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Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
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Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.
THE NEGOCIANTS NEW ZEALAND FINE WINE TOUR 2016



 The Negociants New Zealand Fine Wine Tour was initiated in the 1990s.  It is a kind of mini-Expo for both the trade and the public,  showing the New Zealand and Australian wines in their portfolio.  It was the first of its kind,  amongst the trade.  It followed the lead set by the earlier Trade & Industries National Wine Competition (now evolved into the Air Zealand Wine Awards),  in which they quite early in the piece had a semi-public presentation of all the wines entered into the Competition.  The public could achieve access,  but it was more intended for winemakers to assess 'the state of the art'.  Other companies have off and on followed suit,  but the only consistently successful follow-up has been the Hawkes Bay WineGrowers presentation of their annual Hot Reds [ of Hawkes Bay ] Expo.  

This year's Negociants NZ presentation was mid-June.  Just over 1,000 people all told attended the four presentations,  in Auckland,  Tauranga,  Wellington,  and Christchurch.  In the latter three centres,  there were trade sessions in the afternoons,  and public in the evening.  Auckland for some reason did not have a public session,  this year.  I have not attended the Negociants NZ one for several years.  This 2016 one was exemplary,  the organisers achieving the ultimate in desirability,  so simple but apparently very hard in this kind of event to achieve,  of having the wineries in strict alphabetical order,  around the room.  For anybody attempting a systematic sampling of,  say,  one winestyle against another,  this layout is a boon.

My approach to these events is quite different from other winewriters and wine journalists.  I set out to focus on a few winestyles,  systematically collecting glass samples which I can take home to my tasting room,  where in peace and quiet I set up a rigorously blind tastings of the wines.  This allows me to make measured comparisons,  rather than on-the-hoof ones in which one is further being distracted by people wanting to talk.

I can only carry 60 glasses away easily.  This year I decided first priority would go to pinot noirs,  though curiously there were no Australian ones.  This took half the glasses.  Next were Australian reds relevant to New Zealand,  that is the cabernet and shiraz / syrah wines.  Then the few methode champenoise wines,  and the balance a few only of the chardonnays.

When all the samples were collected,  annotated and sealed for transit,  I then flitted from table to table,  to get a few superficial impressions of other classes.  Having recently written at a little length about the desirable features in New Zealand sauvignon blanc,  and where this winestyle might be heading,  it was a pleasure to taste several wines exactly exemplifying the predictions in the earlier report:  wines with better than traditional ripeness,  and wines with lees work and a subtle barrel-ferment component.  For example,  the Auntsfield pair appealed,  one standard,  one barrel-fermented.  The Greywacke pair,  a standard Sauvignon Blanc and then their Wild Sauvignon,   were exemplary,  real palate weight,  quite different flavours from mainstream Marlborough,  and I imagine,  of great interest with food.  I was attracted to the Nautilus one too,  a more regular wine,  offering a challenge to my in-house benchmark sauvignon,  Astrolabe (not part of the Expo).  Palliser Estate and Saint Clair had interesting wines too.  It was disappointing though,  to find several reductive wines,  reflecting out-of-date winemaking.  

For chardonnay,  I ran out of glasses,  the few I picked being more on hunch.  In passing I later wished I had had the 2014 Black Barn Reserve wine,  which though expensive at $49,  seemed to be of outstanding quality.

I saved till last the treat of a few words with Nick Nobilo,  and a taste of his dedicated Gewurztraminer operation,  named Vinoptima,  based in Gisborne.  What a labour of love this is.  His 'basic' wine,  the 2009 Bond Road Gewurztraminer,  shows beautiful fragrant varietal character,  13 g/L RS,  and would be unlucky not to achieve gold medal,  in either of the two worthwhile wine judgings in New Zealand.  The 2010 Ormond Reserve is fermented in oak cuves,  the oak still a bit obvious,  at this stage.  The 2008 Ormond Reserve however was simply stellar,  totally integrated,  and harmonious,  comparable with grand cru Alsatian,  at a peak of perfection,  18 g/L RS.

The wines I tasted systematically are reviewed below.  Documentation / the 'admin' section is on this occasion,  brief or lacking.    A website is given,  where available,  for readers to fill in the gaps.


THE WINES REVIEWED:

#  For ranking of colour,  the pinot noirs were judged as one set,  all the other reds as a second.

White
Sparkling
2009  Huia Traditional Method Brut
   nv  Nautilus Methode Traditionelle Cuvée Marlborough Brut
   nv  Palliser Estate Methode Traditionelle Brut
Chardonnay
2014  Auntsfield Chardonnay Cob Cottage
2014  Dry River Chardonnay
2013  Greywacke Chardonnay
2014  Vasse Felix Chardonnay Filius
2014  Vasse Felix Chardonnay Heytesbury
Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and related blends
Riesling
Pinot Gris
Gewurztraminer
Viognier
Sweet / Sticky
All other white wines, blends, etc.
Red
Rosé
Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2013  Alpha Domus  [ CS / CF / Me / Ma ] The Aviator
2014  Black Barn Merlot / Cabernet Franc
2010  Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon Cyril Henschke
2013  Jim Barry Cabernet The Veto
2013  Langmeil Cabernet Sauvignon Blacksmith
2013  Vasse Felix Cabernet / Merlot Filius
2014  Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon Filius
2012  Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon Heytesbury
Cabernet / Shiraz
2013  Brokenwood [ CS / Sh / Me ] Cricket Pitch Red
2012  Henschke [ Sh / CS / Me / CF ] Keyneton Euphonium
2013  Yalumba [ Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz ] The Scribbler
Pinot Noir
2010  Auntsfield Pinot Noir Heritage
2014  Auntsfield Pinot Noir Single Vineyard
2014  Delta Pinot Noir
2012  Delta Pinot Noir Hatter's Hill
2014  Dry River Pinot Noir
  2014  Fromm Pinot Noir La Strada
2014  Greywacke Pinot Noir
2013  Huia Pinot Noir
2010  Misha's Vineyard Pinot Noir The High Note
2011  Misha's Vineyard Pinot Noir Verismo
2014  Mt Beautiful Pinot Noir
2013  Nautilus Pinot Noir
2014  Opawa Pinot Noir
2014  Palliser Pinot Noir
2012  Rippon Pinot Noir Mature Vine Rippon
2012  Rippon Pinot Noir Young Vine Jeunesse
2015  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Omaka Reserve
2014  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Estate
2015  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Picnic
2011  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Proprietor's Reserve The First Paddock
2014  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Proprietor's Reserve The Fusilier
2013  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Proprietor's Reserve The Last Chance
2013  Urlar Pinot Noir
2013  Urlar Pinot Noir Select Parcels
2014  Waipara Springs Pinot Noir
2012  Waipara Springs Pinot Noir Premo
Syrah = Shiraz
2014  Alpha Domus Syrah The Barnstormer
2013  Brokenwood Shiraz Graveyard
2013  Brokenwood Shiraz Hunter Valley
2011  Dry River Syrah
2014  Fromm Syrah Fromm Vineyard
2013  Fromm Syrah La Strada
2012  Henschke Shiraz Mt Edelstone
2014  Jim Barry Shiraz Lodge Hill
2012  Jim Barry Shiraz The Armagh
2012  Jim Barry Shiraz The McRae Wood
2013  Jim Barry Shiraz The Veto
2012  Langmeil Shiraz Orphan Bank
2013  Langmeil Shiraz Valley Floor
2013  Langmeil Shiraz / Viognier Hangin Snakes
2013  Yalumba Shiraz Patchwork
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre & related blends
All other red wines, blends etc
From the Cellar. Older wines.


