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


   nv  Zilzie Brut Reserve
2004  Kahurangi Chardonnay Unoaked
2004  Lake Hayes Chardonnay Gisborne
2002  Mebus Chardonnay
2003  Shepherds Ridge Chardonnay
2002  Tindall Chardonnay
2004  [ Yellowtail ]  Chardonnay
Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2004  Kahurangi Estate Sauvignon Blanc
2004  M.G.P. Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Matua Sauvignon Blanc Settler Series
2004  Mebus Sauvignon Blanc
2004  T.H.E. Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Tirohana Estate Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Kahurangi Riesling
2004  Lake Hayes Riesling
2004  Sileni Riesling Cellar Selection
2004  T.H.E. Riesling
Pinot Gris
2004  Zilzie Pinot Gris
2004  Brunton Road Gewurztraminer Reserve
2004  Kahurangi Gewurztraminer
Sweet / Sticky
2003  Kahurangi Riesling Late-Harvest
  2004  Sileni Pourriture Noble EV
All other white wines, blends, etc.
2004  Zilzie Viognier
2004  Zilzie Rosé
Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2002  Morton Estate The Regent of Morton
2003  Tiwaiwaka Cabernet / Merlot / Franc Lucinda
2003  Zilzie Cabernet Sauvignon
2003  Zilzie Merlot
Cabernet / Shiraz
Pinot Noir
2003  Chard Farm Pinot Noir Sugarloaf Vineyards
2003  Chard Farm Pinot Noir Vipers Vineyards
2004  Sacred Hill Pinot Noir Whitecliff
2003  Strugglers Flat Pinot Noir
2003  T.H.E.  Pinot Noir
Syrah = Shiraz
2001  Hay Shed Hill Shiraz
2004  [ Yellowtail ]  Shiraz
2003  Zilzie Shiraz
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre & related blends
2002  Chapoutier Cote du Rhone Belleruche
All other red wines, blends etc
2003  Carchelo
2002  Tirohana Cabernet / Shiraz
2002  Torres Sangre de Toro
From the Cellar. Older wines.

nv  Zilzie Brut Reserve   13  ()
Murray Darling,  NW Victoria,  Australia:  12%;  $14   [ cork;  www.zilziewines.com ]
Silvery white / palest lemon.  First what it is not.  This wine presents itself as a methode champenoise,  labelled Brut Reserve.  It bears no relation to that style,  and hence is scored poorly.  What the wine is,  is very clean,  virtually neutral / faintly floral,  sparkling wine in a grapejuice / lemonade style,  tasting as if made from colombard or sultana or similar with 10% riesling,  by the charmat method,  held for a brief time on tank lees.  Finish is much sweeter than Brut.  As such,  if the wine were labelled appropriately,  one would have to score it 16 or so,  as sparkling moselle or some latterday more appropriate name.  This is a wine to graduate to,  after Bernadino / Italiano,  en route to Angas / Lindauer,  and then further.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 01/05

2002  Mebus Chardonnay   18  ()
Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $23   [ wild yeast ferment,  mostly French oak ]
Lemonstraw with a flush of gold.  Bouquet is immediately appealing,  soft,  rich and ample,  with a cottage cheese (+ve) and buttered toast and honey complexity on the fruit.  Palate is much the same,  early developing as the colour indicates,  but now showing good integration of barrel ferment,  lees autolysis and MLF with the rich fruit.  Good acid balance keeps the wine from being blowsy,  so this is a case where appearances deceive.  Even so,  not a cellar wine beyond 1 – 2 years.  GK 01/05

2003  Shepherds Ridge Chardonnay   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $21   [ screwcap ]
Deep lemon and a flush of straw.  Golden queen peachy fruit and firm aromatic oak blend into a classical New Zealand and Hawkes Bay style of chardonnay.  Palate is rich,  softer than expected with more fruit and less oak than the bouquet suggests.  Attractive and clean lees autolysis creeps up on the back palate,  with such good fruit richness the wine seems not bone dry.  Acid balance is delightful.  This is good chardonnay which will cellar for 5 – 8 years.  GK 01/05

