Home
Page
Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
independent
analytical
non-commercial
Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.
LIBRARY TASTINGS


[ Forthcoming tastings are titled in red.  Past tastings below the double-rule,  in past date order: ]


AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZ THEN AND NOW,  TWO TASTINGS:  (1)  LIBRARY TASTING:  THE BEST OF 1996 AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZES,  plus JABOULET'S HERMITAGE LA CHAPELLE ... 

Time:  6pm,  Thursday,  March 30,  2017 
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines and Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington 
Cost:  $60 per person 
Bookings:  On-line via https://regionalwines.co.nz/events?event_id=112 primarily.  Or phone Tastings @ 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz,  particularly for the wait-list.
Booking Conditions:  There are 21 places only.  A wait-list will be made,  if needed.  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice,  unless the place is filled.  If space allows,  bookings after that time will still be accepted – right up to,  say,  5pm on the day of the tasting.  If the tasting fills,  please use the wait-list,  since all-too-often there is a last-minute place.    
Three points to note about GK Library Tastings:  
#  The tastings are presented blind,  so that assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.  Rankings are requested by simple vote at the blind stage,  and later comments are invited,  if forthcoming.  There is no requirement to say a word.  
#  Cork taint / TCA:  In sharing in this tasting,  tasters accept the risk of corked bottles.  That is just the same as if you had cellared the wine yourself.  For some bottles,  there is only the one.  It is not practicable to have back-up bottles for each of the other wines.  If a wine is clearly corked at the decanting stage,   a reserve wine will be substituted.  Tasters receive 12 wines,  but maybe (luck of the draw) not a key / expensive one. 
#  The presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml),  both to enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking


The Wines:
AUSTRALIA
1996  d’Arenberg Shiraz Dead-Arm,  McLaren Vale,  South Australia
1996  Bannockburn Shiraz,  Geelong, Victoria
1996  Barossa Valley Estates E&E Shiraz Black Pepper,  Barossa Valley,  South Australia
1996  Jim Barry Shiraz McRae Wood,  Clare Valley,  South Australia
1996  Burge Shiraz Meschach,  Barossa Valley,  South Australia
1996  Cape Mentelle Shiraz,  Margaret River,  West Australia
1995  Coriole Shiraz Lloyd’s Reserve,  McLaren Vale,  South Australia
1996  Henschke Shiraz Mount Edelstone,  Eden Valley,  South Australia
1996  McWilliams Shiraz Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea,  Hunter Valley,  NSW
1997  Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz Langi,  Grampians, Victoria
1996  Seppelt Shiraz Mount Ida,  Heathcote,  Victoria
FRANCE
1996  Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle,  Northern Rhone Valley

Reserve wines: 
1996  Sevenhill Cellars Shiraz,  Clare Valley,  South Australia
1996  Tatachilla Shiraz Foundation,  McLaren Vale,  South Australia

The mid 1990s … and for red wine in Wellington,  all anybody wanted was Australian.  A few wanted French,  fewer Spanish,  and when it came to New Zealand reds … that was still the time when the Air New Zealand judging results created acute interest in anything that really looked exciting amongst New Zealand reds – but few did,  and not much sold.

How different the world is now:  New Zealand reds outsell all others.  But before we forget totally,  let’s recollect that 1996 was a particularly attractive year climatically in nearly all the Australian red wine districts.  It was one of the cooler years,  making wines of much greater varietal interest to New Zealanders.  So let's look at a dozen 1996s (mainly) at their 20-years-on point.  They should be at full flowering. 

Our wine list is shiraz only (being Australia’s most famous red grape),  and covers many of the noteworthy Australian names of the era.  However greater emphasis has been placed on showing the geographic range,  from West Australia right across to the Hunter Valley,  via the Clare Valley,  Eden Valley,  Barossa Valley,  and  McLaren Vale in South Australia,  the Grampians and Geelong in Victoria,  and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.  Just to make the varietal part a little bit more focussed,  there will be a classic French syrah from the Northern Rhone Valley,  1996 Jaboulet’s Hermitage La Chapelle.  All blind,  naturally.

No good,  you say,  no Penfolds … patience please:  we will have an evening dedicated to Penfolds later in the year,  some 1996,  a number older,  and that tasting will include the rare-as-hen's-teeth 1996 Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Kalimna Block 42.  It is worth more than Grange.  So look forward to that,  and in the meantime come and enjoy these nicely-mature Australian shirazes.  Many consider Henschke’s Mount Edelstone and Langi Ghiran’s Langi shirazes the subtlest and most interesting of all the great Aussie shirazes,  being much less oaky than the famous ones.  We have both of them. 

One detail:  these 1996s are not any old Australian reds … they were selected as the best of the crop then available in New Zealand,  that is,  both a good year,  and the wines not too oaky or too euc'y,  at a point when I had already  been assessing and cellaring Australian wine for 30 years. 

[ Tasting 2:  Ten days later,  Tuesday, April 11, 2017,  we will look at 11 current Australian shiraz wines including 2012 Penfolds Grange ($892.50),  and one New Zealand syrah,  in the light of the 20 years-old wines,  to see which are worth cellaring.  Details at:  https://regionalwines.co.nz/events?event_id=137 ]






ANNIVERSARY TASTING:  1916 MOUTON ROTHSCHILD,  1953 BODEGAS BILBAINAS RESERVA ESPECIAL … AND ODDS …

Time:  6pm,  Thursday,  October 20,  2016
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines and Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $150 per person
Bookings:  On-line via https://regionalwines.co.nz/events?event_id=104 primarily.  Or phone Tastings @ 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz,  particularly for the wait-list.
Booking Conditions:  There are 20 places only.  At the point of posting this,  the tasting is fully booked.  A wait-list will be made,  now the tasting is full.  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice,  unless the place is filled.  If space allows,  bookings after that time will still be accepted – right up to,  say,  4pm on the day of the tasting.  If the tasting fills,  please use the wait-list,  since all-too-often there is a last-minute place.  
Three things to note about GK Library Tastings: 
#  The tastings are presented blind,  so that assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.   Rankings are requested by simple vote at the blind stage,  and later comments are invited,  if forthcoming.  There is no requirement to say a word. 
#  Cork taint / TCA:  In sharing in this tasting,  tasters accept the risk of corked bottles.  That is just the same as if you had cellared the wine yourself.  For some bottles,  there is only the one.  It is not practicable to have back-up bottles for each of the other wines.  If a wine is clearly corked at the decanting stage,   a reserve wine will be substituted.  Tasters receive 12 wines,  but maybe (luck of the draw) not a key / expensive one. 
#  The presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml),  both to enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking


The Wines:
BORDEAUX
1916  Ch Mouton (now Ch Mouton Rothschild),  Pauillac then Second Growth
1962  Ch Gruaud-Larose,  Saint-Julien Second Growth
1966  Ch Mouton Baron Philippe (now Ch d'Armailhac),  Pauillac Fifth Growth
1966  Ch Pontet-Canet,  Pauillac Fifth Growth
1967  Ch Haut-Brion,  Pessac First Growth
1967  Ch Lynch Bages,  Pauillac Fifth Growth
1972  Ch Haut-Brion, Pessac First Growth
SPAIN – RIOJA
1953  Bodegas Bilbainas Reserva Especial,  Rioja
1955         “      “         Vieja Reserva,  Rioja
1966         “      “         Vina Pomal,  Rioja
AUSTRALIA
1966  Hardy’s Cabernet Sauvignon Bin C626,  McLaren Vale & Coonawarra
1969  Ch Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 52,  Nagambie Lakes, Central Victoria

A word of explanation about such a wine-list.  First,  how do you price it.  The wine-searcher valuation on the old Mouton alone is $4,382 … and some of the others are not insignificant.  Secondly there is a risk the bottle will be corked or otherwise defective.  Cork issues were much less common then,  when handwork and pride in workmanship were still the norm.  Thirdly,  what do you put alongside it.  Some 1966s seem the obvious first thought,  being exactly a 50-year stepping stone.  And Mouton-Baron-Philippe is closely related.

To counter-balance the corked risk,  the tasting will include probably the finest wine in my cellar,  1953 Bodegas Bilbainas Reserva Especial.  Those who have tasted this wine agree it is is astonishing.  Should both those disappoint,  I have taken out 1970 Ducru-Beaucaillou,  an exquisite wine,  but frail now.  It will not be part of the tasting,  if the 1953 is good.  So one way or another,  there should be something memorable.  

1916 was not a great vintage,  so for the other wines,  it seems appropriate to collect some lesser-year oddments from the cellar,  and present those too.  So … three first growths (though a careful member of our tasting group has reminded me that Mouton was not a first growth,  in 1916 !),  7 Bordeaux all told,  the youngest 1972,  and 3 Riojas the youngest 1966.  And then,  a couple of old Aussies,  from the dawn of straight cabernet wines in Australia,  again the youngest 1966.

The logistics of preparing old bottles with corks in variously difficult (and time-consuming) states are such that I must decant them at leisure,  at home.  My decanting approach is extraordinarily conservative,  compared with what I have seen others do,  but there is still the risk such old wines may have over-aired by the time of the tasting.  Conversely ... I also clearly recollect that the sister bottle of the 1916,  tried about 1986,  was much better the next day.  So as always,  it is damnably  hard to know how much air to give a wine.  

Over to you.  I hope this tasting will intrigue you – hope to see you there.






LIBRARY TASTING AT THE NELSON MARLBOROUGH INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY:  2005 BURGUNDY,  TWO NEW ZEALAND

Time:  Tuesday 11 October,  2016,  6:30pm start
Place:  Sensory Room,  Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology,  85 Budge St,  Blenheim
Cost:  $100 per person 
Booking and Payment:  Since the presenter is in Wellington,  and the venue is in Marlborough,  bookings will be accepted only by email,  and listed in strict time / date order of receipt.  Please book with Sue Blackmore,  at the Institute,  email:  sue.blackmore@nmit.ac.nz ,  and include your (preferably mobile) phone number.  You will be advised details to pay GK by direct credit to his bank account.  There is no alternative method of payment.  Credit cards are not accepted.  The booking will be listed as firm only once payment is received. 
Booking Conditions:  There are 19 places only.  A wait-list will be made,  if needed.  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice,  unless the place is filled.  If space allows,  bookings after that time will still be accepted – right up to,  say,  4pm on the day of the tasting.  If the tasting fills,  please use the wait-list,  since all-too-often there is a last-minute place.  
Three things to note about GK Library Tastings: 
#  The tastings are presented blind,  so that assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.   Rankings are requested by simple vote at the blind stage,  and later comments are invited,  if forthcoming.  There is no requirement to say a word. 
#  Cork taint / TCA:  In sharing in this tasting,  tasters accept the risk of corked bottles.  That is just the same as if you had cellared the wine yourself.  It is not practicable to have back-up bottles for each of 12 wines.  If a wine is clearly corked at the decanting stage,   a reserve wine will be substituted.  Tasters receive 12 wines,  but maybe (luck of the draw) not a key / expensive one. 
#  The presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  The glasses will be XL5s,  or better.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml),  both to enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking

__________________________________________

The Tasting – 2005 Burgundy:
Burgundy is still the home of the finest pinot noirs on earth.  And most agree that the 2005s are the finest wines from that district in our lifetime.  The vintage was difficult to purchase in New Zealand.  Tim Atkin MW a few years ago wrote an article for the The Guardian titled:  Is 2005 the best ever year for Burgundy?,  and quoted Jasper Morris MW (author of the now 'standard text' Inside Burgundy:  as saying:  'This is the most uniformly successful vintage I have seen in my career.'  Tastings so far indicate the wines are backward to say the least,  but this is an opportunity to check a key vintage in Burgundy.

The 12 wines include one grand cru,  4 premiers crus,  and two New Zealand.  They provide a cross-section of workaday Burgundy winestyles,  rather than a luxury tasting.  The cost reflects that.  

Our wines will be: 
BURGUNDY: 
2005  Domaine Denis Bachelet Bourgogne Non-Filtré
2005  Domaine Denis Bachelet Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes,  Cote de Nuits   
2005  Domaine Chandon de Briailles Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru,  Cote de Beaune 
2005  Maison Drouhin Beaune-Greves Premier Cru,  Cote de Beaune
2005  Domaine Sylvie Esmonin Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jacques Premier Cru,  Cote de Nuits 
2005  Dom Jean Grivot Vosne-Romanee,  Cote de Nuits
2005  Domaine Gros Frere & Soeur Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits,  Cote de Nuits
2005  Domaine Maume Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru,  Cote de Nuits  
2005  Domaine de Montille Pommard Les Pezerolles Premier Cru,  Cote de Beaune 
2005  Nicolas Potel Santenay,  Cote de Beaune
NEW ZEALAND: 
2005  Felton Road Pinot Noir,  Bannockburn,  Central Otago
2005  Pisa Range Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block,  Pisa district,  Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago

About the presenter:  Geoff Kelly is a former DSIR scientist / ecologist.  He has studied wine since the mid-1960s,  setting his palate more via the wines of Europe and Australia than the then-embryonic local wine industry. He published the first comprehensive account of Pinot Noir in New Zealand in 1982,  and was founding wine-writer for NBR and then Cuisine magazines,  later that decade.  At that stage he contributed to viticulture and oenology research in both the Dept. of Agriculture / Te Kauwhata and Lincoln University,  Canterbury,  and continues as a visiting lecturer at the latter.  He has been a senior judge in the New Zealand wine industry for 35 years.  He is now a wine consultant concentrating on wine evaluation,  publishing at:  www.geoffkellywinereviews.co.nz 





LIBRARY TASTING TWO AT TRINITY HILL:  6 MATCHED VINTAGES OF TRINITY HILL SYRAH HOMAGE AND CRAGGY RANGE SYRAH LE SOL,  2002 – 2010

Time:  Thursday 8 Sept.,  2016,  6:30pm start 
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Trinity Hill Winery,  2396 State Highway 50 (500m north of Ngatarawa Road) 
Cost:  $95 per person 
Booking and Payment:  Since the presenter is in Wellington,  and the venue is in Hawkes Bay,  bookings will be accepted only by email,  and listed in strict time / date order of receipt.  Please book with Janine Bevege,  at Trinity Hill,  email:  janine@trinityhill.com ,  and include your (preferably mobile) phone number.  You will be advised details to pay GK by direct credit to his bank account.  There is no alternative method of payment.  Credit cards are not accepted.  The booking will be listed as firm only once payment is received. 
Booking Conditions:  There are 21 places only.  A wait-list will be made,  if needed.  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice,  unless the place is filled.  If space allows,  bookings after that time will still be accepted – right up to,  say,  4pm on the day of the tasting.  If the tasting fills,  please use the wait-list,  since all-too-often there is a last-minute place.  
Three things to note about GK Library Tastings: 
#  The tastings are presented blind,  so that assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.   Rankings are requested by simple vote at the blind stage,  and later comments are invited,  if forthcoming.  There is no requirement to say a word. 
#  Cork taint / TCA:  In sharing in this tasting,  tasters accept the risk of corked bottles.  That is just the same as if you had cellared the wine yourself.  It is not practicable to have back-up bottles for each of 12 wines.  If a wine is clearly corked at the decanting stage,   a reserve wine will be substituted.  Tasters receive 12 wines,  but maybe (luck of the draw) not a key / expensive one. 
#  The presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  The glasses will be XL5s.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml),  both to enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking


The Tasting
Syrah is quietly emerging as perhaps the most exciting red wine in New Zealand.  Our best examples combine the beauty and varietal excitement of the wines of Cote Rotie,  with just a suggestion of being from a slightly warmer climate – as for example found on the Hill of Hermitage,  just down the road.  It is going to be a long struggle to achieve recognition though,  because the Old World cannot see past the best of those lovely Northern Rhone examples,  despite the long-standing achievements of the (also at best) exquisite Te Mata Bullnose Syrah,  and the New World tends to be obsessed with size and power,  and thus rewards the wines of Washington on the one hand,  and South Australia on the other.

So in this gap in received wine wisdom,  two New Zealand wineries (in particular) have set out to not only create fine Northern-Rhone styled syrahs,  but also to create New Zealand icon wines.  For both Craggy Range,  and Trinity Hill,  their top syrahs,  Le Sol and Homage respectively,  are their highest-priced wines (though Craggy aim to have their top pinot noir matching it very soon).  For Trinity,  Homage is proudly their top wine.  This tasting will take 6 vintages in the decade 2000 – 2010 where both wineries made this top wine,  and present them blind.  Neither winery makes this top syrah every year,  but Craggy Range have made more than Trinity.  It is not practical to have a back-up set of wines,  so in the case of a corked wine,  the Reserve wine will be Craggy Range's maiden wine (in this context),  the 2001 Le Sol.  

I am not aware of this matched-vintage evaluation of these two becoming-famous wines being offered publicly before.  This tasting therefore presents a rare opportunity to share in the first steps of an emerging classic New Zealand wine story.  The wines will be presented blind,  from youngest to oldest.

Our wines will be: 
2010  Craggy Range Syrah Le Sol,  Gimblett Gravels
2009  Craggy Range Syrah Le Sol,  Gimblett Gravels
2007  Craggy Range Syrah Le Sol,  Gimblett Gravels
2006  Craggy Range Syrah Le Sol,  Gimblett Gravels
2004  Craggy Range Syrah Le Sol,  Gimblett Gravels
2002  Craggy Range Syrah Le Sol,  Gimblett Gravels
2010  Trinity Hill Syrah Homage,  Gimblett Gravels
2009  Trinity Hill Syrah Homage,  Gimblett Gravels
2007  Trinity Hill Syrah Homage,  Gimblett Gravels
2006  Trinity Hill Syrah Homage,  Gimblett Gravels
2004  Trinity Hill Syrah Homage,  Gimblett Gravels
2002  Trinity Hill Syrah Homage,  Gimblett Gravels

Reserve wine:
2001  Craggy Range Syrah Le Sol,  Gimblett Gravels

About the presenter:  Geoff has been studying wine for 50 years,  and has been a senior industry judge for 35 years,  so brings a distinctive voice to his presentations.  His study of syrah started with a case of 1969 Jaboulet Hermitage la Chapelle.  It is to Gerard Jaboulet that Trinity's Syrah Homage is dedicated.





LIBRARY TASTING ONE AT TRINITY HILL:  2002 HAWKES BAY VINTAGE REVIEW,  WITH FAMOUS BORDEAUX AND SOUTH AUSTRALIAN YARDSTICKS …

Time:  Tuesday 6 Sept., 2016,  6:30pm start 
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Trinity Hill Winery,  2396 State Highway 50 (500m north of Ngatarawa Road) 
Cost:  $90 per person 
Booking and Payment:  Since the presenter is in Wellington,  and the venue is in Hawkes Bay,  bookings will be accepted only by email,  and listed in strict time / date order of receipt.  Please book with Janine Bevege,  at Trinity Hill,  email:  janine@trinityhill.com ,  and include your (preferably mobile) phone number.  You will be advised details to pay GK by direct credit to his bank account.  There is no alternative method of payment.  Credit cards are not accepted.  The booking will be listed as firm only once payment is received. 
Booking Conditions:  There are 21 places only.  A wait-list will be made,  if needed.  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice,  unless the place is filled.  If space allows,  bookings after that time will still be accepted – right up to,  say,  4pm on the day of the tasting.  If the tasting fills,  please use the wait-list,  since all-too-often there is a last-minute place.  
Three things to note about GK Library Tastings: 
#  The tastings are presented blind,  so that assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.   Rankings are requested by simple vote at the blind stage,  and later comments are invited,  if forthcoming.  There is no requirement to say a word. 
#  Cork taint / TCA:  In sharing in this tasting,  tasters accept the risk of corked bottles.  That is just the same as if you had cellared the wine yourself.  It is not practicable to have back-up bottles for each of 12 wines.  If a wine is clearly corked at the decanting stage,   a reserve wine will be substituted.  Tasters receive 12 wines,  but maybe (luck of the draw) not a key / expensive one. 
#  The presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  The glasses will be XL5s.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml),  both to enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking


The Tasting
The 2002 vintage was successful in Hawkes Bay,  being seen as a successor to 1998,  with some bigger and riper wines.  It was good though warmer in South Australia,  and satisfactory in most winemaking districts elsewhere in the wine world.  For the cabernet / merlot and related wines,  we will use 2002 Ch Cos d-Estournel as a style reference,  though it will not be weighty,  with other Hawkes Bay wines and a highly-regarded South Australian wine.  Additionally,  since the year allowed malbec to ripen fully in Hawkes Bay,  there will be an Argentinian malbec (2003,  unfortunately) of repute to calibrate the Hawkes Bay example.  

In the syrah / shiraz group,  the range of styles presented will be stimulating.  We will span the range from lighter and hopefully more elegant New Zealand reds,  through medium-sized examples to two famous South Australian wines,  one Clarendon Astralis having quite a reputation,  and being very much a wine in contention.  This doesn’t affect its price to buy in Australia,  which averages $A450.   The cabernet-oriented wines and the syrah-oriented wines will not be separated into two flights.  Instead we will have the fun of seeing if we can assess which class each wine falls into.  

Our wines will be: 
ARGENTINA: 
2003  Trapiche Malbec Vina José Blanco Individual Vineyard,  Mendoza
AUSTRALIA
2002  Clarendon Hills Syrah Astralis,  McLaren Vale 
2002  Penfolds Cabernet / Shiraz Bin 389,  South Australia
2002  Penfolds Shiraz RWT,  Barossa Valley
FRANCE – BORDEAUX
2002  Ch Cos d'Estournel,  Saint-Estephe 2nd Growth,  CS dominant
NEW ZEALAND
2002  Craggy Range Syrah Block 14,  Gimblett Gravels
2002  Dry River Syrah,  Martinborough
2002  Esk Valley Syrah Reserve,  Gimblett Gravels
2002  Newton-Forrest CS / Me / Ma Cornerstone,  Gimblett Gravels
2002  Sacred Hill Brokenstone,  Gimblett Gravels,  Me dominant
2002  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose,  Bridge Pa Triangle
2002  Villa Maria Malbec Omahu Single Vineyard,  Gimblett Gravels

Reserve Wines:
2002  Vidal Syrah Soler,  Gimblett Gravels
2002  Villa Maria CS / Me Reserve,  Gimblett Gravels

About the presenter:  Geoff has been studying wine for 50 years,  and has been a senior industry judge for 35 years,  so brings a distinctive voice to his presentations.





COMPARISON FIVE MATCHED PAIRS 1978 / 1979 NOTABLE MEDOC CLASSED GROWTHS,  PLUS TWO FIRST GROWTHS

Time:  6 pm,  Wednesday 31 August
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines and Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $160 per person 
Bookings:  On-line via https://regionalwines.co.nz/events?event_id=92 primarily.  Or phone Tastings @ 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz,  particularly for the wait-list.
Booking Conditions:  There are 21 places only.  A wait-list will be made,  if needed.  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice,  unless the place is filled.  If space allows,  bookings after that time will still be accepted – right up to,  say,  4pm on the day of the tasting.  If the tasting fills,  please use the wait-list,  since all-too-often there is a last-minute place.  
Three things to note about GK Library Tastings: 
#  The tastings are presented blind,  so that assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.   Rankings are requested by simple vote at the blind stage,  and later comments are invited,  if forthcoming.  There is no requirement to say a word. 
#  Cork taint / TCA:  In sharing in this tasting,  tasters accept the risk of corked bottles.  That is just the same as if you had cellared the wine yourself.  It is not practicable to have back-up bottles for each of 12 wines.  If a wine is clearly corked at the decanting stage,   a reserve wine will be substituted.  Tasters receive 12 wines,  but maybe (luck of the draw) not a key / expensive one. 
#  The presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml),  both to enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking


The Tasting
Once upon a time,  in the days before wines came to be rated on their size and weight,  tasters were greatly intrigued by the two vintages 1978 and 1979 in Bordeaux.   The 1960s and 1970s after the benchmark 1961 vintage had been variable,  shall we say,  with commentators desperately (it seems now) trying to find virtues in any half-decent year.  And the better years were so widely spaced,  for example 1970,  then modest indeed till the tannic 1975s and hot-year 1976s.  So the pleasantly ripe and ‘typical’ pair of back-to-back vintages in 1978 and 1979 attracted quite a lot of interest.  Nowadays they are seen as being a bit on the small side,  but the best showing charm.

