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

Towards the end of September 2008 I was able to present an inter-related pair of tastings in the tasting lab of the Department of Viticulture & Oenology at Lincoln University,  Christchurch.  The subject was Bordeaux  / Hawkes Bay blends,  divided into an elective blind Library Tasting on the first evening which focussed on the famous 1982 Bordeaux vintage,  followed the next day by a degree course seminar / tasting.  The latter included six current New Zealand wines illustrating the principal four varieties used in assembling Bordeaux / Hawkes Bay blends,  with both cooler and riper samples of cabernet sauvignon and merlot,  plus cabernet franc and malbec,  then four wines presented blind to illustrate younger or older,  and cooler or riper blends.

The wines are described below,  as two separate tastings,  the current wines after the 1982s.  The latter are preceded by some background material on the 1982 vintage in Bordeaux,  since this vintage is now beautifully mature,  and hence should be of great interest to New Zealand winemakers seeking to make fine Bordeaux / Hawkes Bay blends.

25 September 2008  – The 1982 Bordeaux wines in context:

1982  Ch Bonalgue
1982  Ch Giscours
1982  Ch Grandis
1982  Ch Gruaud Larose
1982  Ch Haut-Marbuzet
1982  Ch Les Hauts-Conseillants
1982  Jaboulet [ Hermitage ] la Chapelle
  1982  Ch La Lagune
1982  Ch Latour a Pomerol
1982  Ch Montrose
1982  Ch Pavie
1982  Ch Talbot
1982  Te Mata [ Cabernet / Merlot ] Coleraine
1982  Ch Trotanoy

The 1982 tasting was presented under the title:  1982 Bordeaux – the best vintage since 1961 ?  The answer to the question posed is far from clear however,  since the claims of the 1986, 1989,  1990,  1995,  2000,  and 2005 vintages are going to be debated relative to the 1982s for some years to come.  It is too complicated if we try to summarise all Bordeaux from the systematic reviews of Robert Parker and Wine Spectator,  but for most of the Medoc their ranking of the relevant recent vintages is (descriptive words from Wine Spectator):

1961:Parker   –  Wine Spectator99Best since 1945; great concentration and structure.
1982:"98R"95Intense ripe fruit and generous in style; round tannins.
1986:"94T"95Powerful, intense and tannic; best in Médoc.
1989:"90E"98Bold, dramatic fruit character; tannic long-aging.
1990:"98E"97Opulent, well-structured and harmonious.
1995:"92T"96Harmonious, rich and structured; long-lived.
2000:"96T"99Postmodern classic; benchmark Bordeaux.
2005:"95T"98Fabulous aromas, great length, depth, structure and finesse.

So as always,  there is plenty of debate.  From our vantage point,  in a cooler climate,  the main discrepancies can probably be explained by Parker having a somewhat bigger,  warmer-climate palate appreciation than his Spectator offsider.  Any which way,  it is now a thrill to have a tasting of such a "legendary" (Decanter) vintage.

Robert Parker  (before the 2005s arrived):  " ... for today's generation of wine enthusiasts, 1982 is what 1945, 1947, and 1949 were for an earlier generation of winelovers ...  Even in Bordeaux the 1982s are now placed on a pedestal and spoken of in the same terms as 1961, 1949, 1945, and 1929. Moreover, the marketplace ... continues to push prices for the top 1982s to stratospheric levels."

The wines of Bordeaux remain the model for New Zealand's 'Hawkes Bay blends'.  Do we however give enough thought to how time will deal with the wines we are so proud of today ?  Good examples of Bordeaux blends develop for ten, twenty and sometimes more years.  All too often in New Zealand,  however,  we can only read about tastings of mature fine Cabernet / Merlot blends held in other countries.  

The tasting provides an opportunity to not only taste,  but also assess a cross-section of quality-levels of mainly Bordeaux wines,  from one of the great recent vintages.  To keep costs reasonable,  and increase relevance to the reality of the New Zealand wine scene,  there were no First Growths.  Several of the wines are nonetheless considered amongst the vintage's best.  And we have both high-Cabernet and high-Merlot wines amongst the good ones.  

The Medocs range from Second Growths to Cru Bourgeois.  The St Emilion and two of the Pomerols are highly-ranked chateaux.  As to the pricing for this tasting,  the international standard www.wine-searcher.com provides a reference point,  noting those prices do not include the additional freight,  duty,  and GST costs incurred in importing the wines into New Zealand.  Such a comparison will reveal the asking price ($125) to be modest,  considering tastings like this can mostly be found nowadays only in places like London or San Francisco.  This tasting in London would cost roughly £165,  according to ex-Cantabrian but now London-based Linden Wilkie,  of www.finewineexperience.com

