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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.
NEW RELEASES FROM MACVINE,  ANDREW HEDLEY / OH SO PRETTY,  AND TE MATA ESTATE


First three highly interesting bubblies to start the review.  I am keen on assessing cremants de Bourgogne,  even though the delicacy brigade rather sniff at them.  Climatically,  it seems so probable that they provide a useful guideline and measuring stick for our burgeoning methode champenoise producers in New Zealand.  So when Michael Jemison,  of MacVine,  Auckland,  drew my attention to two he stocks,  plus a Yarra Valley methode of high repute,  I could not resist.

Then two interesting tastings to start the year,  one from Andrew Hedley (Framingham Wines,  but here in his capacity as the wine importer Oh So Pretty,  Marlborough),  one from Toby Buck (Te Mata Estate),  tastings which could not be more disparate in style or content,  yet which are unified by the unusual degree to which the proprietors of the two companies taste and follow overseas wines.

For the European rieslings from Andrew,  they come as a shock to the sweetness-seduced New Zealand riesling palate.   All are dry.  In some cases the wines are hard to fathom,  due to both lees work and noticeable bottling sulphur,  exacerbated by extreme youth (all the whites from the well-regarded 2015 vintage),  making them hard to assess now.  All improved markedly with air and time,  and all need to be cellared.  The other key contrasts with New Zealand rieslings are the fermentation temperatures tend to be somewhat higher,  often some of the wine (at least) spends time in larger old casks (fuder),  and the marked body and high dry extract,  reflecting classical European cropping rates a long way from most New Zealand rieslings.  The latter makes them even more cellar-worthy.  When you compare them with Australian dry rieslings,  even famous ones like Grosset's,  the finer texture with no suggestion of acid adjustment is apparent.

Turning to the Te Matas,  the key question in most tasters' minds will be,  how do the 2015s compare with the  2013s,  since both vintages are being talked up,  or even referred to as the finest vintages yet in Hawkes Bay.  Toby reports that berries were small in 2015,  and the tonnage down by a third for Coleraine,  as if this were to be regretted.   Since I have consistently reported for some years now that the key factor holding back the level of achievement at Te Mata (when assessed in world terms) is the generous cropping rate,  this factor makes me very interested indeed in the 2015s.  I could only compare one of the wines directly with the 2013 version.  My nett impression is that for the top Cabernets / Merlot blend Coleraine,  the top syrah Bullnose,  and the top chardonnay Elston,  the 2015 vintage is ahead of the 2013,  for Te Mata Estate.

The Te Mata wines are widely distributed in competent wine shops.  The Hedley wines are sometimes available at a few select merchants such as Regional Wines in Wellington,  or Wine Direct in Auckland,  but the best approach is directly to  Andrew's importing firm,  named Oh So Pretty.  He is in the process of developing a website,  but meanwhile there is a wonderfully informative 26-page price-list complete with info on obscure topics such as the German wine classification system.  Details from Andrew directly:  ohsopretty@outlook.co.nz

Index to the wines:
   nv  André Delorme Cremant de Bourgogne Terroir d'Exception Brut
   nv  André Delorme Cremant de Bourgogne Terroirs Mineraux
  2010  Devaux & Yering Station Yarrabank Cuvée

2010  [ Ch Palmer ] Alter Ego
2015  Te Mata Cabernets / Merlot Awatea
2015  Te Mata Cabernets / Merlot Coleraine
2015  Te Mata Chardonnay Elston
2016  Te Mata Chardonnay Estate
  2015  Te Mata Sauvignon Blanc Cape Crest
2015  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose
2013  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose
2016  Te Mata Viognier Zara

2015  Brundlmeyer Langenloiser Steinmassel Riesling Trocken
2015  Brundlmeyer Zobinger Heiligenstein Riesling Trocken
2015  Clemens Busch vom Grauen Schiefer Riesling Trocken Qualitatswein
2015  Clemens Busch vom Roten Schiefer Riesling Trocken Qualitatswein
2013  Okonomierat Rebholz Spatburgunder Tradition Trocken Qualitatswein
  2015  Okonomierat Rebholz vom Buntsandstein Riesling Trocken Qualitatswein
2015  Okonomierat Rebholz vom Muschelkalk Riesling Trocken Qualitatswein
2015  Wittman Niersteiner Riesling Trocken Qualitatswein
2015  Wittman Westhofener Riesling Trocken Qualitatswein
2014  Wittman Westhofener Spatburgunder Trocken