2004  Lake Hayes Chardonnay Gisborne   17  ()
Gisborne,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $20   [ screwcap;  www.lakehayes.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Clearcut sweet ripe peachy chardonnay from first opening,  showing fair complexity via (I assume) some barrel fermentation and MLF,  and good lees autolysis which has added a breadcrust complexity through bouquet and palate.  Fruit in mouth is good,  but there is a slightly burning alcohol and oak-related component which should marry away with some time in bottle.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 01/05

2002  Tindall Chardonnay   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $13   [ winemaker John Forrest;  LA,  MLF and oak ]
Lemongreen.  This is an understated chardonnay,  in the white stonefruits class,  rather than the more figgy mendoza-based wines.  There is an extended lees autolysis quality to the bouquet reminiscent of methode champenoise.  Palate adds flavours tending to breadcrumb rather than crust onto the stonefruit.  Good acid and under-pinning oak should allow the wine to mature gracefully,  and probably develop more character over 2 – 4 years.  Could become good value.  GK 01/05

2004  Kahurangi Chardonnay Unoaked   16  ()
Waimea Plains and Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  whole bunch pressed,  cold ferment;  www.kahurangiwine.com ]
Fine lemongreen.  Another wine which initially opened,  is a bit locked up and cardboardy.  It is worth saying that no matter what age the wine,  and whether white or red,  it will almost always be much better if it is poured from a little height into a jug,  leaving the last 12 mm in the bottle.  It is worth disrupting the ignore of our generally wine-unconscious restaurants,  to secure a suitable vessel,  and do this.  Thus treated,  the wine breathes up to a clean crisp unoaked chardonnay style,  with a nicely-judged percentage of skin contact providing a little backbone.  I even wonder if there might be a few percent of very ripe sauvignon in here,  and contributing complexity.  Would score higher if it opened better.  Cellar 3 – 5 years,  to improve.  GK 01/05

2004  [ Yellowtail ]  Chardonnay   13  ()
SE Australia,  Australia:  13.5%;  $12   [ plastic 'cork';   DFB;   Casella Estate;  www.yellowtailwine.com ]
Colour is brassy straw,  different from the other whites in the tasting.  Bouquet differs too,  the overwhelming character being burning paper and carbolic on crushed wine biscuits and vanilla wafers.  Varietal fruit doesn't figure.  Palate is broadly peachy and reasonably in-style in a prematurely-aged way,  with the biscuits again,  plus oak-related flavours which are varnishy.  Finish is clearly off-dry,  as might be expected in what appears to be a low-end supermarket chardonnay rather than a wine merchants' one.  Concocted QDW,  not suited to cellaring.  GK 01/05

Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2004  Mebus Sauvignon Blanc   18 ½  ()
Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap ]
Lemongreen.  A lovely fragrant sauvignon bouquet,  which in addition to red capsicum and black passionfruit,  has a suggestion of subtle cucumber which is delightful at a trace level.  This wine has more body than most sauvignons,  a richness on palate which could suggest a small percentage of barrel ferment,  subtly done (if true).  Delicious,  anyway !  Should cellar well for 5 – 10 years.  GK 01/05

2004  M.G.P. Sauvignon Blanc   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $12   [ screwcap;  M.G.P. = Marlborough Grape Producers,  three growers plus Craig Gass winemaker;  www.marlboroughgrapeproducers.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  A big bouquet of clean sweet Marlborough sauvignon ripened to the black passionfruit,  red capsicum and honeysuckle stage.  Palate is rich,  tending phenolic,  commercially dry.  This is classical Marlborough in style,  maybe with an invisible touch of oak,  and flavoursome.  It will cellar for 5 – 8 years,  if mature sauvignon is favoured.  VALUE  GK 01/05