Decanter had a handy article on Bordeaux 1982 in the July 2002 issue.  The following paraphrases James Lawther MW,  author of the lead article,  plus others,  cited below:  The 1982 Bordeaux vintage has acquired a semi-mythical status –  and perhaps rightly so.  Overtly rich,  ripe and generous,  it was reminiscent of the great vintages of the past –   1947,  1953,  1961 –   but became the touchstone for a new seductive style of Bordeaux.  Winter and spring relatively mild,  early flowering in good conditions,  July hot,  August cooler with prolonged veraison,  but the promise of a bumper crop.  September hot and sunny,  temperatures to 28 –  30º.  Harvest commencing 13 September,  Chx Latour and Mouton Rothschild  start 16 Sept,  all picking by 17,  and all completed by 3 October.  Quality fruit,  a vintage that made itself,  and one of the biggest red wine crops on record in the Gironde.  Sugars 'more than promising' at 12.5 – 13º for the merlots,  and 12 –  12.5º for the cabernets.  'You have to go back too 1947 or 1961 to find an alcohol potential as high as this',  brokers Tastet & Lawton recorded.  [NB:  comparing these views with the alcohols in new world wines nowadays goes a long way to explain the subtlety and magic of Bordeaux,  even in a hot year.]  

The ripeness of flavour and the textures were from the start described as rare,  Californian in style,  dark,  rich,  and delicious (Tastet & Lawton,  again).  The wonderful thing about 1982 was that it was magnificent throughout Bordeaux,  from generic wines to crus classes,  something that only happens in exceptional years.  The wines were a pleasure to drink,  right from the start.  Most (in 2002) have reached their plateau,  and are now at their very best.  A few top growths still show development potential.

David Peppercorn MW goes on to note that not everything is rosy,  however.  Few chateaux at that stage had second wines to cull the lesser barrels into,  and further,  green harvesting was then unknown.  Thus,  the standards of selection for the grand vin were then not as rigorous as today.  "The test of a successful 1982 today should be balance and beauty of flavour."  [ In 2008 we would now add that the degree of technical control in the wineries is today now light years ahead of 1982.  Even in the great 2000 vintage,  many classed growths still display suggestions of brett complexity.]

There is much in print on the 1982s,  and one could quote for ever.  It is remarkable how similar the views of the time are to the recent 'big' vintage,  2000.   For a view based on even longer experience than the above two authors,  Michael Broadbent MW has this to say (in 1991,  but the 2003 edition is similar):

1982 *****
A vintage of great proportions and equally great importance,  exceptional throughout Bordeaux.  One of the earliest harvests of recent years.  It was first met with overpraise,  then worries whether wines so sweet,  so full of fruit,  have a long future,  then worries about the high tannins ... 8 – 10 years later there is little evidence of problems arising.   They are huge,  luscious wines with high extract masking considerable tannin content.  The top wines should prove magnificently rich and longterm.  Drink the minor wines while they still have fruit.

Finally,  in the introduction to a series of reviews of the newly-arrived 1982 Bordeaux in National Business Review, 1985,  I said:  The character of the vintage can be summed up as ripe,  with good bouquet,  heaps of fruit and body,  and plenty of soft tannins.  They are relatively forward,  and acid may be a bit soft in some for long keeping.

Explanatory note:  The notes below combine the tasting schedule supplied to tasters at the event,  now amended and placed in the italic 'admin' section for each wine,  and my current review.  Cepages given are the closest to 1982 I have.  Prices likewise where given are the original ones.  Quoted notes are paraphrased and sometimes combined,  where both books and websites by the one author have been used.  As a detail of interest,  for my earlier comments,  scoring at that mid-80s time was generally unknown in New Zealand wine-writing.  My notes then were made in ignorance of the later-published or obtained views of the other authors quoted.

References for both sections,  below:
Anon,  1993:   Medoc Crus Classés 1982.  Decanter:  December pp 46 – 50  (panel including S. Sutcliffe MW)
Broadbent,  M  1989:   The Right Bank in 1982.  Decanter:  September pp 43 – 47
Broadbent,  M  1991:  The Great Vintage Wine Book II.  Mitchell Beazley,  455p.  
Broadbent,  M  1992:  Pocket Guide to Wine Vintages.  Mitchell Beazley,  160p.
Coates,  Clive  1999:  [Article on la Chapelle]  The Vine 179.
Halliday,  James  2002:  Classic Wines of Australia and New Zealand.  Harper Collins,  386p
Kelly,  Geoff  1984:  New Zealand's Best Red ?   New Zealand WineGlass 38:  pp 6 – 9.
Kelly,  Geoff  1985 - 87:  National Business Review:   May 20 1985,  p 52;  June 17,  pp 49 – 50;  Sept 9, pp 57 – 58;  Dec 9, p 21;  Oct 30 1987,  p 60 – 61
Lawther,  James  2002:  1982 – A year to Remember.  Bordeaux Supplement to Decanter:  July pp  6 – 9
Parker,  Robert  1991:   Bordeaux.  Simon & Schuster,  1026p.  
Parker,  Robert  1997:   Wines of the Rhone Valley.  Simon & Schuster,  685 p.
Parker,  Robert  2003:   Bordeaux.  Simon & Schuster,  1244 p.  
Peppercorn,  David  2000:  Wines of Bordeaux,  Mitchell Beazley,  248p.
Peppercorn,  David  2002:   1982 – Twenty Years On.  Bordeaux Supplement to Decanter:  July pp 10 – 13


