is very pure,  more black cherries,  great fruit and acid balance yet with a thought of stalks too.  In another year,  I think this will show some Cote de Nuits complexity,  on lovely fragrant fruit.  The score is a little anticipatory.  Cellar 3 – 9 years.  GK 04/08

2005  Domaine de Courcel  Pommard les Croix Noires   17 ½ +  ()
Pommard Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $132   [ cork;  a good brief backgrounder to this domaine is available at:  www.owloeb.com/Domaines/Courcel.html ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  below midway in depth,  a little fresher and less oak-affected than the Rugiens.  This wine sets the Pommard scene beautifully,  with an attractive spicy boronia-like floral bouquet,  on red and black cherry fruit,  and a thought of plums too.  The oak is more fragrant than the Rugiens.  And in mouth,  the fruit is sweeter too,  quite the most charming and burgundian of this small bracket.  There is a delightful harmony here,  which will develop well in bottle.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/08

2005  Domaine de Courcel Pommard Fremiers   17 ½  ()
Pommard Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $132   [ cork;  a good brief backgrounder to this domaine is available at:  www.owloeb.com/Domaines/Courcel.html ]
Pinot noir ruby,  in the middle for depth.  Initially opened,  this is quite dark on bouquet,  not the floral lift,  plum more than cherry for fruit,  spicy oak.  Flavours are rich but dry,  more black cherry now,  cinnamon-spiced oak,  tannins to lose.  This should be attractive,  once the oak is a little more assimilated.  Those liking oak rated the wine highly already.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 03/08

2006  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Cellar Selection   17 +  ()
Awatere & Wairau Valleys,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $33   [ screwcap;  many clones,  hand-harvested;  up to 10 days cold soak;  MLF in barrel the following spring,  c. 10 months in barrel;  RS nil;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Delightful pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is floral and fragrant at a less complex point of physiological maturity than the Peregrine,  more buddleia to roses and blackboy peach.  Palate is clearly pinot in style – it is great to see Villa's pinots settling into a more international interpretation of the grape.  Flavours again are blackboy and red cherry,  not the depth of the Otago wine or the richness of the Vidal,  and slightly more stalky,  more like some Cote de Beaune wines.  Cellar 3 – 7 years.  GK 04/08

2005  Domaine de Courcel  Pommard les Rugiens   17 +  ()
Pommard Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $155   [ cork;  a good brief backgrounder to this domain is available at:  www.owloeb.com/Domaines/Courcel.html ]
Pinot noir ruby,  below midway in depth.  Bouquet is the most floral and fragrant of the de Courcels,  showing red roses and boronia qualities counterpointed by quite spicy oak,  even a hint of fivespice.  Below is fragrant red cherry fruit,  leaner than the top-rated wines but still pleasing in mouth.  Finish is oaky,  as yet.  These first 2005 burgundies in New Zealand do show attractive firm ripe fruit,  in this case quite dry,  with tannin to lose.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 03/08

2006  Vidal Pinot Noir   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $27   [ screwcap;  not much info about the winemaking on the website;  www.vidal.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Freshly opened there is a faint sulphur-related caveat,  which dissipates with air.  Decanting is so good for wine !  This pinot is not as complex as the top wines,  lacking a floral component pretty well,  but showing good darker plum more than cherry notes.  Palate follows logically,  a little tannic and hard,  but with particularly good fruit richness to mellow in cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/08

2006  Gladstone Pinot Noir   16 ½ +  ()
Gladstone & Martinborough,  Wairarapa Valley,  New Zealand:  14%;  $33   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  5 days cold soak,  extended cuvaison;  10 months in French oak;  RS < 1 g/L;  www.gladstone.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is in the simple buddleia florals style,  on light red fruits hinting at strawberry,  raspberry and red currants,  a little riper than the Stoneleigh.  Palate however is a little less pleasing,  a good weight of red berry fruits fractionally richer than the Stoneleigh,  but a clear stalky streak through the tail leaves a green note.  This should attenuate in cellar.  The wine should cellar longer than the Stoneleigh,  3 – 8 years.  GK 04/08

2006  Stoneleigh Pinot Noir Rapaura   16 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $28   [ screwcap;  6 clones of PN,  hand-harvested from 7 – 8 year-old vines;  12 months in French oak;  RS 2.5 g/L;  www.stoneleigh.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet opens as a simple floral and slightly stalky example of the variety,  and as with several others benefits greatly from decanting.  It becomes more generous with air,  but remains in the simple Savigny-les-Beaune style,  buddleia to some rose florals at the deepest,  but always a leafy thought.  Palate shows blackboy simple fruit,  clearly varietal but stalky and lacking physiological maturity,  total acid slightly elevated.  Cellar 3 – 6 years,  for a simpler old-fashioned Marlborough pinot.  GK 04/08

