Saturday, March 31, 2012


My partner (Her Indoors) travels a bit with her job. It used to be to China and South East Asia but now is domestic travel. She works as a marketer for an engineering company and so visits the company's offices around New Zealand working on project bids.
She has been to Queenstown a bit recently, usually for 3 or 4 days. She works long hours but at least on one of the evenings gets to go to the excellent wine bar Wine Tastes (see here) WINE TASTES

When there she texts or rings me to tell me what wines she is trying (you can sample - at a price- any number of top class wines or buy a glass).  These are usually Pinot Noirs. I used to go to Queenstown quite a bit in my previous life but Wine Tastes wasn't open then. I'll have to make a trip there soon.

One good thing about her travels though is that in helping out at the various offices around the country and putting in the extra yards, it is appreciated by her colleagues who show their thanks by buying her gifts. Fortunately, somewhere along the line, they have realised that she appreciates good wine (at company dinners and nights out they give her the wine list to choose the wine). Also fortunately, somewhere along the line she has told them that she doesn't drink Sauvignon Blanc but adores Pinot Noir. As a consequence we are seeing some very good and very expensive bottles of New Zealand Pinot Noir coming our way. I say 'we' and 'our' because of course my beloved shares the wine with me.
Tonight we are drinking a Pisa Range Black Poplar Block 2008 Pinot Noir from Cromwell Basin Central Otago. Believe it or not this is the latest release. It is a monster which will take time to develop.
It is very rich with a surprising colour for its age. Delightful drinking now this is only going to get better.
Either I'll have to buy some or Her Indoors will need to be rewarded with some more of this.

We are drinking the 2008 
Wew had the 2009 vintage

Last week we had the Valli 2009 Bannockburn Pinot Noir from Central Otago. This was bloody good New Zealand Pinot Noir too, quite different from the Pisa Range. It was more savoury and complex (as Martinborough Pinot Noirs can be) but with strong, sweet fruit and a bit of tannic backbone.

Now I've been a bit critical of Central Otago Pinot Noirs having had a view that they are overpriced for the quality. This I think has been the case in the past but we are now seeing more offerings at the top with prices tempered by the volumes of cheaper wines at the bottom. While still expensive (in New Zealand terms) at $50 - $80 a bottle, they are now delivering and on a world scale represent good value for money.

My first favourite though is Waipara Pinot Noir. To me, Waipara gives a combination of: the best savoury notes of Martinborough without the dodginess of variable vintages; the richness and power of Central Otago without the dense beetroot notes and chunky plum and black cherry fruit; and a delicate cherry character that defines Marlborough but with more oomph, length and character.
I'll just have to get Her Indoors to subtly imply that Waipara Pinot Noir is her best favourite without cutting off the supply of these excellent Central Otago wines. Then, hopefully we might see some excellent Waipara wines like Muddy Waters Hare's Breath Pinot Noir.

I guess I'll have to be a bit Machiavellian in my approach.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


OK, OK, sorry about that but I thought it was funny. I've always liked the B52's (Love Shack is just about the only song that I will ever get up to dance to).

So. Meschack.

Me·shach  (mshch)In the Bible, a young man who with Abednego and Shadrach emerged unharmed from the fiery furnace of Babylon.
For all those bible-bashers out there.

For me, Meshack represents the best red wine that Grant Burge, from South Australia, produces. The fruit (Shiraz) is from the lovely Filsell vineyard, hand-picked, and added to similarly old-vine parcels (we are talking about 100 y.o.+ vines here) from around the Barossa Valley.

About 6 years ago Lynn and I spent a glorious 3 weeks in the best wine regions of Australia and when in the Barossa Valley visited Grant Burge Wines and bought the 2001 Meshach. They keep it back for about 5 years before releasing it. Knowing that this is a great wine that gets subtly better with age we have kept it in the cellar. Tonight, having cooked a slow-cooked lamb dish, we thought that a wine of this calibre and age would suit the meal and a cool and rainy night. Right? 
Yes, right. The wine is delicious. Unctuous. Smooth. Rich and delightful. With hints of violets lurking amongst the plum, blackberry and spicy flavours this has a surprising mix of richness, strength and power along with smoothness and elegance. 

So, who cares?

Well, frankly I do as I love wine. I love the wine industry and I am so annoyed that supermarkets and new, uneducated and inexperienced retailers are dominating the industry. The old-style wine merchants are unfortunately a thing of the past having died off, retired (my old mate Peter Rumble packed it in recently) or have been driven out of the business. Most people nowadays don't get the opportunity to try quality wines that have been well cellared and drunk at the optimum time because there are very few people out there, at the coalface as it were to advise them.

We, luckily have a lot of nice wines maturing in our cellar. I am concerned however that the wines I 'laid down' some years ago are all going to mature at the same time and replacements are so much more expensive. We may have to sell off some of the gems of which we have multiple bottles and replace with newer vintages.