2004  T.H.E. Sauvignon Blanc   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $17   [ screwcap;  T.H.E. = Terrace Heights Estate ]
Lemongreen.  Initially opened,  a grassy semillon suggestion in ripe black passionfruit and red capsicum.  Breathes to a similar suite of flavours to the Fairmont,  but all a notch more phenolic,  like chewing on black passionfruit skins.  Flavour is thus long and classically Marlborough.  That is not to say all Marlborough sauvignons are phenolic.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 01/05

2004  Kahurangi Estate Sauvignon Blanc   16 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap;  www.kahurangiwine.com ]
Lemongreen.  A more grassy version of sauvignon blanc,  as if quite a percentage of semillon in the wine,  plus suggestions of broadbeans and oak.  Palate shows good fruit concentration within the style of the bouquet,  but is tending phenolic.  This oak thing is so hard to determine in sauvignon (by taste),  for as the grape ripens some of the phenolics mellow and taste quite oak-like.  If skin contact is longer (say from trucking),  the oak suggestion may appear to increase,  even though it is totally spurious.  And so many winemakers are slipping a tiny percentage of oaked (often barrel-fermented) wine into their sauvignons,  exactly to increase complexity – without one knowing why.  This wine is still dry,  but not as dry as some on the market.  Not so suited to cellaring beyond a year or so.  GK 01/05

2004  Matua Sauvignon Blanc Settler Series   16 ½  ()
New Zealand:  13%;  $12   [ screwcap;  www.matua.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  A clean firm straightforward sauvignon bouquet,  with suggestions of Marlborough black passionfruit,  plus some Hawkes Bay peachiness,  and a shadow of cardboard which breathes off.  Palate is flavoursome,  quite rich,  'dry' but not as dry as many,  good honest wine at the price.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 01/05

2004  Tirohana Estate Sauvignon Blanc   16  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $24   [ screwcap;  www.tirohanaestate.com ]
Pale lemongreen.  Initially opened,  and even splashily aerated jug to jug,  there are mixed sulphurs including bottling sulphur to dissipate.  If this has just been bottled,  then it is prematurely released,  and perhaps scored severely.  Next day it has cleaned up to a slightly over-ripe Hawkes Bay kind of sauvignon (rather than Marlborough),  straightforward simple wine almost like an unoaked chardonnay with some black passionfruit skins.  Probably will be versatile with food,  and should improve somewhat in cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 01/05

2004  Lake Hayes Riesling   17 +  ()
Marlborough & Central Otago,  New Zealand:  12%;  $20   [ screwcap;  www.lakehayes.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen.  Initially opened,  there is a youthfully disorganised and perfumed quality to the wine.  It settles down  nicely in glass into a lightly floral / apple blossom bouquet with a touch of lime firming it up.  Palate develops these qualities,  the lime becoming skinsy / zesty.  Finish is borderline dry,  around the 7 g/L mark.  Cellar 5 – 10 years,  to improve on its already somewhat Mosel-like styling.  GK 01/05

2004  T.H.E. Riesling   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $22   [ screwcap;  T.H.E. = Terrace Heights Estate;  RS 11 g/L ]
Lemon with a flush of straw.  This is a frankly populist style of riesling,  with sweet pineappley fruit showing a citrus undertone,  probably produced with one of the vulgar 'aromatic' yeasts.  In other words it narrowly escapes the jujube tag.  Palate is on the sweet side of medium-dry,  seemingly sweeter than the given number,  clearly riesling in a juicy way,  long-flavoured.  Quite good of its type,  and will cellar several years.  GK 01/05

2004  Kahurangi Riesling   15  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $17   [ screwcap;  claimed to be the South Island's oldest riesling vines;  www.kahurangiwine.com ]
Pale straw.  This wine doesn't open too well at all,  vaguely ripe fruity but with cardboardy qualities tending reductive.  It breathes off to a fairly neutral bouquet,  smelling quite rich and hinting at pinot gris.  Palate is confuseable with unoaked chardonnay initially,  with considerable body,  but gradually a terpeney aromatic makes one wonder if it is pinot gris,  or Australian rhine riesling.  Aftertaste is the most varietal part,  the aromatics there being quite lime-zesty.  Has the fruit to improve in cellar,  but modest as a varietal now.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 01/05

