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


2003  Domaine de l'Ameillaud Vin de Pays de la Principaute d'Orange
2001  Bodegas Aragonesas Coto de Hayas Crianza
2003  Bodegas Aragonesas Coto de Hayas Tinto
2003  Baron d'Harcourt Merlot Grande Reserve
2001  Bodegas Castano Dominio Espinal Seleccion
2002  Fiorile Rosso
2003  Domaine du Jardin Carignan Vielles Vignes
2003  La Valentina Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
2002  La Valentina Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
     nv  Les Sarments de la Tuilerie
2002  Cantina di  Montalcino Sangiovese
2001  Cantina di  Montalcino Sangiovese
2003  Moulin de Gassac
2003  Saint Auriol La Syrah
2003  Saltram Shiraz
2003  Trapiche Malbec
2002  Umani Ronchi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
2003  Wolf Blass Shiraz / Merlot / Cabernet Eaglehawk

2001  Cantina di  Montalcino Sangiovese   17 ½  ()
Tuscany IGT,  Italy:  12%;  $11   [ plastic 'cork';   Sa 100%;  www.cantinadimontalcino.it ]
Ruby.  A lovely fragrant and floral black cherries and small fruits bouquet,  totally in the style better classical chianti fiaschi used to be.  Palate is light,  crisp,  yet wonderfully winey with plenty of fruit.  This is a perfect light chianti-styled dry red,  with the emphasis on dry,  unlike so many Australian reds in this price range.  Great value.  Cellar a couple of  years (to tide over the lesser 2002).  GK 11/04

nv  Les Sarments de la Tuilerie   17  ()
Costieres de Nimes,  mouth of Rhone Valley,  France:  12.5%;  $12   [ Gr,  Sy 50/50;  DFB;  laminated/aggregate cork;  www.chateautuilerie.com/anglais ]
Ruby.   One of the more obviously Rhone-like bouquets in the set,  showing some carnations and herbes de Provence aromatics,  on good red fruits.  Palate shows delightful glacé cherries in the fruit,  some mushrooms,  subtlest old oak (if any),  a lighter and more floral / aromatic wine than the du Jardin or older Valentina,  very clean,  slightly stalky.   Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 11/04

2003  La Valentina Montepulciano d'Abruzzo   17  ()
Abruzzo DOC,  Italy:  13%;  $11.60
Ruby.  A classic montepulciano bouquet,  berry-rich,  fragrant,  even suggestions of lilac florals,  slightly savoury,  enticing.  Palate is a little shorter than the bouquet promises,  ripe berryfruit,  a hint of leather,  older oak if any,  beautifully balanced.   First-rate QDR,  lighter and more fragrant than the massive '02 and better for it,  more like the 1999.  Cellar 3–5 years.  GK 11/04

2002  La Valentina Montepulciano d'Abruzzo   17  ()
Abruzzo DOC,  Italy:  13.5%;  $12.60
Ruby, carmine and velvet,  the deepest wine in the tasting.   Bouquet is deep too,  darkly plummy,  faintly Mediterranean herbes,   and slightly rustic  –  very European.  Palate is rich,  the richest of the set,  soft,  round and full,  yet with plenty of furry tannin.  A lot of grapes per bottle,  and no harsh new oak.  If one is to be critical,  the wine might be a bit heavy / plump,  slightly stewed,  and bretty,  but this is only alongside some much lighter and more refreshing competition,  in this BBQ reds blind tasting.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 11/04

2003  Wolf Blass Shiraz / Merlot / Cabernet Eaglehawk   17  ()
Australia unspecified:  13.5%;  $12   [ laminated/aggregate cork;  www.wolfblass.com.au ]
Attractive ruby,  slight carmine and velvet.  Good to see an Aussie red not the heaviest colour in the set.  Bouquet is soft,  clean and fragrant,  no hint of rusticity here.  There is lovely cherry and red plum fruit,  and subtle sweet oak suggestions with no hint of harshness,  remarkable.  Palate is as clean as the bouquet,  the fruit on palate showing some of the boysenberry of Australian shiraz,  not oaky,  just a touch of sweetness in the Australian 'popular' style.  Remarkably good,  as such,  and very easy drinking  –  which so many reds from this country are not. Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 11/04