White
Sparkling
2009  Huia Traditional Method Brut   18  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $36   [ supercritical Diam 'cork';  6.5 g/L dosage;  www.huiavineyards.com ]
Evaluation of the Negociants' methodes was facilitated by Glengarry Wines showing another set of 'grower' champagnes,  the same week.  Quite deep straw,  the deepest of the New Zealand methodes,  deeper than any of the champagnes it was tasted with,  including the two rosés.  Bouquet is intriguing,  showing a quality and depth of autolysis I have seen only once before in the Huia methodes,  beautifully clean deepest baguette in style,  really much more Vogel's Multigrain lightly toasted.  Palate has a presence and weight to it which bespeaks a Bollinger model,   and a considerable barrel-ferment component in the primary fermentation.  The degree of this component will not please the delicacy brigade one little bit.  Maybe it is a bit big ... yet … the whole wine is fresh,  pleasing in mouth,  with refreshing dosage maybe 7 g/L,  and surprisingly low phenolics given the degree of character and development.  The oak does creep up a bit on the long finish.  I imagine it would be fantastic with flavoursome savouries.  This wine shows a new level of achievement for complex New Zealand methode champenoise.  Reined-in slightly on the colour and oak side,  even less new oak maybe,  this approach will go on to great things.  Exciting wine.  Claire Allan advises the next release,  the 2010,  is a blanc de blancs,  so we can await that with great anticipation.  Cellar 5 – 12 years,  maybe 15.  GK 06/16

nv  Nautilus Methode Traditionelle Cuvée Marlborough Brut   17 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12%;  $42   [ compound conventional cork;  based on 2012 fruit;  7 g/L dosage;  www.nautilusestate.com ]
Light straw,  deeper than any of the white champagnes it was tasted with.  Bouquet is not so convincing,  in this batch of 11 methodes.  It is clean and pure,  but it is a little too 'fruity',  in an older style of New Zealand methode champenoise.  The magic of champagne is the achievement of substance and presence (dry extract) without fruity smells and flavours.  There is autolysis complexity in the bouquet,  but it doesn't quite capture the magic of 'concept baguette'.  Palate is neat and taut,  much more in line,  quite powerful with the autolysis now more apparent,  but the phenolics are in fact higher than the Huia,  notwithstanding the latter's oak.  Cellar 3 – 10 years,  to soften.  GK 06/16

nv  Palliser Estate Methode Traditionelle Brut   16 ½  ()
Martinborough,  Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  13%;  $48   [ supercritical Diam 'cork';  8 g/L dosage;  www.palliser.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw,  but also deep alongside the champagnes.  Bouquet like the Nautilus but even moreso is also showing fruit rather more than autolysis,  and the depth of autolysis though clean,  is the least of the New Zealand wines – more crumb of loaf than crust.  Flavours are the lightest and sweetest amongst the New Zealand wines,  with quite a citrussy component on the chardonnay side.  Yet alongside champagne,  the wine also shows higher phenolics again,  and a bold finish,  all correlating with being too 'fruity'.  It tastes sweeter than its given 8 g/L.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 06/16

Chardonnay
2014  Dry River Chardonnay   18 ½ +  ()
Martinborough Terrace,  Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $60   [ cork 50mm;  www.dryriver.co.nz ]
Lemon,  a gorgeous colour,  the second deepest.  Bouquet epitomises exquisitely pure North Island New Zealand chardonnay,  still a little unco in youth,  but with a beautiful expression of pale stone fruits,  a quite citrussy / grapefruity note,  mealy autolysis nearly reaching baguette quality,  no oak showing on bouquet – but without it the wine would be quite different.  Palate expands the white nectarine and stonefruits greatly,  suggestions even of golden queen peach now indicating clone mendoza,  a tactile and textural quality,  and obvious barrel-ferment flavours which meld oatmeal and subtle oak with freshening acid.  In three years time this will be very beautiful chardonnay indeed,  perhaps even with a suggestion of white flowers.  Finish is fruit-rich,  yet dry,  most impressive.  Cellar 5 – 15 years,  maybe 20.  I don't recall a Dry River chardonnay as good as this,  in Neil's day.  GK 06/16

2014  Vasse Felix Chardonnay Filius   18 ½  ()
Margaret River,  West Australia,  Australia:  12.5%;  $28   [ screwcap;  www.vassefelix.com.au ]
Lemongreen,  the second palest of the chardonnays.  The degree of similarity between this West Australian chardonnay,  and the Martinborough one,  is staggering,  presumably reflecting the wonderful varietal quality of clone mendoza,  called gin gin in West Australia.  The autolysis quality on this Vasse Felix is if anything more magical than the Dry River,  crust-of-baguette and hints of cashew.  In mouth total acid is slightly lower than the Dry River,  but fruit richness is nearly as good.  There is just the faintest subliminal suggestion of reduction complexing the palate,  so subtle you can't be sure.  Fruit quality here is slightly more yellow stonefruits,  matched by beautifully subtle oaking,  barrel ferment at its best.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 06/16

2013  Greywacke Chardonnay   18  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $42   [ screwcap;  www.greywacke.com ]
Lemon,  the deepest of the five chardonnays.  Bouquet here immediately steps into the reductive lees autolysis approach to chardonnay,  and one has to decide to what extent this hint of the gasworks / tar / creosote component is acceptable complexity,  or objectionable trendy fetish.  It is certainly hard to detect much about the fruit quality,  on bouquet.  On palate the wine redeems itself considerably:  the fruit is rich and nearly dominant to the fermentation characters,  the length of flavour is spectacular,  and I can concede that the reductive component here is adding to complexity in mouth.  In five years time I envisage this wine demonstrating quite different qualities,  smelling of toasted Vogel's Multigrain,  and tasting of fruit,  oatmeal  and walnuts,  rather than cashew as you would have in a less reductive kind of lees autolysis regime.  It may well score higher,  in five years.  Meanwhile,  wonderfully interesting wine which will divide tasters.  Cellar 5 – 15,  maybe 20 years.  GK 06/16

2014  Auntsfield Chardonnay Cob Cottage   17 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $52   [ screwcap – Stelvin Lux;  www.auntsfield.co.nz ]
Lemon,  in the middle for depth.  Bouquet is clean,  clearly chardonnay but not immediately demonstrating great fruit or great elevation,  just pale stonefruit and a hint of nougat.  Palate however shows greater fruit weight than the bouquet suggested,  all white nectarine with elegant lees autolysis,  crumb of baguette,   incipient cashew,  nougat again.  Finish suggests a little residual sugar,  but the wine is probably dry,  just fruit richness lengthening the palate.  With some development in bottle,  this should be exciting wine.  It may well score higher with time,  since it is probably richer than the top two.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 06/16