2004  Sileni Riesling Cellar Selection   14 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12%;  $18   [ screwcap;  www.sileni.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  This is another wine that needs pouring between jugs.  Freshly opened,  it is reductive and cardboardy.  Breathed,  recognisable riesling becomes apparent,  with hints of citrus and floral.  Palate is quite rich,  flavoursome and juicy,  close to the dry class,  tending phenolic for riesling,  and straightforward from that reductive component.  Might improve with cellaring 5 – 8 years,  but seems marginal.  GK 01/05

Pinot Gris
2004  Zilzie Pinot Gris   16 ½  ()
Murray Darling,  NW Victoria,  Australia:  12.5%;  $17   [ screwcap;  www.zilziewines.com ]
Pale straw.  Another wine that smells like unoaked chardonnay in the blind line-up,  very clean and pure.  Palate is full-bodied,  slightly white peach in flavour,  the phenolics of pinot gris showing (as if there were a touch of oak,  but I suspect not).  Lacks the florals and subtlety of varietal pinot gris (as do most New Zealand),  but as a full-bodied dry white alternative to unoaked chardonnay,  could be a great food wine.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 01/05

2004  Kahurangi Gewurztraminer   17 +  ()
Moutere Hills & Redwood Valley,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  13%;  $20   [ screwcap;  www.kahurangiwine.com ]
Lemongreen.  Another wine that opens modestly,  youthful,  faintly cardboardy.  With air breathes up relatively quickly to a subtle pure gewurz with almost-lilium florals,  suggestions of citronella,  and subtle lychee,  all understated in comparison with the Brunton Road.  Palate is another matter however,  with fine body,  careful phenolics,  beautifully judged residual sweetness hovering on the edge of dry,  and long subtle flavours.  This should cellar for 5 – 10 years,  becoming more varietal every day.  GK 01/05

2004  Brunton Road Gewurztraminer Reserve   16 ½  ()
Gisborne,  New Zealand:  13%;  $23   [ screwcap ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is obvious and clearly varietal from the first moment:  gewurz in a loud brash style,  hair-oily,  highly lychee, some citronella.  Palate explains why,  with the characteristic taste of some botrytised gewurz grapes,  again strong and slightly oily,  with a barley-sugar finish.  Sweetness is medium-dry.  A flavoursome and popular approach to the variety.  Gives the impression on taste of high pH,  early development,  and not a wine to cellar beyond two or three years.  GK 01/05

Sweet / Sticky
2004  Sileni Pourriture Noble EV   17 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  10%;  $29   [ EV means exceptional vintage;  natural acid;  www.sileni.co.nz ]
Light gold,  prematurely aged.  Bouquet is heavily botrytised semillon (I assume) with some oak,  showing ripe fruit,  no trace of stalkiness,  beautifully clean,  some VA,  and a suggestion of premature development (which in negative mode could be called oxidation).  Flavours are golden queen peachy with good body,  as if some chardonnay in the blend,  but the oak is slightly varnishy.  This is a rich and flavoursome wine,  but tending clumsy rather than fine.  Better suited to luxuriating in with food,  than critical tasting.  Dubious marketing name.  Not a longterm cellar prospect,  but maybe 3 – 5 years.  GK 01/05

2003  Kahurangi Riesling Late-Harvest   17  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  13%;  $27   [ cork;  www.kahurangiwine.com ]
A big bouquet showing botrytis first and foremost,  with the riesling character initially just sweet fruit,  slightly nectary / floral,  some VA.  Palate is not as harmonious as bouquet,  the sweetness and acid not yet integrated,  and phenolics are on the high side,  introducing a hard stalky note into the botrytis lusciousness.  Should improve in cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 01/05