1982  Ch Haut-Marbuzet   19  ()
St Estephe Cru Grand Bourgeois Exceptionnel,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $24   [ cork;  Me 50%,  CS 40,  CF 10;  considered Third Growth level by RP;  Parker:  A chateau of increasing fame since 1952.  Late harvesting,  full maturity,  long cuvaison,  100% new oak,  flamboyant opulent rich spicy wines.  The 1982 ravishing,  luscious,  more like rich Pomerol than tannic St Estephe,  gorgeous perfume of chocolate,  cedar,  blackcurrants … the perfect marriage of spicy vanillin oak and opulently rich fruit.  The '82 and '61 are the finest Haut-Marbuzets I have ever drunk … till 2000  93.  In the 2003 edition,  he feels the wine is now tiring … 89.  Broadbent is less impressed:  opaque,  rich,  fleshy ***   (It will be fun to see if we have here a perfect illustration of the dichotomy between English wine appreciation and American,  the latter favouring bigger,  more obvious,  styles).  GK in 1985 thought it:   Enormous fruit,  oaky soft and forward. ] ]
Ruby and garnet,  midway for depth.  Hard to score a wine like this.  It is not the richest,  but it is arguably the most beautiful in this set.  Bouquet is aromatic and sweetly cassisy,  with a delightful spectrum of floral notes rather like the Latour a Pomerol,  but lighter and much more fragrant with elegant cedary overtones.  Palate is perfection,  sweetly fruited,  at an elegant point of silky soft maturity and finesse,  more a lovely Margaux or St. Emilion in style than a St. Estephe,  quite remarkable.  For the group,  this was one of the three top-pointed wines on the night,  beauty rating ahead of size,  for 22 keen Canterbury wine people.  Balance is so perfect it will cellar another 5 – 10 years,  becoming lighter all the while.  GK 09/08

1982  Ch Gruaud Larose   18 ½ +  ()
St Julien Second Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:  12%;  $66   [ cork;  CS 64%,  Me 24,  CF 9,  PV 3;  considered First Growth level by RP;  Parker:  Gruaud produces St Julien’s most massive and backward wine.  The 1982:  spectacular from the cask,  and has continued to perform well,  awesome richness and mammoth constitution … a huge spicy,  blackcurrant and grilled meat aroma … the finest Gruaud since the 1961.  To 2020.  97.  Broadbent shares Parker’s enthusiasm:  from cask,  sweet and packed with fruit and tannin.  Later,  still intense,  plummy,  immature,  gloriously rich fruit,  tarry,  full-flavoured,  chewy,  with pronounced but silky tannins.  Needs time.  To 2015.  ****.  Peppercorn  on the 1982,  in 2002:  has the sweet fruit of 1982 at its best.  GK in 1985 rated it:  Excellent,  a big 20-year classic claret. ]
Ruby and garnet,  fresher ruby than many,  and the deepest of these 14.  Freshly opened,  new oak is rather apparent,  with quite autumnal fruit.  With air,  the cassis component grows and grows,  to become a fragrant and cabernet-dominant Medoc,  rich but cool and elegant,  classic old-style claret.  Palate however returns the oak to notice,  so that though the wine is still rich and youthful in one sense,  it hasn’t yet achieved quite the perfect near-burgundian harmony of the Haut Marbuzet,  or the richness of the Latour a Pomerol.  It should be less tannic in another five years,  and will cellar 5 – 10  years,  perhaps to blossom further.  One of the three top-pointed wines on the night.  GK 09/08

1982  Ch Latour a Pomerol   18 ½  ()
Pomerol,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $40   [ cork;  Me  90%,  CF 10;  considered Second Growth level by RP;  Parker:  a powerful,  opulent,  fleshy style … which can be majestic,  sometimes one of the two or three greatest wines of the district.  The 1982:  a super wine with fabulous power,  richness,  opulence,  concentration and length.  The most concentrated and full-bodied since the 1961,  though not quite as rich.  To 2015  93.  Broadbent:  Fragrant.  Deep fruit,  dry,  powerful,  fig-like,  good length,  very tannic.  To 2015.  ****.   GK in 1985 thought it:  Very Good,  deep and chunky. ]
Ruby and garnet,  one of the lighter ones.  Bouquet is beautifully floral,  fading violets and deep dusky roses,  on darkest plums,  cedar and dark tobacco.  Palate extends the dark tobacco component into the rich plum,  with an almost syrah-like suggestion from the deep florals.  Lovely rich wine of an obviously warmer year,  at a peak,  fruit dominant to oak.  It is probably about to develop some leathery notes,  marking the start of older age.  Will cellar for some years,  but may be best in the next five or so.  GK 09/08

