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

Chardonnay:  The highlight of the last couple of months has been the opportunity to think seriously about chardonnay.  The pre-eminent tasting was a vertical of Bonneau-du-Martray Corton-Charlemagnes from 2004 to 2010,  presented by the Domaine itself in combination with Glengarry wines.  This is one of the world's great white burgundies and chardonnays,  so this tasting provided an unprecedented opportunity to learn about chardonnay the grape and how it may be transformed into great wine.  The point of the Domaine sending the vertical tasting to New Zealand was a bridge-building exercise,  a vital demonstration to many disappointed customers that they have solved the problems of premature oxidation which have afflicted so many white burgundies in recent decades.  As such,  the tasting succeeded admirably.

This was a very rare opportunity for both New Zealand chardonnay-makers and New Zealand winewriters and judges to learn about arguably the most important white grape in the world,  if they were serious about their craft.  It is self-evident that chardonnay-makers should be there,  if they aspire to make world-class wines,  but only one came.  And likewise,  when it comes to the presumption of writing wine reviews,  there is a very serious requirement that aspiring winewriters strive to taste the wines of the world first,  before declaiming on New Zealand wines.  But in New Zealand,  few winemakers or winewriters are actually intellectually curious about the great wines of the world.  Both categories were conspicuous by their absence in these and other tastings recently.  Conversely,  how one respects those who do make the effort to learn more.  The results (for winewriting) are therefore like most Australian winewriting,  bizarrely chauvinistic,  myopic,  over-praising,  and downright misleading.  

But the opportunities to study chardonnay did not end there.  Glengarry also offered a tasting of the (nearly full) range of Jean Chartron white burgundies,  from bourgogne blanc through to Chevalier-Montrachet at $500 dollar the bottle.  In one sense,  showing the full price range of chardonnays was even more worthwhile and instructive.  As for winewriters,  one would hope that for the Wellington presentation,  Wairarapa chardonnay winemakers would swarm to experience such a representative range of white burgundies,  as calibration for their own efforts (and pricing) with chardonnay.  Few did.  In Wellington therefore,  it was a pleasure to join Raymond Chan (of the eponymous website) in checking just what these two sets of wines had to offer,  and what the concept of white burgundy means in Burgundy nowadays.  The experience illustrated just what the term 'benchmark wine' means

Also on the chardonnay theme,  Regional Wines of Wellington invited Michael Brajkovich of Kumeu River down to talk about his chardonnays.  It is safe to say that nobody in New Zealand has thought harder or longer about chardonnay than Michael,  though John Hancock (Trinity Hill,  formerly Morton Estate when it was famous for its chardonnays (the original Black Label) in the 1980s),  Peter Cowley (Te Mata – Elston) and Paul Mooney (Mission Estate – Jewelstone) should be mentioned in the same thought.  Michael pioneered the malolactic fermentation in New Zealand,  a component of white burgundy which is de rigueur in France.  He was also very early in the piece with barrel fermentation and lees autolysis,  the components of elevage which with MLF lead to the wonderful mealy complexities of fine chardonnay,  which in the very best examples evolve into gorgeous cashew smells and flavours with age.  

All these wines are reported on in this set of notes.  With careful conservation,  some comparative evaluations could be made,  adding further to the quality of these marvellous learning experiences.  Having watched the evolution of New Zealand chardonnay since the first tentative offerings from Henderson and Hawkes Bay in the early 1960s,  these tastings have been a joy.  New Zealand can make world-class chardonnay,  but only once we rein in the cropping rate and new oak,  and attend immaculately to fruit ripeness.

Easter Show tasting:  Judging wine in the rigorous format of a serious wine competition is one of life's most demanding occupations,  requiring fiendish concentration for extended periods.  And yes,  notwithstanding the naysayers,  there is a certain objectivity in it,  for there are standards in wine,  despite the permissive claptrap uttered by those seeking to justify a wayward viewpoint on a wine.  So,  though good wine is elusive and hard to pin down or characterise,  judging it and communicating about it meaningfully can be done.  But then there is the further complication that judging wine is a human construct,  so mistakes are possible too.

Few therefore would be so sublimely confident in their judgement of wines as to not have some unease when judged wines are later encountered in some other less stressed / more relaxed context,  where there is more time to examine the quirks and foibles of each wine.  There would not be many wine judges who,  having opined on this and that,  and at the end of the day felt they had done the best job possible,  did not a week or two later attend an awards dinner of some kind where the top wines are presented with food,  and the results and trophies are announced.  In that context,  who has not picked up a glass and had that sinking feeling,  ohmigod,  how did we give that the top mark ?

Accordingly,  I looked forward eagerly to presenting a tasting of some of the gold-medal wines from the recent 2013 Auckland Easter Show Wine Awards to the customers of Regional Wines & Spirits,  Wellington.  This was a formal sit-down tutored tasting,  the wines revealed.  In the invitation I said:  

We will not necessarily show the Trophy wines willy-nilly.  This year there will instead be some pairings of other gold medal wines which illustrate wine-making or regional differences nicely.  This should make for a more interesting batch of wines.  

In particular, we will start with two contrasting examples of the ever-improving methode-champenoise class.  Two appealing rieslings will follow,  with varying sweetness levels.  Then believe it or not,  two pinot gris,  as this cinderella variety is finally taken more seriously.  One or both of these is sure to appeal,  so discard prejudice !  Then there will be arguably the best gewurztraminer ever made in New Zealand,  a couple of contrasting sauvignons though both from Marlborough,  and an old favourite in the chardonnay class,  the latest Villa Maria Keltern from Hawkes Bay.

The reds weren't quite so exciting this year,  despite the recent good vintages,  so only four of them.  They include an affordable pinot noir,  two syrahs one a surprise from Nelson,  and a newcomer from Hawkes Bay.  The final wine is a quite astonishing bordeaux-replica cabernet / merlot from Hawkes Bay,  well worth tasting.

The results were quite exhilarating,  the least of the wines being enjoyable,  and the best a delightful illustration of just how much New Zealand wine practice has progressed during the more than 30 years I have been a senior judge.

Maison Vauron:  If one ever wanted a feel for the wines of Alsace,  and the foods they cry out for,  then attending one of Jean-Cristophe Poizat's tastings either at his wine firm (Maison Vauron, Auckland),  or when he takes his tastings to several specialist wine shops around the country,  is the ideal introduction.

Jean-Cristophe was at Regional Wines & Spirits Wellington recently,  with a selection of Alsace wines ranging from everyday to grand cru.  And there is no doubt about one thing,  these are food wines.  Why ?  In general all the wines except the basic graders are richer than anything we are accustomed to in New Zealand.  Because of the elevated dry extract,  they can and do carry more phenolics than New Zealand whites,  which makes them able to accompany rich and flavoursome foods without seeming watery.  And thirdly,  all the wines have residual sugar,  which not only makes the wine seem richer still,  but is so well hidden by the richness you really have to think about the wine to be sure of that sweetness.

The other great characteristic of Alsatian wines is the excess of romance,  and the dearth of information.  There are websites for all these producers,  but for facts on the wines you might as well search for moondust.  Not one single number for residual sugar can be found on any of the producers'  sites.  Perhaps specialist pay-only websites have details winkled out of the proprietors during personal visits,  but in general,  you are on your own.  In the wine notes that follow,  I have tried to make an estimate for the sugar,  but these wines are so rich,  the figure is a pure guess,  which could be 100% out.

Pinot gris:  it is a thrill; to report that finally,  pinot gris is being taken seriously in New Zealand.  Being a member of the pinot family,  the key attributes for the grape must be aroma and palate weight.  Instead for much too long,  too many winemakers have been making it as a cash-cow lowest-common-denominator lightly sweet nothing wine for people who do not really like wine at all.  We still have a long way to go with the grape,  and with its fragrant cousin pinot blanc,  but at least in New Zealand we have a climate which can optimise the subtle and at best floral character of these two delicate varieties,  rather than destroying it as is the case in all of Australia except Tasmania.  Both these grapes demand the utmost care with oak,  the ideal being beautifully clean old neutral oak.  Sadly over the years,  too many people have treated it like chardonnay,  which all to often obscures the beauty of the grape totally.


   nv  Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve
   nv  Champagne Moutard Grande Cuvee Brut
2008  Daniel Le Brun Methode Traditionelle
1978  Moet & Chandon Champagne Brut Imperial
2004  Morton Estate Methode Traditionelle  Black Label
   nv  Nautilus Marlborough Cuvée Brut
2011  Black Estate Chardonnay
2010  Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
2009  Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
2007  Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
2005  Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
2004  Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
2008  Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
2006  Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
2005  Domaine des Lambrays Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatieres Premier Cru
2011  Escarpment Chardonnay
2011  Escarpment Chardonnay Kupe
2000  Jean Boillot & Fils Puligny-Montrachet Clos de la Mouchere Premier Cru
2010  Jean Chartron Bourgogne Blanc Clos de la Combe
2010  Jean Chartron Chassagne-Montrachet Les Benoites
2010  Jean Chartron Chevalier-Montrachet Clos des Chevaliers Grand Cru Monopole
2010  Jean Chartron Corton-Charlemagne
2010  Jean Chartron Puligny-Montrachet
2010  Jean Chartron Puligny-Montrachet Cailleret Premier Cru Monopole
2010  Jean Chartron Puligny-Montrachet Clos de la Pucelle Premier Cru Monopole
2010  Jean Chartron Puligny-Montrachet Folatieres Premier Cru
2010  Kumeu River Chardonnay Coddington
2010  Kumeu River Chardonnay Estate
2010  Kumeu River Chardonnay Hunting Hill
2009  Kumeu River Chardonnay Hunting Hill
2006  Kumeu River Chardonnay Hunting Hill
2010  Kumeu River Chardonnay Matés Vineyard
2010  Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Prelude
2010  Morton Estate Chardonnay Black Label
2011  Morton Estate Chardonnay Hawke's Bay
2009  Morton Estate Chardonnay Private Reserve
2011  Villa Maria Chardonnay Keltern Single Vineyard Hawke's Bay
Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2012  Bladen Sauvignon Blanc
2012  Charles Wiffen Sauvignon Blanc
2012  Domain Road Sauvignon Blanc Bannockburn
2012  Framingham Sauvignon Blanc
2012  Gunn Estate Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Reserve
2012  Mount Riley Sauvignon Blanc Limited Release
2011  Mt Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc
2012  [ Pernod-Ricard ] Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc Letter Series B (Brancott)
2011  [ Pernod-Ricard ] Brancott Estate Sauvignon Gris Letter Series R (Renwick)
2009  Pyramid Valley Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc Hille Vineyard Growers Collection
2012  Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc Wairau Reserve
2012  Stanley Estates Sauvignon Blanc Single-Vineyard
2012  Yealands Estate Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc
2012  Zephyr Sauvignon Blanc
2009  Domaine Albert Boxler Riesling Sommerberg Grand Cru
2011  Domaine Albert Mann Riesling
2011  Black Estate Riesling
2012  Domain Road Riesling Duffers Creek
2009  Kingsmill Riesling Tippet's Race
2011  Neudorf Riesling Moutere
2012  Neudorf Riesling Moutere Dry
2010  Pyramid Valley Riesling The Body Electric
2011  Terrace Edge Riesling Classic
2012   [ Villa Maria ] Thornbury Riesling Waipara
2012  Westbrook Riesling Marlborough
2012  Zephyr Riesling
Pinot Gris
2010  Domaine Albert Mann Pinot Gris Hengst Grand Cru
2010  Domaine Bott-Geyl Pinot Gris Les Elements
  2011  Mount Beautiful Pinot Gris
2012  [ Pernod-Ricard ] Boundary Vineyards Pinot Gris Paper Lane Waipara
2012  [ Pernod-Ricard ] Brancott Estate Pinot Gris Marlborough Special Reserve
2011  Perseverance Pinot Gris
2012  Sileni Pinot Gris Pinnacle (Marlborough)
2012  Sileni Pinot Gris The Priestess (Hawke's Bay)
2012  Stanley Estates Pinot Gris Single Vineyard
2011  Tinpot Hut Pinot Gris
2011  Domaine Albert Mann Gewurztraminer
2011  Bladen Gewurztraminer
2008   Domaine Bott-Geyl Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Sonnenglanz
2009  Saint Clair Gewurztraminer Godfrey's Creek Reserve
2012  Spy Valley Gewurztraminer Envoy
2012  Zephyr Gewurztraminer
Sweet / Sticky
All other white wines, blends, etc.
2010  Domaine Bott-Geyl Pinot d'Alsace Metiss
2007  Domaine Marcel Deiss Altenberg de Bergheim Grand Cru
2009  Domaine Marcel Deiss Langenberg Cru d'Alsace La Longue Colline
2012  Mount Edward Pinot Blanc
2010  Pyramid Valley Pinot Blanc Kerner Vineyard Growers Collection
2012  Stanley Estates Albarino Single Vineyard
2012  Black Estate Rosé Netherwood Vineyard
Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2010  Y Amirault Bourgueil La Coudraye
1978  Ch d'Angludet
2010  Pyramid Valley Cabernet Franc Howell Vineyard Growers Collection
2009  Vidal Cabernet / Merlot Gimblett Gravels Legacy Series
Cabernet / Shiraz
Pinot Noir
2010  Black Estate Pinot Noir
2010  Black Estate Pinot Noir Omihi Series
2011  Black Grape Society Pinot Noir The Central Otago
2011  Black Grape Society Pinot Noir The Marlborough
2011  Bladen Pinot Noir
2011  Brennan Pinot Noir B2
2010  Domain Road Pinot Noir
2011  Escarpment Pinot Noir
2010  Escarpment Pinot Noir
2011  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kiwa
2011  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe
2008  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe
2011  Escarpment Pinot Noir Pahi
2010  Escarpment Pinot Noir Pahi
2011  Escarpment Pinot Noir Te Rehua
2008  Escarpment Pinot Noir Te Rehua
2012  Gunn Estate Pinot Noir Marlborough Reserve
2009  Kingsmill Pinot Noir Tippet's Dam
2011  Mount Beautiful Pinot Noir
2010  Perseverance Pinot Noir
2010  Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir Cowley Vineyard Growers Collection
2010  Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir Earth Smoke
2011  Zephyr Pinot Noir
Syrah = Shiraz
2012  Clearview Syrah Cape Kidnappers
1985  Guigal Cote Rotie Cotes Brune & Blonde
2010  Kaimira Estate Syrah Brightwater
2009  Leeuwin Estate Shiraz Siblings
2011  [ Rod McDonald Wines ] Te Awanga Estate Syrah
2011  Spade Oak Syrah / Viognier Heart of Gold
2012  Spade Oak Syrah Voysey
2011  Terrace Edge Syrah
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre & related blends
All other red wines, blends etc
2011  Catherine's Block Tempranillo
From the Cellar. Older wines.

