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Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
independent
analytical
non-commercial
Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.
2006 KONRAD RIESLING ATTRACTIVE AND AFFORDABLE IN RECENT RELEASES



LAYOUT AND THE WINES REVIEWED:

White
Sparkling
2006  Mount Fishtail Pinot Rosé Sparkling
Chardonnay
2004  Matua Chardonnay Settler
2005  Matua Valley Chardonnay Settler
2004  Mount Riley Chardonnay Seventeen Valley
2005  Saint Clair Chardonnay
Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2006  Charles Wiffen Sauvignon Blanc
2005  Charles Wiffen Sauvignon Blanc Reserve
2006  Jules Taylor Sauvignon Blanc
2006  Konrad Sauvignon Blanc
2006  Matua Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay
2006  Mount Fishtail Sauvignon Blanc
2006  Mt Riley Sauvignon Blanc Seventeen Valley
2006  Saints Sauvignon Blanc
2006  Te Mania Sauvignon Blanc
Riesling
2005  Charles Wiffen Riesling
2006  Konrad Riesling
2006  Tohu Riesling
Pinot Gris
2005  Jules Taylor Pinot Gris
2006  Lakes Hayes Pinot Gris
2006  White Rock Pinot Gris Sur Lie
Gewurztraminer
Viognier
 Sweet / Sticky
2006  Sileni Pourriture Noble EV
All other white wines, blends, etc.
2006  Wooing Tree Blondie
Red
Rosé
2006  Wooing Tree Rosé
Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2004  Charles Wiffen Merlot
2005  Matua Valley Merlot / Cabernet Hawkes Bay
2005  Matua Valley Vintage Red Settler
2004  Thomson Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Toolunka Flat
Cabernet / Shiraz
Pinot Noir
2005  Charles Wiffen Pinot Noir
2005  Charles Wiffen Pinot Noir Reserve
2004  Konrad Pinot Noir
2005  Mount Fishtail Pinot Noir
2004  Mount Riley Pinot Noir Seventeen Valley
Syrah = Shiraz
2004  Ardent Estates Shiraz
2004  Morton Estate Syrah White Label
2004  Thomson Estate Shiraz Old Pumphouse
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre & related blends
2004  Domaine de la Charité Cotes du Rhone Villages Cayenne
All other red wines, blends etc
From the Cellar. Older wines.
 

White
Sparkling
2006  Mount Fishtail Pinot Rosé Sparkling   17  ()
Wairau & Waihopai Valleys,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $15   [ screwcap;  second label of Konrad ]
Colour is intriguing,  coppery good rosé.  This wine smells fruity and tastes fruity,  medium-dry,  and the first thing to say is it is accurately labelled.  This is not methode traditionelle,  it is sparkling pinot rosé.  So whereas I have criticised many new world methode traditionelles as being sparkling chardonnay rather than in the style of the real thing,  this has to be assessed according to the label.  There is some yeast autolysis moderating the overt fruit.  The quality of the redcurrant / red cherry fruit would have handled less residual sugar than the wine shows,  which would have made it more food-friendly.  I guess it is not aiming to be either a cellar wine or serious,  but sweetness aside it should improve in cellar 2 5 years.  GK 03/07

Chardonnay
2005  Saint Clair Chardonnay   17 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $19   [ screwcap,  a percentage BF,  MLF and 9 months in oak;  4.2 g/L RS;  www.saintclair.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw.  Bouquet is sweet,  clean,  yellow-fruited mealy chardonnay,  showing attractive barrel-ferment,  MLF and lees-autolysis complexities,  yet in a straightforward way.  Palate suggests clone mendoza,  good fruit in the golden queen peach style,  delicate pale butter MLF enrichment of bread-crust autolysis,  rich with good texture,  the flavour lengthened on oak and acid.  This is an attractive example of a modern $20 chardonnay,  the sweetness not too noticeable.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 03/07