1982  Ch Pavie   18 ½  ()
St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $58   [ cork;  Me 55%,  CF 25,  CS 20;  RP considers it the equivalent of a Medoc Fourth or Fifth Growth (in 1991);  Parker:  the largest vineyard  amongst the Premier Grands Crus,  improving in quality since 1979.  The 1982 the finest Pavie Parker had tasted up to 1991,  an emerging bouquet of grilled nuts,  fruitcake,  super-concentrated red and black fruits,  full-bodied,  great structure,  superb extraction and flavour,  and a long heady finish.  To 2010.  92.  Broadbent:  High-toned,  herbaceous,  cress  and fruit nose,  spicy,  slightly sweet,  good body,  chewy,  vanilla pods and fruit,  good length  To 2010.  ****   [I have to say,  this is one of the few occasions where my personal mentor has presented a confusing tasting note !]  GK in 1985 thought the wine:  Powerful,  tannic,  a marvellous St Emilion for the turn of the century. ]
Ruby and garnet,  one of the deeper ones.  Bouquet is classically claret,  one of those St. Emilions which can be confused with a Margaux any day,  as the high percentage cabernet sauvignon in the cepage would suggest.  Like the Gruaud,  some new oak is apparent,  even from that era in Pavie’s life,  yet the cassisy fruit wraps itself around the oak beautifully,  to give a long,  classical but slightly acid flavour – no sur-maturité here.  Cellar 5 – 10 years for this one,  too.  GK 09/08

1982  Jaboulet [ Hermitage ] la Chapelle   18  ()
Hermitage,  Northern Rhone Valley,  France:  13%;  $32   [ cork;  Sy  100%;  since the wines of Hermitage were in the 19th century considered the ideal blending material for fine Bordeaux,  it will be fun to include a ‘First Growth’ of the district in our 1982 tasting.  Parker in 1997 considered la Chapelle ‘unquestionably one of the world’s greatest dry red wines’  … enormously concentrated … a decade to throw off its tannic cloak … majestic perfume …   The 1982:  opulent,  satisfying,  multi-layered,  with plenty of extract and glycerine,  explosive fruitiness,  deep peppery wild blueberry and cassis aromas,  intermingled with cedar and truffle …  to 2010  92.  Coates,  in an enviable recent vertical tasting back to the 1949,  considers it fully developed,  with an ample rich round spicy nose.  Fullish body,  plump ripe and easy to enjoy,  the tannins just about mellow.  Not the greatest class or dimension.  A point.  To 2008.  Very Good. ]
Ruby and garnet,  the lightest of the wines.  Bouquet is the most floral and elegant of this bracket,  with wallflower and dianthus qualities on fading cassis and fruit notes,  berry-dominant yet so fragrant it is more like a burgundy than claret.  Palate is lighter than the Bordeaux,  but not weak,  showing attractive red and blackcurrant fruit,  some plum,  and a suggestion of blackberry and bush-honey underneath.  A delicious wine now,  fading slowly,  but time to drink,  over the next few years.  GK 09/08

1982  Ch Giscours   18  ()
Margaux Third Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $34   [ cork;  CS 70%,  Me 25,  CF 3,  PV 2;  A chateau of mixed reputation over the years.  Parker on the 82:  Precocious,  very ripe,  rich,  berryish bouquet,  full-bodied,  fat,  loose knit,  big alcohol,  flavourful but unstructured,  developing quickly.  Till 2000  86.  Broadbent:  sweet on nose and palate.  Good rich ripe fruit,  tannin and acidity.  Very attractive.  Till 2010.  ****.  GK in 1985 thought it:  Ripe,  rich,  oaky wine,  almost Australian in style. ]
Ruby and garnet,  the second lightest.  It is hard to imagine a more representative 1982 classed claret than this.  Bouquet shows classical proportions of browning cassis,  suggestions of florals,  dark tobacco,  and cedary oak.  Palate is more mature than some,  reaching almost to the dark fruit cake suite of smells and flavours,  soft rich and mellow.  It is therefore a polar opposite from the Te Mata,  which is almost rudely youthful in comparison,  yet both wines illuminate the notion of claret delightfully.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 09/08

1982  Ch La Lagune   18  ()
Haut Medoc – Margaux Third Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $40   [ cork;  CS 55%,  Me 20,  CF 20,  PV 5;  Parker:  Pomerol-like,  a rich,  fleshy,  solid wine,  with sometimes an overpowering bouquet of vanillin oak and black cherries.  One of the few non-First-Growth wineries to use 100% new oak most  years.  The 1982:  As close to perfect La Lagune as one can hope to find.  A sensational aroma of roasted nuts,  ripe black cherries,  and vanillin oak.  Full bodied,  significant tannin,  mouthfilling,  incredibly rich cassis fruit which lasts and lasts.  To 2010.  93.  Broadbent:  Exciting wine,  gorgeous nose,  fruity and spicy.  Now plummily deep,  very sweet for a Medoc,  good fruit,  flavoury.  To 2000.  ****.  Peppercorn agrees,  in 2002 reflecting that La Lagune,  in particular,  is aromatic with a nice lingering youthfulness.  GK in 1985 thought it:  big fruit and oak,  viscous texture,  great stuff. ]
Ruby and garnet,  not as old as some,  above midway in depth.  Initially opened,  the wine shows some old-fashioned bottle-stink.  It needs an aerative decanting a couple of times.  Breathed it shows some of the harmony and restraint of the Haut-Marbuzet,  not being one of the richest wines,  but it is attractively balanced and long.  Flavours are more in the maturing plummy spectrum of St Emilion / Pomerol than Medoc,  with the new oak well absorbed.  In another year or two,  this like the Latour a Pomerol may be developing some leathery overtones of older age.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 09/08