2005  Maison Nicolas Potel Pommard les Vignots   16 ½  ()
Pommard,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $94   [ cork ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  just above midway.  Bouquet is rich,  ripe,  but just on the cusp for trace reductive.  There are no florals as such,  but plenty of rich dark plum.  Palate is the same,  lots of plummy fruit,  but the oak made slightly bitter by the trace reduced sulphur.  I think this will come right,  and cellar 5 – 20 years.  These 2005s are certainly wines of substance.  GK 03/08

2006  Gem Pinot Noir Wairarapa   16 +  ()
Taratahi (near Masterton),  Wairarapa Valley,  New Zealand:  12%;  $29   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  wild-yeast fermented;  12 – 14 months in oak 33% new;  www.gemwine.co.nz ]
Drab ruby,  old for its age.  Bouquet benefits greatly from decanting / breathing,  to become quite intriguing,  very much like many bourgognes rouges,  showing rustic European 'style' on simple pinot fruit –  light VA,  some brett,  old oak.  Palate follows perfectly,  no florals as such,  but clearly varietal in an old oak / varnishy red plummy way.  Ripeness is better than some,  so the nett pleasantness for drinkers is quite good.  Not so easy to score highly,  though the flavour ripeness for the given alcohol is intriguing.  Cellar 3 – 6 years,  more as drinking pinot than for serious tasting.  GK 04/08

2005  Domaine de Courcel Bourgogne Rouge / Pinot Noir   16  ()
Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $58   [ cork;  a good brief backgrounder to this domain is available at:  www.owloeb.com/Domaines/Courcel.html ]
Pinot noir ruby,  the lightest of this bracket.  Bouquet is obvious rather than promising,  slightly varnishy rather than fragrant with oak,  but nonetheless varietal and ripe.  Despite the light colour,  palate has good cherry fruit both red and black,  sustained nicely on this older oak.  This is well-fruited for bourgogne rouge,  well in style,  but straightforward.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 03/08

2006  Distant Land Pinot Noir   15 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $19   [ screwcap;  hand-picked near dawn;  c. 7 days cold soak;  9 months in French oak;  RS 2 g/L;  a Lincoln Wines label;  www.distantland.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is very fragrant,  at a pale buddleia level of complexity,  on red fruits.  Palate is crisply blackboy and some red cherry,  similar to the Stoneleigh but less concentrated,  another tending stalky and simple regional Beaune-like.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 04/08

2004  Black Estate Pinot Noir   15  ()
Waipara,  Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $38   [ 1 + 1 cork ]
Light pinot noir ruby,  older too.  Bouquet is fragrant in a light way,  with a clear leafy component augmenting buddleia florals and fading red fruits.  Palate is lightly varietal but under-ripe,  perhaps chaptalised,  red fruits only,  very stalky.  This is more a QDR pinot,  but is not priced as one.  Cellar 2 – 4 years.  GK 04/08

2005  Maison Nicolas Potel Pommard les Rugiens   15  ()
Pommard Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $118   [ cork ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  the deepest of the 2005 Pommards.  Bouquet is disappointing on this wine,  clearly reductive,  out of step with the times.  There is a lot of rich dark fruit,  no florals naturally with the sulphur load,  but maybe dark cherry and certainly dark plum.  On palate however the reduced sulphur combines with the oak to give a dank bitter aftertaste.  Despite the richness and fruit quality,  I doubt this wine will blossom later.  A gamble therefore.  Cellar 10 – 20 years,  in hope.  GK 03/08

2002  Domaine de Courcel Pommard les Vaumuriens   14  ()
Pommard,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $ –    [ cork;  a good brief backgrounder to this domain is available at:  www.owloeb.com/Domaines/Courcel.html ]
Ruby and velvet.  Bouquet is intriguing,  showing a kind of mercaptan-related complexity reminding of the pungent odour of crushed Cape Ivy (Senecio mikanoides),  which one sees not infrequently in Chilean syrah.  Palate has good fruit and structure,  but it could be Cote Rotie as easily as pinot noir.  Pleasant enough rich QDR,  if one doesn't mind the odour,  but not worth cellaring as pinot noir.  GK 03/08