2014  Vasse Felix Chardonnay Heytesbury   16 ½  ()
Margaret River,  West Australia,  New Zealand:  13%;  $66   [ screwcap;  www.vassefelix.com.au ]
Lemon with a green wash,  the palest wine.  Bouquet on this wine is clearly copying the current trendy (but superficial) thinking,  that reduction equals complexity.  Rarely,  yes,  more often,  no (for the consumer,  but not always for wine judges,  unfortunately),  and this one comes into the latter category.  It is a quite different quality of reduction from the Greywacke,  just the sour sulphides without the tar hint,  and these sulphides numb the nose and harden the palate.  There is excellent fruit richness,  but the numbing effect of the sulphides means you can't taste what kind of fruit,  beyond stonefruits in general,  made nearly sour by the reduction / so-called (by the trendy) minerality.  All the camp-following wine journalists will no doubt say this is great,  on price and reputation,  but it isn't.  Doubtfully worth cellaring at all,  to see if it ever overcomes its reductive load,  in 10 – 20 years.  GK 06/16

Red
Cabernet, Merlot, and related blends
2010  Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon Cyril Henschke   18 ½ +  ()
Eden Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $182   [ Vinolok glass stopper;  biodynamic;  CS 84%,  CF 13,  Me 3;  all matured in French hogsheads,  45% new;  Halliday vintage rating Eden Valley 8 /10 for 2010;  www.henschke.com.au ]
Colour is much older than the field,  ruby,  velvet and suggestions of garnet,  in the lightest quarter of the other reds.  Bouquet is a vivid contrast with the predominant shiraz / syrah in the non-pinot reds.  Here there is extraordinarily complex cedary barrel elevation and a bordeaux-like berry quality,  based on browning cassis,  but with some browning plum and brown pipe tobacco,  plus faintest mint.  Palate shows good fruit weight and dry extract,  but because the cassis is browning,  it lacks critical freshness and impact against the rather high oak,  relative to Bordeaux or Hawkes Bay of the same vintage,  fine though the oak is.  It is supple,  it is not obviously acid-adjusted,  but it is warm climate cabernet,  sadly.  I say sadly because my goal here is to run the wine against 2010 Bordeaux and Hawkes Bay blends.  On both climatic and trace mint flavour components,  it will therefore defeat even the most rigorous blind tasting format.  But because it also has an almost Mouton-Rothschild-like richness and structure,  I'm still sorely tempted to try,  all the same.  Also on the positive side,  how good it is to now see more sophisticated (but still lavish) use of oak in a Henschke red,  their wines for many long years reflecting the tiresome macho side of Australian wine culture.  Cellar 5 – 25 years.  GK 06/16

2013  Jim Barry Cabernet The Veto   18 ½  ()
Coonawarra,  South Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $34   [ screwcap;  CS 100%;  French oak,  9 months only;  Halliday vintage rating Coonawarra 9 /10 for 2013;  www.jimbarry.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  below midway in depth.  Bouquet is 'sweet',  ripe,  darkly berried red,  ripened to a point where cassis is at risk of being lost,  but still detectable.  You can immediately see it is more cabernet than shiraz.  The bouquet is remarkably pure,  and delightfully subtle in its oaking.  Palate is plump,  much more clearly cassisy and cabernet now,  and the subtlety of oaking is a delight.  What a transformation there is in the Jim Barry wines,  Armagh aside.  This is a lovely wine,  showing scarcely a hint of flowering mint (less than The Veto Shiraz) … and highlighting how coarse so many other South Australian reds are.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  The only catch with these two Veto wines is,  they are only sold to restaurants.  GK 06/16

2014  Black Barn Merlot / Cabernet Franc   18  ()
Havelock North district,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $29   [ screwcap;  www.blackbarn.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  in the top quarter for depth.  This wine needs decanting,  being a little disorganised freshly poured,  as if recently bottled.  Bouquet is then 'sweet',  ripely plummy,  rich,  reminding yet again in this Australian-dominated set of 'other reds',  just how wonderful the transformation in New Zealand red wines is,  since around the year 2000.  Fruit and berry on bouquet here is totally pure,  no minty taints,  deeply ripe,  still a bit oaky but not as obviously oaky as earlier years of Black Barn premium reds.  Palate is plummy and merlot-dominant,  the subtlety of the more red-fruited cabernet franc a bit lost in the fruit weight,  and also the oak showing more now in mouth.  It is much less oaky than Aviator,  yet of similar richness.  Cellar 5 – 18 years.  GK 06/16

2013  Alpha Domus  [ CS / CF / Me / Ma ] The Aviator   18  ()
Bridge Pa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $72   [ cork 49mm;  CS 37%,  CF 27,  Me 18,  Ma 18;  20 months in French oak,  75% new;  www.alphadomus.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  just in the top quarter for depth of colour,  and thus reflecting an enormous change in the Alpha Domus approach to cropping.  Bouquet continues that impression,  once breathed,  showing a concentration and ripeness of berry which is very different from say the 2000 vintage.  There is still a lot of oak,  though.  Details on bouquet include aromatic dark cassisy berry,  considerable fruit complexity,  and no mint at all.  In mouth the oak jumps up another notch:  the fruit is good but not quite rich enough to handle this level of new oak.  Comparison of this wine with the Cyril Cabernet on the one hand,   and the contrasting Barry Veto Cabernet wine,  is enlightening,  both the latter having greater dry extract and thus better balance with their oak,  even though the ratio varies greatly in the Australian pair.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 06/16

2012  Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon Heytesbury   17 ½  ()
Margaret River,  West Australia,  Australia:  14.5%;  $96   [ screwcap;  CS 77%,  Ma 16,  PV 7;  18 months in all-French oak,  54% new;  Halliday vintage rating Margaret River 10/10 for 2012;  www.vassefelix.com.au ]
Good ruby,  just below midway in colour.  Bouquet reveals a taut integration of nearly cassisy berry and dark plum fruit with slightly too much aromatic oak,  but all clean and fragrant.  Palate is leaner than expected,   quite a vanillin component from the oak,  nearly a thought of stalks,  and acid noticeable.  It therefore looks pinched against both The Aviator and Cyril.  Not a great Heytesbury therefore:  Halliday ranks the 2012 vintage 10 for reds in Margaret River,  so that doesn't compute.  Cellar 5 – 15 years,  even so.  GK 06/16

2013  Vasse Felix Cabernet / Merlot Filius   16 +  ()
Margaret River,  West Australia,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $28   [ screwcap;  CS 60%,  Me 30,  Ma 10;  12 months in French oak 8% new;  Halliday vintage rating Margaret River 9/10 for 2013;  www.vassefelix.com.au ]
Ruby,  the second lightest of the non-pinot wines.  This wine needs splashy decanting,  to show a fragrant  but confused bouquet.  There is no clear single berry component in the sense of cassis,  more a clogged and slightly stalky red fruits aroma,  lightly aromatic.  Palate is distinctly lean,  both a stalky and a near-saline note,  yet reasonably berried and seeming genuine,  in a hard way.  Needs to soften,  cellar 3 – 12 years.  These two Filius reds do not reflect the qualities I associate with Vasse Felix,  from earlier decades.  GK 06/16