1982  Te Mata [ Cabernet / Merlot ] Coleraine   17 ½ +  ()
Havelock North,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $11   [ cork;  CS  94%  Me 6,  hand-harvested in the second week of April;  extended cuvaison;  approx. 18 months in puncheons,  44% new French,  33% new American,  the balance second and third year American (no American oak since 1984);  Halliday:  the bouquet retains some freshness,  light mint and more savoury aromas.  A regal old wine on the palate,  with well-balanced savoury flavours and fine tannins.  Surprisingly,  less sweet fruit than Awatea.  ****.  GK in 1984:   Big bouquet of very ripe soft curranty cabernet,  aromatic,  good depth,  new oak adding zip,  very clean.  Flavour rich,  well balanced,  supple,  excellent fruit sweetness.  Relatively soft and accessible by Bordeaux standards,  lacking some of their complexity and tannin grip.  Excellent wine,  set for 10 years.  18;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby and garnet,  less garnet than many,  midway for depth.  Bouquet is the most different in the set,  with a lot of sweetly vanillin oak suggesting some American [confirmed],  enveloped in extraordinarily fresh cassis.  Palate is one-dimensional in some ways,  but the intensity of the cassis reminds of some simpler Mouton-Rothschilds on the one hand,  and mature versions of Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon on the other – from acid as well as oak.  Intriguingly,  only four of 22 tasters thought the wine might be New Zealand,  but 11 rated it their top or second wine.  Stylistic familiarity,  perhaps.  Will cellar another 5 – 10 years,  though the oak will become more noticeable.  GK 09/08

1982  Ch Talbot   17 ½  ()
St Julien Fourth Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:  12%;  $51   [ CS 70%,  Me 20,  CF 5,  PV 5;  considered Second Growth level by Parker (in 1991);  Parker considers this chateau consistently brilliant since 1975.  The 1982:  how rich,  powerful and concentrated this wine has become … massive,  sweet rich fruit … one of the most remarkable Talbots I have ever tasted.  Till 2015.  95.  Broadbent:  typical Talbot whiff of barnyard and ripe fruit;  full,  fleshy,  soft,  rich and tannic.  I suspect this will always be tough,  yet popular.  To 2010.  ****.  GK in 1985 thought:  Obvious cabernet,  big tannin,  nearly as rich as the Gruaud. ]
Ruby and garnet.  Freshly opened the wine is a little warm and ‘animal’,  though not bottle-stinky like the Lagune.  It quickly clears with decanting,  to reveal browning cassis,  with light tobacco to the side.  Palate is cooler and crisper than most,  cassis,  plum and cedary with the tobacco,  total acid slightly high,  a leaner wine than stable-mate Gruaud-Larose.  This is classically old-style claret,  a little austere.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 09/08

1982  Ch Grandis   17 +  ()
Haut Medoc Cru Bourgeois,  Bordeaux,  France:  12%;  $16   [ cork;  CS 50%,  Me 40,  CF 10;  Peppercorn:  In general,  the wines have the solidity typical of St Seurin,  and are traditionally made,  ripe,  powerful,  repay keeping.  GK in 1985 rated it:  A marvellous blockbuster,  outstanding for a petit chateau,  great value. ]
Ruby and garnet,  one of the fresher ones.  Bouquet is clear-cut cassis and cabernet sauvignon of an extraordinary quality for a cru bourgeois,  underpinned by plummy merlot and some tobacco,  plus older oak.  In mouth there is a sturdiness to the fruit which is tending plain in classed-growth company,  yet the ratio of fruit to oak is remarkable.  Perhaps if the oak had been fresher,  the whole wine would sing more.  But as a total achievement at 25 years of age,  this is a wine to show all those who write off cru bourgeois offerings as 5-year wines,  that there is far more to selecting young Bordeaux to cellar than they have ever dreamed of.  Fully mature,  but no hurry,  another 5 – 8 years.  GK 09/08

1982  Ch Les Hauts-Conseillants   17 +  ()
Lalande de Pomerol,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $19   [ cork;  Me 70%,  CF 20,  CS 10,  hand-harvested;  Chateau rated Good by Parker.  Rated more favourably by Peppercorn.  One third of the oak new,  well made wines,  an opulent perfumed bouquet, and a seductive silky texture with good concentration,  worthy of Pomerol.  Same owners as Bonalgue.  GK in 1985 rated it Excellent in the context of the sub-$20 wines,  commenting:  rich ripe soft merlot. ]
Older ruby and garnet.  Bouquet is clearly in the high-merlot camp,  with tertiary aromas of beeswax and bush-honey on browning red plummy fruit.  Palate adds a suggestion of raspberry (as if for cabernet franc),  plus tobacco and leather all combining into a mellow fully mature wine.  It is starting to fade,  while still being eminently enjoyable – not bad for an equivalent cru bourgeois at 25 years of age.  Best used in the next few years.  GK 09/08