All other white wines, blends, etc.
2004  Zilzie Viognier   15 ½  ()
Murray Darling,  NW Victoria,  Australia:  13.9%;  $17   [ screwcap;   BF in French oak;  www.zilziewines.com ]
Lemon.  Bouquet on this wine shouts out three things:  canned apricots past their use-by date,  hot climate,  full-bodied.  It is clearly varietal,  therefore.  The wine goes into the month well,  oily rich,  just like canned apricot juice,  but in mouth it becomes very phenolic and turns quite ugly.  Just like old canned fruit.  So it ends up a coarsely phenolic hot-climate and alcoholic example of the grape,  totally lacking finesse,  but with good points as well as poor.  Hard to score therefore,  so I'll sit on the fence.   Not suited to cellaring.  GK 01/05

2004  Zilzie Rosé   15  ()
Murray Darling,  NW Victoria,  Australia:  13.5%;  $17   [ screwcap;  DFB;  www.zilziewines.com ]
Good rosé.  Bouquet on this wine is quite intense,  in a stalky redcurrants / raspberry / red plums style,  slightly sacky.  Palate is awkward,  very stalky,  acid,  and perceptibly sweet.  See the Zilzie Merlot for thoughts on growing merlot in a hot climate,  which I suspect apply even more here.  This is perfectly wholesome quaffing rosé,  but it would be hard to drink much of.  Won't improve in cellar.  GK 01/05

Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2003  Tiwaiwaka Cabernet / Merlot / Franc Lucinda   17 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $31   [ 14 months in French oak ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  vigorous.  Bouquet is redolent of cassis and fresh-picked black-currants,  intensely fragrant,  with dry hessian French oak spicing it below – promising.  Palate sustains the cassis,  with good Medoc-like ripeness,  fair body and fruit,  and oak which is restrained by New Zealand standards.  This will make an attractive bottle of aromatic cabernet / merlot,  cooler in style than good Hawkes Bay versions,  yet still well-ripened.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 01/05

2002  Morton Estate The Regent of Morton   16  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $56   [ Me,  CS,  CF;  www.mortonestatewines.co.nz ]
Ruby.  One sniff of this wine is enough to remind one that in the latterday world of wine,  new world or old,  all too often a prestige bottling means more time in oak.  And all too often the wines are worse for it.  It is curious that as the Spanish and Italians retreat from this approach,  both the French and the new world seem intent on blundering into this vinous cul de sac,  driven by populist pressures.  [ There are those for whom oak IS wine,  and this site will help them only by inverse correlation.]  This premium Morton wine from a top year in Hawkes Bay is fragrant,  with shadows of cassis peeping out from an all-embracing mantle of high-quality and potentially cedary oak.  Palate however is another matter,  where the wine though reasonably rich,  is crassly oaky.  Trying it with food is a desperate experience.  I don't think this will ever come into balance.  Cellar to 15 years,  but not for pleasure,  I suspect.  GK 01/05

2003  Zilzie Merlot   15 ½  ()
Murray Darling,  NW Victoria,  Australia:  13.5%;  $17   [ laminated cork;  DFB;  10 months French oak;  www.zilziewines.com ]
Ruby,  much lighter than the Zilzie Cabernet or Shiraz.   Bouquet is quite different from those two wines,  being fragrant in the stalky cooked-plummy way that bespeaks the delicate variety merlot being grown in a climate too hot to optimise its floral complexities,  and thus picked early in an attempt to retain some varietal character.  Like pinot noir in Hawkes Bay,  however,  the nett result is a wine which has the leafy / floral bouquet of under-ripeness,  but lacks the flavours of proper physiological maturity.  Palate on the Zilzie is softish,  fruity in this stalky way,  lightly oaked,  and not bone dry – the goal presumably being an accessible presentation of the cabernet family of reds.  As such it is quite good in a QDR sense,  but it cannot be scored highly on the world scale of merlots.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 01/05