2014  Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon Filius   16  ()
Margaret River,  West Australia,  Australia:  14.5%;  $28   [ screwcap;  CS 85%,  Ma 13, PV 2;  12 months in French oak,  13% new;  Halliday vintage rating Margaret River 8/10 for 2014;  www.vassefelix.com.au ]
Ruby,  the lightest wine.  This is weird Australian wine,  shades of Marlborough Cabernet and the misguided  efforts of Montana in the late 1970s.  Bouquet is quite strong,  clean,  but showing clear methoxypyrazine / red pepper notes in stalky cassis aromas.  Palate is medium weight and body,  but clear-cut under-ripe bell pepper cabernet (as the Californians say) dominates the fruit.  The oak though reasonably balanced exacerbates the stalky qualities.  Not a contemporary winestyle,  but easier to drink and better with food (green salads and light meats) than some of the heavy Barossa wines.  Cellar 3 – 12 years,  in its style.  Halliday rates this vintage 8,  again not poor,  so one has to conclude that Vasse Felix is currently not in top form.  GK 06/16

2013  Langmeil Cabernet Sauvignon Blacksmith   16  ()
Barossa Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14.5%;  $37   [ screwcap;  24 months in French oak 10% new;  RS 3.6 g/L;  www.langmeilwinery.com.au ]
Ruby and velvet,  nearly carmine,  well above midway in depth.  Bouquet is awkward,  showing that tending-rank high-alcohol Australian smell suggesting both salinity and eucalyptus,  with burly fruit behind.  Flavour is robust dark red,  over-ripe and clumsy with respect to any classical concept of cabernet sauvignon,  but even so,  once alongside,  still different from equally over-ripe shiraz.  Oaking is surprisingly low,  for such a big ripe red.  An older winestyle more for committed Australian red wine fans,  less appealing when seen against New Zealand reds at the same price point,  and simply not food-friendly.  Cellar 5 – 20 years,  basically to maintain its style though.  GK 06/16

Cabernet / Shiraz
2012  Henschke [ Sh / CS / Me / CF ] Keyneton Euphonium   17  ()
Barossa Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $182   [ screwcap;  Sh 65%,  CS 20,  Me 10,  CF 5;  all matured in French hogsheads,  90% French,  10 American,  15% new;  Halliday vintage rating Barossa Valley 9 /10 for 2012;  www.henschke.com.au ]
Ruby and velvet,  a suggestion of age,  in the middle for depth of colour.  A much quieter bouquet than Cyril,   just browning red fruits,  yet rather aromatic and oaky.  Once one knows the cepage,  it makes sense that the Bordeaux components are attenuated by shiraz.  Palate is 'sweet',  ripe,  mellow,  but let down by a saline suggestion towards the finish,  despite the fruit richness.  Like Cyril,  there is a lot of oak,  but it is sophisticated.  Will end up mellow but excessively aromatic cedary red,  with good fruit richness,  but not clear-cut as to style.  It seems expensive,  therefore.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 06/16

2013  Yalumba [ Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz ] The Scribbler   16 ½ +  ()
Barossa Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  13.5%;  $25   [ screwcap;  pretentious and non-informative website;  www.yalumba.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  well above midway in depth.  Bouquet shows burly berry in a straightforward way,  clean,  not much elevation complexity.  Palate is lesser here too,  quite phenolic,  a nearly stalky component awaiting mellowing,  quite rich,  just lacking excitement.  There have been better Scribblers than this.  Cellar 5 – 15 years,  to mellow and improve.  GK 06/16

2013  Brokenwood [ CS / Sh / Me ] Cricket Pitch Red   16 ½  ()
Australia:  13.5%;  $26   [ screwcap;  CS,  Sh,  Me;  up to 18 months in French and American oak,  none new;  www.brokenwoodwines.com ]
Ruby,  a hint of age,  fractionally below midway in depth.  Bouquet is clean,  sweet,  ripe,  subtly oaked,  showing fragrant cassis and plum fruit,  lifted by faint mint.  Palate is lesser,  as if a tank component,  the wine lacking the smoothness of all-barrel elevation,  with a stalky tannin note apparent.  Reasonable concentration.  Just good sound red,  to cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 06/16

Pinot Noir
2014  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Proprietor's Reserve The Fusilier   19  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $72   [ screwcap – Stelvin Lux;  www.twopaddocks.com ]
Classic pinot noir,  fractionally above midway in depth.  Bouquet is dramatically varietal,  beautiful sweet florals including darkest purple buddleia through deep dusky roses to boronia,  on red grading to black cherry fruit.  There is an exciting lift on the bouquet,  taking the wine straight to Cote de Nuits.  Palate is almost  succulent,  wonderful concentration,  clearly aromatic in the most positive Cote de Nuits way,  the whole wine in its youthful and still fleshy way reminding of vineyards such as Clos-Saint-Jacques,  Gevrey-Chambertin.  This is benchmark wine in the great 2014 vintage in Central Otago,  a wine against which others may be measured.  Length of flavour is lovely:  I look forward to a dry extract on this wine,  it should be over 30 g/L.  Cellar 5 – 15 years,  maybe longer.  GK 06/16

2014  Auntsfield Pinot Noir Single Vineyard   18 ½ +  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $49   [ screwcap;  www.auntsfield.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  above midway in depth.  There is a quiet depth and authority to this wine which,  at the blind stage,  I asked myself if this might be from the Bendigo Terraces.  Bouquet is darkly red-rose floral,  a suggestion of boronia,  on black more than red cherry,  with an intriguing subtle aromatic lift.  Palate shows good concentration,  black cherry flavours with a hint of plum in a positive sense,  quite a lot of oak well  hidden by the concentration,  the latter giving good length and a great aftertaste.  Another wine showing the 'new face' of Marlborough pinot noir,  darker than the Greywacke.  This wine (though flirting with over-ripeness,  and despite the alcohol),  the Greywacke,  and the Two Paddocks Fusilier,  convincingly demonstrate why New Zealand pinot noir is challenging Oregon,  to be the second greatest pinot noir zone in the world,  after Burgundy.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 06/16

2014  Greywacke Pinot Noir   18 ½ +  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $48   [ screwcap;  www.greywacke.com ]
Good medium pinot noir ruby,  well above midway in depth.  Bouquet is deep,  subtle,  mysterious,  very much a kind of pinot noir and burgundy,  enchanting.  Florals include suggestions of subtle buddleia,  violets and a thought of boronia.  Fruit style is red grading to black cherry,  very pure,  so much so you wonder how it will taste.  And the answer is,  wonderful.  There is a mid-palate burst of flavour which expands in the mouth,  like fine burgundy,  with oak shaping,  not yet fully integrated.  Greywacke pinot noir really is going from strength to strength.  I'd love a dry extract on this wine,  too.  Cellar 3 – 15 years.  GK 06/16

2014  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Estate   18 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $55   [ screwcap;  www.twopaddocks.com ]
Full pinot noir ruby,  in the top quarter for depth.  Decant this wine,  to reveal a good volume of red grading to black cherry pinot noir.  It needs three more years in bottle,  to develop the best side of its bouquet.  Palate is already promising,  potentially vibrant quite dark red cherry fruit with an undertone of black cherries,  oaking beautifully judged.  Palate is nearly velvety,  pure cherry flavours,  remarkable.  This will be a gold medal wine in two years,  the score here is anticipatory.  Cellar 5 – 15  years.  GK 06/16