2004  Mount Riley Chardonnay Seventeen Valley   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $29   [ screwcap,  hand-harvested @ c 3 t/ac;  BF with wild yeast in mostly French oak mostly new,  and LA 13 months;  RS 2.5 g/L;  www.mountriley.co.nz ]
Brassy straw.  Bouquet is very developed,  showing quite strong Vogel's Wholegrain lees-autolysis development in a forward,  even prematurely-aged,  way.  Palate brings in good yellow-fleshed stonefruit,  barrel fermentation,  more lees-autolysis,  and all the components of a complex rich flavoursome chardonnay showing much winemaking input.  But,  it is all too old for its age,  fully mature.  Pretty delicious drinking,  in its style,  but the mark is indulgent.  Drink now,  not a cellar wine beyond a year or so.  GK 03/07

2005  Matua Valley Chardonnay Settler   16 ½  ()
North Island,  New Zealand:  13%;  $12   [ screwcap,  part of wine BF,  MLF maybe and some months in oak,  balance s/s;  4 g/L RS;  www.matua.co.nz ]
Pale straw.  Bouquet is a slightly scented version of stonefruit chardonnay,  perhaps a new oak (or chip ?) note not married in yet.  Palate is middle-of-the-road chardonnay,  suggesting a blend of oaked and stainless steel fractions,  fair fruit and good ripeness,  but not much complexity.  It seems drier than the Saint Clair,  yet  is quite long on the slightly acid finish.  A great improvement on the '04.  Cellar 2 4 years.  GK 03/07

2004  Matua Chardonnay Settler   14 ½  ()
New Zealand:  13%;  $12   [ screwcap,  s/s,  25% MLF,  relationship to oak unclear,  perhaps chips;  3.8 g/L RS;  www.matua.co.nz ]
Deep lemon.  Bouquet is an old-fashioned North Island style of chardonnay,  showing mixed ripeness ranging from pineapple to stalky,  all simple and tending sacky.  Palate has good fruit,  but similar flavours to the bouquet,  all tending acid and phenolic.  Not easy quaffing,  though a  winestyle formerly endorsed (unwisely).  Not worth cellaring.  GK 03/07

Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
2006  Jules Taylor Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½ +  ()
Wairau & Awatere Valleys,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet benefits from splashy pouring,  to breathe off a bit of sweat and clog.  Aerated,  it  opens to reveal delightful red capsicum,  honeysuckle and black passionfruit classical Marlborough sauvignon.  Palate is equally good,  great fruit,  flavoursome sauvignon drier than some,  and not phenolic.  Cellar 5 8 years.  GK 03/07

2006  Mount Fishtail Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $14   [ screwcap;  second label of Konrad;  no info ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is quietly fragrant,  with some honeysuckle,  red capsicum,  sweet basil and black passionfruit,  on a suggestion of lees autolysis.  Palate is a little phenolic and drier than most,  but with plenty of flavour as in the bouquet.  Very competitive Marlborough sauvignon blanc at the price.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 03/07

2006  Mt Riley Sauvignon Blanc Seventeen Valley   17 ½ +  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $21   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested @ less than 3 t/ac,  BF in older oak only (3 yrs +) with wild yeast,  4 months LA,  RS 5.3 g/L;  www.mountriley.co.nz ]
Lemon.  With a little air,  bouquet is richer,  sweeter and milder than some,  black passionfruit and white stonefruits,  a touch of oak.  Palate is more varietal,  some red capsicum in the black passionfruit, the oak much subtler than this label used to be,  acid balance good.  This is a rich mouthfilling sauvignon,  the alcohol well concealed,  and showing a good (if maximum) level of oak.  Aftertaste is long on both fruit and oak,  the latter becoming a little prominent.  Cellar 5 8 years, which should integrate the wine attractively.  GK 03/07

2006  Charles Wiffen Sauvignon Blanc   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $17   [ screwcap ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is mild,  in a Hawkes Bay style of black passionfruit and a suggestion of fruit salad,  very ripe.  Palate is white stonefruits,  in the blind tasting confuseable with pinot gris (and better than some not phenolic !).  Body is good,  acid gentle,  and flavours pleasing and 'dry' a wine to appeal to those who don't like Marlborough sauvignon too much.  Cellar 3 5 years.  GK 03/07