1982  Ch Bonalgue   17  ()
Pomerol,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $23   [ cork;  Me 65%,  CF 30,  Ma 5;  considered Cru Bourgeois level by RP;  Parker:  consistently sound,  in top vintages very good.  No info on 1982,  except later vintages compared with it and implying the best of the 80s.  In general,  a wine of rich black berryfruits characters,  plummy,  toasty new oak,  cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK in 1985 rated it as ‘soft rich varietal merlot’. ]
Ruby and garnet,  below midway.  Bouquet is mild fading red-plummy and raspberry fruits,  with a suggestion of brown mushrooms,  all fitting in well with high cabernet franc.  Palate is almost sweet,  raspberry-tart (pastry) flavours in a winey way,  subtle oak,  all in delightful balance for a 25-year-old merlot-dominant wine.  It is just a little simple and red-fruits-only to be exciting Bordeaux,  but is nonetheless pleasing.  It will hold another few years.  GK 09/08

1982  Ch Montrose    16 ½ +  ()
St Estephe Second Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $51   [ cork;  CS  65%,  Me 25,  CF 10;  Parker:  From 1975 to 1986 the style lightened,  with more merlot introduced.  Latterly,  reverting to the blockbuster style which made it famous.  The 1982:  a rich intense aroma of spicy oak and ripe fruit,  full-bodied,  deep,  rich,  round,  a long supple finish despite noticeable tannins.  89.  Broadbent:  attractive harmonious bouquet and flavour.  Unusually ‘sweet’ for Montrose,  nice texture,  slightly astringent finish.  To 2030,  if you can wait.  *****.  (NB  for all 1982 Bordeaux,  Broadbent rates only 10 wines at the 5-star level,  plus 2 possibles.  That includes all the First Growths).  GK in 1985 rated Montrose as:  Excellent,  classic cabernet claret,  austere yet rich – 20 years. ]
Ruby and garnet,  not as old as some,  in the middle for depth.  Bouquet is very dry,  unyielding,  cassisy but not singing.  Palate is the same,  clear fine-grained cassis,  some cedar,  but pinched.  I guess this is one of those bottles that is impaired by the cork,  but is not recognisably ‘corked’.   It is not a patch on the last bottle tried,  but that is the reality of using cork as a closure.  Good bottles should be fine for another 5 – 10 years in cellar,  maybe more.  GK 09/08

1982  Ch Trotanoy   16 ½  ()
Pomerol,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $62   [ cork;  Me 90%,  CF 10;  RP (1991) considers Trotanoy the equivalent of a Second Growth;  Parker:  a wine of fluctuating reputation since the 70s,  but which in some years bears resemblance to the great Ch Petrus.  The 1982:  dazzling,  the finest wine since the 1961,  a profound bouquet of rich berryfruit,  licorice,  coffee,  minerals and spicy oak.  Massive on the palate,  phenomenal concentration and richness,  superb balance.  More evolved than Petrus,  but still a monumental wine.  To 2008.  97 (in comparison with Petrus at  98 !)  Broadbent:  … less evolved than the Petrus [ ! ].  Classic,  shapely but indefinable nose;  fairly sweet and full-bodied,  rich,  fleshy,  yet with silky tannins and good length.  **** possibly *****.  GK in 1985 rated it Excellent:  New oak,  huge fruit,  opulent. ]
Ruby and garnet,  below midway.  This too appeared to be an impaired bottle,  the wine showing a degree of oxidation and leather in indeterminate quite rich berry fruit.  Palate is much the same,  pleasant-enough savoury dinner wine,  but not comparable with either the wine’s reputation,  or previous bottles.  Even impaired however,  the Montrose and Trotanoy clearly show the stylistic difference between crisp aromatic cassis and cabernet-dominant Medoc wines,  and softer plummy merlot-dominant wines from the east bank.  For good bottles,  this too should cellar for another 5 – 10 years.  GK 09/08

26 September 2008:  Tasting of some current bordeaux / Hawkes Bay blends:

2005  Church Road Cabernet / Merlot Reserve
2006  Clearview Cabernet Franc Reserve
2006  Clearview [ Cabernets / Merlot ] Old Olive Block
2006  Coopers Creek Malbec Huapai The Clays
2000  Domaine de Courteillac
  2006  Craggy Range Cabernet / Merlot The Quarry
2000  Ngatarawa Merlot / Cabernet Alwyn Reserve
2006  Ngatarawa Merlot Glazebrook
2006  Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon
2006  Villa Maria Merlot Omahu Gravels Single Vineyard