2011  Misha's Vineyard Pinot Noir Verismo   18 ½  ()
Bendigo district,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $68   [ screwcap;  www.mishasvineyard.com ]
Classic pinot noir burgundy colour in the sense of Rousseau,  the third to lightest.  One sniff,  and wow !  Anybody who doubts the concept of florality in good red wine in general,  and pinot noir in particular,  needs to smell this.  The volume of buddleia and cream / orange / pink rose perfume is staggering,  straight out of Volnay.  Then you notice it is slightly aromatic too,  and the mind wanders to Chambolle-Musigny.  Palate is pure red fruits pinot,  just fully ripe,  one of the most distinctive in the set.  This wine is living proof of the old adage,  never judge a burgundy by its colour,  the wine showing good fruit,  flesh and concentration,  long and succulent almost,  yet dry.  This is great pinot noir too,  a polar opposite to the Dry River,  yet intriguingly,  they can hold hands.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 06/16

2011  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Proprietor's Reserve The First Paddock   18 +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $173   [ screwcap;  only magnums available;  www.twopaddocks.com ]
Light pinot noir ruby,  some age showing,  well below midway.  Bouquet is complex and very burgundian,  floral clearly,  red fruits centred on red cherry,  and an exciting piquant lift to the wine again taking it to Cote de Nuits rather than the Cote de Beaune,  but also hinting at trace brett.  Flavours in mouth are richer than the colour suggests,  some mellowing into secondary characters,  the fruit and cedary oak harmonising,  light in style yet concentrated too.  It tastes closest in style to the Rippon,  a little plumper,  and shows similar analogies,  just slightly more oaky to the finish.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 06/16

2015  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Omaka Reserve   18 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $46   [ screwcap – Stelvin Lux;  www.saintclair.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  in the top quarter for depth of colour,  getting too deep.  Bouquet is very distinctive,  very powerful,  screaming dark purple buddleia one might say,  quite penetrating but still attractive.  There are even reminders of the carnation and wallflower attributes of Cote Rotie,  too.  You wouldn't be at all surprised to learn there are some 'wild' syrah vines in the pinot block.  But in mouth it comes back into line,  just,  some reminders of the Dry River wine but total acid higher,  black cherry fruit,  oak at a max but OK.  This is totally new generation Marlborough pinot noir,  highlighting yet again what potential the district has climatically,  now that pinot noir is being grown on appropriate soils.  Don't touch this for three years,  to give it a chance to  marry up and quieten,  and even then it is going to be more new world than old.  A good bedmate (in the cellar) for the Dry River wine.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 06/16

2013  Urlar Pinot Noir Select Parcels   18  ()
Gladstone,  Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  14%;  $61   [ screwcap;  www.urlar.co.nz ]
Lovely pinot noir ruby,  well below midway in depth,  classic.  Bouquet is intriguingly old-fashioned,  both floral in a medium-hued roses sense,  but also slightly spicy / piquant,  as if trace brett.  Below are fragrant red fruits.  In mouth there is more depth than the bouquet suggests,  plus an aromatic quality almost like a hint of cinnamon,  a reminder of elegant grenache.  Oaking is a little higher than ideal for the fruit weight,  but fits in with the savoury aspect of the wine.  Finish is just a little drying.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 06/16

2010  Misha's Vineyard Pinot Noir The High Note   18  ()
Bendigo district,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $45   [ screwcap;  www.mishasvineyard.com ]
Medium pinot noir ruby,  a little age showing,  clearly above midway in depth.  Bouquet is understated yet holds the promise of the wine being powerful,  some red rose florals,  clear red more than black cherry fruit,  beautifully balanced.  In mouth the wine grows in size,  tactile red fruits pinot noir of good weight and concentration,  with oak perhaps at a max to match that concentration.  There are thoughts here of Gevrey-Chambertin,  but just a trace of stalk letting that idea down.  Intriguing.  It will be interesting to see if it gains in stature with further bottle age,  and if the tannins assimilate,  or crust.  GK 06/16

2014  Dry River Pinot Noir   18  ()
Martinborough,  Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $102   [ cork 50mm;  www.dryriver.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  deeper than the Fromm Fromm Vineyard Syrah,  by far the deepest pinot,  too deep for pinot noir.  When you find out the name on the label,  you can't help sighing,  having hoped for a new approach under new management.  At the blind stage,  my handwritten notes say:  'big burly wine,  could be syrah … give benefit of doubt' … and as you taste it,  and think about the qualities the wine shows,  it is in fact nearly floral in a deep dusky way (but so is fine syrah),  and it does smell and taste of rich tending over-ripe pinot noir,  on the tannin structure.  The oak handling is beautiful,  and the black cherry fruit manages to avoid being too darkly plummy.  So I'm going to assume that there has been serious saignée in this wine,  and that if you cellar it and wait for it to become less burly,  it will end up as convincing big pinot noir.  It is therefore the best Dry River Pinot Noir I have tasted,  but nonetheless it is a mistake to  continue the perverse style of previous management.  Good pinot noir never was like those wines,  no matter what an ill-informed (or rather,  easily misled) New Zealand public and auction market thinks.  I acknowledge the wine is fresher and more varietal than many previous examples,  but less ripeness and less colour will be better still.  Cellar 8 –  18 years.  GK 06/16

2014  Palliser Pinot Noir   18  ()
Martinborough,  Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  14%;  $54   [ screwcap;  www.palliser.co.nz ]
Classic pinot noir ruby,  just below midway in depth.  Bouquet is beautifully clean,  soft,  yet faintly aromatic and very varietal pinot noir,  rose and boronia florals,  red grading to black cherry fruit,  more Cote de Nuits than Cote de Beaune.  Palate shows a lovely balance of fruit to careful oak,  good but not exemplary richness and dry extract,  and a long highly varietal flavour.  This is as good as any Palliser Pinot Noir I have tasted,  cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 06/16

2012  Rippon Pinot Noir Mature Vine Rippon   17 ½ +  ()
Wanaka,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $66   [ supercritical Diam 'cork' 47mm;  www.rippon.co.nz ]
Classic pinot noir ruby,  naturally a little older against the mostly 2014 wines,  midway in depth.  Bouquet is quieter than some,  but closely inspected,  it is sweetly floral,  faintly aromatic,  red fruits more than black,  just escaping a hint of stalk,  with fragrant oak reminding of subtle mature tempranillo riservas.  Palate brings the thoughts quickly back to pinot noir,  a cooler crisper very fragrant (in mouth) winestyle also reminding of the Cote de Nuits,  but much subtler and lighter than The Fusilier,  Vosne-Romanée maybe.  An unusual wine for New Zealand,  wonderfully understated,  showing that the cooler parts of Otago closely match Burgundy.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 06/16

2013  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Proprietor's Reserve The Last Chance   17 ½ +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $72   [ screwcap;  www.twopaddocks.com ]
Medium pinot noir ruby,  some age showing,  right in the middle for depth of colour.  Bouquet is a little out to one side,  maturing red fruits,  fragrant but not exactly floral,  with a spicy cinnamon and related quality suggesting light brett.  Palate has the good concentration all these Two Paddocks wines now show,  browning red cherry grading to black cherry,  but again spicy,  and very dry indeed.  An unusual pinot noir style,  enormously food friendly,  like a pinot noir version of an older-style chateauneuf-du-pape (in flavour,  not weight).  Shorter term cellar might be wiser,  on the drying factor,  3 – 8 years.  GK 06/16

