Monday, November 27, 2017


I've written lots of posts about chardonnay over the years. I love the stuff and even when I tried to get away from it and drink Riesling I was pulled back:  See HERE

I'm drinking a glass of Tony Bish Fat n Sassy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 at the moment. This was left over from the weekend when The Old Girl was up here. This is a rich and delicious chardonnay and has opened up nicely after being uncapped on Saturday. I bought a case of this a while ago at a good price from an online retailer and wish I had more of it. This is a good example of the upper end of Hawkes Bay chardonnay being a heavy, high alcohol (14%) beautifully oaked wine that begs to be taken seriously.
I of course ignored that and we drank most of it while playing pool in the snooker room.

I've finished the Bish chardonnay ....... now that reminds me of one of my favourite albums (one that The Old Girl hates and I have to listen to on my own) - Bish Bosch by Scott Walker see HERE

......and have poured myself a glass of Selaks Buttery Chardonnay 2016. This is from a bottle also left over from the weekend. Again Hawkes Bay this is a lighter version (and cheaper). It's 13% alcohol but with excellent fruit. It's not as woody as the Bish but is beautifully balanced as I would expect from Brett Fullerton's winemaking team. I believe that this just picked up a gold medal in the New World wine awards so hope the price doesn't go up. I bought this at about $16 and it's well worth it. It's a 'slippery' wine meaning that it's too easy to drink and before you know it a half a bottle has gone .

Looking at the little list I made in that old post I'd only drop off: Sacred Hill orange label as they've buggered this up and gone with cheaper materials and; Selaks Winemakers Favourite as it doesn't exist anymore - probably now is the Buttery.
There's lots of good other Hawkes Bay chardonnays that I could add - not now though as I've got to put dinner in the oven (meat loaf and roast potatoes).


Monday, November 20, 2017


I've been buying Villa Maria Hawkes Bay Rose 2017 in New World supermarkets for a couple of months now.  It's bloody nice and, when on special I'd stock up on the stuff. When I first spied it (I look out for new vintage release Rose wines as they are at their best when young) I ignored the big gold decal on the bottle which, when you read the lettering say's something like "NZ's most admired wine brand" or some bollocks like that - unworthy I think of Villa Maria and I wonder if Sir George is aware of what his marketers are doing.

This is the decal - ignore the sauvignon Blanc

This is the wine I've been buying

The wine is superb and fits any occasion or time of day.
I had mixed feelings when I learned that it just won a gold medal in the New World Wine Awards*.
It endorsed my appreciation of the wine but now every bugger will be wanting to drink it. My buying over recent years has been driven by finding excellent wines that 'every bugger' hasn't yet and, as sales volumes might be low the producers or retailers knock the price off.

This is what the NEW WORLD WINE AWARDS judges said about the wine:

Beautifully balanced with textural ripe strawberry flavours and a perfect acid and sugar balance. This Rose has drinkability by the glassful. A Gold medal last year and this year, and the wine is even better if that's possible. Perfect summer Rose to drink while enjoying an outdoor concert.

Yeah, OK and the
"Rose to drink while enjoying an outdoor concert."
comment matches my 'any occasion' comment so we agree on a couple of things.


Rose wine styles have been making a bit of a come back.

Most producers are now making one or two styles under their various brands and labels and there are a lot to choose from.
The trick is in selecting a good one that isn't 'lolly-water' nor an old tired, brown-looking one. Roses are best drunk young so new release 2017 wines - from say September onwards are generally at their best until mid 2018. The provenance of the brand is useful to know (e.g. the Villa Maria PB 2016 went gold as well) and once you find a favourite it pays to check it out each year. There are so  many now though that it pays to check out some other brands and styles and, in case the Villa Maria becomes unaffordable - other prices.

*Asterisk and italics because this is a supermarket chains wine awards.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


I've mentioned many times the advantages of blending wines at home. Her Indoors and I even do this at restaurants and at other people's homes but get funny looks though.

Today I opened a bottle of wine I procured through Blackmarket wines. It was The Doctors 2013 Arneis.

I'd bought a case (6) of these at a ridiculously cheap price - $8.95 a bottle for $20+ wine and it was delivered yesterday. The wine is dry but stacked full of flavours that just need more bottle age to emerge. It's not stunning drinking now but, given time will develop nicely. I went on-line to buy another case but it is all sold out. Bummer.

Now anyone reading this who has read some of my earlier posts will recall that I've been a bit scathing about arneis and 'emerging' varietals in New Zealand. Well, scathing is a gentle way of putting it as I admit I've been downright vitriolic. See here:

Or here:

Or here:

and, generally I stand by what I've said but - needs must.
I'm not earning as I was before and not being given free wine like before and have to -gasp- buy wine! I seek out all my favourite varietals, styles and brands but make my choice based on price - hence shopping on-line at Blackmarket and other sites. Really good bargains amongst the varietals I principally favour like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling are becoming fewer and farther between so I'm forced to look at other offerings for day to day quaffing.

I bought the case of arneis for a few reasons:

  • The Doctors is a trusted brand made by Forrest Wines
  • The accolades were really good (5 stars) from trusted reviewers
  • The price was outstanding
Re the price ($8.95 down from low to mid twenties) supports my theory that these new varietals are a waste of winemaking and marketing resource - professionally speaking, but on a personal level I'm very pleased. The wine as expected is very dry which falls outside of popular drinking styles. The depth of fruit and flavour is there though and time will bring them out. Being a 2013 wine it's already 4 years in bottle and still has a long way to go but bank managers see things differently and have probably advised the winemaker to 'move it along sir'. Their loss my (and all of those other greedy bastards out there) gain.

As I said I tried to buy another case but it was sold out. I'll keep a watch though because I doubt if the 2014 vintage will fare any better commercially speaking.

Thinking about this and the austere nature of the wine I took an opened bottle of Riesling out of the fridge - Gale Force 2016 Marlborough Riesling:

This is a low alcohol, slightly sweet wine with lovely flavours that I also bought a case (6) from Blackmarket. The price? $9.95 a bottle. A bargain.
I mixed some of the arneis with the riesling - by increments until I got the blend right and the result was a fresh and flavoursome wine - way more flavoursome and serious than a pinot gris or sauvignon blanc at, for the price I paid, a much lesser price than good examples of those other varietals


I had already decided that my 'dinner' this evening was going to be apple sponge.
I had three apples in the fridge that needed to be eaten and, as I'd damaged my leg yesterday, didn't feel like going to the supermarket for fresh provisions. Using the reliable Edmonds Cook Book as a base I whipped up an apple sponge with the addition of raisins, a cinnamon stick and Grand Marnier.
Delicious. It went perfectly with the arneis/riesling blend.