This tasting will provide the rare even then,  and much rarer now,  opportunity to compare five of the best-known classed growths of the Medoc,  in matched pairs,  1978 vs 1979.  This should give a great feel for the similarities and differences between the two years.  To make up the 12,  as a treat,  we will have two first growths,  1979 Ch Margaux and 1978 Ch Latour.  This makes the tasting more expensive (but,  I assure you,  valued well below wine-searcher),  yet provides an opportunity to check two of our wines which even then were aspiring to be super-seconds (or near-first-growths),  namely Ch Palmer and Ch Leoville Las Cases,  and see how they measure up against the real thing.  

Our wines will be: 
1978  Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste,  5th Growth Pauillac,  then CS 70%,  Me 25,  CF 5,  now CS 75%,  Me 20,  CF 5
1979  Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste,  5th Growth Pauillac,  then CS 70%,  Me 25,  CF 5,  now CS 75%,  Me 20,  CF 5
1978 Ch Latour,  1st growth Pauillac,  then CS 80%,  Me 10,  CF 10,  now CS 74%,  Me 24,  CF 2,  trace PV
1978 Ch Leoville Las Cases,  2nd Growth Saint-Julien,  then CS 67%,  Me 17,  CF 13,  PV 3,  now CS 66,  Me 24,  CF 9,  PV 1
1979 Ch Leoville Las Cases,  2nd Growth Saint-Julien,  then CS 6%7,  Me 17,  CF 13,  PV 3,  now CS 66,  Me 24,  CF 9,  PV 1
1979 Ch Margaux,  1st growth Margaux,  then CS 75%,  Me 20,  CF 5,  now CS 75%,  Me 20,  PV 3,  CF 2
1978 Ch Montrose,  2nd Growth Saint-Estephe,  then CS 65%,  Me 25,  CF 10,  now CS 60,  Me 32,  CF 6,  PV 2
1979 Ch Montrose,  2nd Growth Saint-Estephe,  then CS 65%,  Me 25,  CF 10,  now CS 60,  Me 32,  CF 6,  PV 2
1978 Ch Palmer,  3rd Growth Margaux,  then CS 55%,  Me 40,  CF 5,  now Me 47,  CS 47,  PV 6
1979 Ch Palmer,  3rd Growth Margaux,  then CS 55%,  Me 40,  CF 5,  now Me 47,  CS 47,  PV 6
1978 Ch Pichon Lalande, 2nd Growth of Pauillac,  then CS 50%,  Me 35,  PV 8,  CF 7,  now CS 61%,  Me 32,  CF 4,  PV 3
1979 Ch Pichon Lalande,  2nd Growth of Pauillac,  then CS 50%,  Me 35,  PV 8,  CF 7,  now CS 61%,  Me 32,  CF 4,  PV 3

Reserve wines:
1978  Ch Leoville Barton,  2nd Growth of Saint-Julien,  then CS 70%,  Me 20,  CF 8,  PV 2,  now CS 72%,  Me 20,  CF 8
1978  Clos Rene,  Pomerol,  then Me 60%,  CF 30,  Ma 10,  now Me 70%,  CF 20,  Ma 10    

About the presenter:  Geoff has been studying wine for 50 years,  and has been a senior industry judge for 35 years,  so brings a distinctive voice to his presentations.





THE GLORIOUS WINES OF THE SOUTHERN RHONE VALLEY,  1998

Geoff Kelly's Library Tastings have become well-known in other parts of the country over the last 20 years.  Geoff has been studying wine for 50 years,  and has been a senior industry judge for 35 years,  so brings a distinctive voice to his presentations.  Villa Maria headquarters at Mangere,  Auckland,  will be hosting two of these Library Tastings,  in August.  The second will sample the fine ripe 1998 vintage in the Southern Rhone Valley.  There will be twelve wines,  presented blind,  spanning the range from Cotes du Rhone to Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  The highly-regarded American wine critic Robert Parker is famous for having more Chateauneuf-du-Pape in his cellar,  than any other winestyle.  This is an opportunity to find out why.  The tasting will include two of the most famous long-established Chateauneufs of the district,  Beaucastel and Vieux Telegraphe,  and the newly-famous top wine of Domaine Mordorée.  Other well-known names will be included,  and yes,  there will be a little brett - the district's hallmark.    The wine-list is:

1998 Tardieu-Laurent Cotes-du-Rhone Guy Louis
1998 Domaine d’Andezon Cotes-du-Rhone-Villages
1998 Ch des Tours Vacqueyras Reserve
1998 Domaine de la Bouissiere Gigondas
1998 Ch de Saint Cosme Gigondas
1998 Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas Prestige des Hautes Garrigues
1998 Ch de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape
1998 Brunel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Cailloux
1998 Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf-du-Pape
1998 Domaine de La Mordoree Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Reine des Bois
1998 Domaine de Nalys Chateauneuf-du-Pape
1998 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Crau


RESERVE
1998 Ch Pesquie Cotes du Ventoux Cuvée des Terrasses Reservée
1998 Domaine de La Charbonniere Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Vielles Vignes
1998 Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf-du-Pape
1998 Ch La Nerthe Chateauneuf-du-Pape

When:  6.30 pm,  Thursday 18 August,  2016
Where:   The Board Room,  Villa Maria winery,  118 Montgomerie Rd,  Mangere
Seat price:  $75.  Please see Booking Conditions.
Booking and Payment:  Since the presenter is in Wellington,  and the venue is in Auckland,  bookings will be accepted only by email,  and listed in strict time / date order of receipt.  In the first instance please book with Mark Polglase (markp@villamaria.co.nz) or Bonnie McKenzie (bonniem@villamaria.co.nz),  BY EMAIL,  and include your (preferably mobile) phone number.  You will be advised details to pay GK by direct credit to his bank account.  There is no alternative method of payment.  Credit cards are not accepted.  The booking will be listed as firm only once payment is received.
Booking Conditions:  There are 21 places only.  A wait-list will be made,  if needed.  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice,  unless the place is filled.  If space allows,  bookings after that time will still be accepted.  If the tasting fills,  please use the wait-list,  since all-too-often there is a last-minute place
.  

Three things to note about GK Library Tastings:
#  The tastings are presented blind,  so that assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.   Rankings are requested by simple vote at the blind stage,  and later comments are invited,  if forthcoming.  There is no requirement to say a word.

#  Cork taint / TCA:  In sharing in this tasting,  tasters accept the risk of corked bottles.  That is just the same as if you had cellared the wine yourself.  It is not practicable to have back-up bottles for each of 12 wines.  If a wine is clearly corked at the decanting stage,   a reserve wine will be substituted.  Tasters receive 12 wines,  but maybe (luck of the draw) not a key / expensive one.

#  The presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml),  both to enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.





1986 BORDEAUX AND RELATED 1986 AND 1987 CABERNET / MERLOTS

Geoff Kelly's Library Tastings have become well-known in other parts of the country over the last 20 years.  Geoff has been studying wine for 50 years,  and has been a senior industry judge for 35 years,  so brings a distinctive voice to his presentations.  Villa Maria headquarters at Mangere,  Auckland,  will be hosting two of these Library Tastings,  in August.  The first will sample the highly-regarded 1986 vintage in Bordeaux,  and seek comparisons with some new world cabernet / merlots.  At 30 years of age,  the tannin this vintage was famous for should be softening.  There will be twelve wines,  presented blind,  including First-Growths Chx Margaux and Mouton-Rothschild,  and some other classed growths.  The new world wines will include the lovely 1987 Stonyridge Larose,  one of the most remarkable New Zealand cabernet / merlots of the era,  Antipodean from Matakana,  an Australian,  and a Californian cabernet.  The wine-list is:

AUSTRALIA
1986  Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon,  Margaret River,  WA
CALIFORNIA
1986 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve,  Alexander Valley
NEW ZEALAND
1987 The Antipodean,  Matakana
1987  Goldwater Cabernet / Merlot / Franc,  Waiheke Island
1987  Stonyridge Larose,  Waiheke Island  
1987  Villa Maria Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot Reserve,  Mangere & Hawkes Bay
FRANCE – BORDEAUX
1986  Ch l’Arrosée,  Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé
1986  Ch  Grand-Puy-Lacoste,  5eme Cru Classé Pauillac
1986  Ch Gruaud-Larose,  2eme Cru Classé Saint-Julien
1986  Ch La Lagune,  3eme Cru Classé,  Haut-Medoc,  Ludon /Margaux
1986  Ch Margaux,  1er Cru Classé Margaux
1986  Mouton Rothschild,  1er Cru Classé Pauillac

RESERVE
1986 Oakridge Cabernet Sauvignon,  Yarra Valley
1986  Te Mata Cabernet / Merlot Coleraine,  Hawkes Bay
1986  Ch Lagrange,  Saint-Julien
1986  Ch Talbot,  Saint-Julien  

When:  6.30 pm,  Tuesday 16 August,  2016
Where:   The Board Room,  Villa Maria winery,  118 Montgomerie Rd,  Mangere
Seat price:  $125.  Please see Booking Conditions.
Booking and Payment:  Since the presenter is in Wellington,  and the venue is in Auckland,  bookings will be accepted only by email,  and listed in strict time / date order of receipt.  In the first instance please book with Mark Polglase (markp@villamaria.co.nz) or Bonnie McKenzie (bonniem@villamaria.co.nz),  BY EMAIL,  and include your (preferably mobile) phone number.  You will be advised details to pay GK by direct credit to his bank account.  There is no alternative method of payment.  Credit cards are not accepted.  The booking will be listed as firm only once payment is received.
Booking Conditions:  There are 21 places only.  A wait-list will be made,  if needed.  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice,  unless the place is filled.  If space allows,  bookings after that time will still be accepted.  If the tasting fills,  please use the wait-list,  since all-too-often there is a last-minute place
.  

Three things to note about GK Library Tastings:
#  The tastings are presented blind,  so that assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.   Rankings are requested by simple vote at the blind stage,  and later comments are invited,  if forthcoming.  There is no requirement to say a word.

#  Cork taint / TCA:  In sharing in this tasting,  tasters accept the risk of corked bottles.  That is just the same as if you had cellared the wine yourself.  It is not practicable to have back-up bottles for each of 12 wines.  If a wine is clearly corked at the decanting stage,   a reserve wine will be substituted.  Tasters receive 12 wines,  but maybe (luck of the draw) not a key / expensive one.

#  The presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml),  both to enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.






2009 & 2010 New Zealand Pinot Noir,  including … are Trophy Wines worth the cost ?
Time:  Thursday 30 June,  2016,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $65 per person
Bookings:  On-line via https://regionalwines.co.nz/events?event_id=58 primarily.  Or phone Tastings @ 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz.
Limit:  21-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted.  NB:  If this tasting fills on the electronic booking list,  please ring the Regional Wines Office 385 6952,  and ask to be wait-listed,  since there is all-too-often a last-minute place.
.  

___________________________________  

Six years (or seven) is a sweet spot in cellaring for reputable New Zealand pinot noir.  The 2009 and 2010 vintages are pretty good in most of our pinot districts.  We will have at least one wine from each major pinot zone,  except Waipara.  Instead there will be the chance to see how a Waitaki Valley wine (nearly Canterbury) stacks up,  in a strictly blind format.

But the other aspect I am looking forward to is the quizzical one:  are these ~ $180 New Zealand pinots worth the money,  or do they simply appeal to people easily seduced by the quality of the oak,  rather than the absolute quality of the wine ?

We will have one sound $100 burgundy in the mix,  to see to what extent New Zealand examples of pinot noir capture the essence of pinot noir the grape.  I am deliberately using a straightforward and available French wine of good repute (Jancis Robinson,  17),  and around the $100 mark,  to benchmark the complete batch of wines,  rather than just the premium-priced ones.  

This should be a fun tasting,  but of considerable interest too.

Our wines will be:
2010  Carrick Pinot Noir Excelsior,  Bannockburn  (screwcap) 
2010  Drouhin Clos des Mouches Premier Cru,  Beaune  (natural cork)
2009  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe,  Te Muna Road,  Martinborough  (supercritical cork) 
2009  Felton Road Pinot Noir,  Bannockburn  (screwcap)
2010  Greywacke Pinot Noir,  Southern Valleys,  Wairau Valley  (screwcap)
2010  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Marie Zelie Reserve,  Martinborough Terrace  (screwcap) 
2010  Misha's Vineyard Pinot Noir Verismo,  Bendigo district,  Central Otago  (screwcap)
2009  Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir Target Gully,  Bannockburn,  Central Otago  (screwcap)
2009  Neudorf Pinot Noir Home Block Vineyard,  Moutere Hills,  Nelson  (screwcap)
2010  Ostler Pinot Noir Caroline's,  Waitaki Valley,  Otago  (screwcap)
2009  Peregrine Pinot Noir Pinnacle,  75% Bendigo and 25% Pisa,  Central Otago  (screwcap)
2009  Pisa Range Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block,  Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago  (screwcap)

In Reserve: 
2009  Akarua Pinot Noir Reserve,  Bannockburn,  Central Otago  (screwcap)

#  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind,  so our assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.





Does Vintage Champagne Age – A Definitive Tasting 1966 – 1996  … 

Time:  Wednesday 4 May,  2016,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $145 per person
Bookings:   On-line via https://regionalwines.co.nz/events?event_id=32.  Or phone Tastings @ 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  richard@regionalwines.co.nz
Place Limit:  21-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:   There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted.  NB:  If this tasting fills on the electronic booking list,  please ring the Regional Wines Office 385 6952,  and ask to be wait-listed,  since there is all-too-often a last-minute place.


________________________________________________________


Michael Broadbent,  2002:  I cannot think of any other wine which automatically, unconsciously, conjures up such a variety of (mainly) happy associations. It is, par excellence, the wine of celebration; it has an almost unassailable position in the hierarchy of wine.

Our wines will be:
1982  Champagne Ayala Brut,  Ay
1966  Champagne Bollinger Vintage Brut,  Ay
1976  Champagne Bollinger RD Extra Brut,  Ay
1982  Champagne Bollinger Grande Année Brut,  Ay
 nv    Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut,  Ay
1990  Champagne Bollinger Grande Année Brut,  Ay
1980  Champagne Lechere Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru,  Avize
 nv    Champagne Lechere Premier Cru Brut Venice Simplon Orient Express,  Avize
1975  Champagne Pol Roger Chardonnay Cuvée de Reserve,  Epernay
1996  Champagne Pol Roger Chardonnay Extra Cuvée de Reserve Brut,  Epernay
1996  Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill Brut,  Epernay
1975  Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs,  Reims

In Reserve:
1996  Champagne Deutz Blanc de Blancs Brut,  Ay
1986  Champagne Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial,  Epernay

Why would I say a ‘Definitive’ tasting ?  Presumptuous surely.  It simply is,  that for any person whose appreciation of wine is not set by snob values or advertising / PR criteria,  any tasting including Pol Roger’s Cuvée Winston Churchill tells us all that needs to be known about the beauty of the champagne style.  And the more so,  if the example is from a great year,  as ours is.  Cork permitting,  this wine should be sensational.

But we could also hope that any tasting that includes a wine which wine-searcher values at $NZ1408 (at the moment of writing) is also worth tasting.  Even if it is 1976 Bollinger RD (Recently Disgorged) in fact disgorged in 1987.  Frankly … the valuation seems nuts.  And then there is Bollinger vintage.  This wonderful bolder style of champagne is now so rare in NZ,  it currently is not available anywhere in the country.  The tasting includes THREE vintages from 1966 to 1990,  all well-rated vintages.  Who has tasted a 50-year old champagne ?  And there is the nv Bollinger bought at the same time as the 1982,  to answer the question:  how well do non-vintage champagnes keep ?

The tasting also includes two examples of the beautiful 1996 vintage,  the second best vintage of the last 40 years,  according to Wine Spectator,  whose vintage charts are arguably the most thoughtful around.  The exquisite 1996 Pol Roger Chardonnay (Blanc de Blancs) will be set against the 1975 of the same label,  to further illuminate the question:  how does champagne age.  And we have Bollinger Vintage from 1990,  the best vintage of them all,  according to that source.

So study the list,  and ask how such a tasting could be assembled today (in New Zealand).  Then ask,  how on earth does one value the tasting,  and the tasting fee ?  A single bottle of vintage Bollinger is approx. $NZ210 today.  A single bottle of Taittinger Comtes or Bollinger RD is over $400 today,  for the current vintage.  The total wine-searcher valuation for the set is $5780.

This is a unique opportunity to compare some of the great labels of (the less pretentious side of) the Champagne world,  and see how they age.  Provided the 1966 has a sound cork,  and just trace pressure,  it should at the least be a lovely old (loosely speaking) grand cru Chablis style.  And Lechere was famous in his day.  The Ayala should serve as a foil to some of the better-known labels.

Please note that in sharing in this tasting,  tasters accept the risk of corked bottles.  That is just the same as if you had cellared the wine yourself.  There are no back-up bottles.  If a wine is profoundly corked (for it can happen even with compound champagne corks) one of the reserve wines above will be substituted.  So 12 wines,  but maybe not a key one.

#  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml),  both to enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.   On this occasion,  it is too hard to present the wines blind,  when coupled with the complications old champagne corks may provide,  and the impracticability of decanting bubbly.

In the following notes,  the dollar values given are today's,  per 750ml bottle,  from wine-searcher.  Only vintage wines are listed there.  

The wines will be presented in the following sequence:

(1)     1980  Champagne Lechere Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru,  Avize,  Champagne:  – %;  $ –  
Broadbent rating for vintage:  *,  cold season,  the wines lacked body and were too acid;  Wine Spectator:  not rated.  No info available,  Ch 100%,  MLF assumed,  no oak;  this was an attractive wine in its day,  proving the old adage,  there are always exceptions to vintage generalisations.  Broadbent,  the ultimate arbiter on old champagne,  in effect rates this wine as the best of the vintage:  pale, dry, light, crisp, and refined,  ****.  J. B. Lechere came from an old Champagne family.  He was formerly Marketing Director for Moet & Chandon.  In 1978 he set up his own label,  buying only premier and grand cru fruit,  and had his wines made under his strict control by the famous co-operative Union Champagne,  in Avize.
(2)     1982  Champagne Ayala Brut,  Ay,  Champagne:  12%;  $160    
Broadbent rating for vintage:  *****,  a highly successful vintage … well nigh ideal, biggest crop on record, and of uniformly high quality;  Wine Spectator rating for vintage:  94,  Drink, rich, complex, with abundant flavor.  Now that Ayala is owned by Bollinger,  there is not much info easily accessible on the previous wines,  other than they did not enjoy a prestige reputation.  PN 75%,  Ch 25,  MLF,  no oak,  dosage tending commercial;  Ayala however was one of the first to introduce zero-dosage champagnes;  Wine Spectator,  1988:  Full and nicely mature in style. Shows mature appley, slightly butterscotchy flavors and a smooth, mouth-filling texture. Very well made,  86.
(3)     1982  Champagne Bollinger Grande Année Brut,  Ay,  Champagne:  12%;  $785    
Broadbent rating for vintage:  *****,  a highly successful vintage … well nigh ideal,  biggest crop on record, and of uniformly high quality;  Wine Spectator rating for vintage:  94,  Drink, rich, complex, with abundant flavor.  PN 60 - 70%,  balance Ch,  full MLF,  barrel fermentation and maturation of base wines,  c.6 – 7 years en tirage,  c.8 g/L dosage;  Robinson,  2013:  Dark brownish gold. Tiny, slightly sluggish bead. Lightly mushroomy nose that is so characteristic of Bollinger. Deep umami savoury flavours. Still tight and youthful. High acidity which came to the fore in the glass but a great glass of wine with real potential still,  18;  Wine Spectator,  1988:  Rich, toasty and very assertive, high in extract and intensity with a heavy toasty flavor that compliments the pear and cherry flavors. Smoky flavors carry the finish. It's a rich style that may be too powerful for some. Drink now,  93  (NB:  Wine Spectator Top 100,  1988).
(4)      nv    Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut,  Ay ,  Champagne:  12%;  $ –    
Bought at the same time as the 1982 vintage,  to check the question:  how does nv champagne age ?  Approximately PN 60,  CH 25,  PM 15;  full MLF,  c.10% reserve wines including barrel-fermented,  c. 3 years en tirage,  c.8 g/L dosage.
(5)      nv    Champagne Lechere Premier Cru Brut Venice Simplon Orient Express,  Avize ,  Champagne:  12.5%;  $ –    
Bought at the same time as the 1980,  above.  This wine was famous at that time,  since in 1982,  Champagne Lechere won a competition amongst 49 major wineries to be the 'House Champagne' on the legendary luxury train,  Orient Express.  It is Lechere's Tete de Cuvée,  a Blanc de Blancs,  60% grands crus Oger and le-Mesnil-Sur-Oger,  10% grand cru from Avize,  30% premiers crus from the Vertus district.  No making details known,  but MLF assumed,  and the complexity of the wine suggested trace oak.  The Lechere label appears to have lapsed.
(6)     1996  Champagne Pol Roger Chardonnay Extra Cuvée de Reserve Brut,  Epernay,  Champagne:  12%;  $251    
Broadbent rating for vintage:  (***** tentatively,  not tasted at point of publication);  Wine Spectator rating for vintage:  96  [ second only to 1990 ],  Drink or hold.  Ripe and intense; firmly structured and potentially long-lived.  Now labelled Blanc de Blancs,  Ch 100%,  MLF,  no oak,  8 – 9 years en tirage,  dosage c.9 g/L;  in my view,  this vintage is benchmark champagne;  Robinson,  2006:  Extremely lively mousse. Wonderful meat and two veg nose – broad and yet dense. A certain creaminess reminiscent of cream soda. Lots of interest here with something reminds me a bit of Dom Pérignon character. Very tight knit underneath too but there is sufficient bouquet already to keep one entranced,  18.5;  Wine Spectator,  2004:  Subtle, with elegance and verve, this firm, lean bubbly has graphite, ginger and candied fruit embedded into its marblelike structure. It appears glacial in its advance, so be patient. Best from 2006 through 2015,  92.
(7)     1990  Champagne Bollinger Grande Année Brut,  Ay,  Champagne:  12%;  $435
Broadbent rating for vintage:  *****,  an exceptional year,  the third largest on record;  Wine Spectator rating for vintage:  97 [ the best in the last 40 years ],  Drink or hold, big, powerful and full-flavored.  PN 65%,  Ch 35,  BF and MLF,  matured in all-old oak,  seven years en tirage,  dosage c.8 g/L;  Broadbent,  2002:  … highest mark of 25 top champagnes … in Copenhagen,  a well-nigh perfect wine with another 10 years to go.  *****;  Robinson,  2010:  Pale copper. Rich and mushroomy on the nose. Broad and firm. Quite a bit of evolution but it's much less evolved than Dom P or Krug 1990. This could be the perfect moment to drink this. Wonderful persistence,  19;  Wine Spectator,  1999:  A sense of opulence marks this highly concentrated, creamy-textured 1990 Champagne, with its ripe, generous fruit flavors complementing the toasty, honeyed nuances acquired from aging on the lees. Lingering finish. Drink now through 2004. 20,000 cases made,  95;  (NB:  Wine Spectator Top 100,  1999).
(8)     1976  Champagne Bollinger RD Extra Brut,  Ay,  Champagne:  12%;  $1408
NB:  this bottle disgorged 10 March 1987.  Broadbent rating for vintage:  ****,  … a great favourite of mine, full of flavour and a sheer delight;  Wine Spectator rating for vintage:  88,  Drink, a ripe, opulent year.  PN 70%,  Ch 30,  BF and MLF,  matured in all-old oak,  10 years en tirage,  dosage c.4 g/L;  Alun Griffiths, MW:  RD is only the Grande Annee with more lees ageing;  Robinson (2010) has only reported on late-disgorged (2010) bottles,  so they may bear little relation to ours:  Pale bronze. Extremely rich and candified on the nose. Soft and round. Relatively low acid. Toasty, this just washes over you. Really hedonistic. In view of the relatively low acidity, it's amazing how well this has lasted,  19.  
(9)     1975  Champagne Pol Roger Chardonnay Cuvée de Reserve,  Epernay,  Champagne:  – %;  $498
Broadbent rating for vintage:  ***,  a popular and stylish vintage … acidic, not that this is a grave disadvantage … with champagne;  Wine Spectator rating for vintage:  92,  Drink, bold but balanced wines;  now labelled Blanc de Blancs,  Ch 100%,  MLF,  no oak,  8 – 9 years en tirage.  dosage c.9 g/L;  no reviews found.
(10)     1975  Champagne Taittinger Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne,  Reims,  Champagne:  – %;  $694
Broadbent rating for vintage:  ***,  a popular and stylish vintage … acidic, not that this is a grave disadvantage … with champagne;  Wine Spectator rating for vintage:  92,  Drink, bold but balanced wines.  Ch 100%,  MLF,  5% of the base wine is aged for four months only in barrels,  one third new,  8 – 9 years en tirage;  dosage c.9 g/L;  Broadbent,  2002:  slightly minty, lanolin nose, very good flavour, perfect acidity,  *****;  no other reviews found.
(11)     1966  Champagne Bollinger Vintage Brut,  Ay,  Champagne:  – %;  $628
Original price $7.75;  Broadbent rating for vintage:  ****,  … a satisfactory harvest of firm, elegant wines;  Wine Spectator – before their range.  Detail so far back not clear,  but probably as now PN dominant and Ch.,  BF and MLF,  matured in all-old oak,  c. 7 years en tirage,  dosage may have been a little sweeter then than the c.8 g/L now;  Broadbent,  2002:  [ in 1997 ] ... very fine mousse, buttery, honeyed bouquet; medium-dryness and weight, lovely flavour, very good acidity ... [in 2001] a very good, rich 'old straw' nose; excellent flavour and acidity,  ****;  next bit not strictly relevant,  but interesting,  Robinson 2011,  on the 1966 RD disgorged in 2011 (NB):  A hint of mushrooms. Rich, even a little sweet now. An intellectual pleasure. Honeyed note on the end. Maybe the fruit is giving way to structure now but it is hugely impressive. Not that long but very beautiful. More than a hint of red burgundy about this wine,  18.5.  
(12)     1996  Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill Brut,  Epernay,  Champagne:  12%%;  $533
Broadbent rating for vintage:  (***** tentatively,  not tasted at point of publication);  Wine Spectator rating for vintage:  96 [ second only to 1990 ],  Drink or hold. Ripe and intense, firmly structured and potentially long-lived.  Cepage not revealed,  but Stevenson estimates PN 70 – 80%,  balance chardonnay,  all old-vine grand cru wines;  all MLF,  no oak use known but not impossible,  en tirage c.10 years,  in a previous tasting I thought the dosage around 8 g/L;  Robinson,  2006:  Still pale gold. Very deep and sumptuous on the nose. Smells like a cross between red and white Côte de Beaune. Lots of lemon cream sensation and very fine bead. Explosive. Still tight and there’s lots yet to come but certainly capable of giving great pleasure now. You almost feel it needs decanting there is so much there! Not especially long. More Pinot than in the past,  18.5 +;  Galloni  (in R. Parker),  2009:  The 1996 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill is an immensely rewarding, complete Champagne that is drinking well today but that also has the potential to continue to improve in bottle. Nothing in particular stands out here, but as is often the case with this cuvee, I am struck by the wine’s awesome balance and supreme harmony. Simply put, this is a strikingly beautiful wine from Pol Roger,  95.
 