2006  Konrad Sauvignon Blanc   17  ()
Waihopai Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $15   [ screwcap ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is straightforward Marlborough sauvignon,  a hint of armpit on light red capsicum and black passionfruit,  tending mild.  Palate doesn't hang together quite so well,  there being a slight rankness and phenolic tendency,  concealed by plenty of flavour and not being as 'dry' as some.  Cellar 1 3 years.  GK 03/07

2006  Matua Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay   16 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $17   [ screwcap,  5.4 g/L RS;  www.matua.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is subtle sauvignon blanc,  as if moderated by lees-autolysis,  mixed capsicums,  some honeysuckle and black passionfruit.  Palate seems more influenced by lees-autolysis,  a little bread crumb melded with green peach fruit,  quite long,  tasting more 'dry' than the given number would suggest,   slightly European (-ve).  An understated wine,  to cellar 5 8 years.  GK 03/07

2006  Te Mania Sauvignon Blanc   16 +  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  5 g/L RS;  www.temaniawines.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is clearly in the mixed colours of capsicum,  not as floral and black passionfruit as good Marlborough examples.  In the blind tasting,  critically assessed,  there is a faint hint of mould on the grapes.  On palate it sweetens up,  into a good mainstream sauvignon,  fragrant,  refreshing,  even some honeysuckle and black passionfruit now.  Finish however is a little short and green pepper / herbaceous,  offset by it not being as 'dry' as some.  Cellar 1 3 years only.  GK 03/07

2005  Charles Wiffen Sauvignon Blanc Reserve   15  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap ]
Lemongreen.  This wine opens somewhat reductively,  and desperately needs splashy pouring into a wide mouth jug a couple of times.  With a lot of air it opens to a white stonefruits very ripe version of sauvignon,  easily confuseable with pinot gris.  In mouth it is more clearly sauvignon blanc,  some black passionfruit,  fresh for its age (reasonably,  being a little reductive),  in a fairly 'dry' Hawkes Bay-like interpretation of the grape.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 03/07

2006  Saints Sauvignon Blanc   14  ()
Awatere & Wairau Valleys,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap;  all s/s;  extended LA in tank;  www.pernod-ricard-nz.com ]
Pale lemongreen,  lighter than the others.  Bouquet desperately needs jug to jug splashy aeration.  Once aired,  it is still pretty modest,  lacking overt varietal character,  and with quite a degree of cardboardy European clog on green gooseberry fruit.  It is therefore more lesser Sancerre in style.  Palate is richer than the bouquet suggests,  showing fair fruit but still not too much of the right flavour,  some green peach suggestions,  more 'dry' than some.  With a lot of airing,  the desirable side of lees autolysis shows through.  This latest Saints Sauvignon is a let-down from the lovely 2002.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 03/07

Riesling
2006  Konrad Riesling   18  ()
Waihopai Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12%;  $14   [ screwcap ]
Lemongreen.  Bouquet is delightful,  delicate acacia blossom and white flowers,  a slight flinty note reminiscent of Mosel,  and some lime-zest aromatics.  Palate is fresh,  both floral and aromatic,  explicitly varietal,  medium-dry.  This should cellar well for 5 10 years.  VALUE  GK 03/07

2006  Tohu Riesling   17 ½  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  www.tohuwines.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Bouquet shows soft white floral varietal characters,  sweetly fragrant but unfocussed,  scarcely any limey aromatics.  Palate is likewise soft and rich,  a full-bodied juicy version of riesling,  a sweeter medium-dry than the Konrad,  pleasing,  popular,  but a little lacking zip.  Cellar 3 5 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Charles Wiffen Riesling   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $15   [ screwcap ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is fruity in a simple pineappley tending estery way,  but with some attractive hoppy terpenes too.  Palate is quite aromatic,  with reminders of Australian riesling rather than New Zealand,  fair fruit,  medium-dry.  A flavoursome rather than subtle example of the variety,  which could be popular.  Cellar 3 5 years.  GK 03/07