MACVINE:  THE WINES
2010  Devaux & Yering Station Yarrabank Cuvée   18  ()
Yarra Valley,  Victoria,  Australia:  13%;  $47   [ supercritical Diam one-piece 'cork';  cepage usually Ch fractionally more than PN,  handpicked at c.2.5 t/ha = 1 t/ac;  primary fermentation in s/s,  no MLF,  then c.15% of the base wine is held a month or two in 5,500-litre oak vessels,  to add subtle complexity;  4 years en tirage;  dosage 3.2 g/L;  regarded as one of the finest two methodes in Australia;  distributed in New Zealand by MacVine,  Auckland;  www.yering.com ]
Lemonstraw.  Bouquet is citrussy with fine baguette-quality autolysis,  initially inclining to a blanc de blancs style,  but later hinting at red fruits complexity below,  all of exquisite purity.  Palate is superbly fine-grained,  clearly a much higher free-run fraction (or less press component) than the two Delormes,  very low phenolics,  yet great mouthfeel and body.  Palate brings up the red cherry / pinot noir component in a subtle way,  with the baguette notes extending the flavour remarkably.  This is a wonderful methode champenoise,   to cellar 5 – 15 years.  The dosage is low,  but fruit and dry extract (from that extraordinary cropping rate) are so good you think it is just at a 'normal'  premium methode level,  say 7 g/L.  A challenge here for premium New Zealand methode champenoise producers.  GK 03/17

nv  André Delorme Cremant de Bourgogne Terroirs Mineraux   17 ½  ()
Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $42   [ standard compound 'champagne' cork;  this wine is a mystery,  there being no hint of its existence on the company website,  or elsewhere on the Net for that matter;  cepage seems to be a traditional cremant blend using the four Burgundian grape varieties pinot noir,  chardonnay,  gamay noir,  aligoté;  presumably the cepage and elevation is similar to the Terroir d'Exception,  say full MLF and 18 months en tirage,  no info on dosage;  distributed in New Zealand by MacVine,  Auckland;  www.andre-delorme.com ]
Straw with a slight darker straw flush.  Bouquet is fresh and fragrant,  clearly based on red grapes alongside the Terroir d'Exception.  It shows more noticeable yeast autolysis clearly in the baguette-crust style,   beautifully clean.  Palate is a little more grippy than the d'Exception,  the red grapes speaking,  the phenolics masked by dosage around the 10 g/L mark.  It has the body and structure to carry the bigger flavour,  and remain fresh.  A very fragrant methode champenoise,  not the softest or driest in style,  but attractive long flavours.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 03/17

nv  André Delorme Cremant de Bourgogne Terroir d'Exception Brut   17 +  ()
Burgundy,  France:  12%;  $45   [ compound 'champagne' cork,  but no pure cork face,  unusual;  cepage c. Ch 90,  Al 10,  all the wine through MLF,  c. 18 months en tirage;  no info on dosage on the website;  distributed in New Zealand by MacVine,  Auckland;  www.andre-delorme.com ]
Lemon to lemonstraw.  Bouquet is clean with light but clear baguette grading to brioche autolysis,  the berry character more white grapes than black.  Palate has good body without being unduly 'fruity',  slight stemmyness rounded out by dosage in the 9 – 10 g/L area I'd estimate,  fruit and autolysis giving a good long aftertaste extended by the slight phenolics.  A good wine inclining to a blanc de blancs in style (which it turns out to be).  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 03/17


OH SO PRETTY:  THE WINES
2015  Clemens Busch vom Roten Schiefer Riesling Trocken Qualitatswein   18 ½  ()
Mosel Valley,  Germany:  11.5%;  $38   [ cork;  organic and biodynamic;  a selection from younger vines (by German standards) on slate in the Rothenpfad vineyard;  website is more about the overall approach,  and illustrations,  than factual info for each wine;  www.clemens-busch.de ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is more open than the Grauen from the same producer,  clearly vinifera but not overtly varietal initially,  lightly fragrant on citrus and fresh-cut hay.  Palate is dry,  but much more varietal in flavour than many of the wines,  with less lees influence and artefact,  the phenolics much more terpene-derived,  the wine gentler,  the flavour building nicely in mouth,  nearly floral,  now clearly riesling.  This tastes much more a stainless steel wine,  it is gentler than the Muschelkalk,  and gives an exciting pointer to quality dry riesling.  Cellar 5 – 15 years,  maybe longer.  GK 03/17