In Reserve:
1996  Champagne Deutz Blanc de Blancs Brut,  Ay,  Champagne:  12%;  $312    
Broadbent rating for vintage:  (***** tentatively,  not tasted at point of publication);  Wine Spectator rating for vintage:  96 [ second only to 1990 ],  Drink or hold.  Ripe and intense; firmly structured and potentially long-lived.  Little winemaking detail available,  all MLF,  no oak,  9 – 10 g/L dosage;  Wine Spectator,  2003:  Shows yeast, honey and nut flavors, then the acidity sweeps in, leaving a firm, tactile sensation on the palate. Great density and superfine texture and class. A taut impression today; just needs time. Best from 2006 through 2020,  92.
1986  Champagne Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial,  Epernay,  Champagne:  12.5%;  $377    
Broadbent rating for vintage:  ***,  variable [ implication early-developing ];  Wine Spectator rating for vintage:  86,  Past peak, but very good quality, lean in style.  Approximately  PN 45%,  Ch 40,  PM 15;  full MLF;  c. 5 years en tirage;  no oak,  dosage probably c.8 g/L;  Broadbent,  2002:  agreeable weight and flavour, richness balancing noticeable acidity,  ***(*).

Broadbent,  Michael,  2002:  Michael Broadbent's Vintage Wine.  Harcourt,  560 p.
Stelzer,  Tyson,  2013:  The Champagne Guide 2014 – 2015.  Hardie Grant Books,  360 p.
Stevenson,  Tom,  199:  Christie's World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine,  335 p.
www.erobertparker.com = wine reviews,  various authors 
www.jancisrobinson.com  =  wine reviews,  Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW 
www.winespectator.com  = wine reviews,  various authors 
www.winespectator.com/vintagecharts/search  = Vintage Charts





Library Tasting:  1990 Ch Petrus and other 1990s – in memory of Ken Kirkpatrick …
Time:  Thursday 22 Oct,  2015,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $110 per person
Bookings:  On-line via www.regionalwines.co.nz/wine-content.aspx/wine-tastings primarily.  Or phone Tastings @ 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz.
Limit:  21-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted.  NB:  If this tasting fills on the electronic booking list,  please ring the Regional Wines Office 385 6952,  and ask to be wait-listed,  since there is all-too-often a last-minute place.


___________________________________  

Five years have passed since Wellington wine-man of note Ken Kirkpatrick died.  Ken was a highly accomplished and highly qualified PhD-level individual.  He was the kind of man who gave you his full attention,  and if you made a mistake,  not only did he notice,  but almost invariably he quickly made constructive suggestions about remedy.  In his career he made great innovations in the researching and marketing of New Zealand dairy products,  for the New Zealand Dairy Board.  He went on to a Professorship in this area at Massey University,  followed by time with The Foundation for Research,  Science and Technology.  His penetrating approach to issues then led to  appointment as a policy advisor in the Prime Minister's Department.  

At his funeral,  a colleague described how working with Ken often produced:  “the slightly disconcerting sense that somehow Ken’s enormously talented brain is taking your conversation somewhere unexpected.  I remember many a meeting briefly flummoxed by a lateral Ken connection – inevitably a relevant one,  even if the rest of us didn’t always appreciate that straight away.”.

On the wine front the great thing about Ken Kirkpatrick was that he was totally devoid of the snobbery and pretension that characterises so much wine talk,  and so many wine people.  He was a keen wine options player,  for example,  an approach which focusses on the wine rather than the label,  and is thus anathema to the snobbish.  His interest in wine was completely catholic,  and the assessing of quality of achievement his primary concern.  His cellar therefore ranged widely,  from benchmark wines from the old European classics to many wines from emerging producers in the new world.  The goal of this tasting is to offer a sampling of that approach,  from wines he entrusted to me.  

The wines are (bar one) all from the 1990 vintage,  one variously considered good to great round the world.  It was a time when the old world had still not quite woken up to the new technological understanding about wine in the new world,  and at the same time the new had not yet clearly achieved understanding of wine style and a sense of place,  though California was rapidly closing in on that approach.  

The lead-wine of the tasting is 1990 Ch Petrus.  It seems safe to say this wine has never before been offered in a ‘public’ tasting in New Zealand.  It is one of those wines now featuring on the lists of a certain class of journalist,  under titles along the lines:  100 wines to try before you die.  Current wine-searcher valuation is over $6,000 per bottle,  so after a glance at the other labels,  you will quickly see this tasting is a gift.  It is only fair to note that the 1990 vintage coincides more-or-less with the consolidation on the world wine-scene of American Robert Parker as a key influencer.  This is a Parker 100-point wine,  which  immediately doubles its wine-searcher value.  By the same token,  it may be a bigger and bolder wine than European palates prefer.  This is your opportunity to find out.  And relative to the tasting fee:  there IS a second bottle of the Ch Petrus,  so you are pretty-well assured of a good sample.

Our wines will be:    

Cabernet / Merlot etc –  Bordeaux:
1990  Ch Angelus,  Saint-Emilion
1990  Ch Petrus,  Pomerol  
1990  Ch Pichon Longueville Baron,  Pauillac
Cabernet / Merlot etc –  Elsewhere:
1990  Henschke Me / CS Abbott’s Prayer,  Lenswood (550m),  SA
1991  Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon Paul Sauer,  Stellenbosch
1990  Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon,  Napa Valley
1990  Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 407,  South Australia
1990  Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 707,  South Australia
1990  Stonyridge [ CS / Me ] Larose,  Waiheke Island
Syrah / Shiraz:
1990  Clape Cornas,  Northern Rhone Valley
1990  A Graillot Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude,   Northern Rhone Valley
1990  Hardy’s Shiraz Eileen Hardy,  South Australia

Reserve wines:  
1990  Ch Pichon-Lalande,  Pauillac
1990  Villa Maria Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve,   Hawkes Bay
1990  Jaboulet Gigondas Pierre Aiguille,  Southern Rhone Valley

#  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind,  so our assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.





Library Tasting in Central Otago:  Reflecting on Australasian Chardonnay – the 1986 vintage ...

Time:  Tuesday 15 Sept,  2015,  5.30 pm start
Place:  Lake Dunstan Boat Club building,  Cromwell,  at the end of Partridge Road,  via Shortcut Road,  c. 1 km north of town.
Cost:  $40 per person,  plus GST (since booking through COWA) = $46
Bookings:  to Natalie Wilson please,  preferably via email (to provide a sequence of interest):  info@cowa.org.nz,  or mobile:  021 104 2513;  COWA,  PO Box 271,  Cromwell; or Or Vikki Kircher,  021 056 7336.
Limit:  21-only places.  A waiting list will be made,  if needed.  Please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice,  unless the place is filled.  If space allows,  bookings after that time will still be accepted.  If the tasting fills,  please use the wait-list,  and leave a mobile number,  since all-too-often there is a last-minute place.

___________________________________  

Old Chardonnay:  Please don’t summarily ignore / write-off this tasting !  The chances are good that (corks willing) at least one of the wines will be remarkable,  if last year’s bottles,  opened alongside older Latour Corton-Charlemagne and Chevalier- Montrachet wines,  are any guide.  And please note two things:  the price for tasting all 12 bottles is the same as one current good bottle (current-vintage Tyrrell’s Vat 47 $AU60);  and:  I stood up all remaining bottles of each wine in front of a well-illuminated bright white card,  and this tasting uses the very best (palest) bottle.  

The mid-1980s were an interesting time in New Zealand winemaking,  as we made a start on catching up with Australia.  The best vinifera-based table wines really started to meet international standards for wine.  Though there were a couple of chardonnays in the 1970s, and McWilliams had an impressive 1980 and 1981,  the advent of more complex / modern examples of the grape started in the early ‘80s,  via Mission Vineyards,  and John Hancock followed by Larry McKenna at Delegats.  John Hancock moved to Morton Estate,  and his famous barrel-fermented Black Label Chardonnay first appeared in 1984.  In Marlborough,  Kevin Judd was at Cloudy Bay,  and Tony Jordan (Australia) was helping put Hunters on the map.  At Kumeu River,  Michael Brajkovich made New Zealand's first consciously-MLF-complexed chardonnay in 1985.  By 1986 Kym Milne at Villa Maria wanted part of this action,  and their first Reserve Chardonnays arrived in 1986.  

So this 1986 retrospective is truly a chance to taste a slice of New Zealand wine history.  One reason some of the wines have lasted so remarkably well is the absence of an MLF component.  This is particularly the case for the Australian ones.

Admittedly,  winemakers have the (not always deserved) reputation for liking only young wines,  and,  if you absolutely hate cashew nuts,  and think all chardonnays should be lemon in hue,  preferably with a green wash,  please don’t come,  in case you spoil it for the others.  But most people adore cashew nuts,  and I hope you will be able to both enjoy these wines,  and maybe,  be pleasantly surprised.

Background for the Tasting:    
2012:  New Zealand Chardonnay comes of age – some top wines and a little history:
 www.geoffkellywinereviews.co.nz/index.php?ArticleID=194

Our wines will selected from:
AUSTRALIA:
1986  Bannockburn Chardonnay,  Gary Farr,  Geelong,  Vic
1986  Mountadam Chardonnay,  High Eden,  SA
1986  Mount Mary Chardonnay,  Yarra Valley,  Vic
1986  Rosemount Chardonnay Reserve,  Hunter Valley,  NSW  
1986  Tyrrell’s Pinot Chardonnay Vat 47,  Hunter Valley,  NSW
NEW ZEALAND:
1986  Babich Chardonnay Irongate,  Hawkes Bay
1986  Cloudy Bay Chardonnay,  Marlborough
1986  Cooks Chardonnay Hawkes Bay Winemakers Reserve,  Hawkes Bay
1986  Dry River Chardonnay,  Martinborough
1986  Hunter’s Chardonnay,  Marlborough
1986  Kumeu River Chardonnay,  Kumeu
1998  Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay,  Martinborough,  Larry McKenna
1986  C J Pask Chardonnay,  Hawkes Bay
1986  Hunter’s Chardonnay,  Marlborough
1986  Te Mata Chardonnay Elston,  Hawkes Bay
1986  Vidal Chardonnay Reserve,  Hawkes Bay
1986  Villa Maria Chardonnay Gisborne Reserve,  Gisborne

About the Tastings:  Please see the 2005 burgundy tasting,  below.
About the presenter:  Please see the 2005 burgundy tasting,  below.
 




Library Tasting in Central Otago:  A First Taste of the Benchmark 2005 Burgundies ...
Time:  Thursday 17 Sept,  2015,  5.30 pm start
Place:  Lake Dunstan Boat Club building,  Cromwell,  at the end of Partridge Road,  via Shortcut Road,  c. 1 km north of town.
Cost:  $120 per person,  plus GST (since booking through COWA) = $138
Bookings:  to Natalie Wilson please,  preferably via email (to provide a sequence of interest):  info@cowa.org.nz,  or mobile:  021 104 2513;  COWA,  PO Box 271,  Cromwell
Limit:  21-only places.  A waiting list will be made,  if needed.  Please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice,  unless the place is filled.  If space allows,  bookings after that time will still be accepted.  If the tasting fills,  please use the wait-list,  and leave a mobile number,  since all-too-often there is a last-minute place.

___________________________________  

2005 Burgundy:  Burgundy is still the home of the finest pinot noirs on earth.  And most agree that the 2005s are the finest wines from that district in our lifetime.

Jasper Morris,  MW,  in the now 'standard text' Inside Burgundy:  For years I used to discuss the potential of a good new red burgundy vintage with Dominique Lafon,  and we would say 'yes, that's good, but not as good as 1978'.  However there was no such question over 2005 – clearly of greater potential than 1978 or anything else since – or indeed any vintage for many years before. Possibly 1959 ?  The reds will be magnificent over the long term.

Elsewhere Tim Atkin MW wrote an article for the The Guardian titled:  Is 2005 the best ever year for Burgundy?,  and quoted Morris as saying:  “This is the most uniformly successful vintage I have seen in my career.”  Across the water,  the Wine Advocate (R Parker) vintage chart rates the Cote de Nuits 98 and Tannic,  the Cote de Beaune 96 and Tannic.  No other vintage in the span covered (from 1970) compares.  Wine Spectator is similar.  

There seem few if any voices dissenting from these evaluations.  Jancis Robinson in an article on her website titled:    
Burgundy 2005 - background to the vintage
,  says:  The 2005 summer was quite exceptionally dry but the vines coped well ... Temperatures and sunshine hours on the other hand were generally lower than average ... so 2005 was no repeat of the heatwave vintage of 2003.  Thanks to the lack of water, the grapes may have been pea-sized with thick skins full of flavour, tannin and colour, but for most red wines anyway, yields were relatively respectable. Domaine Armand Rousseau managed an average of just over 40 hl/ha [ 5.2 t/ha = 2.1 t/ac ] which seems pretty general for Gevrey Chambertin. "It's quite exceptional to have this combination of ripeness, fullness and quantity," Eric Rousseau told me.

Fred Mugnier of Domaine J F Mugnier, sees a contradiction in the 2005s because they have both the freshness of a cool vintage and the richness and texture more reminiscent of an overripe vintage. "This makes the wines very interesting," he assured me, "because they have great current appeal but also real potential for ageing.”  If there is one dominant characteristic of these wines it is their thrilling combination of ripeness and acidity. In general all the wines are charming, truly succulent and they faithfully express their origins. Can one ask for more?


Our tasting will include 3 grands crus and 3 premiers crus,  5 wines from the Cote de Nuits,  4 from the Cote de Beaune,  and 3 from New Zealand,  for perspective.  One of the grands crus is the highly-regarded Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche,  one of the greatest vineyards in Burgundy.  The New Zealand allocation was 6 bottles.  The current wine-searcher valuation is $NZ839.  For this bottle (alone) there will be a back-up bottle.  Otherwise,  there will be reserve bottles.  Our wines will be along the lines:

BURGUNDY:
2005  Chandon de Briailles Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru,  Cote de Beaune
2005  Geantet-Pansiot Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits
2005  Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits
2005  Denis Bachelet Gevrey-Chambertin Les Corbeaux Vieilles Vignes Premier Cru,  Cote de Nuits  
2005  Drouhin Beaune-Greves Premier Cru,  Beaune,  Cote de Beaune
2005  Montille Pommard Les Pezerelles Premier Cru,  Pommard,  Cote de Beaune
2005  Sylvie Esmonin Cote de Nuits-Villages,  Cote de Nuits
2005  Gros Frere & Soeur Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits,  Cotes de Nuits
2005  N Potel Volnay Vieilles Vignes,  Volnay,  Cote de Beaune
NEW ZEALAND:
2005  Dry River Pinot Noir,  Martinborough
2005  Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir Reserve,  Gibbston Valley,  Central Otago
2005  Peregrine Pinot Noir,  multi-district,  Central Otago

About the Tastings:  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  I use smaller samples which both allows more wines to be reviewed,  and reduces the cost.  Please note therefore the pours are only 30ml,  which can easily be consumed before the wine is even tasted.  The logistics of bringing the wines from Wellington are such that I cannot have duplicate bottles for each wine.  For some,  there is not one.  So it will be just like a wine in your cellar:  in paying for the tasting,  participants accept the risk of corked bottles.  I will bring some reserve bottles,  so you will get 12 wines,  but the exact wines listed cannot be guaranteed.

About the presenter:  Geoff Kelly is a former DSIR scientist / ecologist.  He has studied wine since the mid-1960s,  setting his palate more via the wines of Europe and Australia than the then-embryonic local wine industry.  He published the first comprehensive account of Pinot Noir in New Zealand in 1982,  and was founding wine-writer for NBR and then Cuisine magazines,  later that decade.  At that stage he contributed to viticulture and oenology research in both the Dept. of Agriculture / Te Kauwhata and Lincoln University,  Canterbury,  and continues as a visiting lecturer at the latter.  He has judged at the Air New Zealand and Royal Easter Show national wine competitions,  becoming a senior judge in 1981,  and continues in this role with the Easter Show.  He is now a wine consultant concentrating on wine evaluation,  publishing at:  www.geoffkellywinereviews.co.nz






Library Tasting at Trinity Hill:  The remarkable 1998 vintage in Hawkes Bay,  two bordeaux to calibrate ...

Time:  Tuesday 1 Sept., 2015,  6:30pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Trinity Hill Winery,  2396 State Highway 50 (500m north of Ngatarawa Road)
Cost:  $65 per person
Bookings:  Bookings open August 1.  Bookings (and a waiting-list) will be handled by Janine Bevege,  at Trinity Hill,  Ph: 06 879 7778 ext. 700,  email:  janine@trinityhill.com.  Direct credit payment will be sought directly to the presenter's account,  details from Janine preferably by email.
Limit:  20-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice,  UNLESS the place is filled.  There will be a waiting list,  to facilitate this.  Note that if space allows,  bookings will be accepted right up to,  say,  4pm on the day of the tasting,  since there are often unforeseen late cancellations.


___________________________________  

The 1998 vintage was warm in Hawkes Bay,  as elsewhere in the wine world.  While some producers revelled in the warm conditions,  and felt their wines were the best they had made to date,  others expressed doubt about the long-term prospects for such big soft wines.  Certainly the vintage is exciting,  simply because it heralded both the advent of properly-ripe red wines in New Zealand,  and the generally warmer decade to follow,  after many modest years in the late '80s and '90s.  This is an opportunity to see 10 well-regarded 1998 Hawkes Bay reds in the context of a couple of 1998 bordeaux,  one of which is very well-regarded,  and decide how you feel about mature New Zealand reds.  

Our wines will be:
BORDEAUX:
1998  Ch Leoville-Barton,  Saint-Julien 2nd Growth,  CS dominant
1998  Ch Bourgneuf,  Pomerol,  Me dominant
HAWKES BAY:
1998  Esk Valley The Terraces,  Ma dominant
1998  Mills Reef Syrah Elspeth  
1998  Mission Estate Syrah Jewelstone
1998  Newton-Forrest Cabernet Sauvignon,  CS dominant !
1998  Pask Winery Merlot Reserve,  Me dominant
1998  Sileni Merlot / Cab. Franc EV (Exceptional Vintage),  Me dominant
1998  Te Awa Me / CS / CF Boundary,  Me dominant
1998  Te Mata Coleraine,  CS & CF dominant
1998  Vidal Estate Cabernet / Merlot Reserve,  CS dominant
1998  Villa Maria Merlot / Cabernet Reserve,  Me dominant

About the Tastings:  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on all the wines (12 for this event) out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Glasses are XL5s.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind,  so our assessment is not affected by either the considerable difference in price between the wines,   or by the views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.