2013  Urlar Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Gladstone,  Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  www.urlar.co.nz ]
Medium pinot noir,  some age showing,  below midway in depth.  Bouquet is beautifully floral and fragrant,   highly varietal in a buddleia and roses way,  all red fruits,  faintly aromatic.  Palate continues absolutely in style for red fruits pinot noir,  attractively balanced cedary oak at a maximum for the fruit weight,  the whole wine putting one in mind of Pommard.  It is a little drier and less rich than the Urlar Select Parcels wine.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 06/16

2015  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Picnic   17 +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $32   [ screwcap – Stelvin Lux;  www.twopaddocks.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  below midway in depth.  Bouquet is intriguing,  floral with buddleia and cream / orange roses,  and a suggestion of spicy / smoky complexity.  Palate is clean,  ripe,  attractively balanced to oak and much more concentrated and juicy than the early days of the Picnic label – in short dinkum pinot noir.  Except it might not be bone dry,  though.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 06/16

2012  Waipara Springs Pinot Noir Premo   17 +  ()
Waipara Valley,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14%;  $35   [ screwcap;  www.waiparasprings.co.nz ]
Another classic pinot noir colour in the sense of Rousseau,  the second to lightest wine.  Bouquet shows light clean rosy clearly varietal pinot noir,  floral in the sense of roses,  red fruits,  nicely ripe,  an intriguing sub-theme also reminding of valpolicella.  Flavours are totally red fruits,  redcurrant and red cherries,  light in one sense but not weak.  Winestyle is absolutely Volnay,  remarkably so,  with good concentration and a little more tannin than you would predict from the bouquet.  Being a 2012,  cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 06/16

2012  Rippon Pinot Noir Young Vine Jeunesse   17  ()
Wanaka,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $46   [ supercritical Diam 'cork' 47mm;  www.rippon.co.nz ]
Medium pinot noir ruby,  a little age showing,  well above midway in depth.  Bouquet is more straightforward clean red and darker fruits pinot noir,  nearly floral,  clear reminders of burgundy.  Palate combines red and black cherry on a gentle low-oak taste profile,  finishing a little short with some tannin showing.  It is much less sustained than the Mature Vine wine,  and faintly stalky (as young vines may be),  but clearly related in style.   Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 06/16

2013  Nautilus Pinot Noir   16 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $43   [ screwcap;  www.nautilusestate.com ]
The pinots from this point on are less exciting examples of the art.  Classic burgundian pinot noir ruby,  midway in depth.  This wine benefits from decanting,  to reveal a slightly peppery yet fragrant version of pinot noir,  more black fruits than red,  with suggestions of a whole-bunch component.  Flavour shows fair concentration,  again a hint of pepper with grape tannins which the oak exacerbates,  so the whole palate though quite rich and gentle,  seems slightly stalky.  Cellar 3 – 8 years,  and decant.  GK 06/16

2014  Delta Pinot Noir   16 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ screwcap;  www.deltawines.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  well below midway in depth.  Bouquet is clearly red-fruits varietal,  but in a different way from the Palliser,  as if there were a greater whole-bunch component.  There is a clear dusky floral component,  red roses,  on black more than red cherry fruit.  Flavours are juicy,  tying in with the whole-bunch thought and offering just a reminder of serious Moulin-a-Vent,  subtle oak letting the fruit speak,  quite a long finish but with a hint of black pepper and stalk letting it down.  Interesting,  different,  to cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 06/16

2010  Auntsfield Pinot Noir Heritage   16 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $122   [ screwcap;   www.auntsfield.co.nz ]
Quite full pinot noir ruby,  some age apparent,  just above midway in depth.  Bouquet is quite developed,  clear secondary characteristics,  browning red cherry with brown tobacco and cedar,  and just a hint of leaf in the tobacco.  Palate is rich,  oaky and cedary,  mellow,  a little heavy and not convincingly varietal,  but attractive as mature red wine in general.  There is just the thought that some of the fruit was a bit stalky in youth,  but the concentration obscures that.  A hard wine to score,  the moreso when you later know the price,  but this is a pinot noir class,  in which it does not shine at the blind evaluation stage.  Comparison with any one of the top three wines highlights that.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 06/16

2013  Huia Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  www.huiavineyards.com ]
Medium pinot noir ruby,  some age showing,  in the middle for depth.  Bouquet is another in the older style of Marlborough pinot noir,  but showing better ripeness than some,  some buddleia florals,  red fruits with only a hint of leaf,  winey.  Palate has slightly better concentration than expected,  a good red fruits flavour,  red currants and red cherry,  lightly oaked,  let down by suggestions of stalks,  some maturity already.  Cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 06/16

2014  Fromm Pinot Noir La Strada   16 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  www.frommwineries.com ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby,  well below midway in depth.  Bouquet is quite strong,  clearly varietal,  but rather much stalk showing,  as if a significant whole-bunch but imperfectly ripe component.  Palate agrees,  quite juicy almost to the point you wonder if there are a few grams residual,  flavours offset by a green stalky thread.  It should marry up,  and become agreeably varietal with another couple of years in bottle,  since fruit weight is good.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 06/16

2014  Mt Beautiful Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Northernmost Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $33   [ screwcap – Stelvin Lux;  www.mtbeautiful.co.nz ]
Lovely rosy medium pinot noir ruby,  in the lightest quarter.  Bouquet has a young vines and simple buddleia quality to it,  all fractionally on the cool side and uncoordinated as yet.  Palate is totally red fruits,  red  currants and red cherry at best,  but lacking depth and hinting at chaptalisation.  Total style is fragrant,  but pointing more to Savigny-les-Beaune in a less generous year,  rather than Volnay.  It needs another year in bottle,  to hopefully better assimilate the impression of stalks / lack of ripeness.  Cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 06/16

2012  Delta Pinot Noir Hatter's Hill   15 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $35   [ screwcap;  www.deltawines.co.nz ]
Medium pinot noir ruby,  some age showing,  above midway in depth.  This too is in the older Marlborough  style,  reflecting grapes grown on less suitable sites.  It is fragrant in a maturing red fruits / slightly leafy way,  hints only of buddleia florality,  yet varietal.  On palate the leafiness is more apparent,  flavours are older,  there is reasonable concentration but the stalkyness likewise increases.  Another out of date Marlborough pinot as to style,  cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 06/16

2014  Waipara Springs Pinot Noir   15  ()
Waipara Valley,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13%;  $23   [ screwcap;  www.waiparasprings.co.nz ]
Much too light,  more a rosé than a pinot noir colour,  the lightest wine by far.  Bouquet is a little different,  fragrant,  not exactly floral but attractive redcurrant jelly aromas.  Palate is much more concentrated than the colour suggests,  good fruit again nearly all redcurrant,  just a hint of guava and red cherry,  not bone dry.  It is easy quaffing,  but doesn't quite qualify as varietal pinot noir.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 06/16

2014  Opawa Pinot Noir   14 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $29   [ screwcap;  www.deltawines.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby,  tending old for its age,  in the lightest quarter.  Bouquet is in the former Marlborough style,  suggesting fruit growing on a young gravels site which inhibits full physiological maturity.  Bouquet is leafy floral,  hints only of buddleia,  clear stalks too.  Palate has pleasant fruit weight,  is juicy,  but let down by a clear under-ripe green stalky component,  and some residual sweetness,  presumably to cover the stalks.  An out-of-date winestyle now,  wholesome and pleasant but not worth cellaring.  GK 06/16