nv  Nautilus Marlborough Cuvée Brut   18 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12%;  $36   [ cork;  based on 2008 fruit,  PN 70%,  Ch 30,  all hand-picked;  100% MLF of base wine,  no barrel component;  5 – 15% reserve wine added when laid down;  36 – 42 months en tirage;  RS 7 g/L;  www.nautilusestate.com ]
Pale lemonstraw.  Bouquet is dramatically different from the Le Brun,  a richer broader much more clearly autolysed wine – the difference between some recent bottlings of Louis Roederer on the one hand,  and Bollinger,  for example.  Just smelling this wine is nearly enough,  the quality of the autolysis is totally finest French baguette,  some brioche,  just wonderful.  Behind that is beautiful pinot noir and chardonnay fruit,  yet the wine is not 'fruity'.  All these bouquet impressions combine in mouth,  the wine being rich in the style of vintage champagne,  yet again it is not 'fruity',  the pinot noir adding lovely red fruits hints.  Acid is clearly softer than the Le Brun and body is greater,  and right through the palate there is this sensational baguette-quality yeast autolysis.  Remarkable New Zealand bubbly,  perhaps the best Nautilus yet.  Needless to say,  half the room preferred this one,  showing how personal wine is.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 04/13

2008  Daniel Le Brun Methode Traditionelle   18  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $40   [ cork;  PN 72%,  Ch 28,  all hand-picked;  43 months en tirage;  100% MLF in the base wine;  5% of the base fermented in old oak barrels;  no blending-in of reserve wines;  RS 6 g/L;  www.daniellebrun.co.nz ]
Palest lemon.  Bouquet is exquisitely pure and fine,  a pale wine like the lightest of grande marque champagnes,  the first sniff seeming more a blanc de blanc.  There are hints of white flowers and fresh-cut cooking apples,  and a touch of yeast autolysis,  paler than baguette.  Palate is quite different,  immediately the firmness of pinot noir and a hint of white cherry and tannin,  fresh acid,  and one can imagine the trace oak used in elevation – maybe ?  This wine is really champagne-like,  a youthful pale crisp one.  Of the two bubblies, 10 tasters preferred this wine.  To judge from the 2000 Daniel Le Brun (made by Daniel himself before sale of the winery to Lion,  so a different style from this quite clinical wine) this will cellar for 10 – 15 years.  GK 04/13

nv  Champagne Moutard Grande Cuvee Brut   16 ½ +  ()
Cote des Bar,  Champagne,  France:  12.6%;  $37   [ cork;  PN & Ch,  3 years in cellar,  months en tirage unknown;  www.champagne-moutard.fr ]
Lemonstraw.  Bouquet is almost too fresh,  lots of gas,  the first sniff one suspects trace reduction (crumb of bread rather than crust) but it is just the extreme youth / freshness / recent disgorgement,  I think.  Once the wine settles down a bit in glass,  there is pleasant light autolysis on what seems pinot noir and chardonnay fruit (in a small blind tasting).  Palate is quite flavoursome,  more pinot noir evident now,  a little phenolic,  with dosage nearer Reserve Lindauer than the Le Brun or Nautilus.  Straightforward champagne,  better with food,  and will be much better after a couple more years in bottle.  Cellar 2 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

nv  Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve   16  ()
Reims,  Champagne,  France:  12%;  $60   [ cork;  PN & PM 70%,  Ch 30;  MLF,  no oak,  40% reserve wines up to 10 years old (unusual);  no dosage given on website,  but highish;  170,000 cases;  promotional price to clear previous label,  normally $81;  www.charlesheidsieck.com ]
Slightly orange straw,  poor.  Bouquet is odd,  on the one hand quite good yeast autolysis character,  but there is also a strange note of corned beef sandwiches made with Vogel's whole-grain bread.  Palate is less,  high total acid,  residual as commercial as Lindauer to cover,  and high phenolics in a straw-y fleshy flavour with a touch of strawberry – is this high meunier [ yes ] ?  Perfectly good plain French bubbly for non-critical uses,  the wine illuminating dramatically just how good New Zealand bubblies like the current Nautilus and MiruMiru vintage really are.  Not a cellar wine.  GK 05/13

1978  Moet & Chandon Champagne Brut Imperial   16  ()
Epernay,  Champagne,  France:  12.6%;  $ –    [ cork,  cork parallel-sided (roughly) and stable at 16.5 mm diameter;  www.moet.com ]
Tired gold,  still some lazy bubble.  Bouquet is reminiscent of wholemeal / oatmeal toasted muesli with bush honey,  plus thoughts of single malt whisky and oak,  not exactly fresh,  more mellow.  Palate is similar,  surprisingly phenolic (oak ?),  very dry to the finish,  improving greatly with food such as nuts to complement the good autolysis.  Provenance of bottle unknown,  bought at auction,  no longer exactly exciting as the champagne winestyle,  but still good with food for anniversaries.  GK 04/13

2004  Morton Estate Methode Traditionelle  Black Label   14 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12%;  $37   [ cork;  website not up to date;  www.mortonestatewines.co.nz ]
Rather advanced straw,  like the 2011 Chardonnay.  Bouquet is broad,  reminiscent of some clumsy cavas of a bygone era,  seemingly high chardonnay in a rather aldehydic biscuitty and slightly cheesy advanced way.  Palate matches,  though fresher than the bouquet because of quite high acid,  but the flavours more wine biscuit than anything,  quite Brut.  The competition has intensified a good deal around this label in the last few years,  and several latter-day New Zealand bubbly makers are closer to the original now,  and therefore offer better value.  Not worth cellaring,  needs savoury food to optimise it as a quaffing bubbly.  GK 04/13

2009  Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru   19 ½  ()
Aloxe-Corton Grand Cru,  Cote de Beaune,  France:  13.5%;  $179   [ cork;  biodynamic vineyards,  average vine age c.40 years;  full MLF,  c.12 months in barrel,  33% new,  with batonnage;  Domaine Bonneau du Martray is the single largest holding in Corton-Charlemagne at 9.5 hectares;  the website is simply a statement the establishment exists,  and cannot receive visitors – no info;  www.bonneaudumartray.com ]
Lemon,  fresher than the 2010.  Bouquet is everything good chardonnay should be,  near acacia blossom florals,  white stonefruits,  crushed oystershell minerality,  the slightest trace of high-solids odour acceptable at the sub-marzipan level,  and likewise the oak playing second fiddle to the fruit complexity.  New Zealand winemakers please note.  Taken all together there is an integration here which is both powerful (in a velvet-gloved way) and beautiful.  Palate however is where this wine triumphs,  there immediately being tactile fruit richness of a quality scarcely ever encountered.  This 2009 stands out from all the others in this respect,  and reminds me of the 1971 Corton Charlemagne I used as a guiding light into chardonnay in early days,  except there is more new oak.  It is conceivable some could say the acid is on the gentle side,  but I doubt it – the richness masks.  The colour alone at third to lightest suggests perfect balance.  Wonderful wine,  richer than the Chartron Chevalier-Montrachet,  to cellar 5 – 15 years,  at least.  GK 05/13

2005  Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru   19 +  ()
Aloxe-Corton,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  biodynamic vineyards,  average vine age c.40 years;  full MLF,  c.12 months in barrel,  33% new,  with batonnage;  Domaine Bonneau du Martray is the single largest holding in Corton-Charlemagne at 9.5 hectares;  the website is simply a statement the establishment exists,  and cannot receive visitors – no info;  www.bonneaudumartray.com ]
Deeper lemon than the 2009,  but noteworthy that is still lemon,  not straw.  This is rather different from the 2009,  there being a more evolved fruit / autolysis / oak quality to the bouquet adding an almost biscuit note to yellow rather than white fruits.  There is a trace more high-solids character here than the 2009,  which I would normally mark down.  Once the wine is in mouth,  however,  like the 2009 the sheer majesty of the fruit weight and concentration removes any doubts.  This is nearly as impressive as the 2009,  the richness of the mealy fruit / autolysis / oak interaction lingering long.  There is quite a yellow stonefruits note to it.  There is greater minerality here than the 2009, and reminders of Le Montrachet.  It will cellar another decade,  at least.  GK 05/13

2010  Jean Chartron Chevalier-Montrachet Clos des Chevaliers Grand Cru Monopole   19  ()
Puligny-Montrachet,  Burgundy,  France:  14%;  $499   [ cork;  hand-harvested,  organic vineyard practice;  BF in 40% new oak,  16 months LA;  www.bourgogne-chartron.com ]
Lemon,  the third to lightest.  Bouquet however is far from the lightest,  being quiet but substantial,  ripe,  fragrant in a crushed oystershell,  stonefruit and traces of ground almond way,  clear peach flesh,  barrel-ferment character,  and alcohol.  Palate is much bigger,  by far the richest of the Chartron wines,  pale stonefruit,  light oak,  clear mealyness from lees-autolysis,  and despite the richness a firm backbone of acid.  This should cellar wonderfully,  5 – 15 years.  Great white burgundy.  GK 04/13

2006  Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru   19  ()
Aloxe-Corton,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  biodynamic vineyards,  average vine age c.40 years;  full MLF,  c.12 months in barrel,  33% new,  with batonnage;  Domaine Bonneau du Martray is the single largest holding in Corton-Charlemagne at 9.5 hectares;  the website is simply a statement the establishment exists,  and cannot receive visitors – no info;  www.bonneaudumartray.com ]
The colour is sensational lemongreen,  the palest of the set.  Bouquet is in the white stonefruits style of the 2009,  but with greater crushed oystershell minerality.  It is as pure as the 2009,  scarcely any high-solids notes at all.  On palate the purity of chardonnay varietal fruit is a delight,  still pale white stonefruits,  not as rich as the 2005 but contrasting delightfully in the white vs yellow nature of the fruit.  The crushed oystershell minerality lasts right through to the aftertaste,  very distinctive.  Cellar another eight years,  at least.  This one is not is not quite as concentrated as the top two,  but is purer even than the 2009.  GK 05/13

2010  Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru   19  ()
Aloxe-Corton,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $221   [ cork;  biodynamic vineyards,  average vine age c.40 years;  full MLF,  c.12 months in barrel,  33% new,  with batonnage;  Domaine Bonneau du Martray is the single largest holding in Corton-Charlemagne at 9.5 hectares;  the website is simply a statement the establishment exists,  and cannot receive visitors – no info;  www.bonneaudumartray.com ]
Pale lemon straw,  curiously not in the lemon half of the set,  nor the palest.  This is a different wine in that the oak is (still ?) obtrusive on bouquet,  and coupled with a light high-solids component it is not so explicitly beautiful in its fruit,  at this stage.  On palate,  one is struck by the higher acid and noticeable oak in white stonefruits,  and you can't help feeling as so often in New Zealand,  that less oak sits more happily with the wine in high-acid years.  These factors detract from immediately assessing the actual fruit weight,  but on careful examination it is excellent.  Palate flavours are stonefruit and oak-tinged mealy qualities,  remarkably close to the 2011 Villa Maria Keltern Reserve,  but slightly richer.  I think this wine will follow exactly the same trajectory as the 2005,  and probably rate higher in five years.  Cellar 5 – 15 + years.  GK 05/13

2010  Jean Chartron Puligny-Montrachet Folatieres Premier Cru   18 ½ +  ()
Puligny-Montrachet,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $144   [ cork;  hand-harvested,  organic vineyard practice;  BF in 30% new oak,  11 months LA;  www.bourgogne-chartron.com ]
Pale lemon straw,  right in the middle for weight of colour.  This wine is fractionally purer than the Chevalier,  with more emphasis on stonefruit and mealy lees-autolysis,  and less on minerality.  Palate is simply delicious,  succulent ripe stonefruit,  excellent mealy complexity,  a better balance of fruit and new oak than some,  good fresh acid,  lovely balance,  great purity,  a model Puligny-Montrachet.  This is the richest of the premiers crus,  but there is markedly less concentration than the remarkable Chevalier.  Cellar 4 – 12 years.  Classic white burgundy.  GK 04/13

2011  Villa Maria Chardonnay Keltern Single Vineyard Hawke's Bay   18 ½ +  ()
Maraekakaho,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $37   [ screwcap;  hand-picked from a vineyard immediately west of the Bridge Pa Triangle,  fractionally cooler than the Gimblett Gravels,  clone 95 at 79% and the balance clone 15,  average vine age 13 years;  whole-bunch pressed,   some juice settling and some juice oxidation;  100% barrique-ferment maintained 18 – 24°,  c.53% wild-yeast ferments;  63% through MLF;  9 months in French oak 37% new,  plus older oak to 2 years,  batonnage weekly the first 8 – 10 weeks till wine stabilised,  occasional thereafter;  pH 3.28,  RS <1;  sterile-filtered;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Pale lemon to lemonstraw,  much the palest of the 10 chardonnays.  Bouquet shows beautiful white nectarine fruit of the non-mendoza-dominant New Zealand chardonnay style,  still a clear barrel char and faint reduction complexity,  but infinitely more subtle than the offensive-but-everybody's-me-too-darling 2010,  subtle mealy and white mushroom autolysis,  and great purity.  I did decant this wine splashily,  and ventilated it in an open jug for half an hour,  to further attenuate 'the Keltern character'.  I scarcely needed to bother,  the Villa Maria winemakers have done a great job in fine-tuning this wine (and ignoring the Show results last year – praiseworthy).  Palate is where this wine triumphs,  the quality and richness of fruit,  and the subtlety of oak handling being right up there with the Folatieres,  and texturally the wine is just as fine.  It is richer than the Cailleret,  but not quite so complex.  A great New Zealand chardonnay to cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 04/13