About the presenter:  Please see the 2005 tasting,  below.
 




Library Tasting at Trinity Hill:  The famous 2005 vintage – how exactly do our best Hawkes Bay blends compare with good Bordeaux ?

Time:  Thursday 3 September, 2015,  6.30 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Trinity Hill Winery,  2396 State Highway 50 (500m north of Ngatarawa Road)
Cost:  $105 per person
Bookings:  Bookings open August 1.  Bookings (and a waiting-list) will be handled by Janine Bevege,  at Trinity Hill,  Ph: 06 879 7778 ext. 700,  email:  janine@trinityhill.com.  Direct credit payment will be sought directly to the presenter's account,  details from Janine preferably by email.
Limit:  20-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice,  UNLESS the place is filled.  There will be a waiting list,  to facilitate this.  Note that if space allows,  bookings will be accepted right up to,  say,  4pm on the day of the tasting,  since there are often unforeseen late cancellations.


___________________________________  

Many commentators,  particularly the highly-regarded Steven Spurrier (of Decanter magazine,  London,  noted for his bordeaux palate) have said that the Hawkes Bay climate,  and the best Hawkes Bay blends,  closely approximate good bordeaux in style.  And equally certainly,  some New Zealand proprietors have sought to establish that their wines achieve exactly that.  The Gimblett Gravels Association in 2009 even took some of their best wines to London,  in a somewhat muddled exercise where they set up six top 2006-vintage Hawkes Bay blends against six top 2005 Bordeaux blends.  Unwisely,  they used First Growths amongst others,  for the Bordeaux side.  

Our goal for this tasting is to match six good 2005 Hawkes Blends with six 2005 Bordeaux blends,  this time however choosing wines of good repute,  but not such lofty status.  This seems far more realistic and informative.  Four of them will be classed growths,  or equivalent,  a worthy goal to aim for.  Two however should be crus bourgeois,  to better reflect the range of better wine in Bordeaux.  Two of the bordeaux will be cabernet-dominant,  three merlot-dominant,  one more 50/50,  to show the range of styles encompassed in the concept 'bordeaux-blend'.  The New Zealand wines are nearly as well-divided,  but one is in fact nominally syrah-dominant.  This is not a totally silly idea:  the concept Hawkes Bay blend could well include some syrah,  to make it 'unique' in the world wine scene,  and give our top wines a place in the sun,  in the same way Italy has achieved with discreet use of sangiovese in some of their top (and highly sought-after) bordeaux blends.

Our wines will be:
BORDEAUX
2005  Ch Leoville-Barton,  CS dominant
2005  Ch Montrose,  CS dominant
2005  Ch Potensac,   CS & CF dominant,  just
2005  Ch Haut-Carles,  Me dominant
2005  Ch Hosanna,  Me dominant
2005  Ch Trotanoy,  Me dominant
HAWKES BAY
2005  Church Road Tom,  Me dominant
2005  Craggy Range Sophia,  Me dominant
2005  Craggy Range The Quarry,  CS dominant
2005  Mills Reef Elspeth One,  Sy dominant,  just
2005  Sacred Hill The Helmsman,  CS dominant
2005  Te Mata Estate Coleraine,  CS & CF dominant

About the Tastings:  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on all the wines (12 for this event) out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Glasses are XL5s.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind,  so our assessment is not affected by either the considerable difference in price between the wines,   or by the views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.

About the presenter:  Geoff Kelly is a former DSIR scientist / ecologist.  He has studied wine since the mid-1960s,  setting his palate more via the wines of Europe and Australia than the then embryonic local wine industry.  He published the first comprehensive account of Pinot Noir in New Zealand in 1982,  and was founding wine-writer for NBR and then Cuisine magazines,  later that decade.  At that stage he contributed to viticulture and oenology research in both the Dept. of Agriculture / Te Kauwhata and Lincoln University,  Canterbury,  and continues as a visiting lecturer at the latter.  He has judged at the Air New Zealand and Royal Easter Show national wine competitions,  becoming a senior judge in 1981,  and continues in this role with the Easter Show.  He is now a wine consultant concentrating on wine evaluation,  publishing at:  www.geoffkellywinereviews.co.nz  





Library Tasting:  The Great 2005 Vintage in Bordeaux:  Pts I and II

Time:  Pt I,  Wednesday 3 June,  2015,  6.00 pm start;  Cost $60 per person
Time:  Pt II,  Thursday 4 June,  2015,  6.00 pm start;  Cost $200 per person
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  Pt I,  $60,  Pt II,  $200
Bookings:  On-line via www.regionalwines.co.nz/wine-content.aspx/wine-tastings primarily (scroll down).  Or phone Tastings @ 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz.
Limit:  21-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted.  NB:  If this tasting fills on the electronic booking list,  please ring the Regional Wines Office 385 6952,  and ask to be wait-listed,  since there is all-too-often a last-minute place.

___________________________________  

In Bordeaux,  the 2000s have had more great vintages than ever before.  2005 is one of them.  Wine Spectator,  the most thoughtful vintage rating source,  says of 2005 Bordeaux simply:  Fabulous aromas and great length; wines with depth, structure and finesse,  and rates the vintage 98.

We are offering two tastings,  on consecutive nights,  to really get a feel for the vintage.  Both tastings will have as their central theme,  the offering of wines ranging from high cabernet sauvignon right through to merlot / cabernet franc wines with no cabernet sauvignon.  This mimics exactly what thoughtful winemakers are doing in Hawkes Bay,  and should be of the utmost interest.   A subsidiary theme will be the inclusion of two New Zealand wines in each tasting,  to see where we stand.  The tastings will needless to say be blind.

The more expensive tasting includes wines rarely offered for public tasting in New Zealand.  Since few in New Zealand can now afford to buy or taste First Growths,  the tasting will include several second wines from the First Growths -- wines which are rarely seen.  With modern standards of selection,  these have become sought-after in their own right.  2005 Les Forts de Latour is currently valued at $340NZ for example,  and 2005 Carruades de Lafite at $526,  per bottle.

Because it is such a great vintage,  the wines were expensive to start with.  The cost therefore has to be high.  We ask you to check wine-searcher,  and then reflect that is the cost in London or somewhere similar,  and the further costs involved in getting the wines to New Zealand.  The less expensive tasting should also be great fun.  Again there will be high cabernet sauvignon through to no cabernet sauvignon wines,  and two New Zealand.

I have to mention the peril of TCA-affected bottles,  though ‘corked’ wines were less common in 2005 than 10 years earlier.  Attending is exactly the same as if you had cellared the wine yourself:   the risk simply has to be accepted.   For Pt II there will be a back-up bottle of my standard 'reference' wine Ch Montrose,  only,  but there are other wines,  so you will get 12 samples.  The New Zealand wines will have back-ups.

Please note the lists here differ in detail from the Regional Wines lists,  and will take precedence,  due to finding Carruades de Lafite.  Values are similar.  Pt II includes examples from all the great Bordeaux locations,  whereas Pt I has several upcoming wines from outlier districts.  

Pt I,  Wed. 3 June:  will cost $60,  and the wines will be:
FRANCE
Ch d'Aiguilhe,   Côtes de Castillon:  Me 80%,  CF 20
Ch Cantemerle,  Macau (near Margaux):   CS 50%,  Me 40,  CF 5,  PV 5
Ch Chasse Spleen,  Moulis:  CS 73%,  Me 20%,  PV 7
Clos des Jacobins,  Saint-Emilion:   Me 75%,  CF 23,  CS 2
La Dame de Montrose,  Saint Estephe:  CS 65%,  Me 25,  CF 10  
Ch Haut-Batailley,  Pauillac:  CS 65%,  Me 25,  CF 10
Ch Malartic-Lagraviere,  Pessac-Leognan:  CS 45%,  Me 45,  CF 8,  PV 2
Ch Potensac,  St Yzans:  CS 60%,  Me25,  CF 15,  trace carmenere
Ch Roc de Cambes,  Côtes-de-Bourg:  CS 75%,  Me 25,  CF 5
Ch Talbot,  Saint-Julien:  CS 67%,  Me 27,  PV 4.5,  CF 1.5
NEW ZEALAND
Stonyridge Larose,  Waiheke Island:  CS 44%,  Ma 21,  Me 15,  PV 15,  CF 5  
Te Mata Coleraine,  Havelock North:  Me 45%,  CS 37,  CF

Reserve wine:  Ch Gigault Cuvée Viva,  Cotes de Blaye:   Me >90,  CF <10

CANCELLED  Pt II,  Thurs 4 June:  will cost $200,  and the wines will be:  [ Will be re-formatted,  and perhaps offered in Hawkes Bay in September ]
FRANCE
Ch Angelus,  Saint Emilion:   Me 51%,  CF 47,  CS 2
Bahans Haut-Brion = Le Clarence de Haut-Brion,  Pessac:  Me 45%,  CS 44,  CF 10,  PV 1
Carruades de Lafite,  Pauillac:  CS 70%,  Me 25,  CF 3,  PV 2
Ch l'Evangile,  Pomerol:  Me 85%,  CF 15  
Les Forts de Latour,  Pauillac:   CS 70%,  Me 30
Ch La Mission Haut-Brion,  Pessac-Léognan:  CS 48%,  Me 45,  CF 7
Ch Leoville-Barton,  Saint-Julien:  CS 72%,  Me 20,  CF 8
Ch Montrose,  Saint-Estephe:  CS 65%,  Me 25,  CF 10
Ch Palmer,  Margaux:  CS 47%,  Me 47,  PV 6
Pavillon de Margaux,  Margaux:  CS 75%,  Me 20,  CF & PV 5
NEW ZEALAND
Craggy Range The Quarry,  Gimblett Gravels:  CS 93%,  Me 7        
Sacred Hill Helmsman,  Gimblett Gravels:  CS 77%,  Me 22,  CF 1     

Reserve Wine:  Ch Lynch-Bages,  Pauillac:  CS 73,  Me 15,  CF 10,  PV 2

#  
For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind,  so our assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.





Library Tasting:  The 1975 Vintage:  and a more modest Part II follow-up,  for fun ...
Time:  Thursday 16 April,  2015,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $40 per person
Bookings:  On-line via www.regionalwines.co.nz/wine-content.aspx/wine-tastings primarily.  Or phone Tastings @ 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz.
Limit:  21-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted.  NB:  If this tasting fills on the electronic booking list,  please ring the Regional Wines Office 385 6952,  and ask to be wait-listed,  since there is all-too-often a last-minute place.
.  
___________________________________  

There has been approval for the concept of a 1975 wine tasting,  but with one of the key wines in the Pt I tasting ending up less than impressive,  the cost of that tasting now looks on the high side.  Let’s therefore do a bit of penance in the pricing of a Pt II,  which will be strictly for people whose primary interest is in wine per se,  not wine labels.  

The 1975 vintage:  can New Zealand cabernet sauvignons from way back then,  before the advent of the pivotal 1980 regulations (grapes needed in wine),  even last 40 years ?  And how will they compare with some 1975 petit bordeaux ?  We’ll have five pleasantly reputable minor Bordeaux (though some are actually classed),  to see.  And then to make sure there is some meat in the tasting,  there is a quite famous-in-its-day Hunter shiraz,  two very reputable South Australian blended wines from then leaders,  and a straight cabernet sauvignon from McLaren Vale.

The actual wines presented on the night might not be quite these.  I’ll open about 16 wines,  and show you the best of them – while trying to retain the geographic spread.   See Pt I (below) for a bit more background.

The wines will be:
AUSTRALIA
1975 Elliots Oakvale Dry Red Private Bin,  Hunter Valley (noteworthy in its day)
1975 Richard Hamilton Cabernet Sauvignon,  McLaren Vale
1975 Stanley Leasingham Cabernet / Malbec Bin 56,  Clare Valley
1975 Wolf Blass Cabernet / Shiraz Grey Label,  Langhorne Creek
FRANCE - BORDEAUX
1975 Ch Cantemerle,  Macau,  Haut-Medoc 5th growth (modestly so,  then)
1975 Ch Liversan,  Saint-Sauveur,  Haut-Medoc (cru bourgeois)
1975 Ch Moulinet,  Pomerol
1975 Ch Talbot,  St Julien 4th growth
1975 Ch La Tour Carnet,  Haut-Medoc 4th growth (modestly so,  then)
NEW ZEALAND
1975 Montana Cabernet Sauvignon,  mostly Mangatangi then
1975 Nobilo Cabernet Sauvignon,  Huapai
1975 Penfolds (NZ, then !) Cabernet Sauvignon,  Hawkes Bay

#  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind,  so our assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.






Library Tasting:  The 1975 vintage:  Heitz Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet,  Lafite Rothschild,  Leoville Las Cases …
Time:  Wednesday 11 March,  2015,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $145 per person
Bookings:  On-line via www.regionalwines.co.nz/wine-content.aspx/wine-tastings primarily.  Or phone Tastings @ 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz.
Limit:  21-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted.  NB:  If this tasting fills on the electronic booking list,  please ring the Regional Wines Office 385 6952,  and ask to be wait-listed,  since there is all-too-often a last-minute place.
.  
___________________________________  

Most keen wine people have heard of Heitz Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.  For quite a long interval,  it was California’s (and hence America's) most famous and expensive red wine.  But it bespoke an earlier more classical-in-style era,  before the advent of latterday richer wines now even more famous,  such as Screaming Eagle.  

Very few people in New Zealand have however tasted Martha's Vineyard.  This tasting provides the opportunity (corks willing) to evaluate the 1975,  a great year,  alongside 1975 Lafite Rothschild,  1975 Leoville Las Cases,  1975 Ch Montrose,  and some other reasonably reputable labels of the era.  All the wines are of impeccable provenance.

1975 is an interesting vintage.  It has never had a great press,  yet for Bordeaux,  if you study the literature,  it almost reluctantly emerges as perhaps the second best vintage of the 1970s,  after 1970 itself.  It was a stern and tannic year,  which is not so appealing to modern palates,  but that tannin has enabled the good / rich ones to live.

With the tasting of necessity in a higher price range,  and 40 years on,  I have to mention the peril of TCA-affected bottles,  though ‘corked’ wines were less common then than two decades later.  Attending is exactly the same as if you had cellared the wine yourself:  the risk simply has to be accepted.  There are no back-up bottles,  but there are other wines,  so you will get 12.  But,  for the two ’key’ wines,  they will be presented irrespective,  so that keen people can examine the underlying character of the wine,  which they may otherwise never taste.  It IS possible to ‘see’ through faults – but the will to do so has to be there.

The wines will be:
AUSTRALIA
1975 Leasingham Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 49, Clare Valley
1975 Tyrrell Cabernet Sauvignon Vat 70, Hunter Valley
CALIFORNIA
1975 Heitz Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Martha's Vineyard, Napa Valley
1975 Sonoma Vineyards (now Rodney Strong) Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley
FRANCE – BORDEAUX
1975 Ch Branaire (now Branaire-Ducru),  St Julien
1975 Ch Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac
1975 Ch La Lagune, Haut-Medoc (near Margaux)
1975 Ch Leoville Barton, St Julien
1975 Ch Leoville Las Cases, St Julien
1975 Ch Lynch Bages, Pauillac
1975 Ch Montrose,  St Estephe
1975 Ch Pontet-Canet, Pauillac

Any replacement wine needed will be selected from:  1975 Ch Cantemerle (Haut-Medoc),  1975 Ch Lascombes (Margaux),  1975 Ch Moulinet (Pomerol),  1975 Ch Prieure-Lichine (Margaux),  1975 Ch Talbot (St Julien,  1975 Ch La Tour Carnet (Haut-Medoc).

#  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind,  so our assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.





The famous 2003 vintage in Bordeaux,  including Ch Pavie and Ch Montrose ...

Time:  Tuesday 4 November, 2014,  6:30pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Trinity Hill Winery,  2396 State Highway 50 (500m north of Ngatarawa Road)
Cost:  $135 per person
Bookings:  https://www.fawc.co.nz/buy-tickets/ticket-payment?eid=259783   NB:  If sold out,  secure a place on the waiting-list,  as below ...
Trinity Hill contact person  Janine Bevege,  Ph: 06 879 7778 ext. 700,  email:  janine@trinityhill.com
Limit:  20-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There are no refunds for non-attendance.  If circumstances prevent you attending,  it is your responsibility to find a substitute.  Trinity Hill will help in this,  by keeping a waiting-list of people who wish to attend,  for you to contact and arrange the details of transfer.  Contact as above.


___________________________________  

The 2003 vintage in Bordeaux is famous for two things.  it was a wonderfully warm year,  so that some of the best wines came from the northern villages such as St Estephe,  which in typical seasons are sometimes a little cool.  Secondly it was the year in which the highly regarded but modern-in-style St Emilion Ch Pavie produced a wine which provoked a war-of-words between America’s best-known winewriter Robert Parker and British authority and MW Jancis Robinson.  It is well-known that Parker likes big modern wines,  and Robinson seeks more traditional values in Bordeaux,  including 'refreshment' in the wine.

In essence,  Robinson's first report on the wine described it as:  Completely unappetising overripe aromas. Why? Porty sweet. Oh REALLY! Port is best from the Douro not St Emilion. Ridiculous wine more reminiscent of a late harvest Zinfandel than a red bordeaux …  12 / 20.  Parker’s first report said:  a wine of sublime richness, minerality, delineation …  It traverses the palate with extraordinary richness as well as remarkable freshness and definition … one of the three greatest offerings of the right bank in 2003. 96 - 100 / 100.  Parker then criticised Robinson’s view,  leading to a war of words (and some insults) in which by the time it evaporated most USA and UK critics had a say.

Form your own view 10 years later by tasting 2003 Ch Pavie along with some other fine classed growths of the vintage,  including 2003 Ch Montrose from Saint-Estephe,  regarded at one point as the wine of the vintage,  and all three Leovilles from Saint-Julien.  Who has ever tasted all three Leovilles together ?  Both Pichons too.  No first growths,  but SIX wines rated 95 or more by Robert Parker,  10 all told.

Our wines will be:
BORDEAUX, WEST BANK:
2003  Ch Leoville-Barton, St-Julien 2nd Growth (CS 72%, Me 20, CF 8)
2003  Ch Leoville-Poyferre,  St-Julien 2nd Growth (CS 65%, Me 25, PV 8, CF 2)
2003  Ch Leoville-Las Cases,  St-Julien 2nd Growth (CS 65%, Me 19, CF 13, PV 3)
2003  Ch Montrose,  St-Estephe 2nd Growth (CS 65% Me 25, CF 10)
2003  Ch Pichon-Longueville Baron,  Pauillac 2nd Growth ( CS 60%, Me35, CF 4, PV 1)
2003  Ch Pichon-Longueville Lalande,  Pauillac 2nd Growth (CS 45%, Me 35, 12 CF, PV 8
2003  Ch Pontet-Canet,  Pauillac 5th Growth (CS 60%, Me 33, PV 5, CF 2)
2003  Ch Potensac,  Medoc Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel (2003) (CS 60%, Me 25, CF 15)
BORDEAUX, EAST BANK
2003  Ch d’Aiguilhe,  Cotes de Castillon (Me 80%, CF 20)
2003  Ch Pavie,  St. Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé (Me 55%,  CF 25,  CS 20)

About the Tastings:  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on all the wines (10 for this event) out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind,  so our assessment is not affected by either the considerable difference in price between the wines,   or by the views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.

About the presenter:  Please see the syrah tasting,  below.
 




A definitive Syrah Tasting,  including J L Chave,  Guigal and Jaboulet Hermitage

Time:  Thursday 6 November, 2014,  6.30 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Trinity Hill Winery,  2396 State Highway 50 (500m north of Ngatarawa Road)
Cost:  $135 per person
Bookings:   [ Sold Out,  but see below.]  http://www.fawc.co.nz/programme/events/event-details?eid=259785
Trinity Hill contact person  Janine Bevege,  Ph: 06 879 7778 ext. 700,  email:  janine@trinityhill.com
Limit:  20-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There are no refunds for non-attendance.  If circumstances prevent you attending,  it is your responsibility to find a substitute.  Trinity Hill will help in this,  by keeping a waiting-list of people who wish to attend,  for you to contact and arrange the details of transfer.  Contact as above.


___________________________________  

Who,  we wonder,  has tasted the great Hermitage syrahs of J L Chave,  Guigal,  and the resurrected Jaboulet,  all together ?  Not many,  we suspect,  for these are rare (and expensive) wines.  The hill-slope above the village of Hermitage is the absolute spiritual homeland of the world's greatest syrahs,  but it is tiny.  We are offering three of them,  all from the great 2009 or 2010 vintages.  They are rated 100,  99 and 96+ points by Robert Parker.  Rare indeed,  and probably a tasting never before offered in New Zealand.

Syrah grown in a temperate climate such as the northern Rhone Valley,  or Hawkes Bay (where it excels,  but it is thriving in a number of other places in New Zealand too) is a wonderfully fragrant and aromatic grape.  At varying points in its ripening profile it shares aromas and tastes with pinot noir,  cabernet  sauvignon,  and merlot.  Good syrah can even be described as pinot noir on steroids.  

The range of styles which are legitimate has however led to both debate and confusion as to the real nature of the grape.  This tasting will assemble several great syrahs of the world,  which still means from the Northern Rhone Valley of France,  with three New Zealand examples which have become very highly regarded.  There will also be an old syrah,  1983 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle,  to show the variety in full maturity.    

There will be some discussion of the ripening curve for syrah,  meaning the sequence of smells and flavours the grape passes through in achieving perfect maturity,  and then over-maturity.  Participants will receive a photocopy of a paper on this topic I recently published in the London-based The World of Fine Wine.

Our wines will be:
NORTHERN RHONE VALLEY,  FRANCE
2010 J L Chave Hermitage
2010 Cuilleron Cote Rotie La Madiniere
2009 Guigal Hermitage Ex Voto
2010 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle
2010 Jaboulet Hermitage La Petite Chapelle
1983 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle
2010 Jamet Cote Rotie      
NEW ZEALAND
2010 Obsidian Syrah,  Waiheke Island
2009 Te Mata Syrah Bullnose,  Bridge Pa Triangle,  Hawkes Bay
2010 Trinity Hill Syrah Homage,  Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay

About the Tastings:  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on all the wines (10 for this event) out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind,  so our assessment is not affected by either the considerable difference in price between the wines,   or by the views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.

About the presenter:  Geoff Kelly is a former DSIR scientist / ecologist.  He has studied wine since the mid-1960s,  setting his palate more via the wines of Europe and Australia than the then embryonic local wine industry.  He published the first comprehensive account of Pinot Noir in New Zealand in 1982,  and was founding wine-writer for Cuisine magazine,  later that decade.  At that stage he contributed to viticulture and oenology research in both the Dept of Agriculture / Te Kauwhata and Lincoln University,  Canterbury,  and continues as an occasional visiting lecturer at the latter.  He has judged at the Air New Zealand and Royal Easter Show national wine competitions,  becoming a senior judge in 1981,  and continues in this role with the Easter Show.  He is now a wine consultant concentrating on wine evaluation,  publishing at:  www.geoffkellywinereviews.co.nz  






Library Tasting:  Vertical of the great Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle,  1969 – 2010 … unprecedented in New Zealand
Time:  Thursday 18 Sept,  2014,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $165 per person
Bookings:  On-line via www.regionalwines.co.nz/wine-content.aspx/wine-tastings primarily.  Or phone Tastings @ 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz.
Limit:  21-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted.  NB:  If this tasting fills on the electronic booking list,  please ring the Regional Wines Office 385 6952,  and ask to be wait-listed,  since there is all-too-often a last-minute place.
.  