2003  Zilzie Cabernet Sauvignon   15  ()
Murray Darling,  NW Victoria,  Australia:  13.5%;  $17   [ laminated cork;  DFB;  US oak;  www.zilziewines.com ]
Ruby and velvet.  Like its sister shiraz,  this Zilzie is muted too,  but with more obvious retained fermentation odours,  more clearly reductive.  It responds well to splashy decanting.  Below is good cassisy and plummy fruit,  clearly different from the shiraz.  Palate develops that into quite rich cassis and dark flavours,  the oak again understated but the reductive thread hard,  all finishing pleasantly on cassis skins.  This wine will probably come out of its shell in a couple of years,  and will cellar for 5 – 10.  GK 01/05

Pinot Noir
2003  Strugglers Flat Pinot Noir   18  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $20   [ screwcap;  subsidiary of Craggy Range;  www.capricornwines.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby,  ideal in fact.  Needs a breath of fresh air,  to reveal an unequivocal pinot noir bouquet.  There are beautiful florals in the boronia camp,  on red and black cherries made aromatic by oak.  Palate shows exactly what pinot is about,  the feel of chardonnay-weight fruit with the flavours of ripe cherries.  Oaking is fragrant,  but to a max.  This is fine New Zealand pinot noir,  and is undoubtedly the best value in pinot ever offered in New Zealand.  Let us hope it is a glimpse of the future, with pinot over-production imminent (and over-pricing rampant).  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  VALUE  GK 01/05

2003  T.H.E.  Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $27   [ screwcap;  T.H.E. = Terrace Heights Estate;  hand-picked,  French oak ]
Big ruby (for pinot).  Bouquet is youthful,  and opens up very disorganised.  One could easily dismiss the wine at that point.  Well-breathed however,  there are suggestions of an intensely aromatic black cherry kind of pinot,  with fragrant new oak.  Palate brings the oak up a little more,  and a slightly marcy quality persists on good aromatic fruit which is clearly varietal.  Though slightly oaky,  this is promising.  Given a year or two for the fruit and oak to marry up,  there may be a pleasant surprise.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 01/05

2003  Chard Farm Pinot Noir Sugarloaf Vineyards   16 ½ +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $38   [ screwcap;  www.chardfarm.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Needs decanting / breathing,  to show a light redfruits bouquet with a hint of thyme and some youthful cardboard,  still to evolve.  Palate is more clearly pinot noir,  supple red cherry fruit,  restrained oak,  a suggestion of stalks.  Not a weighty or complex wine,  but will be pleasant drinking in a vaguely Cote de Beaune style.  Cellar 5 – 8  years.  GK 01/05

2003  Chard Farm Pinot Noir Vipers Vineyards   16 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $38   [ screwcap;  www.chardfarm.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Separating these two Chard Farm pinots is angels on a pinhead stuff.  Perhaps the Sugarloaf is faintly less pure,  but more concentrated.  The Vipers is therefore the more fragrant and lighter of these two supple red cherry pinots.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 01/05

2004  Sacred Hill Pinot Noir Whitecliff   13 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $16   [ screwcap;   no significant info on website;  www.sacredhill.com ]
Light pinot ruby,  more a full rosé.  Bouquet is vaguely varietal,  but congested and cardboardy.  Palate is lightest red currants and red fruits,  stalky,  continuing cardboardy,  and tending acid.  Modest QDR pinot at best,  not worth cellaring.  GK 01/05

Syrah = Shiraz
2004  [ Yellowtail ]  Shiraz   16 ½  ()
Southeast Australia,  Australia:  13.5%;  $12   [ plastic 'cork';  DFB;  Casella Estate;  www.yellowtailwine.com ]
Carmine,  velvet and ruby,  not much attenuated by oak.  Bouquet is pure varietal shiraz,  with fragrant cassis and boysenberry,  faintest black peppercorn,  and euc.  Flavour is a little stalkier than bouquet promises,  again scarcely touched by oak,  a hint of nutmeg on the later palate.  It is quite full-bodied,  very much an Australian version of an unoaked Cotes du Rhone,  but not as dry as that wine would be.  Assuming this is irrigation shiraz picked early to optimise flavour,  the result is clearly succesful,  even if reds released within a year of vintage are not acceptable.  Unusual to say this about an Australian red,  but a little more time in older oak would have complexed it desirably.  Cellar 5 – 8 years (if it had a cork or screwcap).  GK 01/05