Syrah = Shiraz
2013  Brokenwood Shiraz Graveyard   18 ½ +  ()
Hunter Valley,  NSW,  Australia:  13.5%;  $192   [ screwcap;  Brokenwood's top shiraz;  all French oak and little or none new – wonderful;  Halliday vintage rating Hunter Valley 8 /10 for 2013;  www.brokenwoodwines.com ]
Ruby,  a wash of carmine and velvet,  in the lightest quarter of the non-pinot reds.  Bouquet is intriguing,   immediately nearly floral,  but you can't decide whether that is on vanillin from the oak,  or subliminal mint as in flowering mint.  Below is a softer spectrum of shiraz fruit qualities than most Australian examples of the variety,  mulberry and plummy,  ripened beyond cassis,  almost conceivable as syrah.  Even at the blind stage,  you wonder if this is could be a 'Hunter burgundy' winestyle.  Palate continues that impression,  a little more aromatic now,  a little more like The McRae Wood,  more serious oak than the Barry Veto,  but still acceptable,  acid adjustment a little noticeable and detracting slightly.  Even so,  this is sophisticated wine.  What a joy that there are sophisticated Australian shirazes,  in this fanciful-price class.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 06/16

2012  Henschke Shiraz Mt Edelstone   18 +  ()
Eden Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $182   [ Vinolok glass stopper;  vines 98 years old,  now biodynamic;  Sh 100%,  all matured in French hogsheads,  87% French,  13 American,  32% new;  Halliday vintage rating Eden Valley 8 /10 for 2012;  www.henschke.com.au ]
Ruby and velvet,  midway in depth.  Henschke wines have changed considerably over the last 20 years.   Their approach to oak now seems much subtler,  less overtly American [confirmed],  better integrated,  the oak woven into the wine as if there is a barrel-fermented component,  rather than standing out to the side and shouting.  Once decanted and breathed,  bouquet on this Edelstone shows a complex nearly roast chestnut integration of soft 'brown' oak and ripe shiraz,  the latter ripened through mulberry to boysenberry but still retaining some subtlety,  plus faint mint as in The McRae wine.  Palate highlights the oak comments,  thinking back to the 90s,  the integration of cedary oak being nearly velvety already.  This is a much more sophisticated wine than Armagh,  very much subtler yet nearly as rich.  It is not as subtle in its oaking as the Brokenwood Graveyard wine,  or The McRae Wood,  but shows less mint than the latter.  But when all is said and done,  there is still too much oak for gold medal,  as soon as you think of syrah and Trinity Hill Homage,  or La Chapelle.  Cellar 5 – 25 years,  maybe longer.  GK 06/16

2012  Jim Barry Shiraz The McRae Wood   18 +  ()
Clare Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $63   [ screwcap;  Sh 100%;  French and American oak;  Halliday vintage rating Clare Valley 7 /10 for 2013;  www.jimbarry.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  one of the three deepest.  Bouquet on The McRae epitomises the descriptor Australian flowering mint (the shrub Prostanthera),  and in more temperate years has done so from the outset (first vintage 1992).  It is an acceptable aromatic complexity,  analogous to the garrigue character in good chateauneuf-du-pape.  Bouquet shows a richness of berry and an elegance of  both ripening and oaking which again is a revelation,  in terms of the last 50 years of Australian reds.  It is not quite so exquisitely pure as the Veto,  but the level of aromatics here is acceptable complexity,  on cassis,  mulberry and darkly plummy berry.  In mouth the wine clearly has had a more 'serious' elevation in barrel,  cedary oak complexing the fruit relative to The Veto,  but the nett result is sophisticated South Australian shiraz,  to cellar 5 – 25 years.  GK 06/16

2013  Brokenwood Shiraz Hunter Valley   18 +  ()
Hunter Valley,  NSW,  Australia:  13%;  $41   [ screwcap;  much of the fruit ex Graveyard vineyard;  all French oak,  25% new;  Halliday vintage rating Hunter Valley 8 /10 for 2013;  www.brokenwoodwines.com ]
Ruby and velvet,  well below midway in depth.  Given decanting,  this wine is quite a thrill.  It shows off the distinctive 'Hunter Valley burgundy' style well,  even at this early stage.  The style is in one sense riper than South Australia,  but at its best it is subtler and more syrah-like too,  with blueberry almost the dominant berry note.  Palate is complex,  only faintly aromatic,  sophisticated oak,  forming a fine complement to the Barry Veto Shiraz from South Australia.  As the wine lingers in mouth,  a fragrant aromatic component develops a little,  but only to the level of flowering mint,  not euc'y.  This is remarkable wine,  and bears very favourable comparison with the winery's premium Graveyard Shiraz.  In essence,  you are getting three quarters of the quality of the top wine,  for a fifth the price.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 06/16

2013  Jim Barry Shiraz The Veto   18 +  ()
Clare Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $34   [ screwcap;  Sh 100%;  French and American oak;  Halliday vintage rating Clare Valley 7 /10 for 2013;  www.jimbarry.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  one of the three deepest.  Bouquet is darkly plummy and blueberry,  much finer than the Yalumba Patchwork,  beautiful rich berry with the faintest flowering mint complexity lifting it,  analogous to Otago thyme or southern Rhone garrigue aroma.  Oaking is subtle.  Palate is wonderfully rich yet subtle,  bespeaking a sea-change in attitudes to oak among Australian winemakers,  since the time when so many New Zealanders simply walked away from the predominance of heavy,  oaky,  clumsy Australian reds.  This is a revelation.  Fruit is ripened to a warm-year Gimblett Gravels point,  nearly floral,  just retaining suggestions of cassis,  rather more darkly plummy,  subtly oaked,  attractive.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  The only catch with these two Veto wines is,  they are only sold to restaurants.  GK 06/16

2014  Jim Barry Shiraz Lodge Hill   17 ½  ()
Clare Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $27   [ screwcap;  Sh 100%;  French and American oak;  Halliday vintage rating Clare Valley 8 /10 for 2014;  www.jimbarry.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  in the top quarter for depth.  Bouquet is richly fruity,  in a more typical South Australian shiraz sense,  the fruit ripened beyond cassis,  almost beyond dark plum,  to the point where some boysenberry notes creep in.  On flavour the boysenberry is obvious,  and an aromatic quality grows,  both oak and trace eucalyptus.  The total balance is still more modern than traditional,  but not as rich as the Veto Shiraz.  Clean sound South Australian shiraz to cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 06/16

2014  Fromm Syrah Fromm Vineyard   17 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12%;  $62   [ cork;  www.frommwinery.co.nz ]
Good ruby with a flush of carmine and velvet,  the third to lightest of the other reds.  Better with decanting to ventilate a shadow of reduction,  the bouquet then shows a suggestion of whole-bunch florality,  a suggestion of black pepper,  and some fruit richness.  Because of the suggestion of reduction,  it is not quite singing at this stage.  Palate shows rich clearly varietal fruit,  some cassis,  more dark plum,  black pepper again,  careful oaking to a near max,  and good persistence of flavour.  Give this five years to bury its present negative traits, and it may surprise.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  Score has an 'anticipatory' component,  for now.  GK 06/16