2001  Bodegas Aragonesas Coto de Hayas Crianza   17  ()
Campo de Borja DdO,  Spain,  Spain:  13.5%;  $14   [ Gr 60%,  Te 40;  DFB;  8 months in  oak ]
Good ruby,  some velvet.  A recognisably 'Spanish' bouquet in the blind tasting:  redfruits,  raspberry,  and a hint of cinnamon from the grenache,  and light fragrant American oak.  Palate is fruity, soft,  maybe not dusty bone-dry,  but good round dry red,  and appealing.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 11/04

2003  Domaine du Jardin Carignan Vielles Vignes   17  ()
Vin de Pays de l'Aude,   Languedoc,  France:  12.5%;  $13   [ plastic 'cork';  www.chateau-de-lhorte.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  one of the deeper wines.  A deep ripe plummy and velvety bouquet,  with a touch of cinnamon,  very Cotes du Rhone-like.  Palate is soft,  rich and full,  both spicy and aromatic,  maybe a little plush and soft for cellaring – but carignan is rarely a longterm cellar wine.  Real BBQ red,  stunning vin du pays,  and safe to cellar for several years.  GK 11/04

2001  Bodegas Castano Dominio Espinal Seleccion   16 ½  ()
Yecla DdO,  southern Spain:  13.5%;  $14   [ Mv > Te,  CS ]
Older ruby.  This bouquet is a little different,  with a fragrance of ruby port and vanilla wafers,  on pleasant redfruits.  Palate is more European,  cherry / plummy fruit,  oldest oak,  mellow yet fresh and attractive.  Only the drying tannins to the finish point to the dominance of mourvedre,  complexed by some brett.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 11/04

2003  Baron d'Harcourt Merlot Grande Reserve   16  ()
Vin de Pays des Coteaux de Libron,  Languedoc,  France:  12%;  $14
Ruby.  A hard wine to assess,  as two separate bottles contained wines of different colours and weights,  sealed by two different closures.  The more recent of the two shows clean fragrant berryfruit with suggestions of light florals,  in a minor Bordeaux style.  Palate is simple ripeish merlot showing red currants and red plums,  light older oak,  and hence more a merlot QDR than the serious aspirations of the more oaky New Zealand wines labelled merlot.  Interesting  to see a Bordeaux suite of flavours from the hotter Languedoc  –  even more worries for the Bordelais.  Will cellar for several years,  in its pleasantly drinkable style,  say up to five.  Fair to say the darker wine presumably from the previous shipment was significantly better than this.  GK 12/04

2003  Saltram Shiraz   16  ()
Australia unspecified:  13.5%;  $12   [ laminated/aggregate cork;  www.saltramwines.com.au ]
Ruby,  slight carmine and velvet.  In the blind tasting, this is clearly the Aussie,  showing clearcut minty / euc'y notes on big berry and fruit.  Palate is boysenberry,  tannic and woody in a slightly brackish way,  and clearly sweet to the finish.  A frankly commercial Australian supermarket red,  coarser than the Blass,  but plenty of fruit and flavour.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 11/04

2003  Trapiche Malbec   16  ()
Mendoza,  Argentina,  Argentina:  13%;  $10   [ laminated/aggregate cork;  www.trapichewinery.com ]
Ruby.  A clean,  ripe,  redfruits bouquet,  faintly leathery,  lifted by trace VA,  tending warmer-climate in style.  Palate is pleasantly round and fruity,  soft old oak only,  some furry tannins.   Like the Hayas Crianza,  possibly not dusty bone-dry,  but the difference academic,  and the result pleasant.  Cellar 1 – 3.  GK 11/04