2015  Okonomierat Rebholz vom Muschelkalk Riesling Trocken Qualitatswein   18 ½  ()
Sudpfalz,  Germany:  12.5%;  $50   [ cork;  the Rebholz family have been winemakers since at least 1632, with a focus on riesling;  there tends to be long skin contact for the whites,  up to 24 hours;  the whites are mostly all-stainless steel;  viticulture is organic on calcareous sediments;  for the website,  the more detailed parts are in German;  www.oekonomierat-rebholz.com ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is delightful,  nearly floral and linden blossom,  clear freshcut hay with species such as sweet vernal,  a thread of mineral.  Palate is even better,  redolent of riesling aromas and citrusy flavours,  long,  dry,  an elegant terpene backbone but not phenolic,  long acid,  the real thing.  There is nearly a  suggestion of English primroses in the floral component too,  a rare,  elusive and highly desirable attribute.   Aftertaste is long,  elegant,  definitive riesling.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 03/17

2015  Wittman Niersteiner Riesling Trocken Qualitatswein   18  ()
Rheinhessen,  Germany:  13.5%;  $47   [ cork;  organic and biodynamic,  the Wittmans have been winemakers in Westhofen since at least 1663,  with 90% of production riesling;  Nierstein soils tend to slate and sandstone;  the website is more illustrative,  hard to get factual info for each wine;  www.weingutwittmann.de ]
Lemonstraw.  Bouquet is immediately holygrass (Hierochloe) / linalool / vanillin varietal,  sweet and fragrant,  almost a hint of grapefruit and even botrytis,  highly varietal.  Palate is big,  flavoursome,  noticeable lees character,  phenolics higher than ideal but covered pretty well by the saturation of flavour,  a wine dramatically illustrating the difference in cropping rate between these European wines and most sugar-enhanced (even when said to be dry) New Zealand rieslings.  Really interesting wine,  in a big way.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 03/17

2015  Okonomierat Rebholz vom Buntsandstein Riesling Trocken Qualitatswein   17 ½  ()
Sudpfalz,  Germany:  12.5%;  $50   [ cork;  the Rebholz family have been winemakers since at least 1632, with a focus on riesling;  there tends to be long skin contact for the whites,  up to 24 hours;  the whites are mostly all-stainless steel;  viticulture is organic on sandstones;  for the website,  the more detailed parts are in German;  www.oekonomierat-rebholz.com ]
Lemon.  Freshly opened the wine is clean,  vinifera,  but not forthcoming.  It opens to a fragrant riesling bouquet with some fresh-cut hay and stonefruit suggestions,  tending 'mineral'.  Palate is rich,  more varietal,  more fruit,  less 'mineral' than some,  long and dry,  some terpenes to the later palate,  and a hint of sweetness.  This wine particularly invites comparison with young Grossetts,  the texture here so much more appealing.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/17

2015  Brundlmeyer Zobinger Heiligenstein Riesling Trocken   17 +  ()
Zobing,  Austria:  12.5%;  $52   [ screwcap;  organic;  a large wine company famed for its gruner veltliner,  which amounts to 38% of production;  Heiligenstein is a famous vineyard on fossiliferous late Palaezoic sandstones,  with some volcanic inclusions;  fruit is hand-harvested at 5.3 – 6 t/ha = 2.1 – 2.4 t/ac.  The wines are fermented in s/s,  with partial elevation in old fuder;  website is more in the Australasian style,  with both winery info and technical detail;  www.bruendlmayer.at ]
Pale lemon.  Bouquet is a good deal fresher and more open than the Langenlois wine from the same producer,  with a floral component hinting at linden blossom,  a citrus and citrus-zest component,  but also a slight stemmy note.   Palate continues the citrus theme,  total acid a little elevated,  the wine quite rich with the slightest hint of sweetness,  but still with a slightly stalky / phenolic note – which may simply be youth.  One of the better Austrian wines to have come my way,  among few.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 03/17