2003  Zilzie Shiraz   16  ()
Murray Darling,  NW Victoria,  Australia:  13.5%;  $17   [ laminated cork;  DFB;  extended cool maceration,  10 months new oak;  www.zilziewines.com ]
Carmine,  ruby and velvet,  tending lurid.  Bouquet is muted,  a kind of threshold reductiveness / hot climate neutral character dulling the wine down,  though it is obviously rich.  It benefits from splashy decanting.  Palate is rich dark plummy fruit attractively balanced to understated toasty oak,  but simply not saying anything at the moment.  This could surprise in cellar,  for the dry extract is good,  and it hasn't been drowned by oak.  Hard to score.  Cellar 5 – 10 or more years.  GK 01/05

2001  Hay Shed Hill Shiraz   16  ()
Margaret River,  West Australia,  Australia:  14.5%;  $32   [ cork;  Gold Medal Perth Show ]
Ruby and velvet.  Bouquet is oak and sawdust,  with a touch of euc.  If one perseveres there is dark red fruit,  perhaps blackberry.  In mouth the fruit comes up a little more,  into over-ripe boysen / blackberry shiraz, quite full-bodied with good fruit sweetness,  but overly alcoholic and  burning on the crippling oak.  A textbook example of a wine made to win medals in wineshows,  a show pony,  ridiculously oaky,  an Australian caricature of syrah the variety.  Will mellow in cellar,  and needs to,  if it is ever to accompany food felicitously.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 01/05

Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre & related blends
2002  Chapoutier Cote du Rhone Belleruche   14  ()
Southern Rhone Valley,  France:  12.5%;  $20   [ Gr dominant;  www.chapoutier.com ]
Lightish ruby.  A clean dry lightly cinnamon-spiced redfruits bouquet, very light but fragrant and pleasing.  Palate is lighter than bouquet,  but the flavours match in a slightly stalky / watery wine not tarted up with oak,  recognisably a minor southern Rhone,  and winey (unlike the Carchelo).  Given the floods in the southern Rhone vintage of 2002,  pleasant QDR,  if it were cheaper.  Not for cellaring.  GK 01/05

All other red wines, blends etc
2002  Tirohana Cabernet / Shiraz   14  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $32   [ laminated cork;  www.tirohanaestate.com ]
Good deep ruby.  Bouquet however is intensely herbaceous,  with pale cigarette tobacco and stalky and new-oak smells on under-ripe cassis.  Palate has a stewed stalky cassis quality which is irretrievably green,  perhaps chaptalised,  though quite rich.  Gives the impression of being beautifully made in the winery,  but sadly the right flavours weren't there in the vineyard.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 01/05

2002  Torres Sangre de Toro   13 ½  ()
Catalunya,  Spain:  13.5%;  $18   [ Gr and Ca;  www.torres.es ]
Lightish ruby.  A plain red wine bouquet of indeterminate character,  tending sacky.  Palate shows some raspberry,  more acid,  some stalks,  unsophisticated oak flavours suggesting chips,  but it is less aggressive,  and more pleasant quaffing,  than the Carchelo.  Perhaps it is stored in big old wood.  The wine is unknit and unlikely to improve,  and as straightforward QDR,  is not worth cellaring.  Thirty years ago,  this was a worthwhile label.  GK 01/05

2003  Carchelo   13  ()
Jumilla DdO,  Spain:  13.5%;  $15   [ Mv 50,  Te 30,  Me 20;  vineyards @ 700 m;  Mv whole bunch fermented ]
Bright ruby.  Bouquet is aromatic,  juicy,  tannic even on bouquet,  redfruits in a hard way.  Palate is frankly populist,  juicy,  not dry,  stalky redfruits and harsh oak chips.  Best described as wholesome vin ordinaire,  which is unlikely to improve in cellar.  More flavour,  but less winey,  than the Chapoutier Belleruche.  GK 01/05