Coleraine Te Mata Estate from Hawkes Bay in New Zealand is regarded as a leading cabernet blend from this part of the world. The 2007 vintage here fell somewhat short of (high) expectations. Its aroma reminds of tomato bush and dried herbs and its palate is fully mature. It retains a quiet elegance and has a persistent if subtle length which is appealing. This vintage most closely resembles an aged Yarra Valley cabernet in style, which are generally available for far less. Ready to drink now, this bottle has entered a gentle decline. Rating: Good. Abv: Not recorded. Price: $90+. Website: https://www.temata.co.nz.
This pinot gris is influenced by the Alsace style, and is from Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand’s north island. In the glass, there are muted aroma of herbs, stones and almonds. The palate is off-dry, full bodied and the acidity racy. Pleasant enough, and something different, although not in a style I would seek. It would suit spicy food. Rating: Good. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $21. Website: www.church-road.co.nz.
This is a high quality merlot blend (76% merlot, 14% cabernet sauvignon, 8% cabernet franc and 2% malbec) from Craggy Range in Hawkes Bay in New Zealand. It has blackcurrant, clove and earth aromatics that are Bordeaux like, although more left bank than right. The palate has great length and ripe tannins. Ready to drink now, this is an excellent wine that impresses beyond its price. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 13.9%. Price: $35. Website: www.craggyrange.com.
Here is a vinous round up of wine notes that I, for one reason or another, have not been quick enough to type out individual posts on, but nonetheless ought to be commented upon. There are some very good wines among these. In re-reading them, it is a bit of vinous Noah’s Ark which, more or less, tracks my own obsession with good wine, no matter where it’s from.
As a brief aside, sometimes I wonder whether short lists such as these are the best way to communicate tasting notes, rather than individual posts per wine. Feel free to chime in. They do become harder to search though in this format.
Meerea Park Alexander Munro Semillon 2010, Hunter Valley
Pale intensity, lemon-green in colour. Floral, lemon aromatics. Bone dry, high acid with a light to medium body. Lemon, yellow grapefruit and hints of toast and honey. A delicious Hunter Valley semillon just starting to edge towards maturity. I need more semillon in my cellar. Rating: Very Good
Ten Minutes by Tractor Judd Chardonnay 2013, Mornington Peninsula
Benchmark territory here. Nectarine, peach, cashew and clove aromatics. Long length, fullish body, all in exquisite balance with a stone fruit overlay. Delicious and first rate wine. Rating: Very Good to Outstanding
Ten Minutes by Tractor McCutcheon Chardonnay 2013, Mornington Peninsula
More obvious in style than the Judd. Still delicious though. Butter, cashew, vanilla and green mango aromatics. Palate with between medium and long length and terrifically balanced. Rating: Very Good
Clos Clare Watervale Riesling 2015, Clare Valley
Lemon-green in colour. Steely, lemon and lime, very Clare Valley. Dry, high acid palate. Lovely riesling. I’d buy this. Rating: Good
Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2013, Margaret River
A delicious wine, but evident winemaking oak influence. Lemon in colour. Quite aromatic expressions of nectarine, organs peel, cedar and smoke. The palate is dry with prodigiously long length on the finish, coupled with cedar and stone fruit characters. Rating: Very Good
Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2013, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Quite a developed wine, with hints only of lemon and cashew. The palate is quite subtle too and almost a little neutral. Subtle length and balance. Seemed to be missing some spark. Rating: Good
3 Tales Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough
Soundly made Marlborough sauvignon blanc. Grass, gooseberry, grapefruit. Pronounced intensity aromatics and high acid palate. Exactly what you might expect from a Marlborough SB, a style that is what it is. Rating: Good
Burn Cottage Pinot Noir 2013, Central Otago, New Zealand
This wine evolved and improved considerably in the glass. Residual impression of “not convinced”. Deeply coloured for pinot noir. Aromatics of caramel, toffee (the first two unusual for pinot), dark cherry and autumn with time. The palate reminds of cedar, cherry and plum with good length on the finish. Complex. Rating: Good
Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Coonawarra
This is a good wine. Mint, eucalyptus, earth and dark olive aromatics. Palate with considerable tannin and a full bodied expression of blackcurrant and dark olives. One for the cellar. Obvious mint its only query. Rating: Good to Very Good.