2015  Clemens Busch vom Grauen Schiefer Riesling Trocken Qualitatswein   17  ()
Mosel Valley,  Germany:  11%;  $38   [ cork;  organic and biodynamic;  a selection from younger vines (by German standards) on slates in various vineyards;  website is more about the overall approach,  and illustrations,  than factual info for each wine;  www.clemens-busch.de ]
Lemon.  Initially opened,  the bouquet is tending high-SO2 / reductive / mineral to a fault,  but with strong resiny Australian-like riesling fruit below.  Palate expands the citrus and new pasture hay side of the riesling equation,  but the bottling sulphur and overt lees work,  plus highish phenolics as if the wine spent time in big old oak (later:  the winery does use 1000-litre old fuders),  all need some years to marry up.  Freshly opened it is almost too big and too flavoursome,  for fine riesling,  but it improves markedly in the glass,  and the score creeps up.  Cellar 8 – 20 years,  to both marry up,  and display its varietal character more.  GK 03/17

2015  Brundlmeyer Langenloiser Steinmassel Riesling Trocken   16 ½  ()
Langenlois,  Austria:  12.5%;  $46   [ screwcap;  organic;  a large vineyard famed for its grüner veltliner,  which amounts to 38% of production;  Steinmassel is largely mica-schist;  fruit is hand-harvested at 5.3 t/ha = 2.1 t/ac,  followed by long skin contact via slow pressing up to 8 hours duration,  or overnight. Fermentation is done in stainless steel.  The wines are held on 5 – 10% of the lees after fermentation;  website is more in the Australasian style,  with both winery info and technical detail;  www.bruendlmayer.at ]
Pale lemon.  Freshly opened,  bottling sulphur is apparent,  and is reluctant to dissipate,  making tasting hard.  Varietal characters are apparent below.  Palate still shows high SO2,  correlating with the palest colour in the set,  in a fruit-rich stainless steel approach at this point lacking charm.  Some limey notes (citrus).  This  will score quite differently in 10 years.  Cellar 10 – 25 years,  somewhat doubtfully.  GK 03/17

2015  Wittman Westhofener Riesling Trocken Qualitatswein   16 ½  ()
Rheinhessen,  Germany:  13%;  $47   [ cork;  organic and biodynamic;  the Wittmans have been winemakers in Westhofen since at least 1663,  with 90% of production riesling;  Westhofen soils tend to calcareous;  some fermentation in large oak;  again the website is more illustrative,  hard to get factual info for each wine;  www.weingutwittmann.de ]
Slightly deeper lemon.  This is a complex wine,  but not all for the best reasons.  It shows a lot of fruit in a big bold Clare Valley riesling kind of way,  lifted by trace esters.  Fruit character seems bigger and riper,  not the fresh-cut hay notes,  more stonefruits,  even a hint of pineapple.  In mouth it tastes older than one might wish,  quite phenolic,  rich.  Initially I wondered if there might be a few grams residual,  but it is probably just the richness,  I think.  There is a strawy / almost incipient kero note which detracts.  The least 'dry' wine of the set,  but clumsy for fine riesling.  Cellar 2 – 8 years.  GK 03/17

2014  Wittman Westhofener Spatburgunder Trocken   16 ½ +  ()
Rheinhessen,  Germany:  12.5%;  $51   [ cork;  organic and biodynamic;  the Wittmans have been winemakers in Westhofen since at least 1663,  with 90% of production riesling;  Westhofen soils tend to calcareous;  the wine fermented in large older oak;  again the website is more illustrative,  hard to get factual info for each wine;  www.weingutwittmann.de ]
Pinot noir ruby,  a little fresher.  Bouquet is a good deal more harmonious and varietal than the Rebholz,  but even here the oak is too noticeable.  It is however much better quality oak,  but pinot noir needs less.  Bouquet and flavour show few florals or subtleties,  just good simple cherry fruit,  red mainly and some black.   There is a little more body and texture,  but it looks expensive in New Zealand relative to (for example) Grasshopper Pinot Noir from Central Otago.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 03/17