2010  Kumeu River Chardonnay Matés Vineyard   18 ½ +  ()
Kumeu River,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $66   [ screwcap;  mendoza the dominant clone in Matés,  all hand-harvested;  wild-yeast fermentation and 100% BF,  LA,  and MLF;  11 months in barrel usually 20% new but varies;  2010 is seen as the best vintage so far for Kumeu River chardonnay,  though 2013 in the wings may challenge;  Mate's is the oldest vineyard,  planted in 1990;  www.kumeuriver.co.nz ]
Lovely lemonstraw,  in the middle of this batch of chardonnays.  Bouquet is classic Matés,  wonderful yellow-accented floral and fruit notes of the mendoza clone,  subtle oak,  mealy autolysis,  subliminal char and reduction,  an altogether fine modern chardonnay.  Palate is the richest of the Kumeu River wines,  clear-cut golden queen peach fruit plus mealy yeast autolysis enhancement of the palate.  Even so,  palate weight is not as rich as great chardonnay can be,  so there is still scope for this icon wine to be more impressive.  It does not seem as rich as 2011 Keltern for example.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2007  Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru   18 ½ +  ()
Aloxe-Corton,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  biodynamic vineyards,  average vine age c.40 years;  full MLF,  c.12 months in barrel,  33% new,  with batonnage;  Domaine Bonneau du Martray is the single largest holding in Corton-Charlemagne at 9.5 hectares;  the website is simply a statement the establishment exists,  and cannot receive visitors – no info;  www.bonneaudumartray.com ]
Lemon,  the second to palest.  This is a curious wine in the set,  there being the high acid of 2010 but not the fruit weight,  and the fruit purity of the 2009,  but again and even more so not the weight.  I used the 2011 Villa Maria Keltern Reserve as a marker wine in this tasting,  and alongside that rich wine (by New Zealand standards) the 2007 Bonneau is still clearly richer.  There is a lesson in that for New Zealand winemakers keen on making world-class chardonnays.  The lingering white stonefruits aftertaste is particularly attractive,  like the 2009.  Cellar another 6 – 8 years.  GK 05/13

2010  Jean Chartron Puligny-Montrachet Cailleret Premier Cru Monopole   18 ½  ()
Puligny-Montrachet,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $175   [ cork;  hand-harvested,  organic vineyard practice;  BF in 30% new oak,  12 months LA;  www.bourgogne-chartron.com ]
Lemonstraw,  the deepest of the Chartrons.  Bouquet is closer to best New Zealand practice,  ripe stonefruit,  vanillin new oak,  just a touch of char complexity like the Keltern,  some mealyness.  Palate is clearly more oaky,  the same fresh acid of these 2010s a little more noticeable because of the oak,  markedly less fruit than the lovely Folatieres and remarkable Chevalier,  yet the total impression is still classic chardonnay.  There is a complexity in the flavour,  and a touch of pale Danish butter,  which is seductive.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 04/13

2006  Kumeu River Chardonnay Hunting Hill   18 ½  ()
Kumeu River,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  14%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  see 2010 Hunting Hill;  www.kumeuriver.co.nz ]
Lively straw,  the deepest of the Kumeu chardonnays.  After all the young wines,  what a pleasure to smell and taste a wine with some maturity.  Here there is an element of biscuitty complexity creeping into the stonefruit,  and no negatives from reduction.  Palate is delightful,  beautiful fully mature chardonnay surely including some clone mendoza,  golden queen and other peaches,  oatmeal,  gentle oak,  lovely balance and length.  Eminently drinkable and poised wine,  mature now,  yet will cellar three years yet.  GK 04/13

2010  Kumeu River Chardonnay Hunting Hill   18 +  ()
Kumeu River,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $50   [ screwcap;  clone 15 predominates but a mix,  all hand-harvested;  wild-yeast fermentation and 100% BF,  LA,  and MLF;  11 months in barrel usually 20% new but varies;  2010 is seen as the best vintage so far for Kumeu River chardonnay,  though 2013 in the wings may challenge;  www.kumeuriver.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw,  an elegant colour.  Bouquet is complex,  trace reduction battling with acacia florals and lisbon lemon aromas,  the former just stealing a little beauty from the latter.  The current fad for reductive suggestions (noble sulphides – what a contradiction in terms) in chardonnay is to be deplored.  Palate shows good citrusy and stonefruit chardonnay with reasonable body and subtle oak.  It is richer than the Estate wine,  and shows every chance of becoming as elegant in maturity as the 2006 is now.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2008  Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru   18  ()
Aloxe-Corton,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $ –    [ cork;  biodynamic vineyards,  average vine age c.40 years;  full MLF,  c.12 months in barrel,  33% new,  with batonnage;  Domaine Bonneau du Martray is the single largest holding in Corton-Charlemagne at 9.5 hectares;  the website is simply a statement the establishment exists,  and cannot receive visitors – no info;  www.bonneaudumartray.com ]
Lemonstraw,  the deepest of the wines.  Bouquet is noticeably more developed and broader in style,  with wine-biscuit suggestions and a hint of honey already apparent in mixed bottled stonefruits,  nectarines mainly.  Palate shows a freshness not suggested by the bouquet,  the fruit weight exactly matching the Keltern,  again stonefruits,  but winemaker Gordon Russell (who came down from Esk Valley specifically to learn from this tasting) used the descriptor 'creamed corn',  which he sees as being negative.  On the other hand,  it is also a food-friendly quality to have in a white wine.  There is much less new oak in this weaker year,  so the total balance is admirable.  In a food context,  one would be pretty happy with this.  Cellar another five years,  maybe.  GK 05/13

2010  Jean Chartron Corton-Charlemagne   18  ()
Aloxe-Corton,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  14%;  $235   [ cork;  hand-harvested,  organic vineyard practice;  BF in 40% new oak,  12 months LA;  www.bourgogne-chartron.com ]
Lemon,  below midway.  Bouquet displays definitive varietal character in one sense,  but is tending oaky with a clear char component like the Keltern.  The fruit has more yellow notes than some,  more golden queen peach than nectarine.  The level of oak becomes obtrusive on palate,  there is simply not the fruit to cover the barrel treatment,  so the Keltern wins that side of the equation totally.  One hopes for exemplary body in any Corton-Charlemagne,  so some (relative)  disappointment here.  And tasting the 2010 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne alongside later confirmed this view,  the body being exemplary.  The Chartron is fine if you prefer oaky chardonnay.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 04/13

2010  Kumeu River Chardonnay Coddington   18  ()
Kumeu River,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $47   [ screwcap;  clone 15 predominates but a mix,  all hand-harvested;  wild-yeast fermentation and 100% BF,  LA,  and MLF;  11 months in barrel usually 20% new but varies;  2010 is seen as the best vintage so far for Kumeu River chardonnay,  though 2013 in the wings may challenge;  www.kumeuriver.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw,  the second deepest of the Kumeus.  Difficult wine,  this.  The reduction the Kumeu the River people are currently so keen on is at present fighting with the oak,  each making the other more obtrusive,  and therefore the wine less beautiful.  Nonetheless the wine is explicitly varietal,  clean stonefruits,  some mealyness,  more body than the Estate wine but still not rich,  better oak balance than the Chartron Corton-Charlemagne.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 04/13

2010  Jean Chartron Puligny-Montrachet Clos de la Pucelle Premier Cru Monopole   17 ½ +  ()
Puligny-Montrachet,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $175   [ cork;  hand-harvested,  organic vineyard practice;  BF in 30% new oak,  12 months LA;  www.bourgogne-chartron.com ]
Lemon,  the palest of the Chartrons,  deeper than the Keltern.  Initial impression is of Meursault,  a clearly mealy and fruit-dominated wine,  softer than several,  on pale peach fruit.  In mouth the oak is nicely restrained,  the flavours are complex but in a simpler lactic way,  with thoughts of both wine biscuits and citrus,  plus fresh acid.  It is nowhere near as rich as Keltern,  which is exciting news in the New Zealand chardonnay context.  Total impression is of harmonious white burgundy,  earlier developing than some,  to cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2010  Jean Chartron Puligny-Montrachet   17 ½ +  ()
Puligny-Montrachet,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $102   [ cork;  hand-harvested,  organic vineyard practice;  BF in 25% new oak,  10 months LA;  www.bourgogne-chartron.com ]
Lovely lemon,  just below midway in depth.  Chardonnay rather than the elevation is much more to the fore in this wine,  the bouquet showing an almost acacia floral note moreso than the other wines,  on attractive pale stonefruits and a touch of vanillin oak.  Palate weight is less than the premier cru wines,  and the oak is more apparent as the fruit tapers away,  but the point of contrast with so many New Zealand chardonnays is the lovely fruit ripeness still evident in this less concentrated wine.  It is exactly here that the Escarpment 2011 offerings fail.  Length of flavour is good,  though the oak is very much part of it.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2010  Kumeu River Chardonnay Estate   17 ½  ()
Kumeu River,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $31   [ screwcap;  clone 15 predominates but a mix,  all hand-harvested;  wild-yeast fermentation and 100% BF,  LA,  and MLF;  11 months in barrel some new but mostly 1-year for the Estate;  2010 is seen as the best vintage so far for Kumeu River chardonnay,  though for the Estate production is down from the usual 5000 cases to 1600;  2013 in the wings may challenge;  www.kumeuriver.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw,  right in the middle for depth of colour.  Bouquet is chardonnay in the contemporary style,  this wretched thread of reduction muting the beauty of varietal fruit,  let alone any florality.  If I were a European writer,  I would say there was lovely minerality,  on stonefruit and some mealyness.  Palate is cooler crisper and lighter than the individual vineyard wines,  still clear stonefruits,  suggestions of mealy autolysis complexity,  and underneath it all,  you can detect the floral qualities of good chardonnay desperately trying to shake off the shackles of sulphide.  So sad.  See the populist press for more conventional reviews.  Alongside the Chartron village Puligny-Montrachet,  the Estate is nearly as rich,  and slightly more oaky.  Cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 04/13

2004  Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru   17 ½  ()
Aloxe-Corton,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $ –    [ cork;  biodynamic vineyards,  average vine age c.40 years;  full MLF,  c.12 months in barrel,  33% new,  with batonnage;  Domaine Bonneau du Martray is the single largest holding in Corton-Charlemagne at 9.5 hectares;  the website is simply a statement the establishment exists,  and cannot receive visitors – no info;  www.bonneaudumartray.com ]
Lemonstraw,  the second deepest of the wines,  still good by New Zealand standards for a 2004.  This is the only one of the Bonneaus to look a little old-fashioned (1980s) in style,  total sulphur being higher through bouquet and on palate,  total fruit being less (and less than the Keltern),  and acid higher.  There is also a high-solids note.  So much for the dissection:  as a white burgundy it is still rich,  flavoursome and pretty satisfying as a chardonnay in a food context.  With the slightly elevated sulphur and acid it will cellar surprisingly well another 2 – 4 years,  but not improve much I suspect.  GK 05/13

2011  Black Estate Chardonnay   17 +  ()
Waipara Valley,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14%;  $31   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  vines up to 16 years age;  wild-yeast fermentation,  15 months in French oak none new;  RS 2.6 g/L;  www.blackestate.co.nz ]
Light lemon straw.  Bouquet shows a lot of barrel-ferment,  lees-autolysis and winemaking artefact characters,  rather drowning the hoped-for beauty of the pure variety.  On palate there is good fruit,  high acid,  noticeable toasty oak,  and MLF and lees-autolysis characters all yet to marry up.  Hard to drink,  therefore.  Alongside the definitive Keltern wine,  I would prefer less oak and overt winemaking,  and more varietal expression.  The actual fruit is good,  and once the oak is better married in,  and the acid attenuates,  it should be an attractive wine with food.  Cellar 2 – 8 years.  GK 05/13

2010  Morton Estate Chardonnay Black Label   17 +  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $37   [ screwcap;  website not up to date;  www.mortonestatewines.co.nz ]
Advanced straw,  fractionally older than the 2009.  Initially opened,  the wine is little scented and strange,  so it is best decanted.  It clears to ripe mealy rich chardonnay,  a big wine,  forward for its age but attractive,  not too oaky.  Palate is tighter and more serious than the two junior wines,  with oatmeal and golden queen peach fruit,  good richness,  the spirit well wrapped up in the fruit,  just running out of fruit a little to the tail.  That should not be a worry with food,  and this wine cries out for food,  rather than being a scholarly tasting wine.  Again,  developing rapidly,  enjoy now,  rather than cellar.  GK 04/13

2010  Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Prelude   17 +  ()
Margaret River,  Western Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $39   [ screwcap;  no info on website;  www.leeuwinestate.com.au ]
Good lemon.  Bouquet is highly varietal,  beautiful in fact,  with mendoza-like fruit showing good stonefruit aromas backed by citrus,  grapefruit and lees-autolysis notes.  Oak is in a much more appropriate ratio than the Black Estate wine,  on bouquet being supportive only.  Palate is much less than the bouquet,  the grapefruit qualities now made assertive by (presumably added) acid,  the flavours tending one-dimensional and a little short,  but all very clean.  There is an understated elegance here the more boisterous Black wine lacks.  Should cellar well and mellow,  to be a good unobtrusive food wine.  Cellar 2 – 8 years  GK 05/13

2010  Jean Chartron Chassagne-Montrachet Les Benoites   16 ½ +  ()
Chassagne-Montrachet,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $110   [ cork;  hand-harvested,  organic vineyard practice;  BF in 30% new oak,  12 months LA;  www.bourgogne-chartron.com ]
Lemonstraw,  the second deepest of the Chartrons.  Improves with air to reveal a wine showing less ripeness and poise than the more highly-rated Chartrons.  Bouquet is lactic as well as varietal,  and in mouth the impression of there still being high malic acid correlates with the heightened lactic.  Fruit richness is quite good,  oak is a little too prominent,  so while clearly varietal,  there is a clumsiness about this wine.  It is markedly richer than the bourgogne blanc.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2009  Kumeu River Chardonnay Hunting Hill   16 ½  ()
Kumeu River,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  see 2009 Hunting Hill;  www.kumeuriver.co.nz ]
Lemongreen,  the palest of the Kumeu Rivers,  on a par with the 2011 Keltern,  but the wash of straw in the hue reflecting the extra two years.  On bouquet,  the reason this is the palest is manifest in the much heavier reduction.  Anybody who thinks this is 'noble reduction' is blind to sulphide.  But,  once the wine is in mouth,  there is better fruit and a slightly richer wine than the 2010,  and pleasing yeast autolysis complexity.  The good points are however sabotaged by the acrid,  sour and tarry tastes of excess barrel char and sulphides.  This will cellar for a longer time,  and may one day emerge from its gloomy tunnel – hope so,  but I am not chancing it.  Cellar through to 10 years,  maybe.  GK 04/13

2011  Escarpment Chardonnay Kupe   16 +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $56   [ screwcap;  BF in 20% new oak,  10 months LA,  dry extract 23.2 g/L;  RS < 1 g/L;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Lemongreen to lemon,  not too different from the 2011 Trinity Hill Chardonnay.  Both the palely floral bouquet and the palate show a little more character than the straight Escarpment Chardonnay.  In particular there is better palate weight from barrel-ferment,  lees-autolysis,  and barrel work,  and some MLF.  But it is still an austere high-acid presentation of chardonnay,  scarcely showing ripe fruit character at all.  If the desired style is grand cru chablis,  good examples of that winestyle are much riper and more varietal than this.  Tasted alongside,  the 2011 Trinity Hill Chardonnay shows much better aroma,  ripeness,  palate,  and importantly,  enjoyability.  It is also nearly half the price.  The acid is simply too high in both these Escarpment chardonnays.  