Pinot Gris
2005  Jules Taylor Pinot Gris   16 ½ +  ()
Awatere & Wairau Valleys,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $26   [ screwcap ]
Straw.  Bouquet is soft and forward,  in a barrel-ferment,  lees-autolysis and MLF interpretation of the variety,  almost nougat-like,  but with some thoughts of yellow florals too plus trace VA.  Palate is forward for the wine's age,  the MLF component adding caramel to bottled nectarines,  all soft,  rich,  and pleasant in an indulgent over-developed somewhat chardonnay-like way.  Only short-term cellar,  therefore,  1 3 years.  GK 03/07

2006  Lakes Hayes Pinot Gris   16 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $25   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  whole-bunch pressed,  s/s ferment;  3 months LA;  RS 6.8 g/L;  www.amisfield.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Bouquet hovers in that awkward area:  is it sort-of floral,  or slightly rubbery ?  On balance it hints at the yellow florals of subtler examples of the variety.  Palate has good initial flavours,  suggestions of nectarine,  more finesse than the White Rock,  but then dries off to a suggestion of phenolics,  a little drier than the White Rock.  Cellar 1 4 years.  GK 03/07

2006  White Rock Pinot Gris Sur Lie   16  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $21   [ screwcap;  not on website yet;  this new website is the public face of Capricorn Wine Estates,  as a subsidiary of the Craggy Range group;  www.wildrockwine.co.nz ]
Palest lemongreen.  Bouquet is modest,  some under-ripe nectarine,  but also a trace of rubber.  Palate is in the one-dimensional plain pearflesh style of over-ripe New Zealand pinot gris,  quite rich but short in flavour and tending hard on alcohol and phenolics.  Within these parameters it is clearly varietal,  quite 'dry',  and will cellar 1 4 years.  GK 03/07

Sweet / Sticky
2006  Sileni Pourriture Noble EV   14 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  9.5%;  $27   [ cork;  EV means Exceptional Vintage;  no grape or detail on website;  www.sileni.co.nz ]
Paleish straw.  VA is the first impression on bouquet.  That can be OK in a sweet wine,  if there is the fruit and flavour complexity on bouquet to marry it away,  but in this wine there isn't.  There is just a suggestion of cut pear flesh,  with some oxidation.  Palate is more volatile,  and the flavour is lacking,  as if made from vapid pinot gris,  pure,  but not clearly botrytis (which can be interesting on mild varieties such as chardonnay).  Not a success,  not worth cellaring.  GK 03/07

All other white wines, blends, etc.
2006  Wooing Tree Blondie   16 +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $20   [ screwcap;  handpicked;  PN 100%;  RS 6.2 g/L;  www.wooingtree.co.nz ]
Palest salmon-flushed white,  paler than rosé.  Bouquet is another of those:  is it rubbery or floral ? wines,  which can be a negative start.  Palate is better,  quite rich,  nearly 'dry',  hard to pin down in a blind tasting,  but it makes sense as a blanc off pinot noir.  Flavours are white cherry and pale blackboy peach,  with a slight firmness from red grape tannins.  Style is palest rosé.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 03/07

Red
Rosé
2006  Wooing Tree Rosé   16  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $20   [ screwcap;  PN 100% hand-picked,  on skins overnight;  s/s ferment but 10% aged in barrel 1 month;  RS 4.4 g/L 'dry';  www.wooingtree.co.nz ]
Youthful palest rosé,  a bit lurid in hue.  Bouquet is strong,  an overly strawberry approach to the rosé style,  with reddest rhubarb and blackboy peach characters too.  In mouth there is plenty of berry flavour,  but also a rank quality,  which cries out for some moderating in oak [ website not seen at tasting stage ].  Finish is phenolic and acid,  though not 'dry'.  This doesn't gel for me,  as pinot rosé,  compared with the admirable 2006 Bald Hills Blanc de Pinot Noir from the same district.  Might look better in two years rosés cellar quite well,  contrary to popular wisdom.  Only fair to note the website reminds me this wine won a gold medal in the recent Easter Show.  GK 03/07

Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2005  Matua Valley Merlot / Cabernet Hawkes Bay   16  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12%;  $17   [ screwcap;  3.7 g/L;  www.matua.co.nz ]
Ruby.  Bouquet is winey,  on account of a light brett component on good berry,  but it's not too clear in the blind tasting exactly what style it is winey in.  It is perfectly reasonable to confuse light vaguely plummy merlots with slightly stewed plummy pinots.  Palate shows pleasant berry in sympathetic oak,  all soft and pleasing,  if slightly grubby.  A pleasant local QDR at a refreshing and food-friendly 12% alcohol is very welcome,  though it is expensive as QDR.  Mellow now,  or will cellar 1 3 years.  GK 03/07

2004  Thomson Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Toolunka Flat   15  ()
Riverland,  South Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $15   [ screwcap;  CS 95%,  Sh 5;  some French oak whether as barrel or chip not made clear;  2.7 g/L RS;  distributed by Lace Merchants;  www.thomsonestate.com.au ]
Dense ruby,  carmine and velvet.  Bouquet is heavy,  a dried currants / old prunes kind of browned cabernet cassis (at a stretch) with a suggestion of mint and cod liver oil i.e. hot climate,  over-ripe and dull.  Palate is intense,  concentrated,  raisined fruits,  plain flavours,  like the Shiraz probably stainless steel plus chips,  wholesome in its over-ripe,  dulled-down,  acid-adjusted way.  The stated residual is undetectable.  Rich enough to cellar for years,  but basically big heavy QDR,  not really worth it.  GK 03/07

2005  Matua Valley Vintage Red Settler   13 ½ +  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $12   [ screwcap,  s/s,  Me,  Pinotage;  RS 4 g/L;  www.matua.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby,  deeper than the Morton Syrah.  Bouquet is vanishingly light,  but purer than some of this month's modest offerings.  Palate is stalky red currants,  a skinsy merlot maybe [confirmed],  surprisingly 'dry' considering the lack of fruit flavour.  Modest slightly sour but wholesome QDR.  GK 03/07

2004  Charles Wiffen Merlot   13 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $19   [ supercritical cork;  DFB ]
Ruby and garnet,  old for age.  Bouquet is baked / oxidised,  with a clear green under-ripe methoxypyrazine component red sauvignon.  Palate has physical fruit,  yet is stalky,  oxidised,  acid,  and tending bitter to the finish despite a touch of residual sugar.  Plain QDR.  So,  in this batch one can choose between the grievously under-ripe (in the sense of physiological maturity) Marlborough 'claret' style,  or the grossly over-ripe Australian Murray River one.  Needless to say,  a 50 / 50 blend of the two is more workable than either,  as plain QDR.  But the message has to be:  Marlborough is not the place for Bordeaux varieties.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 03/07

Pinot Noir
2005  Charles Wiffen Pinot Noir Reserve   16 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $27   [ screwcap ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is clearly floral with lilac and boronia suggestions,  on fragrant black cherry and plum fruit.  Palate is fairly rich,  a little more plummy,  a suggestion of stalks with the oak,  reasonably plump in mouth,  perhaps not bone dry.  This is pleasant Marlborough pinot noir,  to cellar 3 8 years.  GK 03/07

2004  Mount Riley Pinot Noir Seventeen Valley   16 +  ()
Seventeen Valley mainly,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $35   [ screwcap,  hand-harvested;  15 months in mostly French oak;  RS 2 g/L;  www.mountriley.co.nz ]
Older pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened,  bouquet is tending baked and oaky,  but there are fragrant pinot notes too.  With air it opens up to a slightly varnishy / oaky older-style pinot,  the fruit plummy more than cherry.  Palate is quite rich but tending straightforward,  a serious wine let down by the oak.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Charles Wiffen Pinot Noir   15 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.4%;  $21   [ screwcap ]
Pinot noir ruby,  lighter than the Reserve version.  Initially opened,  this bouquet looks quite stalky.  With decanting and air,  it opens to show some florals akin to the Reserve,  on light cherry and blackboy peach.  Palate is lighter and stalkier than the Reserve wine,  and goes a bit phenolic on the tail.  But it is clearly varietal,  and should mellow in cellar 2 5 years.  GK 03/07