Chateau Plince Pomerol 2012, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Pleasant wine. Not ambitiously priced for a Pomerol in Australia. Cedar, typical merlot characters of plum and fruit cake. Balanced palate. Rating: Good
Angullong Crossing Reserve Shiraz 2013, Orange
A lovely wine. Aromatics of clove,vanilla, plum and wood spice. Balanced mid weight wine on the palate with good length. Rating: Good
Marchesi di Barolo Cannubi 2010, Barolo, Italy
2010 is a great vintage in Barolo. This wine is classic nebbiolo tar and roses although lacking the intensity and structure of some. Rating: Good
Capella Prosecco NV, Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Italy
Here’s a good Prosecco. Not all of them are, but this one is. Apple skins, apple and apricot blossom. Palate somewhere between dry and off dry. Creamy mousse and pleasant length. Rating: Good
Torre Blanca Cava NV, Cava, Spain
Lemon and grapefruit aromatics. Dry palate with a creamy mousse, and minerally after taste. Fine, but not a style I search for. Rating: Acceptable
Domaine Pichot Vouvray Brut 2011, Vouvray, France
Golden in colour. Aromatics of grapefruit, biscuit, almonds and green mango. Something ever so slightly socky. Dry, high acid palate. Delicate. Rating: Good
Louis Roederer Vintage 2008, Champagne, France
Yeast, biscuit and strawberry aromatics. High acid palate, racy, resolutely dry and lemon and yellow grapefruited expression. Second bottle had more charm. Rating: Good to Very Good
Chateau Coutet 2009, Sauternes-Barsac, France
Marmalade, orange peel, long length and pure expression of Sauternes. Delicious. Rating: Very Good
Note: some of these wines were samples.
Craggy Range’s Gimblett Gravels “Sophia” strikes me as a serious wine, in its outlandishly heavy bottle. The 2005 vintage is a blend of 62% merlot, 34% cabernet franc and 4% cabernet sauvignon. It therefore stakes its claim as a St-Emilion blend – a combination seldomnly seen in Australia, perhaps due to the travails of merlot in this country. (In a country adept at producing good examples of most wines, there are remarkably few good Australian merlots on offer.) In terms of winemaking, the wine saw 80% new French oak, inoculated yeast, and was filtered and fined.
The wine itself starts with a medium intensity aroma of earth, plums and Christmas cake spices held together and seasoned well with vanilla oak. On the palate, there are herbs and tea leaves which temper the richness of chocolatey dark plums, all set to medium length. This wine is built to last, and will drink well for a number of years. A good and serious example of the style that is worthy of your attention. 88-89 points (very good)
Matua Valley is a New Zealand producer that is part of the stable of “brands” (their words, not mine) owned by Treasury Wine Estates (formerly Fosters). This wine was a little rough, but ok. Soft sweet spices and a slight sharpness on the nose. A soft finish and a bit spiky on the palate. Pleasant enough for a cheapie. 77 points (6.2/10)
The first thing I noticed about Craggy Range’s Sophia, in 2007, a blend of 81% merlot, 10% cabernet franc, 7% cabernet sauvignon and 2% malbec was its “epic” bottle weight. Crazy. I bought this wine because I was so impressed with Craggy Range’s lower priced Te Kahu Merlot from 2009 that I reasoned that their “top of the line” stuff must be even better. Opening the bottle, it was immediately apparent that this wine had been built to last. A reticent, brooding aroma of spices, soft plums and oak emerged. Tasting it, there was some fairly good length, that subtle “softness” that tells the drinker “drink me, for I am good”, acidity, powdery tannins, young oak and perhaps a touch of alcohol heat. But it was somewhat lacking in “x factor” – while at every point, I thought this undoubtedly a good wine, at no point did I think “wow, this wine really brings something to the table”. And for $75, I needed to think that. Here are the technical notes from the winery. 7.5/10 (90 points)
Price: around $75
Would I buy it having tasted it? I’m afraid not, I’ll stick with the Te Kahu 2009.
I am a newcomer to Craggy Range’s wines. And so far I am impressed. The 2009 vintage of Craggy Range’s “Te Kahu” single vineyard merlot from the Gimblett Gravels is an excellent wine. It is a blend of 80% merlot, 12% cabernet franc, 5% cabernet sauvignon and 3% malbec. It has an aroma of plums and subtle oak. On the palate, there are at times quite pronounced spices, pepper, acidity and very good length. It achieves what many Australian merlots do not – balance and length. My only complaint is that Craggy Range’s website appears, regrettably more than regularly long on marketing speak. 89 to 90 points (7.4-7.5/10)
Would I buy it having tasted it? Yes