The 2008 Kupe Chardonnay was shown alongside,  and did little to augment the case for this pinched approach to chardonnay.  The colour is already advanced to light gold,  and the flavours likewise are more advanced than I would wish,  and almost stalky (16).  Larry spoke of his view that chardonnay is best drunk young.  This wine supports that statement,  for such under-ripe wines,  but the total view is seriously mistaken.  The mealy going-on-cashew flavours of perfectly ripe chardonnay in full maturity are one of wine's (and food's) great pleasures.  1980s wines from Victoria (Halliday and Carrodus) still show these characters,  and certain good New Zealand bottles do too.  And that is not even mentioning (good) white burgundy.  Much more thought needed here,  I believe,  for these expensive bottles do not deliver,  even though the fruit weight is good.  Cellar 2 – 4 years,  if at all.  A second bottle shown later in the month at the other Escarpment presentation had these shortcomings too,  but also some oxidation,  despite the 'infallibility' of screwcaps.  The simple 2010 Chartron Bourgogne Blanc is a better expression of chardonnay varietal character than this 2011,  and close to half the price.  Some of the published reviews of this 2011 wine are simply ludicrous / laughable.  Reviewers are duty-bound to taste the wine,  not listen to the winemaker.  The frustrating thing is McKenna has made good chardonnays earlier – witness the 2006 Kupe.  GK 04/13

2010  Jean Chartron Bourgogne Blanc Clos de la Combe    16 +  ()
Puligny-Montrachet,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $39   [ cork;  hand-harvested,  organic vineyard practice;  BF in 10% new oak,  9 months LA;  www.bourgogne-chartron.com ]
Lemon,  in the middle for weight of colour.  Bouquet shows the same clean winemaking as all the wines in the Chartron range,  and is clearly varietal in a light way.  In mouth the fruit is short but correct,  and not quite rich enough for the ratio of older oak.  There is an MLF component but not a lot of lees work,  at this price.  Clean sound chardonnay,  a little acid and short at the money,  but riper than the Escarpments.  Cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 04/13

2000  Jean Boillot & Fils Puligny-Montrachet Clos de la Mouchere Premier Cru   16  ()
Puligny-Montrachet,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  bottle courtesy Andrew Swann ]
Straw with a flush of gold,  naturally enough the deepest chardonnay in this batch of Kumeu River and Escarpment wines it was seen with.  Bouquet is low-tech,  revealing some processed cheese notes,  some botrytis-related banana notes,  and some sulphide-related clogged characters,  yet all on good fruit.  Palate is soft,  rich,  mealy and drying in maturity.  This wine is another perfect example of why the French so like to say that wine assessed without food is a nonsense.  Here a good cheese-laden pizza would make the wine look pretty good,  and maybe cover-up all these faults,  particularly if bouquet is considered less important.  Judged as chardonnay,  however,  it is imperfect.  Mature,  not a cellar wine.  GK 04/13

2009  Morton Estate Chardonnay Private Reserve   16  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $18   [ screwcap;  website not up to date;  www.mortonestatewines.co.nz ]
Advanced straw,  matching the 2008 Escarpment.  Bouquet shows mature chardonnay,  in fact a somewhat biscuitty wine too advanced for its age,  with a touch of processed cheese,  but all quite pleasant.  Palate has much better ripeness and fruit quality than the base 2011,  with pleasant mealy,  nutty and buttery undertones,  all gently oaked.  For the few cents extra,  this is vastly better value than the 2011,  and offers the chance to enjoy ripe,  mature,  tending-broad wine with food – where it works well.  Possibly not bone dry.  Ageing quite rapidly,  not a cellar wine,  enjoy now.  GK 04/13

2005  Domaine des Lambrays Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatieres Premier Cru   15 ½ +  ()
Puligny-Montrachet,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  c. 11 months in barrel traditionally 50% new;  bottle courtesy Andrew Swann;  www.lambrays.com ]
Straw,  deeper than the young wines,  naturally enough.  Bouquet is not quite pure,  not showing perfect ripeness,  and there is a hint of bayleaf too (-ve).  Palate shows considerable barrel complexity and fruit weight,  but some of the oak is old and tending acrid,  giving an awkward thread through the wine,  which becomes detracting on the finish.  A touch of rot may be present too.  What an unpredictable wine white burgundy is.  Best drunk up with flavoursome food,  while there is still some fruit richness.  GK 04/13

2011  Escarpment Chardonnay   15 ½ +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.4%;  $38   [ screwcap;  Te Muna Road vineyard;  BF,  wild-yeast fermentation;  RS 3 g/L,  dry extract 23.1 g/L;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen.  Bouquet is clean but austere,  scarcely varietal stoney chardonnay just hinting at demure white English garden flowers.  Palate to initial sip is acid and short,  but as the taste buds recover,  austere under-ripe stonefruit flesh becomes apparent.  Oak is subtle,  but because of the lack of flavour plus high acid,  nonetheless seems noticeable.  In speaking to the wine,  winemaker Larry McKenna indicated a desire for a leaner high-acid approach to chardonnay.  He has certainly achieved that,  but it is not a style of chardonnay which is enjoyable.  It simply lacks ripeness.  Judging from the 2008 Kupe Chardonnay shown with it,  cellar 1 – 3 years only,  if at all.  GK 04/13

2011  Morton Estate Chardonnay Hawke's Bay   13 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $16   [ screwcap;  website not up to date;  www.mortonestatewines.co.nz ]
Light gold,  fractionally older than the 2008 Kupe.  Bouquet is time travel,  straight back to the awful mixed-ripeness New Zealand chardonnays of the 1980s:  stalky,  estery and banana fruit,  disjointed MLF,  some oak,  botrytis and oxidation.  Palate is the same,  phenolic on the mixed ripeness,  tacky from the lactic by-products,  and not bone dry.  The fact such wines still have a following is no justification for still making them.  What on earth is happening at Morton Estate,  once famed for its chardonnays.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 04/13

Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2012  Framingham Sauvignon Blanc   18 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap;  mostly s/s,  7% barrel-fermented,  LA and batonnage with even an MLF component (well hidden),  RS not given;  www.framingham.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is simply beautiful sweet perfectly ripe subtle Marlborough sauvignon blanc:  white nectarine,  red capsicum,  black passionfruit flesh,  a touch of herbes including basil,  great purity.  Palate is rich and long,  great length,  dryer than some Marlborough sauvignons,  a delight.  This looks at least as good as Astrolabe Voyage,  the de facto gold standard in Marlborough sauvignon,  but I don't have it alongside.  Cellar 2 – 10 years.  GK 04/13

2012  Yealands Estate Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc   18 ½  ()
Awatere Valley 80%,  Wairau Valley 20,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $20   [ screwcap;  machine harvested,  long cold-settled (72 hours) to clear juice;  cool-fermented in s/s;  pH 3.23,  RS 3.4 g/L;  www.yealandsestate.co.nz ]
Excellent lemon.  Bouquet is wonderfully forthcoming,  and immensely varietal,  illustrating beautifully ripe sauvignon blanc in an essentially straight uncomplicated form.  Key characters on bouquet include black passionfruit,  a trace of fresh sweat,  red capsicums,  and best of all a hint of sweet basil,  all stunningly clean.  Palate wraps all these flavours up in a refreshingly crisp stainless steel presentation of the grape,  not exactly a rich wine,  but the quality of bouquet and flavour makes up for that,  and the flavours linger nicely even so.  It is not as rich as the Saint Clair Reserve,  but it is cleaner,  so they score the same.  Rather good with celery.  Cellar 2 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2012  Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc Wairau Reserve   18 ½  ()
Lower Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $35   [ screwcap;  juice cold-settled to clear,  minimised skin contact;  cool-fermented in 100% s/s;  pH 3.53;  RS 4 g/L;  dry extract 26.8 incl. RS;  www.saintclair.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  This wine has become an absolute standard-bearer for Marlborough,  even though style-wise it is a little deviant.  It is not quite the purest Marlborough sauvignon in the way the Astrolabe Voyage so often is,  the Wairau Reserve being a little quirky and indulgent.  Some years it is simply too sweaty,  but this 2012 is restrained.  It also flirts dangerously with reduction,  but again gets away with it.  In a way the wine is much more Sancerre / European,  and the body is totally European,  fantastic,  chardonnay-like,  as confirmed by the dry extract.  I absolutely cannot reconcile the body,  texture,  mouth feel and dry extract by analysis with the cropping rate given to me,  so there is a mystery there.  Part of it is the late-picking of the grapes,  I am told.  Finish is very long,  on a civilised 3.3 g/L residual sugar.  Interesting to compare the near-identical residuals of the Yealands and the Saint Clair,  against their quite different bodies and style.  This is a fabulous food sauvignon.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 04/13

2012  Stanley Estates Sauvignon Blanc Single-Vineyard   18  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $21   [ screwcap;  2011 was 1.8 g/L RS,  2012 not on website;  www.stanleyestates.co.nz ]
Elegant lemongreen.  Bouquet is clear-cut ripe Marlborough sauvignon showing black passionfruit,  red capsicum and hints of sweet basil,  nearly as characterful as the 2012 Peter Yealands.  Palate has pleasing fruit,  perfect continuity of the aromas through to the flavour,  and a finish which is long and seems fractionally drier than the Yealands wine.  Cellar 2 – 8 years,  if older sauvignon appeals.  GK 05/13

2012  Bladen Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap;  RS 3.4 g/L;  www.bladen.co.nz ]
Fractionally deeper lemongreen than the Framingham.  Bouquet is clean and ripe black passionfruit sauvignon,  all a little louder than the Framingham.  Palate confirms,  a little more phenolic,  passionfruit and red capsicum flavours,  good length,  slightly sweeter maybe – perhaps closer to the industry average of around 4 g/L.  Cellar 2 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2012  [ Pernod-Ricard ] Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc Letter Series B (Brancott)   17  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $19   [ Stelvin Lux;  15% hand-picked;  7% oak-fermented;  RS 2.3 g/L;  www.brancottestate.com ]
Pale lemongreen,  the lightest of the sauvignons.  Bouquet is clean sound Marlborough sauvignon in a somewhat subdued style,  quietly showing a full range of aroma cues as if there had been sequential picking:  black passionfruit,  red,  yellow and green capsicums notes right through the ripening curve,  some sweet basil too.  Palate shows more fruit than the Wiffen,  it is drier and richer but there is not quite the same clear definition,  with just a hint of sweat.  It is a little less acid – a milder wine which is good with food,  so it may find wider appeal than the Wiffen.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 05/13

2011  [ Pernod-Ricard ] Brancott Estate Sauvignon Gris Letter Series R (Renwick)   16 ½ +  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $19   [ Stelvin Lux;  RS 2.4 g/L;  www.brancottestate.com ]
Good lemongreen.  Bouquet is light and ill-defined,  but also clean and pure.  At the blind stage,  there are thoughts of pinot blanc,  but gradually it becomes vaguely sauvignon blanc,  though at the over-ripe end of the spectrum – like some Australian sauvignon blancs.  Palate is good,  richer than the matching Letter Series B but less defined,  in a scarcely or non-oaked Graves style [ in fact,  no oak at all ],  very pure,  a useful food wine.  Sauvignon Gris is another of these varieties like arneis and verdelho which have little potential to contribute as fine wine in New Zealand,  so one wonders about the premium presentation and packaging.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 05/13

2012  Charles Wiffen Sauvignon Blanc   16 ½ +  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $21   [ screwcap;  website not up-to-date;  www.charleswiffenwines.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen.  Bouquet is a fresh and herbe-y version of Marlborough sauvignon,  just a little pinched in the ripeness,  so thoughts of yellow and green capsicum and nettles arise,  as well as black passionfruit,  and some red capsicums.  Palate is crisp,  cool,  and leaner and more acid than the top wines,  but not weak and beautifully clean.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 05/13

2012  Zephyr Sauvignon Blanc   16 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap;  no elevation or residual detail on website;  Glover Family Wines,  not Dave Glover of Nelson;  www.zephyrwine.com ]
Lemongreen,  the palest of these sauvignons.  Bouquet is light,  pure,  but lacking conviction.  Palate confirms,  noticeably free-run but a more nettly and herbaceous rendering of Marlborough sauvignon,  lacking body,  then a little more sweetness to fill the palate.  Simple pure wine.  Cellar 2 – 4 years.  GK 04/13

2012  Mount Riley Sauvignon Blanc Limited Release   16 +  ()
Wairau & Awatere Valleys,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap,  all s/s;  no details on website;  www.mountriley.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is a more old-fashioned Marlborough sauvignon,  with mixed capsicum fruit notes, quite herbey,  fresh and strong.  On palate,  total acid is high,  ripeness is again mixed with green capsicum notes intruding,  and though the level of fruit and body is quite good,  the wine is tending hard-pressed and phenolic.  Sweetness is higher than some to cover the acid.  This kind of sauvignon is harder to drink,  and doesn't cellar so well.  The back label says it is the company's ''best effort" for the vintage.  Some serious comparative tasting and thought is needed here.  Cellar a year or two.  GK 04/13