2005  Mount Fishtail Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
New Zealand:  14%;  $15   [ screwcap;  second label of Konrad ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is estery,  some oxidation,  lightly fruity in a non-varietal way.  Palate is simple,  berried,  not the oak component of the Konrad wine,  so it seems a little purer and more fruity.  Again QDR pinot,  but it will cellar a year or two.  GK 03/07

2004  Konrad Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $24   [ 1 + 1 cork;  no info ]
Pinot noir ruby,  lightish.  Bouquet has an oxidised character to it,  and a trace of brett,  all reminiscent of many Mediterranean QDRs.  Palate is modest,  scarcely varietal,  somewhat phenolic and tending acid,  pleasant enough as short QDR,  but not priced to that end use.  Not a cellar wine beyond a year or two.  GK 03/07

Syrah = Shiraz
2004  Thomson Estate Shiraz Old Pumphouse   16 +  ()
Riverland,  South Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $15   [ screwcap;  some French oak whether as barrel or chip not made clear;  bone dry;  distributed by Lace Merchants;  www.thomsonestate.com.au ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet.  Bouquet is rasp / boysenberry shiraz with a stalky suggestion of peppercorn,  in an uncomplexed almost stainless steel style.  Palate shows fair berry and fruit,  simple flavours including some oak probably as chips,  but all clearly shiraz and quite rich.  The wine is dry,  but young and angular now on raw oak and added acid.  Has the fruit to mellow in cellar over several years,  and gain a little in the vinosity it lacks now.  Would be good QDR shiraz if thus cellared,  but for the market it caters to,  that is not likely to happen.  Sad it would cellar to 10 years.  GK 03/07

2004  Ardent Estates Shiraz   14 ½  ()
Barossa Valley & Clare Valley,  Australia:  14%;  $18   [ screwcap;  24 months in French,  Russian and American oak (!);  RS 1 g/L;  distributed by Lace Merchants;  www.byrneandsmith.com.au ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet.  Bouquet is caricature Australian shiraz,  with eucalyptus so coarse as to be liniment / wintergreen,  totally anti-winey.  Palate has plenty of berry fruit and oak,   and would be wholesome sturdy shiraz if it weren't so tainted.  Big Aussie dry red if you can tolerate the wintergreen,  and would cellar for ages.  Not worth cellaring for me.  GK 03/07

2004  Morton Estate Syrah White Label   14  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  some of wine 15 months in barrel;  www.mortonestatewines.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is cardboardy and not fresh,  below which is thin vaguely stewed red plum fruit.  Palate continues cardboardy,  never a good sign,  and is stalky,  lightly bretty and pretty well non-varietal.  Simple light QDR contrasting vividly with the Australian versions of the grape,  as befits the two climates,  wholesome as such,  surprisingly dry.  GK 03/07

Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre & related blends
2004  Domaine de la Charité Cotes du Rhone Villages Cayenne   17 +  ()
Southern Rhone Valley,  France:   – %;  $28   [ cork;  Gr / Sy;  some new oak;  imported by Regional Wines & Spirits ]
Ruby,  light amongst some Northern Rhone wines.  Bouquet on this wine shares much with the 2003 Gerin Cote Rotie,  but adds the marvellous cinnamon spice of grenache to a light brett component,  to give a very fragrant and complex,  potentially savoury bouquet.  Palate is a little firmer,  acid and spicier than the Gerin,  fresh berry,  medium body,  and nearly as attractive.  This is classical / traditional good Cotes du Rhone,  to cellar 5 12 years.  GK 04/07