___________________________________  

When it comes to syrah,  for many years since the war Jaboulet’s Hermitage La Chapelle was regarded as the pre-eminent example of the grape in the world,  fully ranking with the top grands crus from Bordeaux and Burgundy.  Only with the untimely death of Gerard Jaboulet in 1997,  and the decline of the house of Jaboulet thereafter,  did that reputation pass to J L Chave,  also in Hermitage.  But now,  with the purchase of Jaboulet by the Frey family,  owners of Ch La Lagune in Margaux (and linked with champagne-house Billecart-Salmon too),  there is every sign with the 2009 and 2010 vintages,  that La Chapelle will soon be restored to top or top-equal billing.  

This Library Tasting offers 11 vintages of La Chapelle,  and one of J L Chave’s Hermitage,  the wines spanning 41 years.  So the first thing to say is,  you would almost certainly need to go to London,  if you wanted to find a tasting like this.  We have never heard of anything like it in New Zealand or Australia.  And the second key point is,  check the  price,  then pause and consider you are tasting 12 examples of a famous wine for a price equal to half a bottle.  One of the older vintages in this tasting has a wine-searcher valuation of over $NZ1,000 a bottle.  The current shelf price of the recent vintages is around $345.  Colleague Linden Wilkie,  who used to attend Regional Wines tastings but is now based in London,  and presents tastings rather like mine there,  advises this tasting would be priced at around ₤250 in London,  “and would sell out instantly.”.  

Another compelling aspect to this tasting is,  it includes 1990 La Chapelle,  a 100-point Robert Parker wine,  and along  with the 1978,  the only La Chapelle in recent decades considered to approach the 1961.  Jaboulet’s 1961 Hermitage La Chapelle is widely regarded as one of the greatest red wines of any type made since the war – in the top 10.  It remains the ultimate syrah.  This tasting should give an inkling of what it is like.

Finally,  there will be one fine syrah in the tasting that is not La Chapelle.  What better wine to calibrate Hermitage La Chapelle than 1999 J L Chave Hermitage,  a great year there.  How many of  us have been in a position to ever compare these two great syrahs,  alongside each other.  This will be a tasting to remember.

Our wines will be:  
1969 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, Northern Rhone Valley, France
1979 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, Northern Rhone Valley, France
1982 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, Northern Rhone Valley, France
1983 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, Northern Rhone Valley, France
1985 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, Northern Rhone Valley, France
1989 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, Northern Rhone Valley, France
1990 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, Northern Rhone Valley, France
1996 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, Northern Rhone Valley, France
1999 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, Northern Rhone Valley, France
2009 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, Northern Rhone Valley, France
2010 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, Northern Rhone Valley, France
1999 J L Chave Hermitage, Northern Rhone Valley, France

#  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind,  so our assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.





Library Tasting:  Does Syrah Age:  An introduction to some classical examples,  1979 - 2004

Time:  Monday 29 Sept,  2014,  5.30 pm start
Place:  Lake Dunstan Boat Club building,  Cromwell
Cost:  $105 per person,  (GST not applicable)
Bookings:  Natalie Wilson,  03 445 4499,  info@cowa.org.nz,  COWA,  PO Box 271,  Cromwell  
Limit:  21-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice,  unless the place is filled.  If space allows,  bookings after that time will still be accepted.  If the tasting fills,  please request a wait-list,  since all-too-often there is a last-minute place.


___________________________________  

My goal in this tasting is to highlight how very beautiful the syrahs of the classical Northern Rhone appellations Cote Rotie,  Hermitage and Cornas can be,  as illustrated through a diversity of producers.  The sub-theme will be that syrah can perhaps be regarded as pinot noir on steroids,  aromatic pinot noir maybe,  and the winestyle in maturity has much in common with pinot noir.  But then,  a claret lover would point out that in the later 1800s,  it was exactly the cassis-like aromatics  of perfectly ripe syrah which allowed it to be used to reinforce the great wines of bordeaux:  hence Lafite-Hermitagé.

Syrah as it ripens displays a consistent sequence of bouquet and flavour characters,  which develop in complexity with increasing ripeness in much the same way pinot noir does.  I published an account of this sequence in The World of Fine Wine,  London,  a couple of years ago,  and will  include a photocopy with the notes at the tasting.  And like pinot noir,  with over-ripening there is loss of florality,  beauty and complexity in syrah,  and increase in weight.  It can be argued that for syrah in Australia,  in a climate often too hot for the grape to retain these attributes,  they made the mistake of seeking to restore aromatics in the wine via oak.  And like pinot noir,  too much oak obliterates beauty in syrah.  Thus we have no Australian wines in the tasting (though syrah-like examples do exist).  I hope the wines will amplify these viewpoints.

Our wines will be:  
1979  Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle,  Northern Rhone Valley  
1979  Jaboulet Cote Rotie Les Jumelles,  Northern Rhone Valley
1984  H Sorrell Hermitage Le Greal,  Northern Rhone Valley
1985  Guigal Cote Rotie Brune & Blonde,  Northern Rhone Valley
1985  Domaine Clape Cornas,  Northern Rhone Valley
1985  Delas Hermitage Marquis de la Tourette,  Northern Rhone Valley
1986  Jasmin Cote Rotie,  Northern Rhone Valley
1995  Chapoutier Cote Rotie La Mordorée,  Northern Rhone Valley
1998  Tardieu-Laurent Hermitage,  Northern Rhone Valley
2003  Yann Chave Hermitage,  Northern Rhone Valley
2003  Craggy Range Syrah Block 14,  Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay
2004  J.L. Chave Hermitage,  Northern Rhone Valley

About the Tastings:  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  I use smaller samples which both allows more wines to be reviewed,  and reduces the cost.  Please note therefore the pours are only 30ml,  which can easily be consumed before the wine is even tasted.  The logistics of bringing the wines from Wellington are such that I cannot have duplicate bottles for each wine.  For some,  there is not one.  So it will be just like a wine in your cellar:  in paying for the tasting,  participants accept the risk of corked bottles.  I will bring some reserve bottles,  so you will get 12 wines,  but the exact wines listed cannot be guaranteed.  

About the presenter:  Please see the pinot noir tasting,  below.  




Library Tasting:  Does Pinot Noir Age:  An eclectic selection of wines,  some famous,  1969 - 2001

Time:  Wednesday 1 Oct,  2014,  5.30 pm start
Place:  Lake Dunstan Boat Club building,  Cromwell
Cost:  $145 per person,  (GST not applicable)
Bookings:  Natalie Wilson,  03 445 4499,  info@cowa.org.nz,  COWA,  PO Box 271,  Cromwell  
Limit:  21-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice,  unless the place is filled.  If space allows,  bookings after that time will still be accepted.  If the tasting fills,  please request a wait-list,  since all-too-often there is a last-minute place.  
.  

___________________________________  

The goals for the pinot noir tasting are a little different,  when one is bringing coals to Newcastle.  Otago being a young wine district,  I hoped some older wines would be of interest,  even though some may be frail,  and will require close attention to retrieve their former beauty.  I also thought that since in my writings I sometimes have outlined a view of pinot noir out-of-line with the then contemporary wisdom in New Zealand,  for example pinot quality is not assessed by depth of colour,  that I would show some wines which illustrate my idea of pinot noir.  I have not tasted them all,  however.  

Thus I thought Otago people might like to taste the first real international-quality pinot noir made in New Zealand (post-Prohibition),  the 1982 St Helena wine,  which is now a vanishingly rare bottle.    And in a similar vein,  I  wanted to show you the first grand cru pinot noir I thought worth cellaring a case - a 1969 wine.  It seemed back then to exemplify nearly all one read about the magic in pinot noir.  I hope you will find it (the last bottle of the case) still of interest,  45 years later.  Then there is a Californian wine,  as a reminder we are not the first on the scene,  and a wine made in Victoria by a devotee of Jacques Seysses.  

From France we will have (I hope,  see caveat) five grands crus and two premiers,  plus a village wine.  Since nowadays ordinary mortals can scarcely buy grands crus at all,  let alone by the case,  I hope these wines though older will both appeal,  and illustrate the beauty of pinot noir.

Our wines will be:

New Zealand:  
1982  St Helena Pinot Noir,  Kaituna Valley (mostly),  Canterbury  
2001  Neudorf Pinot Noir,  Moutere Hills,  Nelson
California:
1981  Chalone Vineyard Pinot Noir,  montane (and limestone) Monterey County
Australia:
1986  Bannockburn Pinot Noir,  Geelong,  Victoria (Garry Farr,  re Domaine Dujac,  below)
France:
1969  Maison Drouhin Clos de la Roche Grand Cru,  Morey-Saint-Denis,  Cote de Nuits
1976  Domaine Leroy Auxey-Duresses,  Cote de Beaune
1976  Domaine Leroy Corton Grand Cru,  Cote de Beaune
1980  Domaine Lafon Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu Premier Cru,  Cote de Beaune
1985  Domaine Dujac Clos la Roche Grand Cru,  Morey-Saint-Denis,  Cotes de Nuits
1985  Domaine Rion Nuit-St-Georges Premier Cru Les Vignes Rondes,  Cote de Nuits
1995  Domaine de Vogue Musigny Grand Cru,  Chambolle-Musigny,  Cote de Nuits
1996  Domaine de Vogue Bonnes Mares Grand Cru,  Chambolle-Musigny,  Cote de Nuits

About the Tastings:  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  I use smaller samples which both allows more wines to be reviewed,  and reduces the cost.  Please note therefore the pours are only 30ml,  which can easily be consumed before the wine is even tasted.  The logistics of bringing the wines from Wellington are such that I cannot have duplicate bottles for each wine.  For some,  there is not one.  So it will be just like a wine in your cellar:  in paying for the tasting,  participants accept the risk of corked bottles.  I will bring some reserve bottles,  so you will get 12 wines,  but the exact wines listed cannot be guaranteed.  

About the presenter:  Geoff Kelly is a former DSIR scientist / ecologist.  He has studied wine since the mid-1960s,  setting his palate more via the wines of Europe and Australia than the then embryonic local wine industry.  He published the first comprehensive account of Pinot Noir in New Zealand in 1982,  and was founding wine-writer for Cuisine magazine,  later that decade.  At that stage he contributed to viticulture and oenology research in both the Dept of Agriculture / Te Kauwhata and Lincoln University,  Canterbury,  and continues as an occasional visiting lecturer at the latter.  He has judged at the Air New Zealand and Royal Easter Show national wine competitions,  becoming a senior judge in 1981,  and continues in this role with the Easter Show.  He is now a wine consultant concentrating on wine evaluation, publishing at:  www.geoffkellywinereviews.co.nz  








Deferred:   Library Tasting:  1998  Hawkes Bay reds – how do they compare ?

Time:  To be confirmed
Place:  To be confirmed
Cost:  To be confirmed
Bookings:  To be advised


___________________________________  

Boy-oh-boy,  those who didn't share in our 2001 Sauternes tasting (see below) missed an experience to be treasured.  You should have seen the room with 264 glasses of variously golden ambrosia glinting in the light.  And the smell in the room was incredible.  The tasters were very happy.

So this month we have something much more down-to-earth / closer-to-home.  1998 was a hot and ripe year in Hawkes Bay,  producing bigger and riper wines than we are used to.  It was so hot in fact that grenache ripened sufficiently for one winemaker at least to bottle an individual release.

Let's take 10 of the best 1998 Hawkes Bay reds,  then add one from Bordeaux (merlot dominant) and one from the northern Rhone (syrah dominant,  though there weren't many syrahs in Hawkes Bay in 1998) – chosen to perhaps illuminate them.  Interesting to note that as New Zealand wine prices creep up,  the two rarest Hawkes Bay wines in our collection are around 50% more expensive than the reputable French.  The wines will be presented blind,  our usual small pours but 12 of them.  It should be a lot of fun to see which wines we like best,  and if we can recognise the different grape varieties.

It can be argued that this tasting will include New Zealand's two rarest and most highly-regarded red wines,  The Terraces and Church Road Tom,  from this excellent vintage.  In effect,  the tasting offers a taste of 12 good wines for the price of one bottle - more or less,  averaged out.  RRP on the these top two reds is now more like $150 per bottle.

Our wines will be:
France,  Bordeaux
1998  Ch Faugeres,  Saint Emilion
France,  Northern Rhone
1998  Guigal Cote Rotie Brune & Blonde
New Zealand,  Hawkes Bay
1998  Church Road Merlot / Cabernet Tom
1998  Esk Valley Merlot / Malbec / Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
1998  Esk Valley Malbec / Merlot / Cabernet Franc The Terraces
1998  Matua Valley Grenache Innovator
1998  Mission Estate Syrah Jewelstone
1998  Pask Merlot Reserve
1998  Sileni Merlot / Cabernet Franc Exceptional Vintage
1998  Te Mata Cabernet / Merlot Coleraine
1998  Te Mata Syrah Bullnose
1998  Villa Maria Merlot Reserve


#  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind.  There is a considerable difference in current price between the most and least valuable,  in this tasting.  It is therefore much more instructive to decide which wine one likes best,  before the price is known.







Library Tasting:  2001 Sauternes,  a Great Year,  12 Top Wines including d’Yquem

Time:  Thursday 31 July, 2014,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $135 per person
Bookings:  Phone Tastings @ 385 6952 Wellington (prefix 04),  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  22-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted.  NB:  If this tasting fills on the electronic booking list,  please ring the Regional Wines Office 385 6952,  and ask to be wait-listed,  since there is all-too-often a last-minute place.
 

___________________________________  

The great Sauternes years are few.  Broadbent says 2001 is exquisite,  like 1971.  Few years are as good since the war,  but considering the improvements in technical control,  Jancis Robinson simply says 2001 is:  "Perhaps the greatest Sauternes vintage in modern times."

From the 1855 classification we will have Ch d’Yquem,  9 of the 11 premiers crus,  and 2 others Robert Parker rates their equals.  The d'Yquem alone is priced at $1500.00 and more ($2,265 at one outlet !).  On the Robert Parker scale,  2 @ 100 points,  1 each @ 99,  98,  97,  96,  94,  3 @ 93,  none below 90.

We believe this tasting is unprecedented as a public offer in New Zealand.  It should be memorable.

Our wines will be:    

2001  Ch Climens,  Barsac Premier Cru
2001  Ch Coutet,  Barsac Premier Cru
2001  Ch Doisy-Daene,  Barsac Deuxieme Cru
2001  Ch Guiraud,  Sauternes Premier Cru
2001  Ch Haut-Peyraguey,  Sauternes / Bommes Premier Cru
2001  Ch Lafaurie-Peyraguey,  Sauternes / Bommes Premier Cru
2001  Ch La Tour Blanche,  Sauternes / Bommes Premier Cru    
2001  Ch de Malle,  Sauternes / Preignac Deuxieme Cru
2001  Ch Rabaud-Promis,  Sauternes / Bommes Premier Cru
2001  Ch Rieussec,  Sauternes / Fargues Premier Cru
2001  Ch Suduiraut,  Sauternes / Preignac Premier Cru
2001  Ch d'Yquem,  Sauternes Premier Cru Superieur

#  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind.  There is a considerable difference in current price between the most and least valuable,  in this tasting.  It is therefore much more instructive to decide which wine one likes best,  before the price is known.






Library Tasting:  some 2003 Bordeaux,  mainly Medocs

Time:  Thursday 26 June,  2014,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $110 per person
Bookings:  Phone Tastings @ 385 6952 Wellington (prefix 04),  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  21-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted.
Wait-List:  If this tasting fills on the electronic booking list,  please ring the Regional Wines Office 04 385 6952,  and ask to be wait-listed,  since there is all-too-often a last-minute place
.

___________________________________  

2003 was a wonderful warm summer in Europe,  and in Bordeaux in particular.  The Brits are funny about these things,  however,  and have spent the last 10 years saying how awful and feeble the wines are,  and they are destined for early collapse.  Meanwhile people from happier climates just love these beautifully soft ripe wines.

19th September 2012 we looked at some 2003 Bordeaux from the northernmost and hence coolest quality commune of the Medoc,  St Estephe.  We styled that tasting:  Understanding Bordeaux:  the coolest district in the hottest year ...

For this month's Library Tasting,  since we have had very old whites and old reds lately,  let's have young Bordeaux,  namely a taste of some of the other Bordeaux districts in 2003.  To add interest and appeal,  and as a yardstick,  we will however include one St Estephe,  2003 Ch Montrose.  This is one of the great wines of the vintage,  and that wine alone makes attending this tasting essential for anybody who wants to learn about and understand  the Cabernet - Merlot / Bordeaux / Hawkes Bay blend winestyle.  Opportunities to taste 2003 Ch Montrose  in New Zealand will henceforth be exceedingly rare.

But there are some other wines included below which one should not sniff at.  Since it was a warm year,  my selection is based on the West Bank,  where the higher ratio of cabernet sauvignon is likely to maintain  better freshness and aromatic complexity in the wine.  There is however one high-merlot wine for learning  purposes.  There are a couple of smaller-scale wines,  to add perspective to the sensory experience (and lower the cost).  And just for fun,  we will put in one wild card,  from Hawkes Bay.  Not a 2003,  which wasn't such a good year there,  but a 2002,  a similarly ripe year.  Since the Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet/Merlot is  likely to be a bit oaky,  we'll use the 2002 Cellar Selection.

Our wines will be:

BORDEAUX,  WEST BANK:
2003  Ch d'Armailhac,  Pauillac 5th growth   (CS 53%,  Me 34,  CF 11,  PV 2)
2003  Ch Lanessan,  (Medoc Cru Bourgeois Supérieur (2003)   (CS 60%,  Me 30,  PV 5,  CF 5)
2003  Ch Leoville-Barton,  St-Julien 2nd Growth   (CS 72%,  Me 20,  CF 8)
2003  Ch Leoville-Poyferre,  St-Julien 2nd Growth   (CS 65%,  Me 25,  PV 8,  CF 2)
2003  Ch Leoville-Lascases,  St-Julien 2nd Growth   (CS 65%,  Me 19,  CF 13,  PV 3)
2003  Ch Montrose,  St-Estephe 2nd Growth    (CS 65%   Me 25,  CF 10)
2003  Ch Pichon-Longueville Baron,  Pauillac 2nd Growth   ( CS 60%,  Me35,  CF 4,  PV 1)    
2003  Ch Pichon-Longueville Lalande,  Pauillac 2nd Growth   (CS 45%,  Me 35,  12 CF,  PV 8
2003  Ch Pontet-Canet,  Pauillac 5th Growth   (CS 60%,  Me 33,  PV 5,  CF 2)
2003  Ch Potensac,  Medoc Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel (2003)   (CS 60%,  Me 25,  CF 15)
BORDEAUX,  EAST BANK
2003  Ch d’Aiguilhe,  Cotes de Castillon   (Me 80%,  CF 20)
HAWKES BAY
2002  Villa Maria Merlot/Cabernet Cellar Selection,  Gimblett Gravels  (Me 80,  CS 20)






Can fine chardonnay cellar for 30 or 45 years  – a nutty tasting for dinkum chardonnay lovers …

Time:  Thursday 15 May,  2014,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $50 per person
Bookings:  Phone Tastings @ 385 6952 Wellington (prefix 04),  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  21-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted
.  

___________________________________  

This is a tasting for people who love the smells and flavours of good oatmeal,  cashews,  hazelnuts,  brazil nuts,  and even a touch of walnut maybe.  It is not a tasting for those who derive their pleasure in finding faults in wines,  where other more positive people would see complexity.  

One of the wine problems in living in a young wine country is that wine assessment,  commentary  and judging is too much influenced by winemakers.  Generalising,  winemakers like young wines,  and speak most highly of fresh and fruity smells and flavours in wine.  How else can they sell their  young wines.  Consequently,  it is quite rare to find New Zealand winemakers who enjoy really old wines,  or attend tastings of them.  In  contrast,  in countries like Britain,  where public wine appreciation is lead by long-established wine merchants and wine-writers,  there is a quite different view on the merits of old wine.  

Thus,  in New Zealand the conventional wisdom is that chardonnay can be cellared for 3 – 5,  maybe 8 years  at the outside.  In this tasting we will explore whether really good chardonnay can in fact cellar for longer.  The  youngest wine will be 28 years old,  so there will be no florals,  and precious little stonefruit.    Instead,  the good ones will smell and taste more of those attributes listed earlier,  and will show physical fruit which you can savour in mouth.  Such wines can be wonderful with food,  and very satisfying,  if they have the body to be sustaining.

If you look at the list,  there are some pretty good wine names there,  including evocative names and grands and premiers crus from Burgundy,  Australia's best 30 years ago,  one of the great pioneer New Zealand chardonnays,  and  a highly regarded Californian wine of the era.  Accordingly pricing has been difficult.  The replacement cost of these wines is high.  Knockers however would say these older wines have no value.  

It is astonishing if you take out half a dozen of the same old chardonnay,  and examine them in a good light against a white background,  that no two bottles are the same colour – the wine that is.  This reflects  the physical / structural variability of cork as a closure,  quite apart from cork taint.  For this tasting,  where possible I have selected the bottle showing the very best / lightest colour.  I showed New Zealand wines of  similar vintage to the judges at the Easter Show last year,  partly to counter the thought expressed above,  and they were both astonished,  and some even (to their surprise) enchanted.  I hope therefore you will find some pretty exciting smells and flavours in this tasting,  and will take this opportunity to embark on a little wine adventure.

Our wines will be:

AUSTRALIA
1986  Bannockburn Chardonnay Geelong,  (Gary Farr),  Victoria,  13.2%
1986  Mountadam Chardonnay High Eden,  (600 m.),  South Australia,  13.5%
1986 Rosemount Estate Chardonnay Show Reserve,  Hunter Valley,  NSW,  13%
1986  Tyrrell's Wines Pinot Chardonnay Vat 47,  Hunter Valley,  NSW
CALIFORNIA
1979 Sterling Vineyards Chardonnay,  Napa Valley,  13.6%
FRANCE – Burgundy
1969  Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet Clos du Cailleret Premier Cru  (great vintage)
1969  Lichine Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru  (great vintage)    
1971  Lichine Meursault Genevrieres Premier Cru  (great vintage)
1972  Latour Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
1974  Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur
1976 Latour Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru Les Demoiselles
NEW ZEALAND
1986  Morton Estate Chardonnay Black Label,  (John Hancock),  13%

Notes:  
#  Around 1970,  Alexis Lichine was at the height of his powers,  his selections at best stellar.
#  Tyrrell's can lay claim to creating Australia's first international-calibre chardonnay,  having adopted the barrel-ferment approach in 1973.
#  Likewise,  Morton's Black Label Chardonnay was then (1984-on) the great wine of the day,  John Hancock along with Paul Mooney (Mission Vineyards) being the first to adopt barrel ferment in New Zealand.
#  Sterling Vineyards was founded in 1964 by an Englishman,  influencing the wine-styles sought.
#  Background:  an introduction to chardonnay in New Zealand can be found at:  www.geoffkellywinereviews.co.nz/index.php?ArticleID=194
#  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind.  There is a considerable difference in current price between the most and least valuable,  in this tasting.  It is therefore much more instructive to decide which wine one likes best,  before the price is known.