2009  Pyramid Valley Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc Hille Vineyard Growers Collection   16  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $25   [ screwcap;  Se 95%,  SB 5;  all BF some new,  15 months on lees;  RS – g/L (the 2007 was 2.4);  www.pyramidvalley.co.nz ]
Colour is straw with a gold wash,  way out of line with modern white wine practice.  On bouquet,  the whole wine is immediately something different,  the wine based on the Graves style,  but in the esoteric interpretation of early bottlings of Te Koko.  It smells as if it is barrel-fermented,  with lots of lees-autolysis and some (at least) MLF complexity (later confirmed) complicating things rather much.  MLF and sauvignon characters do not always combine well.  In mouth the palate would be good if there were not so much oak influence.  Fruit weight is pleasing,  but the medley of flavours now at four years of age is moving well into maturity,  or even late maturity.  Fundamentally,  this wine speaks too much of the winemaker,  rather than the fruit and varietal definition.  Even though the small sauvignon component speaks loudly,  the wine is in fact based on semillon,  so it could cellar surprisingly well in its style up to another six years or so.  The MLF component adds palate length and makes it interesting with flavoursome (for example,  smoked) foods.  Releasing a semillon blend at four years of age is debatable,  however.  The score of 16 acknowledges it is a quirky wine which is surprisingly good with food.  In a formal judging it would be rejected.  GK 05/13

2012  Domain Road Sauvignon Blanc Bannockburn   16  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $24   [ screwcap;  all Otago fruit;  small part BF;  RS 4.4 g/L;  www.domainroad.co.nz ]
Pale brilliant lemongreen.  Bouquet is muffled,  a slightly ullaged flatness on it,  but otherwise clean and pure.  At the blind stage,  like the sauvignon gris there are reminders of sauvignon blanc,  but it is not convincingly varietal.  Palate is more clearly varietal at a clean and fairly ripe level,  reasonable weight,  but again the wine lacks definition.  Finish is sauvignon-dry,  simply not exciting,  but pleasant food wine.  Cellar a year or two.  GK 05/13

2012  Gunn Estate Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Reserve   15  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12%;  $17   [ screwcap;  all s/s;  RS 4 g/L;  www.gunnestate.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is old-fashioned,  a grassy and green capsicum sauvignon with hints of cut-green-bean,  but all clean and fragrant as such.  Palate follows naturally,  tending thin intrinsically but rather strong due to the flavour compounds,  sweeter than average,  a supermarket wine.  Won't cellar beyond a year or two.  GK 05/13

2011  Mt Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc   14 ½  ()
Northernmost Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14%;  $21   [ Stelvin Lux;  machine-harvested;  48-hour cold-settling;  cool s/s ferment,  some lees contact;  RS 1.5 g/L;  www.mtbeautiful.co.nz ]
Lemongreen,  a great colour.  Bouquet offsets the great start,  however,  total sulphur being too high and the beauty of the fruit veiled.  Palate shows rich fruit despite the low RS,  which would have made good wine,  but the sulphur load has killed the fruit and substituted cardboardy notes.  What a pity,  I imagine a wine like this might still be well-received by many United Kingdom wine people however.  Could possibly recover and cellar 3 – 8 years,  but scarcely anybody in New Zealand likes old sauvignon – foolishly.  Probably not worth cellaring,  therefore.  GK 04/13

2012  Westbrook Riesling Marlborough   18 ½  ()
Wairau & Omaka Valleys,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  10.7%;  $20   [ screwcap;  s/s cool-fermented,  some lees contact;  pH 2.7,  RS 20 g/L;  www.westbrook.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is less obvious than the Thornbury,  more delicate,  a lovely floral note reminiscent of freesia blossoms,  a totally Mosel presentation of the grape.  Palate is both floral and appley ( fresh-cut sturmer ),  citrus too,  good concentration,  very fine-grain,  the nexus of acid,  pH and residual sweetness (invisible) astonishing,  the style totally Mosel,  though a dryish one.  This is outstanding New Zealand riesling,  which will cellar to 15 years,  perhaps longer.  GK 04/13

2012   [ Villa Maria ] Thornbury Riesling Waipara   18  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  11.5%;  $15   [ screwcap;  s/s cool-fermented,  some lees contact;  pH 3.15,  RS 11.6 g/L;  fined and filtered;  a Villa Maria group wine;  www.thornbury.co.nz ]
Brilliant pale lemongreen.  Bouquet shows clear citrusy and slightly resiny riesling,  undoubtedly varietal.  Palate is fresh,  crisp,  slightly resiny in this sense of hops (+ve),  near dry,  marvellously varietal at the price.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2011  Neudorf Riesling Moutere   17 ½  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  9%;  $30   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  whole-bunch pressed;  mostly s/s low-solids wild-yeast ferment,  10% in old French oak;  stopped @ 48 g/L,  extended LA;  240 cases;  www.neudorf.co.nz ]
Brilliant lemongreen.  Bouquet is complex,  showing great varietal fruit but also faint reduction from what smells like enhanced lees-autolysis work.  The positives include sweet vernal,  freesia and citrus blossom notes,  on pale stonefruit.  Palate is sweet,  which takes one's mind off the negatives,  but the thread of reduction does add a sourdough complexity to the nearly grapefruit palate.  Not a subtle wine,  so Mosel analogies don't fit,  all in all a gamble to cellar 5 – 12 years,  perhaps to surprise.  The sweetness bar-graph on the back label is excellent.  GK 05/13

2011  Black Estate Riesling   17 +  ()
Waipara Valley,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  11%;  $22   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  wild-yeast fermentation,  all s/s;  RS 16.4 g/L;  www.blackestate.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw,  quite forward.  Bouquet is interesting in this set,  the florals quite yellow in an almost hoppy riesling context,  plus juicy stonefruit including grapefruit and pale apricot.  Palate is rich,  soft and flavoursome,  slightly extractive with clear riesling terpenes in the stonefruit,  quite a big wine more in the Pegasus Bay style,  rather than Germanic.  Finish on the nicely-judged residual at a medium dry point is long and highly varietal,  flattening slightly later on the phenolics and perhaps lowish in acid.  Cellar 2 – 6 years,  maybe longer.  GK 05/13

2009  Domaine Albert Boxler Riesling Sommerberg Grand Cru   17 +  ()
Near Colmar,  Alsace,  France:  13.5%;  $87   [ cork;  www.alsace-wine.net/p/boxler.shtml ]
Straw,  in the middle for depth.  The wines come down to earth a bit at this point.  This wine smells rich in an ill-defined vinifera way,  hints of Jamaican grapefruit and stonefruits,  just a touch of marzipan (–ve for me),  a reminder of some Clare Valley rieslings.  On palate you have to forgive it a lot,  the concentration and richness again being unknown by New Zealand standards for riesling,  so there is body and food-friendliness quite different from the local produce.  It is particularly hard to assess the residual here,  with the sweeter nature of riesling flavour compounds,  but perhaps 20 – 30 g/L.  The length of flavour is fabulous,  but the actual flavour quite broad by German or good Waipara standards.  Interesting rather than compelling.  Cellar 3 – 10 years,  maybe longer.  GK 04/13

2011  Terrace Edge Riesling Classic   17  ()
Waipara Valley,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  wild-yeast fermentation,  all s/s;  RS 38 g/L;  www.terraceedge.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Better with a breath of air,  the bouquet is citric to the point of reminding of lemonade,  some lime zest,  quite assertive,  more South Australian than German.  Palate continues that thought,  quite bold,  a little extractive,  sweeter than it tastes,  the flavours all clearly varietal.  Should cellar well in its bolder style,  3 – 8 years,  and will probably go hoppy.  GK 05/13

2012  Zephyr Riesling   17  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $25   [ screwcap;  no RS on website;  Glover Family Wines,  not Dave Glover of Nelson;  www.zephyrwine.com ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is reminiscent of the Zephyr Sauvignon,  the fruit so free-run you can hardly tell the variety,  almost too subtle at least in youth,  but there is a hint of freesias.  Palate is odd,  again a lack of fruit flavour now,  but less phenolics than the Kingsmill and therefore better cellar potential.  Very pure,  quite rich,  good with food,  might surprise in cellar,  riesling-dry or a bit above.  At the moment,  doesn't quite convince.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 04/13

2012  Domain Road Riesling Duffers Creek   16 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  11%;  $25   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  inoculated yeast cool fermentation,  all s/s;  RS 19 g/L;  www.domainroad.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is light and vaguely varietal,  suggestions of an aromatic yeast on light riesling,  clean,  distinctly youthful.  Palate is more convincing,  citric with light riesling fruit,  medium-dry sweetness and a pleasant balance of fruit and phenolics.  Cellar 2 – 8 years,  maybe to score higher.  GK 05/13

2009  Kingsmill Riesling Tippet's Race    16 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $25   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  cool-fermented in s/s;  RS 2 g/L;  www.kingsmillwines.co.nz ]
Lemon to lemonstraw.  Bouquet is richly varietal,  a big wine with some florals but rather more resiny riesling notes,  as in some Eden Valley rieslings.  One wonders if this might be too big.  Yes,  flavour is on the unsubtle side,  rich fruit,  quite extractive and a bit hoppy on the terpenes,  a long bold flavour with some sweetness apparent despite the low RS given,  balancing the raisin.  Awkward with food,  could be scored higher,  alternatively those seeking a Germanic style would mark it lower.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2011  Domaine Albert Mann Riesling   16 +  ()
Near Colmar,  Alsace,  France:  12.5%;  $31   [ screwcap;  www.albertmann.com ]
Lemon,  a totally modern colour,  the second to palest.  Some SO2 detracts on the freshly opened wine,  and there might be trace reduction too,  on a fair volume of simple varietal fruit at the sweet vernal level of complexity.  Palate is very youthful,  traces of linalool and vanillin trying to raise their heads,  modest white fruits,  quite 'mineral' (as might be expected from mention of possible reduction).  Reminders of Jeffrey Grosset here,  but not so finely made.  This is much the dryest wine of the Alsatian bracket,  being 'riesling dry' in simple terms.  Could surprise in cellar,  for the fruit richness is there.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 04/13

2012  Neudorf Riesling Moutere Dry   16  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  12%;  $27   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  whole-bunch pressed;  s/s low-solids wild-yeast ferment,  stopped @ 8.6 g/L,  extended LA;  380 cases;  www.neudorf.co.nz ]
Light lemon straw.  Bouquet is veiled,  not exactly reductive,  but not communicating.  Variety is not apparent at this point.  On palate,  immediately riesling terpenes and flavours can be detected,  on good physical fruit and relatively low (riesling-dry) residual sugar.  The sweet floral subtleties one hopes for in riesling are not yet apparent,  presumably from the suspected reduction.  Always hard to tell if or how wines will bury their sulphide,  and particularly with a variety like riesling where subtlety and florality are so desired,  but this could surprise in cellar,  over the longer term 3 – 10 years.  Score is for now,  as riesling.  GK 05/13

2010  Pyramid Valley Riesling The Body Electric   12  (-)
Waipara implied,  New Zealand:   – %;  $19   [ screwcap;  not apparent on website;  www.pyramidvalley.co.nz ]
Straw with a gold and brown wash,  the poorest of the Pyramid Valleys,  dubious.  Initially opened,  the smell is unclean verging on pooh-y.  It improves with prolonged decanting / breathing,  to a cheesy vaguely citrusy smell,  which suggests defective lees-autolysis work.  One tastes wine like this with foreboding,  but palate is better than the smell,  coarsely varietal in an overdeveloped way,  near dry.  To try and pass this wine off with a trendy (silly) name on the label betrays the concept of 'Pyramid Valley wines'.  The proprietors should have dumped it.  GK 05/13

Pinot Gris
2012  [ Pernod-Ricard ] Brancott Estate Pinot Gris Marlborough Special Reserve   18 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $21   [ screwcap;  s/s cool-fermented,  probably including some wild-yeast ferments,  some lees contact but no oak;  a Pernod-Ricard group wine;  pH 3.57,  RS 9 g/L;  cool season but marvellous dry April;  www.brancottestate.com ]
Lemon.  After so many years of so much New Zealand pinot gris being lolly water made to cater for people who don't really like wine,  yet since the grape is a pinot variety,  it is capable of such quality when cropped appropriately as in Alsace,  what a joy it was in the 2013 Easter Show to find not one but two exemplary New Zealand pinot gris.  This Brancott wine is slightly the pick of the two,  the bouquet showing pale nectarine flesh,  pear flesh and attractive floral notes,  all made more interesting by a hint of cinnamon as in Easter buns.  Palate shows the body essential for quality pinot gris,  perfect  handling of the phenolics the variety can sometimes display,  great length of fruit in mouth,  attractive acid,  the excitement of the slight cinnamon note,  and a near-dry finish.  Lovely wine to cellar 3 – 8 years,  perhaps longer.  Communicates brilliantly with sweet corn.  GK 04/13

2012  [ Pernod-Ricard ] Boundary Vineyards Pinot Gris Paper Lane Waipara   18 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $23   [ screwcap;  machine-harvested grapes,  s/s cool-fermented,  3 months lees contact,  no oak;  a Pernod-Ricard group wine;  pH 3.57,  RS 9.7 g/L;  no website ]
Pale lemonstraw.  Total style and balance is similar to its stable-mate,  yet intriguingly different.  The bouquet here is more baked apples,  still complexed by tell-tale cinnamon subliminal spice notes.  Palate is as rich as the Brancott,  but it seems a little sweeter than the modest difference in the specs indicates,  and it is grippy on the phenolics.  It is a little harder to match with food,  therefore.  Cellar 2 – 6 years maybe,  in case those phenolics increase.  GK 04/13

2011  Tinpot Hut Pinot Gris   18  ()
Awatere & Wairau Valleys,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap;  minimal skin contact,  cold-settled,  all s/s ferment;  RS 4.5 g/L;  www.tinpothut.co.nz ]
Light lemonstraw.  Bouquet is clean and lightly varietal:  pear flesh,  white nectarine,  a hint of stewed red rhubarb and cinnamon adding interest.  Palate follows on beautifully,  good richness,  totally varietal in the New Zealand style building on bouquet (which sadly lacks the hints of yellow-fruit interest of good Alsace),  sweetness near-dry – seeming comparable with riesling-dry.  This could be interesting in cellar 3 – 8 years.  Its body makes it good with suitable food.  GK 04/13

2010  Domaine Albert Mann Pinot Gris Hengst Grand Cru   18  ()
Near Colmar,  Alsace,  France:  14%;  $53   [ cork;  www.albertmann.com ]
Lemonstraw,  below midway in depth,  a modern colour.  After the gewurztraminer grand cru,  bouquet here is subtlety personified.  Nonetheless,  it is totally varietal,  showing delicate white flowers (though not quite the detail of the Elements wine) and pure pear and white nectarine flesh.  In mouth this is simple benchmark pinot gris,  the quality of fruit exemplary,  the flavours as fresh as the bouquet,  much finer handling of the phenolics than many of the better New Zealand examples,  a silky smooth wine.  It could perhaps be a little richer by fine Alsatian standards,  and it is a little dryer than some wines in this bracket too,  15 – 25 g/L maybe.  This is not surreal or unachievably sublime pinot gris,  it is just straightforwardly definitive of this overly-commercialised variety.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 04/13