2013  Yalumba Shiraz Patchwork   17 +  ()
Barossa Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  13.5%;  $25   [ screwcap;  pretentious and non-informative website;  www.yalumba.com ]
Ruby and velvet,  nearly carmine,  one of the three deepest colours.  Bouquet is 'sweet',  rich,  ripe,  dark,  with a trace of Barossa Valley rankness on plummy berry,  but not obviously over-ripe or over-oaked.  Palate confirms rich berry,  attractive balance,  good oaking,  a wine which will cellar well in its burly style,  showing only trace eucalyptus as it rests in mouth.  Cellar 5 – 20 years,  to fine down a bit.  GK 06/16

2013  Fromm Syrah La Strada   16 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12%;  $39   [ screwcap;  www.frommwinery.co.nz ]
Ruby and some velvet,  in the lowest quarter for depth.  This wine opens obviously reductive,  and needs several seriously splashy decantings,  whereupon it cleans up remarkably.  New Zealand syrahs do stand out among the Aussies,  at best showing the near-floral smells of the grape rather than variously threshold flowering mint / mint / euc'y notes.  Once breathed there is even a hint of wallflowers here,  and darkly cassisy fruit with bottled black doris plums.  Oaking is nicely judged.  Palate is hardened a little by the reduction,  unfortunately.  Cellar 5 – 12 years,  probably to come right,  but decant it vigorously before use.  GK 06/16

2012  Jim Barry Shiraz The Armagh   16 ½  ()
Clare Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  13.7%;  $273   [ screwcap;  Sh 100%;  20 months in 60% French & 40% American oak,  the percentage new not given;  Halliday vintage rating Clare Valley 8 /10 for 2012;  www.jimbarry.com ]
Ruby,  velvet,  and nearly carmine,  well above midway in depth.  Bouquet is massively oaky,  in an older South Australian 'premium shiraz' style,  an almost acetylene-like pungency on shiraz fruit ripened way past optimal complexity to browning boysenberry,  otherwise clean.  Palate shows good concentration,  but loud oak,  completely overbearing.  Red wine is about grapes and beauty,  whereas these national monument-style Australian reds are about oak and brawn.  Hot-climate people like them a good deal more than  temperate-climate people,  where grape beauty is better expressed,  and better appreciated.  To judge from some of my larger-scale Australian 1960s and 1970s reds,  the answer is to cellar them for 30 years,  to crust in bottle and lighten the tannin load,  when the resulting wine will be somewhat more fragrant,  with better softness and apparent fruit richness,  and certainly more food-friendly.  But still over-ripe.  One has to ask,  what is the point,  when something infinitely more beautiful right from the outset can be bought from the Northern Rhone,  or even Hawkes Bay,  for a fraction the price ?  Amusement can be gained by reading the reviews from the faithful,  on-line,  so many winewriters and wine journalists particularly not being prepared to question the inherent ugliness of certain Australian national monument wines.  Their notes bear little relation to the wine I tasted.  Cellar 20 – 50 years.  GK 06/16

2014  Alpha Domus Syrah The Barnstormer   16 ½  ()
Bridge Pa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $34   [ cork 49mm;  Sy 100%;  most of the wine in French oak,  balance s/s;  www.alphadomus.co.nz ]
Ruby and velvet,  some carmine,  in the middle for depth.  This is another wine to need vigorous splashy decanting,  when like the La Strada Syrah,  it clears to reveal recognisable dark syrah,  nearly fragrant,   some cassis and blackberry,  subtle oak.  Palate is quite promising,  a medium weight of dark fruits subtly oaked,  not hardened by the reduction.  It is not quite as rich as the Fromm,  and is slightly more oaky.  Cellar  5 – 12 years to marry up,  and decant vigorously before use.  GK 06/16

2013  Langmeil Shiraz / Viognier Hangin Snakes   15 ½ +  ()
Barossa Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14.5%;  $30   [ screwcap;  not on website,  other years Vi c.4%;  Halliday vintage rating Barossa Valley 8/10 for 2013;  www.langmeilwinery.com.au ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  below midway in depth.  This is another red wine clearly needing a splashy decanting,  then showing the rank,  again nearly saline,  nearly stalky,  high alcohol older style of Barossa Valley shiraz,  appealing more to Australians and people from hotter climates,  than those in cooler parts of the wine world.  Palate shows a clean and quite rich wine,  but the flavours reflect the bouquet,  plus added acid detracting further,  maybe not all the wine raised in barrel.  It is hard on the reduction,  not suited to food,  and not easy to drink.  Will mellow in bottle 5 – 20 years,  but not blossom.  GK 06/16

2013  Langmeil Shiraz Valley Floor   15  ()
Barossa Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14.5%;  $37   [ screwcap;  many months in mixed oak,  16% of it new American;  RS 2.4 g/L;  Halliday vintage rating Barossa Valley 8/10 for 2013;  www.langmeilwinery.com.au ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  above midway.  This is another wine to need a splashy decanting,  when it then shows oak in a raw and unsubtle way,  almost suppressing reasonable shiraz fruit ripened to the boysenberry level of over-ripeness.  Palate is simple and unintegrated,  quite rich,  just boysenberry and harsh oak.  This one too has saline suggestions.  It will cellar in its style 5 – 20 years,  but is not competitive in today's more sophisticated wine market – at least in New Zealand.  GK 06/16

2012  Langmeil Shiraz Orphan Bank   14 ½  ()
Barossa Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14.5%;  $74   [ screwcap;  24 months in French oak,  50% new;  Halliday vintage rating Barossa Valley 9/10 for 2012;  www.langmeilwinery.com.au ]
Ruby and velvet,  below midway in depth.  Bouquet is caricature clumsy old-style Aussie shiraz,  tending reductive,  tending saline,  absurdly oaky,  just big and plain.  In mouth the wine is rich,  leathery and solid,  in the style of many wines of the 1950s and '60s.  Considering this is priced at $74,  presumably reflecting that the winery thinks it has merit,  it is a matter of certainty the winemaker has never tasted the benchmark syrahs of the world,  J L Chave Hermitage and Jaboulet's La Chapelle (up to 1996,  or 2009 on).  To judge from my 1964 – 1968 Stonyfell Metala (back when it was seen by the Australians as a premium wine,  and the wines of France were almost unknown in Australia),  and how they tasted then,  and how they taste today,  this will cellar for 50 years,  and soften and lighten,  but still maintain its present drab style.  Not a contemporary winestyle,  at all.  GK 06/16

2011  Dry River Syrah   13 ½  ()
Martinborough Terrace,  Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  12%;  $78   [ cork 47mm;  no accurate or informative info about the wine on website;  www.dryriver.co.nz ]
Ruby and velvet,  just above halfway in depth.  Bouquet is seriously reductive,  obscuring any varietal information the wine might display.  The reduction destroys not only the bouquet,  but unlike the Fromm La Strada wine,  the palate too,  which is sour on both elevated acid and sulphides,  despite reasonably rich fruit.  Not worth cellaring.  Use reviews of this wine to work out which wine reviewers review only the label,  which reviewers review the actual wine,  and which are blind to sulphide.  This is critical information for people with 'normal' palates,  interested in 'investing in' / building a rewarding wine cellar containing wines which will not embarrass them in front of their guests.  GK 06/16