2006  Villa Maria Merlot Omahu Gravels Single Vineyard   18 ½ +  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $57   [ screwcap;  hand-picked Me 87%,  CS 13, 100% de-stemmed;  MLF and 18 months in French barriques 60% new;  no info on website yet;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  but not as deep as the 2006 Craggy The Quarry.  Bouquet is in a similar opulent style to The Quarry,  with fragrant oak,  but the balance here is tipped in favour of the berries and variety:  deeply violets-floral sweet rich bottled black doris plums of perfectly ripe merlot.  Palate shows up the oak a little more,  a chocolatey note creeping in and internationalising the wine somewhat,  the berry saturation not quite as rich as The Quarry but the varietal specificity higher,  acid slightly fresher.  This is lovely merlot,  illustrating the precise varietal beauty the variety can achieve in New Zealand.  It will cellar for 5 – 15 years.  This wine was used as part of a presentation on Bordeaux blends in New Zealand,  for the Lincoln University Viticulture and Oenology degree course,  to illustrate a fully-ripe phase of merlot.  GK 09/08

2005  Church Road Cabernet / Merlot Reserve   18 ½ +  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $35   [ cork;  CS 74%,  Me 26,  80% hand-picked at c. 2.5 t/ac from 6-year old vines;  cuvaison approx 24 days;  no BF;  22 months in French oak c. 53% new,  no lees stirring;  not fined,  coarse filter only;  RS < 0.2 g/L;  VALUE;  www.churchroad.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  not quite the depth of 2006 The Quarry or the 2006 Villa Merlot SV.  Bouquet however is more integrated and complete than those two wines,  the extra year having served to harmonise the components well.  Fine cassis aromatics are to the forefront,  with plummy fruit and cedary oak behind.  Palate is full of flavour,  a classic Hawkes Bay blend with perhaps a little more oak than is ideal,  lingering long.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  This wine was used as part of a presentation on Bordeaux blends in New Zealand,  for the Lincoln University Viticulture and Oenology degree course,  to illustrate a younger phase of riper,  cabernet-dominant Bordeaux / Hawkes Bay blend.  GK 09/08

2006  Craggy Range Cabernet / Merlot The Quarry   18 ½  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14.2%;  $62   [ cork;  CS 95%,  Me 4,  CF 1,  hand-harvested @ c. 2 t/ac;  100% de-stemmed;  inoculated and fermented in oak cuves;  21 months in French oak 84% new, fined and filtered;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  a magnificent young Hawkes Bay / Bordeaux blend colour.  Bouquet is likewise sumptuous,  but heavily oak-dominant at this stage,  with opulent vanillin overtones immediately begging the question,  surely there is American oak in this.  The winemaker says ‘none’,  illustrating the high vanillin levels in some forests of French oak too.  Below the new oak there is saturated cassis,  with some blueberry and lots of bottled black doris plum suggestions,  more Napa cabernet than Medoc.  Palate follows perfectly,  the blueberry notes raising a doubt about sur-maturité.  This is going to be exciting wine in the years to come,  though in an international rather more than Bordeaux style,  once it has settled down in bottle.  Cellar 10 – 20 years,  maybe longer.  This wine was used as part of a presentation on Bordeaux blends in New Zealand,  for the Lincoln University Viticulture and Oenology degree course,  to illustrate a fully-ripe phase of cabernet sauvignon.  In the event,  it seemed a little over-ripe.  GK 09/08

2000  Ngatarawa Merlot / Cabernet Alwyn Reserve   17 +  ()
Ngatarawa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ cork;  Me 60%,  CS 40;  50/50 French and US oak, 18 months;  www.ngatarawa.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some velvet.  Bouquet is a little shy at first,  but quickly breathes up to be red fruits rather more than black,  with a suggestion of violets florals.  Like the 2006 Olive Block,  it is clearly in the traditional Bordeaux better cru bourgeois mould,  not the modern international one.  Palate is a little riper and plumper than the bouquet suggests,  still surprisingly youthful,  with a fine-grained cassisy cabernet component showing up clearly in the blend.  This is attractive wine which is delightfully in style for future Bordeaux 2000 tastings.  It will cellar another 5 – 8 years.  This wine was used as part of a presentation on Bordeaux blends in New Zealand,  for the Lincoln University Viticulture and Oenology degree course,  to illustrate an older phase of cooler merlot-dominant Bordeaux / Hawkes Bay blend.  GK 09/08

2006  Coopers Creek Malbec Huapai The Clays   17 +  ()
Kumeu,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap;  13 months in 33% new French oak;  www.cooperscreek.co.nz ]
Carmine ruby and velvet,  louder than the 2006 Quarry or 2006 Merlot Reserve.  Bouquet is plentifully plummy and fruity,  illustrating the Bordeaux-blends affiliations of ripe malbec well.  On palate it continues fruity,  not quite as rich as supposed on bouquet or as sophisticated in its elevage as the top wines.  It illustrates well the furry tannins and slightly pinotage-like ‘rustic’ flavours which make malbec a less-favoured variety in Bordeaux,  in recent years.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  This wine was used as part of a presentation on Bordeaux blends in New Zealand,  for the Lincoln University Viticulture and Oenology degree course,  to illustrate a fairly ripe phase of malbec.  GK 09/08