2012  Stanley Estates Pinot Gris Single Vineyard   17 ½  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $21   [ screwcap;  20% BF;  4.9 g/L RS;  www.stanleyestates.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Needs a breath of fresh air / swirling in the glass,  to show clear vinifera and pale stonefruit aromas,  some flesh,  not immediately convincing.  Palate is much better,  the flesh expanding,  well judged phenolics framing the body,  more stonefruit now as the wine breathes up,  and considerable length on good fruit and a near-dry finish.  Good food wine.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 05/13

2011  Mount Beautiful Pinot Gris   17  ()
Northernmost Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $35   [ Stelvin Lux;  hand-harvested;  fermentation in both s/s and some old oak;  some LA;  RS 3 g/L;  www.mtbeautiful.co.nz ]
Light straw.  Bouquet is a little drier than the Tinpot Hut wine,  showing lovely pinot character with even a hint of blackboy peaches as well as pear flesh.  Palate is tauter than the Tinpot,  a little more phenolic,  but good body and length,  and again,  dramatically pinot.  It says volumes about the Australian climate and arrogant Australian winewriters,  that they all-too-often dismiss pinot gris the variety,  which: "if it smells of nothing,  and tastes of nothing,  it must be pinot gris".  In a temperate climate,  pinot gris at best can shows real pinosity,  simply a white-fleshed version of it.  Near-dry,  and should cellar 3 – 10 years.  Interesting wine,  though with food it is let down a little by the phenolics on palate.  GK 04/13

2012  Sileni Pinot Gris Pinnacle (Marlborough)   16 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $22   [ screwcap;  not on website;  www.sileni.co.nz ]
Straw.  Colour and bouquet alike are deeper and richer than the Hawkes Bay wine,  the aromas suggesting nectarines with a hint of dried peaches,  which one could interpret perhaps as a dusting of cinnamon.  Palate is richer and dryer than the Hawke's Bay wine too,  more boldly flavoured,  slightly drier and less acid,  the phenolics showing.  Nobody could say this was a wishy-washy pinot gris.  Cellar 2 – 4 years.  GK 05/13

2010  Domaine Bott-Geyl Pinot Gris Les Elements   16 ½ +  ()
Beblenheim,  Alsace,  France:  13%;  $33   [ supercritical 'cork';  www.bott-geyl.com ]
Straw with a gold wash,  old-fashioned,  above midway in depth.  Bouquet on this pinot gris is simply beautiful.  It illustrates the delicate sweet palely-yellow floral smell of old-fashioned single English primroses (a now forgotten flower),  lovely white stonefruits which must bespeak a pinot variety,  and trace noble botrytis.  Palate is less,  the phenolics quite coarse,  so despite good fruit and some sweetness,  in mouth the wine is clumsy.  But once Jean-Cristophe produces some fat-laden Alsatian food,  the wine seems wonderful.  Buy on apples and sell on cheese.  Again,  tasted with the two gold-medal New Zealand wines,  the concentration here even in the standard wine is remarkable.  Very hard to score meaningfully.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2012  Sileni Pinot Gris The Priestess (Hawke's Bay)   16  ()
Bridge Pa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $22   [ screwcap;  not on website;  www.sileni.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is modest,  a bit flat,  showing simple pear-flesh qualities.  Palate is short and simple in flavour,  with some body and residual sweetness balanced by phenolics,  a more commercial wine.  Perhaps better in a year or so,  cellar 2 – 4 years.  GK 05/13

2011  Perseverance Pinot Gris   14 ½  ()
Alexandra,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $24   [ screwcap;  no info on website;  www.perseverance.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is hardly the right word,  there being a lack of character on both bouquet and palate,  both suggesting only a slightly rubbery vinifera-based white wine.  There is some fruit,  and the finish is riesling-dry,  tending hard.  Not worth cellaring,  lucky to get a medal in the Easter.  GK 05/13

2009  Saint Clair Gewurztraminer Godfrey's Creek Reserve   19  ()
Brancott Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $28   [ screwcap;  Gw 100%,  night-picked for optimum flavour retention from 14-year vines;  overnight skin contact,  no press-wine,  clear-settled juice cool-fermented with commercial yeasts,  no MLF component;  made as 'vendage tardive';  pH 3.67;  RS 8.7 g/L;  dry extract 27.4;  www.saintclair.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw,  the deepest of the whites.  Bouquet is sensationally varietal,  a combination of wild ginger blossom and yellow himalayan honeysuckle florals on lychee and stonefruit,  with clear spice too,  and the pungent floral note of lemon balm also hinted at.  This can be a negative,  but is OK here.  Palate is rich,  dramatically varietal and saturated with fruit,  the phenolics and spice of the variety adding backbone and length to the rich fruit,  all sustained by a similar residual sugar to the two pinot gris.  For both the pinot gris and this gewurztraminer,  they all have the body to go with food very well,  but the trick is to match the particular flavours and touch of tannin with appropriate foods,  including some spiced / Asian dishes.  This wine marches in Alsatian company.  Cellar 2 – 6 years,  perhaps longer.  GK 04/13

2012  Zephyr Gewurztraminer   18 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $25   [ screwcap;  vines 19 years age;  no RS on website;  Glover Family Wines,  not Dave Glover of Nelson;  www.zephyrwine.com ]
Lemonstraw,  minutely deeper than the Bladen.  Oh boy,  after their excessively restrained sauvignon blanc and riesling,  the Zephyr Gewurztraminer is the real thing.  It is not perfumed like the Bladen,  there is just that magical bit of extra ripeness to fill out the bouquet to satisfying yellow florals (as in wild-ginger blossom) and lychee,  plus great varietal character.  Palate is just as good,  the phenolics beautifully balanced on great flesh,  real body,  beautiful acid balance,  clearly drier than the Bladen.  This is great New Zealand gewurztraminer,  to cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 04/13

2008   Domaine Bott-Geyl Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Sonnenglanz   18 ½  ()
Beblenheim,  Alsace,  France:  13%;  $59   [ cork;  www.bott-geyl.com ]
Lemonstraw with a wash of gold,  in the middle for depth.  This is not an in-your-face gewurz,  and initially one is a little underwhelmed.  Put simply,  the more you taste it,  how the wine grows.  Bouquet opens to beautiful and totally floral gewurztraminer,  yellow honeysuckle again,  but here the magic lift of the fragrant autumn-flowering wild ginger,  with its spice and sweetly-haunting perfume and aroma.  Below is ample lychee,  and golden queen and other stonefruits,  the fruit expanding in mouth to be more phenolic than the grand cru field blend,  so the flavour is lengthened spectacularly,  and lengthened further by a touch of noble botrytis plus 30 or more g/L residual sugar too.  Recently I wrote of the richness of the 2009 Saint-Clair Reserve Gewurztraminer,  but even the very best New Zealand aromatic whites simply cannot compete with the richness of fine Alsatian wines.  This raises a profound scoring problem,  for the thoughtful winewriter.  Cellar 3 – 15 years.  GK 04/13

2012  Spy Valley Gewurztraminer Envoy   18  ()
Waihopai Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $25   [ screwcap;  no info,  website being renovated;  www.spyvalleywine.co.nz ]
Rich lemon.  Bouquet is sweet,  ripe,  floral,  exotic,  and freshly-opened tending too perfumed.  It  benefits from decanting to reveal ginger-influenced spicy lychee,  grapefruit and stonefruit aromas and flavours,  good body,  sweetness above medium,  long flavoured.  This Spy Gewurztraminer does not quite achieve the authentic Alsatian-quality richness and ripeness of the Saint Clair Reserve reviewed recently,  and it is a bit sweeter,  but it is explicitly varietal.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 05/13

2011  Bladen Gewurztraminer   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $20   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  6 hours skin contact;  all cool-fermented in s/s,  RS 14.5 g/L;  www.bladen.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw.  Lots of bouquet here,  a perfumed and almost scented version of gewurztraminer with hints of lemon balm.  There is a reminder of the coarse muscat side of gewurztraminer,  but all in all it is just on the right side of the line,  showing rose-petal and lychee on white nectarine fruit.  Palate is much more substantial,  great body,  some phenolics but the flesh to cover it,  you can almost see the lovely rosey glow of the grapes when you taste this.  Aftertaste is long and beautifully varietal,  medium-dry and sustained on the residual sugar.  Bouquet may simply be too youthful,  as yet:  in a year's time this might be gold-medal wine.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 04/13

2011  Domaine Albert Mann Gewurztraminer   17  ()
Near Colmar,  Alsace,  France:  14%;  $34   [ screwcap;  www.albertmann.com ]
Lemon,  a totally modern colour and appearance (quite apart from being under screwcap),  and the palest wine.  Bouquet here is much closer to home,  the same suggestions of lemon balm (which can be off-putting) as the recent Saint Clair Reserve,  wild ginger blossom,  lychee again,  quite definitive gewurztraminer.  Palate is not quite so fine,  the wine showing good richness but rather high phenolics and hints of wild / mixed-yeast fermentation against somewhat less residual (7 – 15 g/L maybe),  so it is very flavoursome in mouth.  Pretty good in some ways,  but not great gewurz.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

All other white wines, blends, etc.
2007  Domaine Marcel Deiss Altenberg de Bergheim Grand Cru   19  ()
Ribeauville,  Alsace,  France:  12%;  $142   [ cork;  limestone and marl;  www.marceldeiss.com ]
Deep golden straw,  the deepest of the colours even having regard to its age.  As soon as you smell and taste the wine,  however,  one forgets the colour.  This is simply sensational Alsatian wine,  despite it being one of these quirky field-blends of everything in the vineyard (tous les cepages traditionnels).  Bouquet is like a wonderfully floral pinot gris,  the florals including clearly yellow notes which make white wines so exciting – himalayan honeysuckle for example.  As soon as you taste it,  one's understanding expands,  the matrix of the wine being pinot varieties with great body,  but still on palate there is this floral lift now seen to be from riesling,  botrytis and almost invisible gewurztraminer.  Dry extract is magical.  Sweetness must be at least 30 g/L,  but it is in one sense invisible.  The price seems outrageous for the concept,  but then one thinks of the Medoc particularly.  Grand cru does mean something in Alsace.  Lovely now and will hold 10 – 15 years at least.  GK 04/13

2010  Pyramid Valley Pinot Blanc Kerner Vineyard Growers Collection    16 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $31   [ screwcap;  all BF,  c. 10 months on lees;  RS 3.2 g/L;  www.pyramidvalley.co.nz ]
Straw with a gold wash,  very old-fashioned.  Bouquet is fresher by far than the colour predicts,  revealing both good fruit and a disproportionate ratio of winemaker artefact,  like some chardonnays.  Fruit includes clear stonefruit with suggestions of yellow fruits (unusual in pinot blanc),  all complexed with Vogel's Mixed Grain crusty autolysis notes and oak.  Palate suggests there is some MLF here too,  but the oak is too strong and the fruit reveals mixed ripeness,  adding a stalky note.  The result is all a bit of a jumble,  the wine lacking finesse and tiring to drink.  Like the Alsatian wines,  it cries out for food,  and is then much better,  hence the score.  Cellar a year or two only,  but interesting with flavoursome foods.  GK 05/13

2010  Domaine Bott-Geyl Pinot d'Alsace Metiss   16 ½  ()
Beblenheim,  Alsace,  France:  13%;  $25   [ supercritical 'cork';  PB 33%,  Ax 33%,  PG and some PN off-the-skins;  also info @ www.alsace-wine.net/p/bottgeyl.shtmlwww.bott-geyl.com;  www.bott-geyl.com ]
Straw with a gold wash,  the second deepest,  old-fashioned.  Bouquet shows clear (white) pinosity,  lovely white fruits,  quite a lift from noble botrytis,  and a developed character suggesting elevation in fuder.  Palate extends the thought of age,  trace oxidation maybe,  clearly noticeable phenolics,  but wonderful concentration of fruit,  some sweetness,  a wine demanding food.  In the sense of Alsatian wine and food,  and simple enjoyment,  this wine shows great typicité,  and at an affordable price.  Judged more strictly,  it is simply old-fashioned.  Cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 04/13

2012  Stanley Estates Albarino Single Vineyard   16 +  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $21   [ screwcap;  wild-yeast fermentation and BF in old wood only;  9.5 g/L RS;  www.stanleyestates.co.nz ]
Straw.  Bouquet shows vague aromas of yellow kiwifruit and a hint of rock melon and maybe oak,  all tending plain.  Palate is quite rich,  more phenolic and coarser than the same firm's pinot gris,  the actual grape flavours not enchanting,  and the finish lesser.  The back label makes a play of being the first vineyard in Marlborough to produce albarino.  Like arneis and verdelho,  one has to ask in New Zealand:  why bother ?  Cellar a year or two.  GK 05/13

2012  Mount Edward Pinot Blanc   15  ()
Gibbston,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $23   [ screwcap;  not apparent on website;  www.mountedward.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is drably vinifera,  not having much to say at all,  total sulphur maybe a bit high as yet.  Palate is equally anonymous,  tending acid,  and much too sweet,  a 'nothing' wine.  Pinot blanc is at best a beautiful little wine like (best) chasselas,  but Mount Edward so far have declined to take it seriously.  Pinot blanc needs to be cropped appropriately for good wine,  ripened to a point that optimises the florality of the grape,  touched with old oak only if at all,  and presented as a near-dry wine.  Not worth cellaring,  not easy to drink.  GK 05/13

2009  Domaine Marcel Deiss Langenberg Cru d'Alsace La Longue Colline    14  ()
Saint Hippolyte,  Alsace,  France:  13%;  $61   [ cork;  limestone and marl;  www.marceldeiss.com ]
Dull straw,  the third to deepest.  This field-blend wine is the polar opposite of the grand cru field-blend,  being old-fashioned,  dulled by high-solids and fusel-like aromas and marzipan (–ve),  and with no grape varieties visible at all.  Palate is quite rich,  but heavy,  dry and short,  nearly sour as if trace oxidation (in this case),  reflecting inappropriate elevation.  Not worth cellaring,  let alone at the price.  GK 04/13