2003  Domaine de l'Ameillaud Vin de Pays de la Principaute d'Orange   16  ()
Southern Rhone Valley,  France:  13.5%;  $13.50   [ Gr 60%,  Ca 20, Mv & Sy 20;  vat only ]
Fresh red,  traces of carmine and velvet.  A maceration carbonique bouquet,  with plenty of soft berry,  in the style of beaujolais.  A difficulty of the maceration approach is hints of rubber (inner-tube) odours are often introduced,  as here,  but being sulphur-related,  people vary enormously in their sensitivity to this character.  Palate is round and juicy,  low acid,  berryish,  a 'beaujolais' style speaking with a slightly stalky Rhone accent,  good quaffing.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 11/04

2002  Umani Ronchi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo   15  ()
Abruzzo DOC,  Italy:  12%;  $12.50   [ plastic 'cork' ]
Good ruby.  About this point in the tasting,  the quality passes from surprisingly good (even seriously good) quaffing red (considering the parameters for the tasting:   BBQ reds under $15),  down to something more rustic.  The Umani is vaguely redfruits,  noticeably bretty,  and aromatic on VA.  Palate adds quite a leathery note into the berry flavours,  all looking quite old-fashioned and traditional.  Still perfectly acceptable QDR to be stuck with,  and not bad considering the rain-soaked vintage some peri-Mediterranean districts experienced in 2002.   Cellar a year or two.  GK 11/04

2002  Cantina di  Montalcino Sangiovese   15  ()
Tuscany IGT,  Italy:  12%;  $11   [ www.cantinadimontalcino.it ]
Older ruby than the Umani,  or the 2001.  There is no doubt this wine is in the same style as the '01,  but the fruit is lacking,  allowing traditional winemaking characteristics such as leathery notes and some brett to dominate the pleasantly berryish bouquet.   Easy drinking,  but this wine too shows the problems of the 2002 vintage around the Mediterranean.  Not a cellar wine.  GK 11/04

2003  Bodegas Aragonesas Coto de Hayas Tinto   14 ½  ()
Campo de Borja DdO,  Spain:  13%;  $10   [ Gr > Te, CS, Sy;  DFB;  laminated/aggregate cork;  DFB ]
Ruby.  A fragrant wine,  with some of the maceration carbonique notes of the l'Ameillaud,  on stewed red plums and almond.  Palate is short,  stalky,  with some rhubarb in the red plums,  all a bit acid,  yet sweet to the finish.  Awkward therefore,  but wholesome QDR.  Cellar 1 – 3,  possibly to mellow / integrate.  GK 11/04

2002  Fiorile Rosso   14  ()
Sicily IGT,  Italy:  12.5%;  $11   [ plastic 'cork';  nero d'Avola & nerello ]
Light older ruby.  This is a fragrant but old-fashioned wine,  a bit oxidised and leathery,  tired redfruits,  some brett,   faint rubber  –  thoroughly rustic.  Palate is pro rata,  and easy drinking as such.  QDR,  not worth cellaring in this lesser vintage.  GK 11/04

2003  Moulin de Gassac   13 ½  ()
Vin de Pays de l'Herault,  Languedoc / Roussillon,  France:  12.5%;  $15   [ Gr dominant;  laminated/aggregate cork;  www.daumas-gassac.com ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet.  This wine might have a famous chateau-name tagged into its title,  but the bouquet is very modest indeed,  let down by a falsely fragrant quality variously  described by tasters as blue-cheese,  lactic,  or butyric.  Palate is clearly grenache in style,  but rustic and plain.  Rough QDR,  not worth cellaring.  GK 11/04

2003  Saint Auriol La Syrah   12  (-)
Vin de Pays d'Oc,  France:  13%;  $13   [ laminated/aggregate cork ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  one of the heaviest.  A classic old-style Languedoc,  bedevilled by the syrah problem of H2S,  and exacerbated by the hot season.  Palate is plain but rich boysenberry,  little or no oak,  all soured by the entrained sulphur.  Won't improve,  not a cellar wine.  GK 11/04