1978 Red Wines,  France mainly including Ch Margaux:

Time:  Thursday 10 April,  2014,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $135 per person
Bookings:  Phone Tastings @ 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  22-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted
.  

___________________________________  

This is a special tasting.  1978 was a glorious vintage in the Rhone Valley,  and Burgundy. The year is still held up as a model,  scarcely surpassed.  The wines themselves are now rare,  and any opportunity to taste even a couple should be seized.   In lieu of burgundy,  we have three elegant southern Rhones,  one of which Jancis Robinson marks 19.  Such a mark is more than rare from her.

For Bordeaux,  the vintage was good rather than great.  Since then,  we have all marvelled when First Growths passed $500 per bottle,  but now the better second growths are this figure.  To illustrate,  another merchant in New Zealand has 2008 Ch Palmer at $531 and the 2009 at $1125,  2008 Ch Margaux at $1395,  and the 2009 at $4499 per bottle,  believe it or not.  Few can afford such wines,  any more.  Therefore the opportunity to taste several older examples of these wines in this Library Tasting is attractive.  [ I have used 2008 for the price comparison since it is a better comparison with 1978 than the outstanding 2009 and 2010 vintages.]

Also,  ANY opportunity to taste Ch Margaux and Ch Palmer alongside each other is rare.  Let us hope the silky fragrant beauty of the Margaux district shows through.

Our wines will be:
                                                         
CALIFORNIA
1978 Cuvaison Cabernet Sauvignon,  Napa Valley
FRANCE – Bordeaux
1978 Ch Leoville Las Cases,  Second Growth,  St Julien      
1978 Ch Margaux,  First Growth,  Margaux  
1978 Ch Montrose,  Second Growth,  St Estephe
1978 Ch Palmer,  Third Growth,  Margaux    
1978 Ch Pichon Lalande,  Second Growth,  Pauillac  
1978 Ch Trotanoy,  top few of Pomerol
FRANCE – Burgundy
1978 Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin  
FRANCE – Southern Rhone Valley                  
1978 Guigal Gigondas    
1978 Jaboulet Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Cedres  
1978 Dom. Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape  (JR: 19)  
ITALY
1978 Pio Cesare Barolo,  Piedmont  

Reserve wines will include Ch Leoville-Barton,  no second bottles this time.  The Rhone wine component of this tasting can not be repeated.  A matching 2008 vintage tasting of these wines could not be done for the fee suggested.  And 2009 would be at least twice the price.

For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind.  There is a perhaps 20-fold difference in current price between the most and least valuable,  in this tasting.  It is therefore much more instructive to decide which wine one likes best,  before the price is known.








Does Riesling Age – Including Historic Australian Wines:

Time:  Thursday 13 March,  2014,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $50 per person
Bookings:  Phone Ian @ 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  22-only places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted
.  

___________________________________  

Introduction to the Library Tastings:
Welcome to the 2014 Regional Wines & Spirits Library Tasting series,  presented by Geoff Kelly.  After a quiet couple of years,  the mood is right for resumed activity in this interesting subject.  The first thing to say is:  these Library tastings are NOT designed primarily for wine aficionados.  They are instead intended to be of broader interest,  and particularly for people who,  having realised they do in fact like the smells and tastes of wine quite a lot,  would then like to go on and find out what older or rarer wines taste like – wines which on one's own can be difficult to locate,  or to justify the cost of a whole bottle just for one's own curiosity.  Shared among 20 people however,  it is more than affordable.

In our Library Tastings,  the emphasis is on the wine,  on smelling and tasting the liquid in the bottle,  and on discussing how the wine came to be this way,  and what it might have been like when younger.  The label,  and the price of the bottle,  are quite secondary.  Thus we will have some curious but highly interesting bottles,  which might be disparaged by wine elitists.  The first tasting provides a perfect example.  

To optimise the tasting and learning experience,  we have 12 different wines,  but only 30 mls of each.  This is enough to provide a good sample,  and to become familiar with the wine.  Clearly though,  we must be mindful of present and pending drink / driving legislation.  Multiplied up,  12 x 30 mls over 2 + hours for these riesling wines is approx. 3.5 standard drinks,  if all the wine is consumed.  Though individuals vary,  that is in general compatible with the 80mg / 100ml current legislation for both males and females.  Note however that for the forthcoming 50 mgm legislation,  lighter females may not comply.  Therefore increased spitting will be desirable and will become more commonplace – there is no case at all for feeling 'indelicate' about this.  And care in another way is needed,  for 30 mls is not a lot,  and it is easy enough to in fact consume the wine before one has tasted it properly.  As always,  the emphasis must be on extracting the maximum information from the bouquet of the wine,  before sipping.

But of course we will have some lovely bottles of high repute too,  and price will be mentioned occasionally,  inevitably,  perhaps where there is a need to add gravitas,  or hint at value where that might not be apparent.  In particular,  later in the year,  even though the wines are still young,  we will look at the spectacular 2001 vintage in Sauternes with a tasting of a quality (in the sense of completeness) which has rarely been presented in New Zealand.  I mention this simply to tantalise.  There are many red wines of greater age which it will be fun to taste too.  

Another factor in estimating whether you might find these Library Tastings worthwhile is track record.  Most of the wines I present were bought by me at release,  and where possible on comparative taste evaluation.  My cellaring conditions are considered excellent.  Further,  I have been an industry senior judge for over 30 years.  For all these reasons therefore,  there is a reasonable chance my selections will be technically sound and please you.  I do have to buy some bottles from overseas on other people's say-so,  but have developed some skill at reading between the lines of those I feel some rapport with,  in the hope of securing wines that please me.  Additionally,  I do buy some bottles at auction,  to achieve tastes of things otherwise rare or unprocurable.  Here there is greater risk,  naturally,  but when the risk is divided by 20 tasters,  it costs a lot less than risking buying one yourself.  So it seems worthwhile.  But you can't win them all.

Some may have noticed that I think it amusing or enjoyable to have tastings commemorating round decades of the original vintage.  For this year,  years ending in 4 have generally not been too great,  in most places.  South Australia in 1994 is an intriguing exception,  and 20 years might be a good interval at which to check a few of them.  Otherwise we will have to make do with years of interest for themselves.  For those interested in birth-year tastings,  1978 / '79 and 1983 are tempting this year.  We'll see.



Does Riesling Age – Including Historic Australian Wines:

A preview of the information to be handed out at the tasting is included below.  Our wines for the first Library Tasting this year will be:

ALSACE
1989  F Trimbach Riesling Clos Ste Hune Vendanges Tardives,  Hunawihr,  Central Alsace
AUSTRALIA
1984  Jeffrey Grosset Rhine Riesling Polish Hill,  Clare Valley,  South Australia
2002  Jeffrey Grosset Rhine Riesling Polish Hill,  Clare Valley,  South Australia
2004  Howard Park Riesling,  Great Southern,  West Australia
1962  Penfolds Minchinbury Rhine Riesling,  Rooty Hill,  Sydney,  NSW
GERMANY
2001 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett QmP,  Mosel Valley
1975  Rudolf Muller Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese QmP,  Mosel Valley
NEW ZEALAND
2001  Dry River Riesling,  Martinborough
2001  Felton Road Riesling Dry,  Bannockburn,  Central Otago
2002  Felton Road Riesling Block 1,  Bannockburn,  Central Otago
2005  Glover's Riesling Dry Moutere,  Moutere Hills,  Nelson
2007  Escarpment Riesling,  Martinborough

For as long as I can remember,  pundits have been saying that riesling is on the ascendancy,  and it will soon be a much greater percentage of sales.  This never comes to pass,  however,  perhaps because the variety is not really very food-friendly,  with its tendency to residual sweetness,  and its tendency to strange terpene-like components.  In general,  riesling is much better on its own,  where its delicate sometimes floral and sometimes aromatic nuances can be savoured without the distraction of food.

Initially riesling in New Zealand was somewhat set back by the prominence of the German cross-bred variety muller-thurgau,  then labelled as riesling.  Muller-thurgau can in fact be a lovely fragrant 'little' grape,  but it is fashionable among the cognoscenti to patronise at best or diminish the variety.  Thus in earlier decades,  Australian riesling ruled the roost.  Being a warmer climate than New Zealand's,  they do however have the problem of achieving sufficient subtlety,  and avoiding the extraction of terpene-like compounds which with age lead to the 'kerosene' note.  Some people like to criticise that too,  but a little can be pleasing,  especially in a dry wine better suited to food.

Few interested in Australian riesling can fail to have heard about Jeffrey Grosset,  for 30 or so years now the crowned king of the variety over there.  He inherited the crown from John Vickery,  when he was with the now-lost label Leo Buring.  But anyone in New Zealand tasting young Grosset Rieslings cannot help thinking what austere and unfriendly things they are,  at least initially.  And as (true) New Zealand riesling has improved and improved in the last 20 years,  that impression has persisted.  It is imperative therefore that our tasting includes a couple of older Grosset Rieslings,  to see them with appropriate age.  Agreeably,  they happen to be years with good reputations.  So they are not seen in isolation,  there is a West Australian riesling of some merit,  to calibrate them.

Apart from New Zealand wines,  for which we have five spanning Martinborough,  Nelson and Central Otago,  the logical yardstick to put into such an exercise is Trimbach Clos St Hune,  regarded by many as one of the great rieslings of the world.  We have the late and much-missed Ken Kirkpatrick to thank for this bottle.  We will have two New Zealand 2001 wines,  to see what happens to our rieslings with age,  when made by reputable producers.  They are 2001s because that year was simply benchmark in Germany,  a year as great in my estimation as 1971,  so we have a drier one of those in as a benchmark for the whole tasting.  

But in some ways the highlight of the tasting will be a fabled bottle of 1962 Penfolds Minchinbury Rhine Riesling,  made from fruit grown on a long-disappeared vineyard in the now-suburban Sydney district of Rooty Hill.  Such bottles are important to Australians,  who have a longer,  nobler,  and better-appreciated wine history than we do.  Nowhere is Australian appreciation of wine history better expressed than in the late Max Lake's wonderfully evocative book:  Classic Wines of Australia,  1966.  Minchinbury just squeaks into the ranking,  in a ragbag chapter closing the book.  Our specific wine isn't mentioned,  but Lake records that Penfolds bought the property in 1912,  when it was already a noted 'champagne' producer.  Penfolds continued this winestyle in the old stone winery,  at one stage the wine being bracketed with Great Western as one of the two good bubblies of Australia.  It is the pre-1953 (and also the 1964) Trameah however which Lake enthuses over,  comparing it with McWilliams Mt Pleasant.  Traminer is much closer in style to our bottle of Rhine Riesling.  For all these reasons I had the 1962 valued by Langton's,  Melbourne,  the premier auctioneer and valuer of wine in Australia.  It is hard to know whether to send it back home,  to raise the Australian dollars,  or to taste it ourselves.  I finally hoped there are enough local people curious about such a novel bottle,  and how it might taste.  Plus the thought of tasting any 50-year-old white that looked promising.

Finally,  there will be a Mosel from the pretty good 1975 vintage,  both as a kind of benchmark for older riesling (I hope),  and to serve as a counterbalance to the drier and perhaps stronger Australian wines.  Hopefully the New Zealand wines will find a happy home ground somewhere in the middle.




ALSACE
(a)
    1989  F Trimbach Riesling Clos Ste Hune Vendanges Tardives
Hunawihr,  Central Alsace:  14%;  $ –    [ cork – second bottle available;  hand-harvested;  a grand cru vineyard planted solely to riesling,  but the reputation of the wine makes that statement unnecessary on the label;  a Trimbach monopole,  on limestone,  c.750 cases per annum (varying);  1989 according to Broadbent: an admirable year, combining abundance and excellent quality *****;  Jancis Robinson describes the wine as rich but developed,  and scores it 19,  drawing to my attention yet another wine acronym seemingly linked to the Australian Wine Research Institute's  never-ending quest to analyse the life and soul out of every pleasant flavour in wine – TDN;  Corney & Barrow (London) have this listed currently at £360,  which may be more relevant;  www.trimbach.fr ]
AUSTRALIA
(b)
    1984  Jeffrey Grosset Rhine Riesling Polish Hill
Clare Valley,  Australia:  12%;  $ –    [ cork – regrettably there is no second bottle available,  but a moment's reflection will I am sure indicate I can't always achieve that – particular 30 years later;  4th vintage,  650 cases;  vineyard at 460m;  1984 was a cool year in South Australia,  with for some varieties elegant wines emerging;  Julia Harding in Jancis Robinson,  2009:  Ripe pineapple nose but not as tropical as that sounds and a touch of honey. Lovely rich intense toasty palate and still so lovely and fresh,  18.5;  Lisa Perrotti-Brown,  in Robert Parker,  2011:  Pale to medium straw in color, the 1984 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling has intense evolved Riesling notes, going a little honeyed over scents of orange blossom, lemon marmalade, some chalk, hay and blanched almonds. Very crisp, light to medium bodied and dry, it gives layers of expressive toasty / chalky flavors, finishing long,  92; . www.grosset.com.au ]
(c)
    2002  Jeffrey Grosset Rhine Riesling Polish Hill
Clare Valley,  Australia:  13%;  $47   [ screwcap;  vineyard at 460m;  2002 was an exceptional year in South Australia,  the Clare Valley whites rated 10/10 by James Halliday (rare);  J. Grosset at release:  All the indications are that, with time, this will come to be regarded as the greatest Polish Hill Riesling of them all … intense lime aromas; tight, focused and lean with minerally, slatey, lime juice flavours and racy, bracing lingering acidity … austere … coiled power, varietal purity …and Polish Hill’s characteristic steely backbone. Jancis Robinson,  2013:  Very lightly honeyed nose but very low key nose at first - worryingly so. Bone dry.  Austere. A bit fruitless at first but it grew in the glass to provide a very vibrant, delineated - still bone dry - mouthful of refined dry grapefruit flavour. Super clean,  17.5;  James Halliday:  Light straw-green; the toasty but discreet bouquet has crisp apple and mineral notes, but is far from flamboyant; the palate is already offering much more power than the bouquet, with flavours running through from apple to lime and a long finish,  95;  www.grosset.com.au ]
(d)
    2004 Howard Park Riesling
Great Southern district,  West Australia,  Australia:  12.5%  $31   [ screwcap;  included to compare and contrast an Australian riesling from a cooler district with the New Zealand wines,  Great Southern 2004 rated 8/10 by Halliday,  RS usually under 5;  James Halliday,  2004:  Pale straw-green; spotlessly clean apple and lime blossom; lovely palate, with sweet lime fruit and a dry finish,  95;  GK,  2006:  intriguing citrus zest complexity to it,  almost suggesting mandarin and mock orange blossom,  in a very subtle riesling setting,  18.5+;  not the easiest website to find things,  www.burchfamilywines.com.au ]
(e)
    1962  Penfolds Minchinbury Rhine Riesling
Rooty Hill,  Sydney,  NSW,  Australia:  :  – %;  $ –     [ cork ,  second bottle available but ullaged and lesser colour,  so here's hoping;   Langton's estimate the current value of this bottle to be $AU200;  these bottles found in Westport in 1971;  the Minchinbury winery and vineyard at Rooty Hill was at its peak in the early 1950s,  famed amongst other things for its Trameah (traminer – as was the Hunter Valley,  then).  There was a short resurgence of quality in the early 60s,  but the land came under increasing pressure from encroaching suburbia.  Wine production and viticulture ceased in 1978. No tasting notes found.  Langton's website includes in its history section the statement:  "At one stage Penfolds Minchinbury “Champagne” and Minchinbury “Trameah” were the leading sparkling and white table wines produced in Australia during the 1950s."  This is a taste of history,  therefore.]
GERMANY
(f)
    2001 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett QmP
Mosel Valley,  Germany:  8.5%;  $30   [ cork,  second bottle available;  Broadbent rates 2001 ***** for Germany;  some use of big old wood;  for the winery vintage commenced 22 October,  their average yield this year being 7.5 t/ha = 3 t/ac;  this wine emerged as desirable,  from comparative tastings of the German 2001s I presented in August 2003;  the owners describe the 2001 vintage (at the time) thus:  The so-called "golden October" (warmest for hundred years!) helped us to harvest one of the very best vintages of the past 30 years. … The 2001 vintage is beautifully balanced with expressive exotic aromas of passion-fruit, peach and blackcurrant combined with a lively ripe acidity. … We compare 2001 with vintage 1990 or even with 1975 - "Riesling-legends";  www.kesselstatt.com ]
(g)
    1975  Rudolf Muller Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese QmP
Mosel Valley,  Germany:  – %;  $ –   [ cork,  second bottle available;  no info; Broadbent rates 1975 **** for Germany;  the goals here are firstly,  to endorse the view that riesling is the pre-eminent white cellar wine,  without any presumption that this is sublime,  and secondly to bridge the jump back to 1962,  though that wine will be climatically very different in style;  GK 2012:  Bouquet shows riesling terpenes quite evident,  a slightly hoppy note (+ve),  on suggestions of citrus / limezest aroma,  moving with age to a thought of candied lemon peel.  Palate again has the acid of 1975,  a certain austerity,  but purity too,  which could be called mineral.  The level of fruit and the freshness of the wine is amazing,  there is absolutely no hurry here at all,  17.5 ]
NEW ZEALAND
(h)
   2001  Dry River Riesling
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  9%;  $22   [ cork – second bottle available;  Dry River always made a feature of the cellar-worthyness of their wines,  so checking their 2001 Riesling alongside both an Otago one and a Mosel seems fun;  the winery (on the very complete website) says of the year:  The ripening period was extended … by drought … resulting in fully ripe phenolics, more floral flavours and markedly lower alcohols in what are nevertheless ripe wine styles;  of the wine they say:  … a voluminous, predominantly floral nose: apple blossom, roses and freesias, limes and a touch of talc. The palate is full, with a long aftertaste managing both richness and delicacy …;  Michael Cooper,  2003:  a freshly scented, light wine (9% alcohol), with slightly sweet, appley, limey flavours, firm acidity and good length ****;  www.dryriver.co.nz ]
(i)
    2001  Felton Road Riesling Dry
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  10%;  $21   [ cork – second bottle available;  an unremarkable/ average vintage;  the wine hand-harvested,  wild-yeast fermented;  Michael Cooper,  2003:  … floral, with light body (10% alcohol) and beautifully fresh, delicate and springy flavours, rich, lemony and lingering ****½;  www.feltonroad.com ]
(j)
    2002  Felton Road Riesling Block 1
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  10%;  $21   [ screwcap;  the vineyard considers 2002 a near-perfect vintage;  the wine late- and hand-harvested,  no botrytis,  wild-yeast fermentation,  50 g/L RS;  Michael Cooper,  2004:  … delicate and racy, with green apple and lemon aromas, a distinctly mineral streak, and searching flavours of lemon and limes, sweet and tangy. It should be very long-lived,  *****;  www.feltonroad.com ]
(k)
    2005  Glover's Riesling Dry Moutere
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  12%;  $17   [ cork – second bottle available;  there is a measure of inconsistency in the wines from Dave Glover,  which tends to obscure the odd gem.  This one appealed to me at release – I am looking forward to seeing it again;  GK,  2006:  a strongly floral bouquet reminiscent of freesia,  or even as perfumed as jasmine,  on sweet vanillin and potentially nectary notes,  plus a zing of  aromatic hops.  Palate is exceptional,  with precise varietal definition made the more unusual (for New Zealand) by being bone dry,  yet with great body and length of flavour …,  18.5;  www.glovers-vineyard.co.nz ]
(l)
    2007  Escarpment Riesling
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  12%;  $24   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  and finally,  a younger wine to show the grape at that stage;  2007 a year of good quality but low crops in Martinborough;  Larry McKenna is so well-known for his pinot noir,  we tend to forget he has produced some  pretty lovely rieslings over the years.  GK,  2007:  Bouquet … lime-zest and cooking apples again,  just a hint of cinnamon-like spice,  as if there is a little more skin influence.  Palate is totally extraordinary.  It tastes dramatically riesling,  and in effect,  totally dry,  with low phenolics.  Alongside the known-to-be-dry Craggy Rapaura,  the Escarpment tastes drier and finer.  Yet on examination of the numbers,  the latter is 15 g/L residual sugar,  normally a clear medium-dry to medium … a function of the phenomenally low pH on this wine,  2.84,  … it should cellar for 10 – 20 years,  18+;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]

Reserve bottle:  even screwcap wines can be defective occasionally:  
2007  Foxes Island Marlborough Riesling
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%  $32   [ screwcap;  off-dry; Gold medal and Trophy,  2007 Air NZ judging;  Michael Cooper,  2009:  The pure punchy 2007 was estate-grown in the Awatere Valley, hand-picked … lees-aged …Elegant, crisp and tight, it has fresh lively lemon/lime flavours, with a hint of passionfruit, a mineral edge and a refreshing,  finely balanced, long finish  ****½;  www.foxes-island.co.nz ]





1953, '60, '62 and '86 Ch Margaux, a special 1953 Rioja, and others:

Time:  Thursday 28 November,  2013,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $145 per person
Bookings:  Phone Ian @ 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  20-only places (sediment and ullage) – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted
.  
___________________________________  

1953 was one of the great post-war European vintages.  And in particular,  it is considered the last great Ch Margaux of the previous ownership,  as the place ran down under the Ginestets,  until the takeover by the Mentzelopoulos family in 1976.  We have four vintages of Ch Margaux,  including one young one to illustrate the latterday changes.

This tasting is particularly oriented to people who love wine for itself,  and wish to explore the charms of old and in some cases frail wine.  Sixty years is quite a haul,  for any red wine.  The 1953 Rioja may be nearly as exciting as the Ch Margaux – I have never since found a Spanish wine to match it in its beauty,  when younger.  Needless to say,  it dates from the reign of tempranillo and graciano,  with no bold interlopers and no excess of oak pandering to coarse new-world tastes.  Because the key wines are older,  I have chosen wines from lighter vintages to accompany the main players.  This also helps to make the cost more reasonable.  Please check the current price for 1953 Ch. Margaux on www.winesearcher.com,  and some of the others too.   In contrast the 1986 Ch Margaux should need no help,  and thus I have included 1976 Ch Montrose as a kind of good reference bordeaux in appropriate maturity,  to calibrate the whole exercise.  

This tasting will also include an example of the great 1961 Bordeaux vintage.  Some say it is the greatest Bordeaux vintage since the war.  Clos René was reliable rather than well-regarded in those days,  but any taste of a 1961 is pretty rare now.  

For the others,  the two Aussies are wines from perhaps the two greatest (and greatly outspoken) pioneers of genuine cabernet sauvignon / bordeaux styles in Australia,  as opposed to the horde of Aussie thumpers.  Both Max Lake  and John Middleton were medicos,  both now sadly deceased.  And rather than the usual New Zealand wine I tend to put into such exercises,  let's put in a highly-regarded Chilean winery which sails under the radar in New Zealand.  And of course it is always nice to have a burgundy in an old claret tasting,  especially when we have some burgundian riojas.  

Please note that buying into this tasting is the same as buying a rare bottle yourself.  I'm afraid you have to accept the risk that one may be corked.  I do have back-up bottles of the 1953 and 1955 Riojas,  so you will taste a good 1953.  And likewise for the 1986 Ch Margaux and the 1976 Montrose.  The other French are sole bottles,  I'm afraid.  There are other bottles some French standing up,  so you will get 12 wines,  but let's hope they are the ones listed.