2013  Okonomierat Rebholz Spatburgunder Tradition Trocken Qualitatswein   16  ()
Sudpfalz,  Germany:  13%;  $49   [ cork;  the Rebholz family have been winemakers since at least 1632,  with a focus on riesling;  this wine is grown organically on calcareous Muschelkalk sediments.  Grapes are destemmed,  one week cold soak,  c. 4 weeks on skins in total.  Aged in French and German wood for up to 2 years,  no fining or filtration;  for the website,  the more detailed parts of the info are in German;  www.oekonomierat-rebholz.com ]
Medium pinot noir ruby,  slightly older.  First impression is strong oak,  like a cheap Spanish Crianza in American oak.  Sue Davies described the wine as 'resiny' – just the word.  Below that is simple cherry fruit of no great concentration or elevation complexity,  with the vanillin phenolics lingering long after the fruit flavour.  Pleasant enough but clumsy wine,  highlighting just how far the better New Zealand producers have travelled in their quest for fine pinot noir.  Cellar 5 – 10 years,  to harmonise.  GK 03/17


TE MATA ESTATE:  THE WINES
2016  Te Mata Chardonnay Estate   16 ½  ()
Woodthorpe,  Triangle and Havelock North,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $25   [ screwcap;  about 50% of the wine is BF in French oak with follow-up MLF and lees autolysis;  the other half fermented in s/s,  with simpler elevation;  <2 g/L RS;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Elegant lemon.  Bouquet is youthful,  showing slightly leesy / mineral / citrus and stalky stonefruit qualities,  plus a subtle hint of cracked flint but you couldn't really say reductive.  Palate is still disjointed,  the stalky stainless steel half not yet married up with the barrel-fermented half.  Fruit richness is quite good,  with clear whiteish-peachy varietal flavours trying to push through a leafy / stalky framework.  Reasonable palate weight.  Will be much better in two years,  and cellar for 8 – 10.  GK 03/17

2015  Te Mata Chardonnay Elston   19  ()
Havelock North mainly,  Triangle and Woodthorpe,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $36   [ 46 mm supercritical cork (Diam);  Ch 100% with some of the Havelock vines inherited from the Chambers Estate perhaps over 100 years old,  85% clone mendoza,  hand-harvested;  all BF with new oak only 15 – 20% this year;  100% MLF;  11 months in barrel,  with considerable lees work;  <2 g/L RS;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Fractionally deeper elegant lemon.  Bouquet is infinitely sweeter,  riper,  and deeper than the Estate Chardonnay,  with a wonderful near-baguette-crust quality of lees autolysis on golden queen peachy mendoza fruit.  There is a shadow of cracked oyster shell minerality / complexity,  but thankfully Peter Cowley and his winemaking team continue to avoid the oh-so-trendy (but objectionable) entrained sulphides approach.  Palate brings all these elements together into a wine of Puligny-Montrachet quality,  all a good deal more focussed and substantial than many years of Elston.  Having tasted this label since the initial 1984 release,  I'm tempted to say this is the best young Elston I have seen.  The autolysis complexity is textbook,  of a quality rarely achieved in chardonnay,  and the palate richness is exemplary.  The Brits are wrapped up in some of the Kumeu River chardonnays being the definitive New Zealand chardonnay,  but they need to see this one.  It combines richness,  subtlety and complexity with stellar varietal quality.  Cellar 5 – 15 years,   maybe longer.  GK 03/17

2015  Te Mata Sauvignon Blanc Cape Crest   17 ½ +  ()
Woodthorpe mainly,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $28   [ 46 mm supercritical cork (Diam);  SB 85%,  SG 11,  Se 4 (the latter two percentages usually the other way round);  hand-harvested;  all BF with significant new oak;  little or no MLF,  but much lees work and stirring (twice a day at times),  8 months in barrel,  then further marrying-up in tank before bottling;  <2 g/L RS;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Brilliant light lemon.  This year's Cape Crest has a big bouquet,  with an overt barrel-ferment and prolonged lees autolysis and newish oak character rather swamping its varietal qualities,  at this stage.  Opinions will vary as to how much individuals like this degree of 'complexity'.  The wine needs further time to come together / for the fruit to emerge,  but I suspect the ratio of new oak is too high this year for good varietal expression.  Behind the barrel-ferment are complex but muted musky notes of English nettle,  red capsicum,  sweet  basil and bread crust,  with an exotic fruit quality that defies description.  Palate has some of the freshness of sauvignon blanc,  but again rather more new oak than is simpatico with sauvignon wine styles.  Palate richness is again good.  Te Mata feel this is their best Cape Crest yet,  but I'm not so sure.  It may well be the richest,  and a few years may prove me wrong.  A very interesting wine to cellar and follow,  one a year for 12 years say.  A good chance it will score more highly as the oak marries in.  Cellar to 12 years,  maybe longer.  GK 03/17

