Saturday, July 31, 2010


WINE OF THE WEEK.... definitely the best wine I've had all week and, for its style, the best 'Bordeaux' -like wine I've had for a while. The wine in question is (well actually now was as I'm finishing the last glass) Man O' War Ironclad 2007. This is a Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec blend from Waiheke Island. This particular vintage received almost the highest ranking ever for a NZ red wine from the Wine Advocate a USA wine publication. I know, I know ... you are saying who gives a FF (flying fuck) what the Americans think, but remember that they have a more established wine industry than we have and, they, with their bigger currency, a lot more wine connoisseurs and a hell of a lot more wealthy people, manage to consume  a great deal of the world's best wines. When it comes to the world's best 'Bordeaux' style wines, surprise, surprise these actually come from Bordeaux (south of France to the geographically challenged).

 The best are fabulous but well beyond the purchasing capability of yours truly. What I seek out now are very good replicas of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Growth wines that I remember. I used to experiment with Californian wines finding that their intensity and richness matched some of the characters of a Pauillac but over time was disappointed in their single dimensionality (not to mention their price which is almost 1st Growth). I moved to trying and buying the best Australian Cabernet Sauvignon blends, being initially bowled over by the powerful fruit, big oak and strong tannins but, after finding that the cost of toothpaste and Listerine to offset the damage was prohibitive and that the wines even after many years do not really age and develop properly I was left high and dry. I should have remembered the stunning Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignons that McWilliams produced in the 1970's which were definitely a taste of what was to come. Believe it or not we are now spoiled for choice for very great New Zealand 'Bordeaux' blends (any combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and a couple of other varietals). The best come from Hawkes Bay and Waiheke Island. Because of the fact that to get the best 'taste' necessitates blending of several varietals, naming of the blend is a problem. Whilst the origin of the varietals is Bordeaux (France) and the best benchmarking for comparative tasting is Bordeaux it is a shame that we (New Zealand) cannot come up with a descriptive term that describes the wine style as made in New Zealand irrespective of whether it comes from Hawkes Bay, Waiheke or wherever.

But I digress. Back to the wine. It has a stunning deep and clear red colour with crimson edges. It looks alive and suggrsts that it will last a long time. The aroma is deep and redolent of blackberries and currants with a bit of complex earthiness. This is not a wine for the faint-hearted. The taste is long, elegant and whilst rich has that astringency and cleansing palate character that is more akin to Bordeaux than Australia.
It finishes clean with rich tannins that don't dry out the mouth but still leave you wanting more. Overall a good wine that deserves the accolades it has won. Is there a negative element? Yes. For me. I wish I'd bought more of it when I had the chance.


TwistedScottishBastard said...

I checked on the web, and a magnum of Man O'War Ironclad 2007 is going for $98 +p&p. Is it really worth that much money?
I do like Bordeaux wines. When my wife and I first started to try "real" wines instead of the prevalent Blue Nun, Black Tower and Mateus Rosé, we bought 1.5 litre bottles of French Claret from the biggest supermarket in our area, Tesco.
It was eminently drinkable.
I agree with your comment that NZ should be able to produce an excellent varietal blend, similar to the Claret style (possibly with a touch more fruit?) which would be identified as a unique Kiwi product.
In France they call it after the biggest town in the area, Bordeaux, what would be the Kiwi name?
Napier? Hastings? Gisbourne? Wairoa?

THE WINE GUY said...

Nuova Lazio?

Richard (of RBB) said...

I thought that Chardon was the distinctive Nuova Lazio wine.