2012  Black Estate Rosé Netherwood Vineyard   16  ()
Waipara Valley,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  11%;  $21   [ screwcap;  Ch,  PN,  made with carbonic maceration;  not on website;  www.blackestate.co.nz ]
Pale rosé,  pleasantly mature.  The two arbiters of the rosé style are Tavel primarily,  and Cabernet d'Anjou.  Therefore,  even the New Zealand fondness for rosés made from pinot noir is hard to take – so many are wishy-washy.  On picking up this rosé,  it smells like chardonnay with a dash of oak and raspberry.  Good rosé should smell of red grapes,  so this is not a good start.  Palate is odd,  rather phenolic,  yet somehow lacking fruit,  and surprisingly dry,  seriously dry.  It's all clean and sound and quaffable,  and it's best left that point.  It doesn't gel as serious rosé.  But,  it is good to have a rosé released with appropriate age – few-months-old rosé is an abomination.  GK 05/13

Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2009  Vidal Cabernet / Merlot Gimblett Gravels Legacy Series   19  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $64   [ screwcap;  CS 76,  Me 24,  hand-picked,  all de-stemmed;  cuvaison varies up to 30 days;  20 months in French oak 50% new;  RS nil;  minimal fining and filtration;  www.vidal.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  a great colour.  And the bouquet is simply astonishing,  being sweetly floral as in violets and also (unpredictably) honeysuckle,  on a depth of cassisy berry made aromatic by cedary oak,  which all-in-all is totally classed growth Bordeaux.  The palate is just as good,  saturated cassis and dark plum,  yet dry,  wonderful length and breadth,  very serious elevation (unlike some other reds here),  a wine ideally suited to cellar investment.  This is one of the great New Zealand bordeaux blends,  which will give much pleasure.  Cellar 5 – 25 years.  GK 04/13

2010  Y Amirault Bourgueil La Coudraye   17 +  ()
Bourgueil,  Loire Valley,  France:  12.5%;  $30   [ cork;  cuvaison in s/s c.4 weeks,  held in s/s c.10 months possibly with staves;  no barrel elevation in this label;  www.yannickamirault.fr ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet.  Initially opened,  the wine is tending reductive,  and needs vigorous splashy decanting.  It clears to suggestions of violets florality on raspberry and cassis fruit,  beautifully berry-rich,  not much oak.  Palate shows a greater concentration / lower cropping rate than the Pyramid Valley wine,  and is therefore much more sustained in mouth.  Varietal accuracy is a delight.  There may in fact be no oak,  or big old oak only.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 05/13

1978  Ch d'Angludet   17 +  ()
Margaux,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $ –    [ cork;  CS 55,  Me 35,  PV 10 (may have differed then);  c.10,000 cases;  www.chateau-angludet.fr ]
Ruby and garnet,  clearly redder than the 1985 Brune & Blonde,  attractive and good for age.  Bouquet is all one could ask of a cru bourgeois Margaux 35 years old,  cassis browning now,  dark tobacco,  some browning plums too,  thoughts of cedar.  Palate is fruit-dominant considering its age,  elegant oak,  at full stretch I would estimate,  lovely with food / lamb.  A great pleasure.  GK 04/13

2010  Pyramid Valley Cabernet Franc Howell Vineyard Growers Collection   17  ()
Bridge Pa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $38   [ screwcap;  cropped at c.4.75 t/ha (c.1.9 t/ac);  10% whole-bunch,  wild yeast fermentation and 27 days cuvaison;  12 months on lees in 350-litre French hogsheads,  10% new;  www.pyramidvalley.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some velvet.  Tasted alongside a Bourgueil,  it seems safe to say this is one of the finest and subtlest cabernet francs made in New Zealand so far,  for one simple reason.  This wine respects the varietal quality of the fruit,  and has not been battered into submission with oak to meet a lowest-common-denominator interpretation of the concept 'cabernet'.  Bouquet shows suggestions of sweet violets on fruit analogies which owe as much to fresh raspberry as to pale cassis.  Even so there is more oak in the Pyramid Valley than the Bourgueil,  and since the total acid is higher too,  less oak would be better for two reasons.  The French example shows slightly sweeter fruit ripeness and greater concentration,  so a lower cropping rate and slightly better ripeness / physiological maturity is needed here,  but not so much as to lose the florality.  The percentage whole-bunch is dubious.  All in all,  this comparison is wonderfully valid and inspiring.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 05/13

Pinot Noir
2011  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe   18 ½ +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.3%;  $86   [ cork;  12-year old vines,  Te Muna Road vineyard,  Martinborough,  close-planted at 6,700 vines / ha;  19 days cuvaison,  12 months in French oak 50% new;  RS < 1 g/L,  dry extract 26.2 g/L,  not filtered;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Substantial pinot noir ruby,  the deepest of the Escarpments.  Best decanted,  the bouquet is deeper and darker than the other Escarpment wines,  but there is still a clear boronia-related florality on black more than red cherry fruit.  Palate is glorious,  a potentially velvety wine like fine burgundy,  offering clear reminders of the bolder wines of the Gevrey-Chambertin district,  and explicitly varietal to the long finish.  There is also some overlap with Bendigo-style Otago pinot noirs here.  This looks like the best Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe so far.  What pleasure this will give.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 04/13

2011  Black Grape Society Pinot Noir The Central Otago   18 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $59   [ screwcap;  season 1120 growing degree days;  12 months on lees in French oak 35% new;  a Treasury wine group initiative,  owners of Matua Valley;  website coming at:  www. blackgrapesociety.com,  meanwhile some info @;  http://treasurytru.com/brand/black-grapes-society ]
Pinot noir ruby,  a notch deeper than the Marlborough.  Bouquet is much deeper than the Marlborough,  yet there are still clear dusky red roses and boronia florality,  on black rather than red cherry fruit.  In mouth the complementarity with the Marlborough wine is sheer pleasure,  the gentle oaking seems essentially the same,  all that is different is the darker and slightly more aromatic (thyme ?) black cherry fruit,  and greater length and depth.  It is not as rich as Escarpment Kiwa,  however.  Finish is simply lovely on fruit and gentle oak.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  What a revolution is underway at Matua Valley,  after years of uninspiring at best and awful at worst wines.  The introductory remarks to The Marlborough wine are therefore rapidly becoming inappropriate.  GK 04/13

2009  Kingsmill Pinot Noir Tippet's Dam   18 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $33   [ screwcap;  www.kingsmillwines.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  a little age showing.  Bouquet is much deeper and richer than the Marlborough and North Canterbury wines,  immediately showing a savoury richness of black cherry fruit with boronia florality.  There are thoughts of Cote de Nuits here.  On palate tannins are relatively high,  even though the oak component is not blatant,  and the aromatics on savoury fruit are delightful,  on a drying finish.  This is as rich as the top Escarpments,  and will cellar well.  Once it has lost a little tannin,  it should be a lovely example of Central Otago pinot noir,  and very food-friendly.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 04/13

2011  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kiwa   18 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $67   [ cork;  22-year old vines,  Cleland vineyard,  Martinborough;  15 days cuvaison,  12 months in French oak 30% new;  RS < 1 g/L,  dry extract 28 g/L,  not filtered;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Perfect pinot noir ruby,  the third deepest of the Escarpment pinot noirs.  The wine needs a  breath of air to reveal a stunning pinot noir floral bouquet,  sweetly floral ranging from deepest red roses to boronia,  and thoughts of violets too.  Behind that are red and black cherries and subtle oak,  and an intriguing hint of bouquet garni / herbes.  Palate epitomises pinot noir,  dark cherry,  potentially velvety texture,  careful oak,  lovely length yet no heavyness,  not quite as rich as 2011 Kupe.  There is a limpid burgundian quality to this wine,  which,  once breathed,  makes it a great New Zealand pinot noir.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 04/13

2011  Brennan Pinot Noir B2   18  ()
Gibbston,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.3%;  $29   [ screwcap;  7 clones of PN all hand-harvested,  16% whole bunch,  no wild yeast ferments; 17 days cuvaison,  11 months in French oak,  11% new;  rare opportunity to sample all-Gibbston-fruit pinot noir;  www.brennanwines.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  youthful as if a fraction of the wine retained in stainless steel.  Bouquet is a delightfully sweet ripe red roses floral presentation of pure cherry pinot noir,  not unduly complicated by elevation or winemaking.  Palate follows perfectly,  a youthful not too serious interpretation of the grape (this is their second label),  not a lot of tannin structure but a clear illustration of the cherry / berry nature of the variety.  Even so,  should cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2010  Escarpment Pinot Noir Pahi   18  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $67   [ supercritical 'cork';  see 2011 Pahi;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  a clearly deeper / darker wine than the 2011 Pahi.  Bouquet is darkly floral,  and even on bouquet there are suggestions of tannins in the wine.  On further smelling,  right now there is a hint of cassisy quality in the bouquet,  a description sometimes used by northern hemisphere winewriters for pinot noir,  but not one I have much believed till now.  Palate is very attractive,  much more tannic than the 2011 but also a richer wine which will need longer cellaring to reveal the same charm.  Cellar 5 – 10 or 12 years.  GK 04/13

2010  Escarpment Pinot Noir    18  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $51   [ supercritical 'cork';  2010 'as good as it gets' says Larry;  hand-harvested;  70% Te Muna Road,  mix of clones,  c.35% whole bunch,  wild yeast,  18-day cuvaison;  11 months in French oak,  30% new;  dry extract 31.3 g/L (fabulous !),  RS 1 g/L;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Substantial pinot noir ruby,  the second deepest of the Escarpment wines.  It was never revealed why Larry McKenna chose to show the 2010 district wine in the Regional Wines presentation,  to introduce the 2011 individual vineyard wines.  In the company the 2010 looked the ripest of the wines,  with noticeable suggestions of bottled black doris plums evident in black cherry fruit.  Palate shows a much more Otago-style pinot noir,  thoughts of the Bendigo terraces again,  black cherry and plums,  even a hint of prune,  yet the late aftertaste is still beautifully varietal.  It is not quite as supple and burgundian as the Black Grape Society 'The Central Otago',  there is some tannin to lose,  but this is pretty serious youthful pinot which may well score more highly in 3 – 5 years.  Worth looking out for,  still around in some wine shops.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 04/13

2010  Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir Earth Smoke   17 ½ +  ()
Pyramid Valley,  Waipara,  Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.2%;  $78   [ screwcap;  c.10 months on lees in French oak 15% new;  not fined or filtered;  www.pyramidvalley.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is 'complex' in a fragrant burgundian way,  quite rich,  mixed aroma cues ranging from floral through red and brown fruits to a whisper of reduction (until breathed) and farmyard.  In mouth the fruit richness and cropping rate are both good,  the flavours more the blackboy peach analogy some of the New Zealand clones of pinot noir show,  but there are cherries too,  oaking gentle and not too much new,  but the wine nonetheless showing quite strong tannin structure and a pleasant hint of rusticity.  It is richer and riper than the Black Estate,  but drier and less floral.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 05/13

2011  Black Grape Society Pinot Noir The Marlborough   17 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $51   [ screwcap;  season 1350 growing degree days;  12 months on lees in French oak 35% new;  a Treasury wine group initiative,  owners of Matua Valley;  website coming at:  www. blackgrapesociety.com,  meanwhile some info @;  http://treasurytru.com/brand/black-grapes-society ]
Perfect pinot noir ruby.  With its ostentatious bottle,  high price,  and mysterious name,  it is easy to feel a sense of letdown to find on the back label that this wine is yet another Matua Valley alias.  But trying to focus on the wine alone,  bouquet is immediately beautifully varietal and red cherry in a Cote de Beaune way.  There are gentle red rose florals,  and absolute purity.  Palate is simply an extension of the bouquet,  no surprises here – a lovely integrity just like burgundy.  It is all delightfully varietal red cherry pinot,  subtly and appropriately oaked,  reflecting modern Marlborough practice from better soils,  I suspect.  No information on the website,  but the makers happily provided more.  This will be very food-friendly indeed,  the tannin handling being superb.  See also the comments for the Otago version.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2011  Escarpment Pinot Noir Te Rehua   17 ½ +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.2%;  $67   [ cork;  21-year old vines,  Barton vineyard,  Martinborough;  19 days cuvaison,  12 months in French oak 30% new;  RS < 1 g/L,  dry extract 25.5 g/L,  not filtered;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  the second to lightest of the Escarpments.  Here is the full suite of pinot noir florals,  from buddleia through roses to some boronia,  on red fruits more than black.  There are thoughts of Vosne-Romanée here.  Palate balances the initial impressions,  red cherries,  yet gorgeous ripe tannins,  elegant balance,  considerable length despite the lightness.  This wine highlights why Martinborough is seen by some United Kingdom commentators particularly as contrasting with Otago.  Just to counter-indicate that thought,  there are reminders of Mt Difficulty individual vineyard elegance in this wine.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 04/13

2011  Escarpment Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $51   [ screwcap;  a slightly cooler season than 2011;  60% Te Muna Road,  mix of clones,  55% whole bunch (increase),  wild yeast,  c.18-day cuvaison;  c.11 months in French oak,  30% new;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  right in the middle of the Escarpment batch.  Bouquet is sweetly floral,  a lovely expression of pinot florality deeper than buddleia,  more roses and a thought of violets,  on red and black cherry fruit,  plus great purity.  Flavours match exactly,  softer wine than the 2010,  less  tannin,  earlier developing.  If anybody ever doubted that Marlborough and Martinborough should theoretically / climatically be able to make the same quality of pinot noir given sites of similar geological nature,  compare this 2011 Martinborough wine with The Black Grape Society's The Marlborough – there is exciting complementarity.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2010  Black Estate Pinot Noir Omihi Series   17 ½  ()
Waipara Valley,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  27 days cuvaison;  12 months in French oak 21% new;  dry extract 30.2 g/L;  RS nil;  www.blackestate.co.nz ]
Attractive pinot noir ruby,  a little age showing.  Bouquet is quite complex pinot showing great florality ranging from dark roses to boronia,  on slightly spicy red and black cherry fruit.  Palate is a little less,  not the most subtle clones of pinot noir,  a suggestion of stalks and earthiness,  but otherwise well-ripened,  some fruit sweetness,  good body and slightly oaky in youth.  All in all an interesting wine which would sit well in a multi-district tasting as a good exemplar of the Waipara pinot noir style.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 05/13