2016  Te Mata Viognier Zara   18  ()
Woodthorpe,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $30   [ 46 mm supercritical cork (Diam);  all hand-harvested and BF in 4 – 5-year old French oak;  nearly complete MLF;  <6 months in barrel,  with lees autolysis;  12 barrels only,  hence the wine being hard to locate,  and selling out quickly;  <2 g/L RS;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Elegant lemon,  not quite as deep as Elston.  Bouquet is wonderfully clean,  and clearly varietal,  showing that exhilarating blend of wild ginger blossom florality and both fresh and dried Otago apricots (plus other stonefruits) which characterise the variety viognier,  when appropriately ripened.  In mouth one can only  rejoice that every year,  the percentage of MLF component in the wine is now increasing,  giving this edition a fruit richness and texture it simply did not have 10 years ago.  There is still just a hint of leaf,  implying even more ripeness would help despite the increase in alcohol,  but this wine shows why Hawkes Bay (and Waiheke Island) are well suited to producing subtle yet highly varietal interpretations of this demanding and fickle grape,  of a quality rare on the world stage.  Toby Buck mentioned it combines thrillingly with slightly sweet curries.  Cellar 1 – 4 years,  don't hold it too long.  GK 03/17

2015  Te Mata Cabernets / Merlot Coleraine   19  ()
Havelock North mainly,  Triangle,  Woodthorpe maybe,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $140   [ cork,  50 mm;  hand-harvested CS 54%,  Me 36,  CF 10;  extended cuvaison;  average vine age 25 + years;  17 months in French oak c.75% new;  RS nil;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  noticeably deeper and richer than Awatea.  And that trend continues with the bouquet,  the wine being sweetly and wonderfully floral (violets,  dark red roses),  with benchmark aromatic cassis and black plum fruit,  plus cedary oak of exquisite subtlety,  and no hint of leaf.  Palate does nothing to let the bouquet down,  the  berry ripeness being exemplary.  For the first time in years,  I am not left feeling,  it is beautiful as far as it goes,  but it lacks pinpoint ripeness (by Bordeaux standards),  concentration,  body and stuffing.  The dry extract analysis I had made for 2013 Coleraine (the review dated 5/15,  last two paras) confirms the latter comment,  despite the hysterical reviews that wine received.  I think this wine is both riper and richer than the 2013,  and having tasted and cellared (the better of) them since the inaugural 1982 wine,  this is the best Coleraine ever released.  It shows a concentration and texture approaching Third Growth Bordeaux,  and a purity and elegance exceeding many of them.  If the proprietors want Coleraine to more consistently perform towards the level of the extravagant quotations they introduce this year's booklet with,  then the message is clear:  reduce the cropping rate each year to match the 2015,  said to be one third less tonnes per hectare.  Meanwhile,  for the consumer,  buy as much of this 2015 Coleraine as you can afford,  and cellar it 5 – 25 years for 'ordinary' people,  40 years for enthusiasts.  GK 03/17