2006  Clearview [ Cabernets / Merlot ] Old Olive Block   17  ()
Te Awanga & Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $31   [ supercritical cork;  CS 41%,  Me 37,  CF 13,  Ma 9,  all hand-picked;  28 days cuvaison; 18 months in mostly French oak some new;  www.clearviewestate.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet.  Bouquet is close to a reputable Medoc cru bourgeois in style,  mixed cassis and dark plum berry,  not a big wine but sufficiently ripe.  Palate is juicy,  clear cassis,  crisp or a little too acid,  with real cabernets elegance complexed by subtle oak.  It is a much purer wine than the 2006 Clearview Cabernet Franc.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  It was used as part of a presentation on Bordeaux blends in New Zealand,  for the Lincoln University Viticulture and Oenology degree course,  to illustrate a cooler phase of a younger cabernet-dominant Bordeaux / Hawkes Bay blend.  GK 09/08

2000  Domaine de Courteillac   16 ½ +  ()
Bordeaux Superieur,  Bordeaux,  France:  13%;  $25   [ cork;  Me 63%,  CS 23,  CF 14;  Parker 139:  A fine offering ... sweet cassis fruit, straightforward flavors, and good purity, ripeness, and balance ... 87 ]
Ruby and velvet,  older than the 2000 Alwyn.  This wine stood out in the four-wines-blind part of the tasting,  due to its old-world / European styling – a touch of both oxidation and brett.  Nonetheless there is a suggestion of merlot florals in the savoury plummy bouquet,  and the palate shows classical merlot-dominant structure.  The wine therefore made a useful contribution to the discussion,  illustrating faults without being crippled by them,  and still showing regional style well.  On this showing it is not as good as my previous review,  or alternatively it has developed much more quickly than I indicated,  but it is plump and drinks well with meat meals.  Cellar another five years or so.  This wine was used as part of a presentation on Bordeaux blends in New Zealand,  for the Lincoln University Viticulture and Oenology degree course,  to illustrate an older phase of ripe merlot-dominant Bordeaux / Hawkes Bay blend.  GK 09/08

2006  Ngatarawa Merlot Glazebrook   16 ½  ()
Ngatarawa Triangle 71%,  Gimblett Gravels 29,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested Me > 95%;  c. 12 months in French oak 30% new;  3 g/L RS;  www.ngatarawa.co.nz ]
Good ruby.  Bouquet is light,  fragrant,  pretty,  almost a roses and violets floral and pinot noir  suggestion,  inclining more to the red fruits spectrum of the 2006 Odyssey than the black fruits of  the 2006 Craggy – red currants and red plums.  Palate is more red fruits too,  ripest red rhubarb stalks and red plums,  lightly oaked,  fragrant.  Harmonious and pleasing light merlot,  in an Entre Deux Mers style.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  This wine was used as part of a presentation on Bordeaux blends in New Zealand,  for the Lincoln University Viticulture and Oenology degree course,  to illustrate a less-ripe phase of merlot.  GK 09/08

2006  Clearview Cabernet Franc Reserve   16  ()
Te Awanga,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $41   [ supercritical cork;  CF 82%,  CS 9,  Me 9;  15 months in mostly new French oak;  www.clearviewestate.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  a little deeper than the 2006 Glazebrook.  The role of this wine in the Lincoln degree course presentation was to illustrate the fragrant red fruits nature of cabernet franc the variety.  It is however hard to demonstrate this variety convincingly in New Zealand,  since all too often the subtle qualities of the grape are not sufficiently respected,  and the wine ends up marred (as a varietal) in its elevage.  Usually it is from excess oak,  but here the wine opened with reductive and bretty tendencies,  thwarting my goals.  On palate there is sweet ripe fruit hinting at the desired raspberry and red plum attributes,  and the oaking is commendably subtle.  As the wine aired,  the reduction breathed off,  but the brett became more noticeable.  It was useful therefore in the class situation,  and not unattractive in its quirky way.  Cellar 3 – 8 years,  in its style.  GK 09/08

2006  Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon   14 ½ +  ()
Kumeu,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  12%;  $18   [ screwcap;  CS 100%;  no info on website;  www.odysseywines.co.nz ]
Lightish ruby.  Bouquet is light red fruits on the scale of a Loire cabernet franc,  more red currant and raspberry with some sautéed red capsicum complexities – pleasant in its way but leafy and under-ripe as cabernet sauvignon.  Palate is less ripe,  lacking substance,  as if chaptalised.  Phenolics are well-handled for its ripeness,  though,  and the wine is a pleasant light QDR,  to cellar 1 – 3 years only.  This wine was used as part of a presentation on Bordeaux blends in New Zealand,  for the Lincoln University Viticulture and Oenology degree course,  to illustrate an under-ripe phase of cabernet sauvignon.  GK 09/08