Syrah = Shiraz
2004  Mount Langhi Ghiran Shiraz Billi Billi   17  ()
Victoria,  Australia:  14%;  $15   [ screwcap;  this label may not all be estate-grown – the website is not very informative;  www.langi.com.au ]
Ruby.  Initially opened,  the wine is quiet,  and minty.  Decanted and well-breathed,  it opens up beautifully,  the berry blossoming to achieve a much better bouquet,  lightly minty dark plum and boysenberry made more aromatic with oak.  Palate is a good New Zealand weight more than Australian,  showing refreshing berry fruit,  not too oaky,  in fact delightfully balanced.  At the price,  and once mellowed in cellar a little,  this wine is going to be food-friendly and provide a lot of pleasure,  at a great price.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  VALUE  GK 03/08

2005  Red Dot Shiraz / Viognier   14 ½  ()
McLaren Vale & Langhorne Creek,  South Australia,  Australia:  14.5%;  $19   [ screwcap;  DFB;  Sh 95%,  Vi 5,  co-fermented;  some BF for reds,  16 months in French (predominant) and US oak,  20% new;  www.pennyshill.com.au ]
Old ruby and velvet.  Bouquet shows tired / oxidised wine in a style more 50s to 70s than latter-day.  The flavour has plenty of fruit,  and some browning / baked boysenberry,  but is saline,  tannic,  and very plain.  Rich QDR only,  not worth cellaring.  Needs to be under $10 for the New Zealand market.  GK 03/08

2005  Tin Shed Shiraz Melting Pot   13 ½  ()
Barossa Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  15%;  $25   [ screwcap;  Sh dominant,  a little Mv & Gr;  12 months in old oak;  www.tinshedwines.com ]
Dense ruby and velvet.  This wine smells intensely euc'y going on liniment / wintergreen,  unwiney,  verging on unpleasant,  so bouquet is not quite the word.  Palate physically has rich fruit,  but the flavours recapitulate the smell,  biting,  unpleasant.  I don't think this would appeal to many New Zealand wine drinkers.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 03/08

All other red wines, blends etc
2000  Torracia del Plantavigna Ghemme   16 +  ()
Piedmont DOCG,  Italy:  13.5%;  $40   [ cork;  nebbiolo 90%,  vespalina 10,  cropped at 55 quintals / ha – since English reference sources define the quintal as either 100 pounds or 100 kilograms,  the cropping rate does not exceed 2.8 t/ac;  3 years in French oak ]
Light ruby and garnet.  Bouquet is fading raspberries and tar,  in the time-honoured old-fashioned oxidative style of traditional Barolo / Barbaresco / Spanna / Ghemme production.  It is thus completely out-of-phase with modern times,  but not unpleasant.  Palate is very dry,  leathery,  yet fresh acid,  fragrant and well fruited in its style.  These wines go wonderfully well with oily foods.  It is not unduly rustic or bretty.  It will cellar for years,  maintaining its condition without much change,  quietly fading.  GK 03/08

2005  Brown Brothers Tempranillo   14 ½ +  ()
Central Victoria including Heathcote,  Australia:  14%;  $18   [ screwcap;  12 – 18 months in American oak,  some new;  www.brownbrothers.com.au ]
Ruby.  Bouquet is so euc'y,  it could be made from anything lighter and fragrant.  The actual weight,  colour and feel of the wine is tempranillo-like in the sense of Rioja,  and the wine is technically sound,  but it hardly matters when it is so tainted by eucalyptus.  A pity.  'Fragrant' soft Australian QDR to cellar a few years,  pleasant only if you like eucalyptus in wine.  GK 04/08

2006  Poggio Basso Chianti   14  ()
Tuscany DOCG,  Italy:  12.5%;  $21   [ cork;  Sa 80%,  Canaiolo nero 10,  Malvasia bianca 10 ]
Lightish ruby,  pinot noir weight – which can be appropriate for chianti.  Bouquet is not traditional chianti,  however,  being flat,  somewhat oxidised,  nearly neutral bretty dry red,  needing breathing.  Palate is short,  acid (which might be OK if the wine were fresh,  but this isn't) and plain / rustic Italian QDR,  very dry indeed.  Not worth cellaring.  Needs to be under $10 in the New Zealand market.  GK 03/08

2004  Mills Reef Syrah / Cabernets / Merlot Reserve   14  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $20   [ cork;  wine not on website;  www.millsreef.co.nz ]
Older ruby.  Bouquet is startlingly volatile for modern table red wine,  on varnishy oak and some red berry.  Palate confirms.  Fruit is modest in flavour,  but there are still some cassis suggestions,  and the concentration is quite good.  Finish may be eased by little residual sugar.  OK as rough QDR,  not suited to cellaring.  GK 04/08