2010  [ Ch Palmer ] Alter Ego   18 ½  ()
Margaux,  Bordeaux,  France:  14.5%;  $ –    [ cork,  50 mm;  second wine of Ch Palmer;  cepage this year CS 51%,  Me 49,  average age 35 – 40 years,  planted @ 10,000 vines / ha,  typically cropped @ c.6  t/ha = 2.4  t/ac;  time spent in barrel in better years c.18 months,  25% new;  bottle courtesy of Eugene d'Eon,  greatly appreciated;  www.chateau-palmer.com ]
Ruby and velvet,  clearly both older and richer than Coleraine.  Bouquet is deeper,  more oaky,  the fruit richer and riper than 2015 Coleraine,  and the wine markedly less floral despite the high (49%) merlot content.  Plummy and cassisy berry are browning slightly now,  and melding with cedary oak,  as would be expected given the age difference.   Palate is intriguing.  Even though this is a second wine (of Ch Palmer,  the second-most-famous wine of the commune of Margaux),  it is richer in terms of taste and dry extract than 2015 Coleraine. There is the length,  savour and complexity of flavour and texture which still sets fine Bordeaux apart from most New World challengers.  It is more oaky than 2015 Coleraine,  though,  and does not have anything like the florality or the rapier-like clarity of berryfruit,  so in the simplest terms,  it is less beautiful.  A wonderful comparison and calibration confirming once again my consistent comments on the cropping rates for Coleraine,  but you can't help feeling that a better year of Cheval Blanc would be closer to the wonderful bouquet of the Coleraine,  and make a better comparison (if cost were no object).  Cellar 5 – 30 years,  and longer.  GK 03/17

2015  Te Mata Cabernets / Merlot Awatea   17 +  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ cork,  50mm;  CS 46%,  Me 43%,  CF 11,  no PV this year,  hand-harvested;  c.16 months in French oak c.40% new;  RS nil;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  medium weight only.  Freshly opened the wine is clean and fragrant,  but a bit stalky.  With air the floral component increases,  and the stalkyness fades to a light fragrant leafyness.  Below is crisp cassis and (red rather than black) plummy berry,  a hint of red currants,  and subtle oak.  Palate is fine-grained and elegant,  very youthful,  the oak even though subtle drawing attention to the stalky component again,  medium body only.  This will develop tobacco complexity as it ages.  It is hard to recall without the wines alongside,  but I suspect it is not quite as ripe and complete as 2013 Awatea.  Cellar 5 – 18 years.  GK 03/17

2015  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose   19  ()
Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $50   [ cork,  46 mm;  Sy 100%,  hand-picked from c.24-year old vines;  all de-stemmed,  15 months in French oak usually 35 – 40% new;  of the order of 100 barrels made;  RS dry;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  similar in weight to 2015 Coleraine but fractionally fresher / less oak influence.  I  was so excited by the 2015 Bullnose,  that in setting up the wines for writing up back at home,  I opened  2013 Bullnose,  to get a clear steer on actual achievements,  as opposed to impressions gained in isolation.   Bouquet of this 2015 has a depth of velvety florality I do not recall in young Bullnose before.  It is stunning,  darkest carnations,  dianthus and red roses,  dark black plums,  some cassis,  less black pepper than the 2013,  and subtlest  oak.  Flavours in mouth are simply sensational.  Again there is the velvety texture of classical French cropping rates expressed as dry extract,  showing as beautiful mouth feel,  long darkly cassisy and plummy berry flavours,  and gently counterpointed oak,  with a whisper of black pepper spice.  The wine is as rich as  2015 Coleraine,  or even slightly more concentrated.  It is without doubt the greatest Bullnose thus far produced.  It has the concentration of Yves Cuilleron's Cote Rotie Terres Sombres,  one of the great (but unsung) Cote Roties.  I wonder when the British will stop patronising New Zealand syrah,  and give this wine (for example) its just ranking,  right up there with some of the finest Cote Roties and Hermitages – but Bullnose markedly on the Cote Rotie side of the pairing.  Cellar 5 – 20 years,  longer for enthusiasts.  The cropping and cellaring comments in the Coleraine review apply here,  too.  GK 03/17

2013  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose   18 ½  ()
Triangle,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $ –    [ cork 45mm;  Sy 100%,  hand-picked from c.23-year old vines;  all de-stemmed,  15 months in French oak usually 35 – 40% new;  RS dry;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  similar in weight to 2015 Awatea.  Bouquet is sweet,  floral,  ripe,  showing complex carnations and red roses notes on dark cassisy berry,  with an underpinning of black pepper.  Flavour is quite rich,  aromatic cassis and darkly plummy berry with shaping oak,  dry,  long in flavour and  texture,  highly varietal.  The consistency of Cote Rotie styling in Bullnose for many years now is wonderful,  the 2015 just magically richer and riper.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/17