Our wines will be:
1953 Ch Margaux,  Margaux Premier Cru,  Bordeaux
1953 Bodegas Bilbainas Vina Pomal Reserva Especial,  Rioja
1955 Bodegas Bilbainas Vieja Reserva,  Rioja
1960 Ch Margaux,  Margaux Premier Cru,  Bordeaux
1961 Close René,  Pomerol
1962 Ch Margaux,  Margaux Premier Cru,  Bordeaux
1971 Dom Gouroux Grands-Echezeaux,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy
1972 Lakes Folly Cabernet Sauvignon,  Hunter Valley
1976 Ch Montrose,  St Estephe Deuxieme Cru,  Bordeaux
1983 Mount Mary Cabernets,  Yarra Valley
1985 Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon,  Maipo Valley
1986 Ch Margaux,  Margaux Premier Cru,  Bordeaux

For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind.  There is a perhaps 60-fold difference in current price between the most and least valuable,  in this tasting.  It is therefore much more instructive to decide which wine one likes best,  before the price is known.





Some Top 2003 New Zealand Pinot Noirs, One French Marker:

Time:  Thursday 14 November,  2013,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $55 per person
Bookings:  Phone Ian @ 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  22 places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations with less than 48 hours prior notice.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted
.  
___________________________________  

New Zealand 2003-vintage pinot noirs were the subject of special tastings in both the 2007 and 2010 Pinot Noir Conferences.  In the latter the wines did not come across as well as I would have hoped,  perhaps because they were over-handled.  Most New Zealand pinot noirs are best between five and eight years after vintage,  but the good ones will run a little longer.  When our pinots achieve something of the longevity of the wines of Burgundy,  we will know that pinot noir has really arrived in New Zealand.  Increasing vine age will help that goal.

Meanwhile,  10 years later,  here is a selection of some of the best New Zealand pinot noirs from the vintage,  including some from the Conferences,  and some others so we have a sampling from all the main districts.  I have back-up bottles of all those not sealed with screwcap,  so tasters will receive what is listed.  Note that in several cases the vineyard's top wine,  or the one I consider their top for the year,  is presented,  not the standard wine.  This makes it tougher for wineries putting all their efforts into one representative label,  but should give us a more exciting tasting:

Our wines will be:
NEW ZEALAND
2003 Dog Point Pinot Noir,  Marlborough
2003 Dry River Pinot Noir,  Martinborough
2003 Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe,  Martinborough
2003 Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3,  Bannockburn,  Central Otago
2003 Greenhough Pinot  Noir,  Waimea Plains,  Nelson
2003 Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Marie Zelie,  Martinborough
2003 Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Target Gully,  Bannockburn,  Central Otago
2003 Neudorf Pinot Noir Home Paddock,  Moutere Hills,  Nelson
2003 Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Prima Donna,  Waipara,  North Canterbury
2003 M Richardson Pinot Noir,  Cromwell and Gibbston Valleys,  Central Otago
2003 Schubert Pinot Noir,  Wairarapa
FRANCE
2003 J Drouhin Pommard,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy

For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind.  It is much more instructive to decide which wine one likes best,  before the price is known.





Library Tasting:  2002 Pinot Noirs from New Zealand and France

Time:  Thursday 25 October,  2012,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $70 per person
Bookings:  Phone 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  22 places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp,  on the Thursday.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted
.  

___________________________________  

Oops,  slight change of plan,  let's be predictable and taste the wines on their tenth anniversary.  That gives us a couple of French wines this year including one exciting (and expensive) one,  and the top New Zealand 2003s to look forward to next year.  There are a couple of New Zealand 2001s included in this first batch,  since they were wines which impressed me at the time.  Note that for the 2002 Clos de Tart,  the conservative Jancis Robinson rates it 18/20,  and Stephen Tanzer 95,  commenting "a great burgundy".  Once you have checked the current price of this wine on .winesearcher.com,  hopefully the tasting fee will seem attractive !

The goal will be to find fragrant expressions of full pinot noir varietal character at full maturity in the case of the New Zealand wines,  and at early maturity in the case of the French.  So you can be fairly confident I will have cellared wines where the variety is to the fore,  and oak and artefact are subdued.  2002 was a good vintage in Burgundy,  and likewise for New Zealand.  Some of the Central Otago wines seemed overly rich,  dark and over-ripe in their early days,  but those seen recently have settled down well.  It will be good to see them at ten years of age.

Our wines will be:
NEW ZEALAND
2002 Akarua Pinot Noir,  Bannockburn,  Central Otago
2002 Dry River Pinot Noir,  Martinborough
2002 Escarpment Pinot Noir,  Martinborough
2002 Felton Road Pinot Noir,  Bannockburn,  Central Otago
2002 Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3,  Bannockburn,  Central Otago
2002 Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir,  Bannockburn,  Central Otago
2002 Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere,  Nelson
2001 Neudorf Pinot Noir Home Paddock,  Moutere Hills,  Nelson
2001 Pisa Range Pinot Noir Black Poplar,  Pisa district,  Cromwell Basin
2000 D F Schuster Pinot Noir Omihi,  Waipara
FRANCE
2002 Girardin Chassagne-Morgeot Premier Cru,  Cote de Beaune
2002 Mommessin Clos de Tart Grand Cru Monopole,  Morey-Saint-Denis,  Cote de Nuits

For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  For this tasting,  the wines will be presented blind,  since the most expensive wines are valued at up to 11 times the price of the cheapest. It is much more fun to decide which wine one likes best,  before the price is known.





Library Tasting:  Bordeaux blends in New Zealand & France (one Australian),  vintage 2000 ...

Time:  Wednesday 3 October,  2012,  time to be confirmed,  probably 6.00 pm start
Place:  Room and venue to be confirmed,  probably Old Government House,  Auckland University Campus,  Waterloo Quadrant area
Cost:  $65 per person
Bookings:  Slightly complicated.  Booking and payment need to be made electronically to Geoff Kelly:  geoff dot kelly at xtra dot co dot nz  Please contact me for details.  There may be a delay in me replying,  due to travel,  but hang in there,  bookings will be accepted strictly in order of receipt.
Limit:  22 places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 pm Tuesday 2.  
Cancellation of Tasting:  If numbers are insufficient by 9pm Tuesday 2,  the tasting will be cancelled and you will be notified by email.  Refunds will follow.  
   
___________________________________  

Bordeaux blends are enjoying a real renaissance in the Auckland district,  following on from the lead set by the Goldwaters and Stephen White on Waiheke Island,  plus Tim Harris at Kumeu.

But with established labels such as Te Mata Coleraine and Ngatarawa Alwyn now costing around $80 per bottle,  and Stonyridge and Puriri Hills (Clevedon) significantly more,  it is worth reflecting that for the Bordeaux 2011 en primeurs (now they have settled back to a more sustainable price),  one can buy a very wide selection of recognised Bordeaux up the level of,  say,  the highly desirable Ch Giscours or Ch Branaire-Ducru for the same money.

Stephen Spurrier not so long ago said that looking around the world,  Hawkes Bay had the climate and wines that most closely matched Bordeaux.  And since the Bordeaux used to say that it was a sin against the spirit of the bottle to open Bordeaux before it was 10 years old,  we thought,  wouldn't it be fun to put up half a dozen 2000 vintage Bordeaux against a matching number of New Zealand ones.  The goal would be to see the how the winestyles compared,  and where the value lay.  Then we had a tinge of guilt,  that we couldn't completely ignore the elephant next door,  so one of the kiwi wines is now Australian.  It is just so damnably hard to find Australian reds that don't scream eucalyptus rather more than saying anything interesting about their grapes.

A couple of the French wines are east bank merlot dominant / cabernet franc blends to illustrate a style becoming popular in the Auckland district,  as opposed to the many cabernet sauvignon-lead wines from Hawkes Bay.  We hope that will add to the appeal of this tasting for Auckland-district winemakers.  Otherwise the Bordeaux span the range from bourgeois cru through to one of the emerging super-seconds from the famous Pauillac district,  considered by many to be the very heart of Bordeaux.  They have been chosen to allow the New Zealand wines a fair contest,  while still
including one wine of high repute (and price) to add interest.  The New Zealand Bordeaux blends are those most frequently encountered in the market-place (in 2000).  

One factor to consider when deciding whether to come to one of my Library Tastings is that where possible,  the wine has been cellared on taste,  and that 'taste' is based on more than 40 years experience.  With any luck,  therefore,  there won't be many duds.  

For my Library Tastings,  the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are very small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking. For this tasting,  the wines will be presented blind,  since the most expensive wines are up to 5 times the price of the cheapest.  It is much more fun to decide which wine one likes best, before the price is known.

The wines will be:
New Zealand and Australia:
2000 Alpha Domus Aviator,  Hawkes Bay
2000 Mills Reef Merlot Elspeth,  Hawkes Bay
2000 Ngatarawa Alwyn,  Hawkes Bay
2000 Petaluma Coonawarra Cabernet / Merlot
2000 Stonyridge Larose,  Waiheke Island
2000 Te Mata Coleraine,  Hawkes Bay
Reserve:  2000 Pask Merlot Reserve
France:
2000 Ch Angludet,  Margaux
2000 Ch Lanessan,  Cussac (Haut Medoc)
2000 Clos René,  Pomerol
2000 Ch Grand Corbin-Despagne,  St Emilion
2000 Ch Leoville Poyferre,  St Julien
2000 Ch Pichon-Longueville-Baron,  Pauillac
Reserve:  2000 Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste,  Pauillac

We look forward to seeing you.  Gerard Logan in the Oenology Group at Auckland University has volunteered to field any local Auckland calls seeking info.  All payment queries as above,  though,  please.





Library Tasting:  The Glorious Wines of the Southern Rhone Valley,  1998

Time:  Thursday 27 September,  2012,  7 pm start
Place:  Tasting Room,  Decant Vintners & Epicures,  61 Mandeville St,  Riccarton,  Christchurch
Cost:  $70 per person
Bookings:  To Decant please,  phone (03) 343 1945,  or email:  decant@decantwine.co.nz
Limit:  22 places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp,  on the Thursday.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted
.    
___________________________________  

Chateauneuf du Pape is Robert Parker's favourite wine with food – and this guy has the world to choose from.  The reason I think is the soft savoury sensuous nature of the wine,  more like strong slightly spirity pinot noir than anything else.  And the good thing from the wine-lovers point of view is,  so many of the red wines of the satellite villages in the Chateauneuf du Pape district are essentially similar to the grand wine,  and made from the same varieties,  but are perhaps not as big,  and certainly not as expensive.  And this trend continues right down to the everyday red wine of the district,  Cotes du Rhone,  again made from the same varieties,  but less rich,  less oaked (or not oaked),  and in some ways even more food-friendly.  The best of the Cotes du Rhones come from the label Cote du Rhone-Villages or the more restricted Cotes du Rhone Villages-named Village (18-only).

Our tasting will present a sampling of several of the main appellations of the southern Rhone district in the 1998 vintage,  from Cotes-du-Rhone through to an emphasis on the great wine of the district,  Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  This was a warm vintage, which initially had a fantastic reputation.  Latterly,  some critics have found them a bit too hot-year:  a lack of aromatics,  and an excess of alcohol.  I suspect this was a ''phase" thing,  for some showed beautifully in Wellington in April this year.  I am quite sure some of our wines will be of great interest and appeal.

One factor to consider when deciding whether to come to one of my Library Tastings is that where possible,  the wine has been cellared on taste,  and that 'taste' is based on more than 40 years experience.  With any luck,  therefore,  there won't be many duds.  We will include both "traditional" wines,  which essentially means concrete vats or big old oak only,  and the "modern" approach using some 225-litre new oak barrels.  To clarify this factor,  contrasting wines from the highly-regarded producers Santa Duc will be shown.

For my Library Tastings,  the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are very small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking. For this tasting,  the wines will be presented blind,  since the most expensive wines are up to 5 times the price of the cheapest.  It is much more fun to decide which wine one likes best, before the price is known.

1998 Brunel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Cailloux
1998 Domaine Brusset Cotes du Rhone-Villages Cairanne
1998 Domaine de La Charbonniere Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vielles-Vignes
1998 Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf-du-Pape
1998 Domaine Gramenon Cotes-du-Rhone La Sargesse
1998 Domaine de La Mordoree Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee de la Reine des Bois
1998 Ch Pesquie Cotes du Ventoux Les Terrasses
1998 Ch de Saint Cosme Gigondas
1998 Domaine Santa Duc Cotes du Rhone Les Quatre Terres
1998 Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas
1998 Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas Prestige des Hautes Garrigues
1998 Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Reserve wines:   1998 Domaine d'Andezon Cotes du Rhone-Villages and
                           1998 Domaine Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape





Library Tasting:  UNDERSTANDING BORDEAUX:  St Estephe 2003,  the coolest district in the hottest year ...

Time:  Wednesday 19 September,  2012,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $75 per person
Bookings:  Phone 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  22 places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp,  on the Thursday.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted
.    
___________________________________  

For Bordeaux,  the 2003 vintage was challenging.  For over fifty successive days during the summer,  the temperature exceeded 30 degrees.  In August temperatures exceeded 40 degrees some days.  These are South Australian numbers.  Yet for some communes,  both Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and the Wine Spectator rate the vintage 95,  putting some of the wines in the top league.  For the best wines,  the commonest comparisons are with 1959,  which though overshadowed by 1961,  included some breathtakingly beautiful wines.

Since St Estephe to the north and with its clays is the coolest of the grand cru vineyard appellations in the Haut-Medoc,  it therefore makes a lot of sense to study the wines of this commune alone,  in such a hot year.  The case is augmented by some commentators considering 2003 Ch Montrose is one of the very top wines of Bordeaux in that year.  Robert Parker for example:  This superb, huge, ripe wine is one of the vintage’s most prodigious offerings. 97 +.  The usually much more reserved Jancis Robinson has marked 2003 Montrose up to 19.  Cos d'Estournel is not far behind,  Robert Parker again:  The prodigious, fantastic 2003 Cos d’Estournel is a candidate for wine of the vintage. 98  Robinson has marked it it up to 18.5.  This exact wine is currently on the shelf in one New Zealand wine merchant for $633.60 (reduced !),  which gives some idea of the value in this tasting.

Our tasting will include both these benchmark wines,  and Calon Segur,  the northernmost classed growth which becomes more exciting with every passing recent vintage,  and should be particularly interesting in this hot year.  In fact our tasting list is almost a roll-call of the most desirable labels in St Estephe,  even though it is hard to get them all,  on this side of the world.

Studying these wines across a price range of roughly $40 to $325 landed en primeur cost will provide a good insight into desirable ripening parameters for cab / merlot blends in New Zealand,  now that we have the prospect of over-ripe merlot in the warmest years on the Gimblett Gravels.

Our wines will be 12 from:
Ch Le Boscq,  Cru Bourgeois      
Ch Calon-Segur,  Third Growth  
Ch Cos d'Estournel,  Second Growth
Ch Cos Labory,  Fifth Growth
Ch Haut-Marbuzet,  Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel
Ch Lafon-Rochet,  Fourth Growth
Ch Meyney,  Cru Bourgeois Superieur        
Ch Montrose,  Second Growth        
Dame de Montrose,   (second wine of ...)
Ch Ormes de Pez,  Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel
Ch Phelan-Segur,  Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel
Ch Segur de Cabanac,  Cru Bourgeois
Ch Tour de Pez,  Cru Bourgeois Superieur  

For my Library Tastings,  the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking. For this tasting,  the wines will be presented blind,  since the most expensive wine is valued at around 8 times the price of the cheapest.  It is much more fun to decide which wine one likes best,  before the price is known.






Library Tasting:  DO SWEET WINES AGE,  including 1966 Ch d'Yquem

Time:  Thursday 23 August,  2012,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $75 per person
Bookings:  Phone 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  22 places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp,  on the Thursday.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted
.    
___________________________________  

The youngest wines will be two New Zealand botrytised
chardonnays with less or no oak influence,  from 2000 and
1987,  to introduce the aromas and flavours of botrytis.

Wines from the 80s and 70s follow,  including several historic
bottles.  The original and famous multiple gold-medal winning
wine 1982 de Bortoli Sauternes Botrytis Semillon (later re-named
Noble One) is now highly sought after in Australia.  The 1981
St Leonards Chenin Blanc Late Harvest from NE Victoria also
won gold medals in its day,  but is looking a little dark in bottle
now.

We have 1983 Ch Rieussec,  a famous year for the sweet wines
of Bordeaux,  and 1975 Filhot.  The local 1976 McWilliams Tuki
Tuki Semillon Sauternes is extremely rare,  and included as a
complete gamble for its historical interest.

From 1970 there is Ch de Malle from Sauternes complemented by
Ch Coutet from Barsac,  and a rare McWilliams Mount Pleasant
Hunter Valley Semillon Sauterne (sic).  The tasting concludes with
1966 Ch d'Yquem,  a typical rather than outstanding year in Sauternes,
colour looking promising.  12 wines in all.

The wines will be:
2000  Dry River Chardonnay Botrytis Berry Selection,  Martinborough
1987  Rongopai Chardonnay Botrytised,  Te Kauwhata
1983  Ch Rieussec,  Sauternes
1982  de Bortoli Sauternes Botrytis Semillon,  Riverina,  NSW
1981  St Leonards Chenin Blanc Late-Harvest,  near Corowa,  NE Victoria
1976  McWilliams (NZ) Semillon Sauternes Tuki Tuki,  Hawkes Bay
1970  McWilliams (Aust) Sauterne Mount Pleasant,  Hunter Valley
1975  Ch Filhot,  Sauternes
1975  Ch de Rolland,  Barsac
1970  Ch de Malle,  Sauternes
1970  Ch Coutet,  Barsac
1966  Ch d'Yquem,  Sauternes

Reserve wines:
1975  B & G Sauternes
1979  Orlando Semillon Spaetlese Gold Medal

For my Library Tastings,  the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking. For this tasting,  the wines will be presented blind,  since the most expensive wines are valued at up to 14 times the price of the cheapest.  It is much more fun to decide which wine one likes best,  before the price is known.






LIBRARY TASTING:  A DIVERSITY OF AFFORDABLE '76s,  8 REGIONS,  including NOBILO ...


Time:  Thursday 26 July,  2012,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $55 per person
Bookings:  Phone 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  22 places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp,  on the Thursday.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted
.    
___________________________________  

This is a workaday tasting for people who simply love wine,  and are eager to know what all sorts of wines taste like 35 years later.  There should be some lovely bouquets among them,  and the better the palates are,  the more of a bonus that will be.

We have wines from France,  Australia and New Zealand and California,  and within France from Bordeaux,  Burgundy and both ends of the Rhone.  One or two pretty attractive labels,  but nothing elite.

1976 wasn't a great vintage pretty well anywhere,  better in Australasia than Europe.  The heatwave in Europe upped the tannins,  and the rain in Bordeaux upset the concentration.  But last month's 76s gave  a lot of pleasure,  and most still had`delightful typicité.  Wine doesn't have to be the flashest,  to still be a lot of fun and enjoyment.  In Europe the Southern Rhone might be the least of the districts,  but we will see.  Might match the burgundies nicely.

On that note,  the bordeaux have been picked to hopefully be fragrant,  even if light.  That should allow better parity with the Australasian wines.  One of the burgundies is from a great proprietor and a not inconsequential appellation,  but both will be light - I imagine.

Nick Nobilo's three 1976 vinifera reds were famous in their day,  along with his 1970s.  This will provide an opportunity to reflect on two of them,  now historic New Zealand wines,  to a younger generation only knowing them by repute.  I regret the Cab Sauv is ullaged to half-shoulder,  but my experience is that such bottles often still speak surprisingly well.  Likewise both McWilliams and the Redman are now historic bottles.  Redman are still extant,  though you don't hear much about them now.  Both will be very light.

The wines will be:
1976 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon,  Hawkes Bay
1976 Nobilo Cabernet Sauvignon,  Kumeu,  Auckland district
1976 Nobilo Pinotage,  Kumeu,  Auckland district
1976 Redman Cabernet Sauvignon,  Coonawarra (magnum)
1976 Tahbilk Shiraz,  Central Victoria
1976 Rutherford Hill Zinfandel,  Napa Valley
1976 Ch Lanessan,  Cussac Cru Bourgeois Supérieur,  Medoc
1976 Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste,  Pauillac Fifth Growth,  Medoc
1976 Jadot Aloxe-Corton,  Cote de Beaune
1976 Leroy Corton,  Cote de Beaune
1976 Jaboulet Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Cedres,  Southern Rhone Valley
1976 Jaboulet Cote Rotie Les Jumelles,  Northern Rhone Valley

Reserve wines:
1976 Penfold [ Shiraz / Cabernet ] Claret Koonunga Hill  (historic,  first vintage)
1976 Ch Meyney,  St Estephe

For my Library Tastings,  the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking. For this tasting,  the wines will be presented blind,  since the most expensive wines are valued at up to 17 times the price of the cheapest.  It is much more fun to decide which wine one likes best,  before the price is known.






LIBRARY TASTING:  DEFINITIVE (FOR NZ) 1976 BORDEAUX TASTING - PETRUS,  LATOUR,  MOUTON,  GRANGE,  8 OTHERS

Time:  Thursday 21 June,  2012,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $140 per person
Bookings:  Phone 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  22 places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp,  on the Wednesday.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted
.    
___________________________________  

This tasting provides an unparallelled and scarcely repeatable opportunity to experience the kind of wine event normally only available in London,  or maybe San Francisco.  All the wines have been cellared in near-perfect conditions since purchase around 1979.

Cost:  I ask tasters to consider carefully what recent price movements in the sale of red Bordeaux mean to us in New Zealand.  In the simplest terms,  public tastings with first growths like this one will scarcely be offered in future.  They will be the preserve of the very wealthy.  

Now that this season's en primeur prices are available,  to replace this tasting of 12 wines with the reasonable-quality 2011 vintage would cost about $NZ5300.  To replace them with the highly-rated 2009 or 2010 vintage would be around $NZ9800.  Given good attendance,  for a tasting in my format (below) that would work out to a per head cost of $295 for the 2011s,  or $545 for the two very good vintages.  Makes you think.

For these 1976s,  a vintage welcomed at the time for its heat in the cold 1970s era,  but now considered middling and a little old,  the fee is $140.  I imagine in London it would be of the order of £200.  Please check the current values on www.winesearcher.com.  1976 Grange averages $1397 per bottle,  second to 1976 Petrus at $1828.  Note 1976 Grange is the only Grange Robert Parker has marked 100 points.  I think the price is attractive,  therefore.

The wines span:  St Estephe,  Pauillac,  St Julien,  Margaux,  Graves (a lesser one) St Emilion and Pomerol.  Note there are no back-up bottles,  the risk of a corked bottle (re the tasting fee) is exactly as if you had cellared the wine yourself.  The wines are:

Cabernet or Merlot-dominant wines:
1976 Ch Carbonnieux Rouge (Graves)
1976 Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou (St Julien)
1976 Ch Giscours (Margaux)
1976 Ch Latour (Pauillac)
1976 Ch Leoville-Barton (St Julien)
1976 Ch Lynch-Bages (Pauillac)
1976 Ch Magdelaine (St Emilion)
1976 Ch Montrose (St Estephe)
1976 Ch Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac)
1976 Ch Petrus (Pomerol)
1976 Vieux Chateau Certan (Pomerol)

Shiraz dominant:
1976 Penfolds [ Shiraz ] Bin 95 Grange (South Australia)

[ Reserve:  1976 Ch La Lagune,  Margaux-Ludon ]

For my Library Tastings,  the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking. For this tasting,  the wines will be presented blind,  since the most expensive wines are valued at up to 17 times the price of the cheapest.  It is much more fun to decide which wine one likes best,  before the price is known.