2008  Escarpment Pinot Noir Te Rehua   17 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $ –    [ supercritical 'cork';  see 2011 Rehua;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  some age showing,  midway in depth among the Escarpment wines.  Bouquet here is showing some secondary complexity notes,  tending leathery earlier than I would have wished,  on browning cherry aromas.  Palate is better,  good fruit still but with some  hints of decay / forest floor creeping in,  and a long burgundian finish.  There is still a little tannin to lose,  cellar another five years.  GK 04/13

2011  Mount Beautiful Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Northernmost Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $31   [ Stelvin Lux;  www.mtbeautiful.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  You can't help but be excited,  when the first red / pinot noir from a new Canterbury vineyard area turns up.  Bouquet is in the familiar New Zealand pinot style such as some high 10/5 wines have shown,  with a kind of dusky red roses florality on red grading to black cherry fruit.  Palate shows a little tannin as yet (naturally enough),  but there is medium fruit and careful oaking to match.  Flavours are between blackboy and cherry,  perhaps reflecting young vines.  Promise here.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2008  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe   17 +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $ –    [ supercritical 'cork';  see 2011 Kupe;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  the third to lightest,  some age showing.  Initially opened,  bottle stink is the only word for it.  The wine needs a good splashy decanting into a wide decanter or jug.  With air it clears to a browning red fruits pinot noir,  with rather much decay / forest floor character for its relative youth.  Palate too is more mature than I would hope,  browning red cherry pinot,  not exactly singing,  but quite rich.  Will cellar another 5 years,  but decant it.  GK 04/13

2011  Escarpment Pinot Noir Pahi   17  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $67   [ cork;  25-year old vines,  McCreanor vineyard,  Martinborough;  12 days cuvaison,  12 months in French oak 30% new;  RS < 1 g/L,  dry extract 24 g/L,  not filtered;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby,  the lightest of the set.  Bouquet is immediately floral and pretty,   more pink and red roses than anything,  pure and fragrant,  but even on the bouquet one suspects the tannins.  Palate is the leanest of the Escarpment set,  highly varietal but slightly lacking conviction,  red cherry fruit,  a touch of stalk to the tail.  The perils of whole-bunch.  There is a good comparison with the Mount Beautiful wine of the same year,  both on older terraces,  which the Mount Beautiful wins,  just.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2010  Domain Road Pinot Noir   17  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $39   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  9 months in French oak,  unknown percentage new;  www.domainroad.co.nz ]
Deep pinot noir ruby,  a wash of velvet.  Bouquet is berry dominant,  more red cherry and some plum,  some floral thoughts,  clearly varietal.  Palate is a little less,  the fruit very fresh with a stalky hard edge to it,  not quite rich enough to cover the phenolics even though the oaking is restrained.  Should soften with another year,  and cellar 3 – 8 years,  to become more burgundian.  GK 05/13

2010  Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir Cowley Vineyard Growers Collection   16 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $38   [ screwcap;  cropped at c.4.4 t/ha (c.1.75 t/ac);  20% whole-bunch,  28 days cuvaison;  17 months on lees in French oak 5% new;  www.pyramidvalley.co.nz ]
Lighter pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is pleasantly red-fruited,  but with an exotic old-fashioned hair-oil / dressing lift to it.  Palate is back on track,  red cherry fruit browning a little,  mostly older oak but again quite a strong tannin structure,  the wine neither as ripe or as concentrated as the Earth Smoke,  but still showing austere-year burgundian style,  dry finish.  Cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 05/13

2011  Zephyr Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $28   [ screwcap;  no info,  .pdf not displaying correctly;  Glover Family Wines,  not Dave Glover of Nelson;  www.zephyrwine.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is on the lightly floral sweet pea / buddleia side of Marlborough pinot noir,  less substantial.  Palate shows blackboy peach and some red cherry,  a little acid and stalky,  clean and varietal,  but not completely satisfying,  on a dry finish.  Short-term cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 04/13

2010  Black Estate Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Waipara Valley,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14%;  $41   [ screwcap;  PN,  hand-harvested;  8% whole-bunch,  27 day cuvaison;  12 months in French oak 18% new;  dry extract 29.4 g/L;  RS nil;  www.blackestate.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  some age showing.  Bouquet is in the lighter floral category of pinot noir including buddleia aromas,  where one is worried ripeness may be insufficient,  plus good cherry / berry character,  red more than black fruits.  Palate does indeed confirm some stalkyness and lack of full physiological maturity,  but acid balance and oak are both pleasantly in balance for a lighter pleasantly refreshing pinot.  Cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 05/13

2011  Bladen Pinot Noir   15 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $30   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  inoculated yeast;  15 months in French oak 30% new;  RS 2.4 g/L;  www.bladen.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is deeper and heavier than the Zephyr Pinot,  a complex near-reduction smell reminiscent of high-solids character (as in chardonnay) which dulls the wine,  on red fruits.  On palate there is good red grading to black cherry ripeness,  and some depth of varietal character with the residual not apparent unless you are sensitive to this,  but all in this clogged style,  as on bouquet.  Straightforward pinot noir,  which may open up somewhat in cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2010  Perseverance Pinot Noir   15 ½ +  ()
Alexandra,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $27   [ screwcap;  no info on website;  French oak,  unknown percentage new;  www.perseverance.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is clean and varietal but light and weak,  the way New Zealand pinot noir used to be when clones were less suitable and cropping rates too high.  Aromas range from sweet pea to buddleia,  and fruits from redcurrants to blackboy peaches.  Palate is red fruits only as for bouquet,  the tannins riper than expected,  but the wine lacking body.  Pleasant quaffing pinot to cellar 2 – 4 years.  GK 05/13

2012  Gunn Estate Pinot Noir Marlborough Reserve   15 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $19   [ screwcap;  no info on website;  RS <2 g/L;  www.gunnestate.co.nz ]
Quite rich pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is quite different in style from the other pinot noirs in this batch,  showing clear maceration carbonique qualities in a wine reminiscent more of beaujolais than burgundy.  Palate is much less,  a clear lack of physiological maturity in its flavour profile,  with green stalky notes in pale red fruits (by flavour),  though reasonable concentration.  Aftertaste suggests a short cellar life,  though it is all clean and sound.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 05/13

Syrah = Shiraz
1985  Guigal Cote Rotie Cotes Brune & Blonde   18 ½  ()
Northern Rhone Valley,  France:  13%;  $ –    [ cork;  usually around 4% Vi;  some new oak even then;  www.guigal.com ]
Mature ruby and garnet,  almost pinot noir in weight.  Bouquet is simply sensational,  in that wonderful indefinable territory where immediately you can see why Lafite Hermitagé was prized in the 1800s.  The wine manages at the same time to remind of both fine mature bordeaux and fine burgundy on bouquet,  showing a beautiful harmonious quality which is simply the essence of fine old red.  On palate,  the browning cassis and lightest cedar still remind of bordeaux,  a Pauillac with fine tannins,  maybe,  yet there is an elegant simplicity to its mouthfeel which is mature (but rather dry) burgundy.  Sounds perfect for mature Cote Rotie,  therefore.  From a temperate-climate cellar in Wellington,  this wine is at the apex of full maturity,  epitomising perfectly ripe Northern Rhone syrah,  and should hold for some years yet.  From warmer districts,  it may be fading.  What a thrill bottles like this are.  GK 04/13

2011  [ Rod McDonald Wines ] Te Awanga Estate Syrah   18 ½  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $33   [ screwcap;  100% Sy hand-picked late April @ 6 t/ha = 2.4 t / ac;  100% de-stemmed;  seven days cold-soak,  total 35 days cuvaison;  18 months in French oak 60% new;  RS nil;  www.rmwines.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  attractive.  The wine benefits from simple decanting,  to reveal a great bouquet,  soft,  deeply floral wallflower and dusky roses,  in style altogether reminding of the sweetest ripest years of Te Mata Bullnose Syrah.  This is explicitly varietal temperate-climate syrah,  immaculately made.  Palate follows on perfectly,  quite lightly oaked with the oak fragrant and vanillin,  on cassis and bottled black doris fruit,  and a lovely touch of black pepper again.  It has the richness to cellar well,  though it is more an easy-access early wine,  low tannins,  not so much made for serious long-term cellaring.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 04/13

2011  Terrace Edge Syrah   17 +  ()
Waipara Valley,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14%;  $24   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested @ 3.75 t/ha (1.5 t/ac),  half the vineyard a steep terrace flank;  wild-yeast fermentation,  cuvaison extending to 28 days;  11 months in French oak 25% new;  www.terraceedge.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  deeper than the Nelson Kaimira,  intriguing.  Bouquet is a mixed bag,  on the good side showing dusky floral notes including nearly wallflower,  and white pepper more than black,  on quite dense plummy fruit.  But the wine also flirts with reduction,  so splashy decanting is needed.  Palate more clearly indicates syrah 'on the edge',  although it is a bigger and riper wine than the Nelson wine,  total acid is a little higher too.  This is an astonishing achievement for Waipara,  and with a little more care in elevation,  this Terrace Edge syrah will take its place in the now-remarkable panoply of syrahs ranging geographically from Karikari Peninsula in the north to the Bendigo terraces in the south.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 05/13

2010  Kaimira Estate Syrah Brightwater   17  ()
Waimea Plains,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.6%;  $34   [ screwcap;  100% Sy (in 2010) cropped @ 2.7 t/ha = 1.1 t/ac to achieve good ripeness in a cooler climate,  hand-harvested,  100% de-stemmed but minimal crushing;  7 days cold-soak,  5-day ferment,  very short maceration 2 days;  13 months in French 75%  and balance American oak all 25% new;  RS < 1 g/L;  www.kaimirawines.com ]
Ruby,  a flush of carmine and velvet.  Freaky,  the bouquet here is the exact analogue of riper (and better) examples of the vin de pays des collines rhodaniennes,  the cooler elevated plateau above the warmer and more favoured best slopes of Cote Rotie and Cornas etc.  Accordingly,  there is exact syrah varietal character,  but more at the point of white pepper in the syrah ripening curve,  with dianthus florals and cool cassis plus suggestions of loganberries.  In mouth this wine is quite the most varietal syrah ever commercialised from Nelson,  the ripeness fitting in well with the bouquet attributes,  an overall impression of red fruits and white pepper rather more than black,  acid slightly fresh,  fair body.  The comparison with the Hawke's Bay syrah conveys volumes about climate,  and ripening stages in varieties such as pinot noir and syrah.  The quality and ripeness achieved for the severely reduced cropping rate fits in exactly with theory,  unlike the Saint Clair wines.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 04/13

2009  Leeuwin Estate Shiraz Siblings   16 +  ()
Margaret River,  Western Australia,  Australia:  13%;  $29   [ screwcap;  no info on website;  www.leeuwinestate.com.au ]
Ruby,  a wash of velvet.  Freshly opened,  this wine is offensively euc'y / minty / medicinal on bouquet and palate.  It needs pouring from jug to jug many times,  but even then is better left till the next day.  It then shows pleasant wine-related red fruits centred on raspberry and boysenberry,  though still with an aromatic lift.  Palate has the merit of not being over-oaked or over-ripe,  so it is quite fresh,  as if earlier-picked.  It is still more shiraz than syrah,  on the raspberry.  Unless you like euc'y wines,  or are prepared to ventilate it well,  dubiously worth cellaring 5 – 12 years.  GK 05/13

2012  Spade Oak Syrah Voysey   15  ()
Gisborne,  New Zealand:  13%;  $17   [ screwcap;  no info on website;  www.spadeoak.co.nz ]
Ruby,  a wash of carmine and velvet.  Bouquet is light and fresh as if the wine is largely stainless steel elevation,  some suggestions of rose florals,  hints of red plum and even pale cassis,  white more than black pepper,  a whisper of reduction.  Palate is less,  lacking fruit but surprising softness for the lowish physiological maturity,  all red fruits [ has the acid been reduced ? ],  scarcely any oak.  Intriguing to have the variety clearly so attenuated in Gisborne,  relative to the Nelson and Waipara syrahs,  but Gisborne merlot has long been like this.  QDR,  rather than worth cellaring.  GK 05/13

2012  Clearview Syrah Cape Kidnappers   14  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $23   [ screwcap;  no info on website;  www.clearviewestate.co.nz ]
Ruby,  a flush of carmine and velvet.  Bouquet opens up reductive,  killing all the beauty of syrah,  which ideally should be floral and charming.  Palate shows modest red more than black berry-fruits and a touch of pepper,  but all made sour by both high acid and reduction,  which is persistent.  We should be past this kind of wine,  particularly in Hawkes Bay – the natural home for syrah in New Zealand.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 04/13

2011  Spade Oak Syrah / Viognier Heart of Gold   13 ½  ()
Gisborne,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $20   [ screwcap;  no info on website;  www.spadeoak.co.nz ]
Ruby,  markedly older than the 2012 Spade Oak.  Bouquet is dulled by fusel-oil-like odours and marzipan,  a wine lacking oxygen in elevation,  and varietal character in bottle.  Palate is hard,  dull,  and soured by the chemistry.  Not worth cellaring,  won't improve.  GK 05/13

All other red wines, blends etc
2011  Catherine's Block Tempranillo   16 ½ +  ()
Waipara Valley,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $28   [ screwcap;  c.15 days cuvaison;  some months in French oak 60% new;  RS 1.7 g/L;  100 cases;  www.catherinesblock.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  soft,  some age showing.  This is a wonderful wine for New Zealand,  because it respects the true fragrant pinot noir-like character of tempranillo,  unlike the Trinity Hill Tempranillo which obscures its delicate varietal beauty by using touriga nacional as a teinturier.  Here,  the bouquet is palely reminiscent of the great Spanish 'vina pomal' burgundy-styles made from tempranillo and graciano in earlier decades,  before oak-obsessed winewriters ignorant of the beauty of tempranillo started encouraging bigger wines adulterated with cabernet and new oak.  Nothing could be less appropriate.  All that said,  this is a warmish-climate grape grown in a cool-temperate viticultural zone.  Like syrah in Waipara or Nelson,  it will need very low cropping rates to achieve international levels of ripeness and concentration.  This wine is a bit dilute,  ideally,  but the distinctive fragrant tempranillo bouquet with its attractive 'one blue-mouldy fruit in a (wooden) case of Jamaican grapefruit' is spot-on.  Palate is red cherry,  more aromatic than pinot noir.  Acid is slightly fresh,  but the risky level of new oak does not intrude,  and the whole wine is intriguing and food-friendly,  in a light way.  Cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 05/13