LIBRARY TASTING:  1992 – 1994 CABERNET AND SHIRAZ REDS FROM SEVERAL COUNTRIES

Time:  Thursday 17 May,  2012,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $50 per person
Bookings:  Phone 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  22 places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp,  on the Wednesday.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted
.    
___________________________________  

This Library Tasting offers the rare opportunity to compare mature premium cabernet wines from the Napa Valley,  South Africa and Australia.  They were cellared on the basis of measuring up in taste evaluations.  Half the wines are cabernet blends,  and half shiraz,  grown variously in mainland Australia,  Western Australia,  South Africa,  California,  and one French.  The tasting includes some of the top wines of the time,  but no Trophy wines.  At the time they were selected to show varietal quality rather more than oak or weight,  hence the favouring of the cooler year 1994.  In general,  it is true to say that only 20 years ago,  Australians had not realised that their finest wines were made in the cool years.  Big wines were more the goal then. So there should be plenty to discuss.

This will also be the first chance to taste a couple of the late Ken Kirkpatrick's wines.  This keenly critical wine man is much missed at Regional tastings,  for little escaped his attention.  Before his death he arranged for Geoff Kelly to hold certain of his wines in trust,  specifically to add depth and points of interest / detail to the Library Tastings series.  Each bottle used will result in a contribution to the Educational Trust Ken has established in Southland.  For this tasting,  Ken's wines include one from the Diamond Creek Vineyard,  Napa Valley.  It was established in 1967,  and was one of the first of the later "cult" Napa cabernets.  In his overseas travels,  Ken took pleasure in bringing back select wines unobtainable here which he thought would add interest to New Zealand tastings.  

For my Library Tastings,  the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are very small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking. For this tasting,  the wines will be presented blind,  since the most expensive wines are up to 7 times the price of the cheapest.  It is much more fun to decide which wine one likes best,  before the price is known.

Cabernet dominant wines:
1992  Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace,  Napa Valley (KK)
1994  Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon Cyril Henschke,  Barossa Valley
1993  Kanoncop Cabernet Sauvignon Paul Sauer,  Stellenbosch (KK)
1994  Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Art Series,  Margaret River
1994  Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 407,  South Australia – various
1993  Peter Lehmann Cabernet-dominant Mentor,  Barossa Valley
Reserve wine:  1994  Wynns Cabernet Sauvignon,  Coonawarra

Shiraz dominant:
1992  Barossa Valley Estates E&E Shiraz Black Pepper,  Barossa Valley (KK)
1994  David Wynn Shiraz Patriarch,  Eden Valley
1992  Elderton Shiraz Command,  Barossa Valley
1994  Penfolds Shiraz / Cabernet Bin 389,  Barossa Valley mainly
1994  Penfolds Shiraz Magill,  Adelaide district
1994  Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie La Landonne (syrah),  Northern Rhone Valley
Reserve wine:  1992  Orlando Shiraz Lawson's,  Padthaway




LIBRARY TASTING:  THE GLORIOUS WINES OF THE SOUTHERN RHONE VALLEY: 1998

Time:  Thursday 19 April,  2012,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $50 per person
Bookings:  Phone 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  22 places – please note Booking Conditions ...
Booking Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp,  on the Wednesday.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted
.    
___________________________________  

Chateauneuf du Pape is Robert Parker's favourite wine with food – and this guy has the world to choose from.  The reason I think is the soft savoury sensuous nature of the wine,  more like strong slightly spirity pinot noir than anything else.  And the good thing from the wine-lovers point of view is,  so many of the red wines of the satellite villages in the Chateauneuf du Pape district are essentially similar to the grand wine,  and made from the same varieties,  but are perhaps not as big,  and certainly not as expensive.  And this trend continues right down to the everyday red wine of the district,  Cotes du Rhone,  again made from the same varieties,  but less rich,  less oaked (or not oaked),  and in some ways even more food-friendly.  The best of the Cotes du Rhone come from 16 named villages,  and have the label Cote du Rhone-Villages

Our tasting will present a sampling of the main appellations of the southern Rhone district in the 1998 vintage.  This was a warm vintage,  which initially had a fantastic reputation.  Latterly,  some critics have found them a bit too hot-year:  a lack of aromatics,  and an excess of alcohol.  I am quite sure some of our wines will be of great interest and appeal,  all the same.  The anchor wine will be the familiar Guigal Cotes du Rhone 1998.

One factor to consider when deciding whether to come to one of my Library Tastings is that where possible,  the wine has been cellared on taste.  With any luck,  therefore,  there won't be many duds,  though for reasons of both age and wine-making some may not be to your taste.  We will include both "traditional" wines,  which essentially means concrete vats or big old oak only,  and the "modern" approach using some 225-litre new oak barrels.  To clarify this factor,  contrasting wines from the highly-regarded producer Santa Duc will be shown.

For my Library Tastings,  the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are very small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking. For this tasting,  the wines will be presented blind,  since the most expensive wines are up to 6 times the price of the cheapest.  It is much more fun to decide which wine one likes best,  before the price is known.  The wines will be:

1998 Dom. d'Ameillaud Cotes du Rhone-Villages Cairanne
1998 Brusset Cotes du Rhone-Villages Cairanne
1998 Dom. Charvin Chateauneuf du Pape
1998 Dom du Gramenon Cotes du Rhone Sargesse
1998 Guigal Cotes du Rhone
1998 Dom de Mordoree Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee de la Reine
1998 Ch Pesquie Cotes du Ventoux Cuvee des Terrasses
1998 Dom Santa Duc Cotes du Rhone
1998 Dom Santa Duc Gigondas
1998 Dom Santa Duc Gigondas Hautes Garrigues
1998 Ch des Tours Vacqueyras
1998 Dom Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape

Reserve wine:  1998 Ch Saint Cosme Gigondas




GERMAN RIESLING IN 1975 & 1976

Time:  Thursday 15 March,  2012,  6.00 pm start
Place:  Upstairs Tasting Room,  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $45 per person
Bookings:  Phone 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  20 places – please note Conditions ...
Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp, on
the Wednesday.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted
.    
___________________________________  

1975 and 1976 in Germany were contrasting years.  Both were rated 4-star vintages by the conservative Michael Broadbent,  who only allows three 5-star years in the 40 years from 1961 to 2001.  1975 was firmer,  more acidic and less showy in youth,  and thus was rather over-looked in comparison with the "gloriously ripe" (Broadbent) 1976s.  Remember this was in the days long before global warming,  and seasons were dire in many years then.

With an ideally (and infinitely) stocked cellar,  one would show 6 exactly matching pairs of wine,  vintage for vintage.  We have one such exact pair to set the scene,  then a range of wines from the Saar,  Mosel and Rheingau districts (though mostly Mosel),  and a Nahe just to see if the district's reputation for not being cellar wines holds true even in a firmer year.  All wines will be Qualitatswein mit Pradikat (QmP - the highest German quality level),  and sweetness levels will range from Kabinett to Auslese,  noting that in a ripe year such as 1976 many wines are downgraded to the ranking below.  There are no trophy wines - this is more a working tasting for people who like old wines.  Perhaps one or two will be no longer ideally fresh - a couple are a little ullaged - and one or two may be past it.

In those days the Germans were more frugal, and bottle size was 700 ml,  so we can only accommodate 20 people.  For my Library Tastings,  the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  Note however the pours are very small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.

The wines will not on this occasion be blind,  and will be ranged approximately from drier to sweeter.  Not all the notional pairings can sit alongside each other,  and we didn't quite manage 6 of each vintage.  The wines will be:

1975 Bergweiler Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spatlese QmP  (Mosel)
1976 Bergweiler Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spatlese QmP  (Mosel)
1975 Staat Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Spatlese QmP  (Saar)
1976 Sichel Ayler Kupp Riesling Spatlese QmP  (Saar)
1975 Staat Steinberger Riesling Kabinett QmP  (Rheingau)
1975 Mumm Johannisberger Holle Riesling Spatlese QmP  (Rheingau,  goldenepreis)
1975 Anheuser Kreuznacher Krotenpfuhl Riesling Spatlese QmP  (Nahe)
1975 Muller Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese QmP  (Mosel)
1976 Prum-Erben Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese QmP  (Mosel)
1976 von Schorlemer Wiltinger Sandberg Riesling Auslese QmP  (Mosel)
1976 Schloss Vollrads Riesling Auslese (white capsule) QmP  (Rheingau)
1975 Tobias Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Auslese QmP  (Mosel)

Reserve wine:  1975 Schonborn Rauenthaler Wulfen Riesling Kabinett QmP  (Rheingau)




1970 BORDEAUX STYLES – FORTY YEARS ON:  2 first growths, two super-seconds, 10 France, 1 Australia, 1 NZ


Time:  Thursday 11 March 2010,  6 pm
Place:  Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $95 per person
Bookings:  Phone 385 6952 Wellington prefix 04,  or email:  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Limit:  21 places – please note Conditions

Conditions:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am
sharp, on the Wednesday.  However,  if space allows,  bookings after that
time will be accepted.    
_______________

Broadbent:  * * * *  An imposing vintage,  combining quality with quantity,  
though in my opinion,  not as uniformly excellent as 1966.


Two of the wines offered have been described loosely as one of the top wines
of the vintage.  These are wines in the "classic" lighter French style,  well before
the more hefty wines of today.  Hence the Americans don't rate 1970 as highly.  
Coupled with age,  tune your tasting expectations,  please.

This tasting cannot be repeated,  so 'last chance !'

1970  Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou,  St Julien
1970  Ch Lascombes,  Margaux
1970  Ch Latour,  Pauillac
1970  Ch Leoville-Las-Cases,  St Julien
1970  Ch Margaux,  Margaux
1970  Ch Pape-Clement,  Pessac-Leognan (northern Graves)
1970  Ch Rauzan-Segla,  Margaux
1970  Ch St-Pierre,  St Julien
1970  Ch Talbot,  St Julien
1970  Chambertin (magnum - Lichine)
1970  McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon  (Hawkes Bay)
1970  Tahbilk Cabernet  (Victoria,  the standard wine)
Reserve wine (bit out of style) 1970  Penfolds Cabernet / Shiraz Bin 389





A TASTE OF HISTORY:  1965 & 1966 McWILLIAMS CABERNET SAUVIGNON,  1966 CH PALMER,  8 OTHER 1966 BORDEAUX,  AND A 1965 AUSTRALIAN


Wednesday 5 November,  2008,  6.00 pm  (the evening before Hawkes Bay Winegrowers' Cabernet / Merlot Forum at Hastings)
Venue:  Sensory Lab,  Eastern Institute of Technology,  Gloucester Street,  Taradale,  Napier  [ Room E167,  Building E1,  at the rear of the campus,  as shown on the map:  http://www.eit.ac.nz/Doc_Library/Documents/Colour_campusMapA4_70.10.05.pdf .  The campus is 1.4 km SSW of the intersection of Meanee Road with Gloucester Street. ]
Cost:  $95 per person
Limit:  22 places (please note booking conditions)
Bookings:
 To book please email me,  with the name of the tasting in the subject line.  Publishing my email address in plain language has had undesirable results,  so please 'translate' the following into the standard format – geoffdotkellyatxtradotcodotnz   Once numbers are sufficient,  pre-payment will then be requested by direct electronic payment (or cheque).  Since I am not in Hawkes Bay,  logistics demand that a final decision on whether the Tasting proceeds will be made at 6pm Monday 3 November.  Please book before then.  Cancellations for refund will not be accepted after that time and date.  If space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted.


In August 1969 I wrote to Tom McDonald,  seeking a case of the soon-to-be-released 1965 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This was the successor to his McDonald's Cabernet Sauvignons,  certain of which were much praised.  In many ways it is THE critical post-war wine in New Zealand,  demonstrating to all those with the wine experience to recognise it that truly international red wine could be made in New Zealand.  That was a fairly way-out thought,  at the time.  

It seems appropriate that the last bottle of my case should come back to Hawkes Bay,  in the hope it will be of interest to a later generation of winemakers who will have heard of this legendary wine.  We can only hope it is not corked.  [ More info on the McWilliams wine in my recent article:  The Evolution of Bordeaux and Hawkes Bay Blends in New Zealand,  to 2005,  16 Jul 2008 ].  To accompany it,  we will have a wine close to Tom McDonald's heart,  not the Ch Margaux he much admired,  but the "next best",  Ch Palmer.  In fact,  1966 Ch Palmer (Robert Parker: one of the greatest examples of Palmer I have ever tasted – 96) is now regarded as the superior wine of the two,  and one of the top 3 wines of the entire 1966 vintage (Ch Margaux – 83).  

The 1966 vintage in Bordeaux is usually referred to as a classic vintage,  meaning Bordeaux the way it used to be,  lighter than current taste,  more aromatic,  slightly austere,  but in youth the best wonderfully fragrant and varietal.  Broadbent rates the vintage 4-stars (out of 5).  Parker does not go back that far.

Palmer aside,  these wines are old and frail,  but of great interest.  This offering of the legendary 1965 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon with the 1966,  and 9 x 1966 Bordeaux and a similarly-aged and equally pioneering South Australian Cabernet Sauvignon is unlikely to ever be repeated.  With the inclusion of the Palmer,  it provides a rare opportunity to taste history.

Pricing:  Hard to get this right.  Please check the wines on the international reference point:  www.wine-searcher.com ,  noting those prices do not include the additional freight,  duty,  and GST costs incurred in importing the wines to New Zealand.  For Ch Palmer alone,  four of the quotes are more than NZ$1000,  the highest $NZ1560 per bottle.  This gives some idea of the reputation (and rarity) of the wine.

The 12 wines will be presented all at once,  blind.  Before the main tasting,  just for fun and to also see where we have come from,  25 years later,  we will check six or so 1983 Australasian chardonnays,  in the hope there will still be pleasantly mature flavours in one or two.

1983 Cooks Chardonnay  (Hawkes Bay,  gold medal and highly regarded in its day)
1983 Corbans Chardonnay  (Marlborough)
1983 Esk Valley (Glenvale)  Chardonnay (Hawkes Bay)
1983 Matawhero Chardonnay  (Gisborne,  early use of MLF)
1983 Jeffrey Grosset Chardonnay  (Clare Valley,  SA)
1983 Lindemans Chardonnay  (Padthaway,  SA)
1983 Lindemans Chardonnay Bin 6282  (Hunter River,  NSW)

and then suitably enlivened or saddened as the case may be,  proceed to the main event:

1965 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 65/3  Hawkes Bay  
1966 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon   Hawkes Bay  [ back-up bottle ]
1965 Hardy's Cabernet Sauvignon Bin C546  McLaren Vale & Coonawarra
1966 Ch Palmer  Margaux 3rd growth  [ now rated a 'super-second' – back-up bottle ]  
1966 Ch Gruaud-Larose  St Julien 2nd growth  
1966 Ch Lascombes  Margaux 2nd growth  
1966 Ch Branaire-Ducru  St Julien 4th growth  
1966 Ch Grand Puy Lacoste  Pauillac 5th growth  
1966 Ch Mouton-Baron-Philippe  Pauillac 5th growth  [ now d’Armailhac,  since 1989 ]
1966 Ch Pontet Canet  Pauillac 5th growth  
1966 Ch Chasse Spleen  Moulis cru bourgeois exceptionnel
1966 Ch Meyney  St Estephe cru bourgeois exceptionnel

In reserve:  1966 Ch Leoville-Poyferre  St Julien 2nd growth

NB:  There are back-up bottles of the Palmer and 1966 McWilliams,  so (barring calamity) these key wines will be tasted.  

I look forward to meeting you in the EIT Sensory Lab.






1982  BORDEAUX – THE BEST VINTAGE SINCE 1961 ?


Thursday 25 September,  2008,  7.00 pm
Venue:  Lincoln University,  Horticulture Tasting Lab
 [ via Gate 2,  first road to right – the single-story buildings immediately to right of 'tennis courts',  as shown @ www.lincoln.ac.nz/story_images/2802_campusmaphalls_s8231.pdf ]
Cost:  $125 per person
Limit:  22 places (please note booking conditions)
Bookings:
 To book please email me,  with the name of the tasting in the subject line.  Publishing my email address in plain language has had undesirable results,  so please 'translate' the following into the standard format – geoffdotkellyatxtradotcodotnz  Once numbers are sufficient,  pre-payment will then be requested by direct electronic payment (or cheque).  Since I am not in Canterbury,  logistics demand that a final decision on whether the Tasting proceeds will be made at 6pm Monday 22.  Please book before then.  Cancellations for refund will not be accepted after that time and date.  If space allows,  bookings after that time will be accepted.


Robert Parker  (before the 2005s arrived)
“ … for today’s generation of wine enthusiasts, 1982 is what 1945, 1947, and 1949 were for an earlier generation of winelovers …  Even in Bordeaux the 1982s are now placed on a pedestal and spoken of in the same terms as 1961, 1949, 1945, and 1929. Moreover, the marketplace … continues to push prices for the top 1982s to stratospheric levels.”

The wines of Bordeaux remain the model for New Zealand's 'Hawkes Bay blends'.  Do we however give enough thought to how time will deal with the wines we are so proud of today ?  Good examples of Bordeaux blends develop for ten,  twenty and sometimes more years.  All too often in New Zealand,  however,  we can only read about tastings of mature fine Cabernet / Merlot blends held in other countries.  

Here is an opportunity to not only taste,  but also assess a cross-section of quality-levels of mainly Bordeaux wines,  from one of the great recent vintages.  To keep costs reasonable,  and increase relevance,  there are no First Growths.  Several of the wines are nonetheless considered amongst the vintage's best.  And we have both high-Cabernet and high-Merlot wines amongst the good ones.  

The Medocs range from Second Growths to Cru Bourgeois.  The St Emilion and the two Pomerols are highly-ranked chateaux.  If you are concerned about the price for the tasting,  I request you price the wines on the international reference point:  www.wine-searcher.com ,  noting those prices do not include the additional freight,  duty,  and GST costs incurred in importing the wines to New Zealand.  This will reveal the asking price is modest,  considering such a tasting can generally only be found nowadays in places like London or San Francisco.  This tasting in London would cost roughly £165,  according to ex-Cantabrian but now London-based Linden Wilkie,  of  www.finewineexperience.com .

The 12 wines will be along the lines of the following,  presented all at once,  blind.

1982 Ch Bonalgue,  Pomerol
1982 Ch Giscours,   Margaux 3rd Growth
1982 Ch Grandis,  Haut Medoc
1982 Ch Gruaud-Larose,  St Julien 2nd Growth
1982 Ch Haut-Marbuzet,  St Estephe
1982  Ch La Lagune,  Margaux 3rd Growth
1982 Ch Latour a Pomerol,  Pomerol
1982 Ch Montrose,  St Estephe 2nd Growth
1982 Ch Pavie,  St Emilion
1982 Ch Trotanoy,  Pomerol
1982 Jaboulet Hermitage la Chapelle,  Northern Rhone Valley
1982 Te Mata Coleraine,  Hawkes Bay






IN PRAISE OF SYRAH – THE 1998 VINTAGE IN THE NORTHERN RHONE,  HAWKES BAY,  AND WEST AUSTRALIA


Monday 15 September,  2008,  6.30 pm
Venue:  upstairs meeting room,  Trinity Hill Winery
Cost:  $95 per person
Limit:  22 places (please note conditions)
Bookings:
 to book please email me (as above),  with part of the name of the tasting in the subject line.  Pre-payment will then be requested by cheque or direct electronic payment.  Cancellations / refunds will only be permitted up to 48 hours before the start of the tasting.


Hermitage and Cote Rotie in the Northern Rhone Valley are the definitive appellations for fine syrah.  The 1998 vintage in the northern Rhone was warm and dry,  even hot.  Some of the wines therefore lost to a degree the classical floral beauty which typifies great syrah grown in optimal climates,  but are nonetheless highly rated – simply because many years are fractionally too cool.  This district is much cooler than the Southern Rhone,  Chateauneuf-du-Pape,  etc.  Parker rates the year 90 in the north,  and Tannic.  Broadbent is more enthusiastic:  unequivocally a great vintage,  5-stars.  New Zealand was similar climatically,  but it was early days for syrah.  

The 12 wines will be presented all at once,  blind.

1998 Cape Mentelle Shiraz  Margaret River WA  
1998 Guigal Hermitage
1998 Guigal Cote Rotie Brune & Blonde
1998 Guigal Cote Rotie la Turque
1997 Jaboulet Hermitage la Chapelle
1998 Mission Estate Syrah Reserve  Gimblett Gravels
1998 Rostaing Cote Rotie Cote Blonde
1998 Saint Cosme Cote Rotie
1998 Sorrel Hermitage le Greal
1998 Stonecroft Syrah  Gimblett Gravels
1998 Tardieu-Laurent Cote Rotie
1998 Te Mata Syrah Bullnose  Ngatarawa Triangle




             

10 YEARS ON – 1998 NEW ZEALAND REDS


Monday 7 July 2008,  6.00 pm,  @ Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $55.00 pp,  Limit 22 places –  Please note conditions
Contact:  Wellington = 04 385 6952;  office@regionalwines.co.nz
Note:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp, on the Monday.

1998 will be remembered as the hot year of the 1990s.  It was a strange decade for red wines,  ranging from the post-Pinatubo chilled years of the early 90s,  through several good vintages,  to this by local standards very hot one.  In Hawkes Bay,  discussion at the time speculated that such warmth would catch some winemakers off-guard.  By the same token,  in more southerly districts,  the warmth allowed exceptional opportunities for marginal varieties.

So let us sample as complete a cross-section of both the wine styles and the geography of New Zealand's red wine world as 12 bottles will allow,  by looking at the following wines.  They should give a marvellous insight into how these varieties mature in New Zealand,  in a warmer year (which,  given global warming,  may give us a peep into the future).  We may also gain some insight into the question:  does the traditionally heavy-handed use of oak in our red wines ultimately marry in ?

The wines will include, give or take:
1998 Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Reserve  (Martinborough).
1998 Daniel Schuster Pinot Noir Omihi  (Waipara)
1998 Te Awa Pinotage Longlands  (Hawkes Bay)
1998 Mission Vineyard Syrah Reserve  (Hawkes Bay)
1998 Benfield & Delamare Merlot / Cabernet  (Martinborough)
1998 Pegasus Bay Merlot / Cabernet Maestro  (Waipara)
1998 Chateau Magdelaine  (St Emilion)
1998 Esk Valley Merlot / Malbec / Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve  (Hawkes Bay)
1998 Pask Merlot Reserve  (Hawkes Bay)
1998 Sileni Merlot / Cabernet Franc Exceptional Vintage  (Hawkes Bay)
1998 Te Mata Cabernets / Merlot Coleraine  (Hawkes Bay)
1998 Villa Maria Merlot / Cabernet Reserve  (Hawkes Bay)

Several quite famous (in New Zealand) wines are listed there:  the first $100 pinot,  the first latterday gold medal merlot,  a remarkable Bordeaux blend from the South Island,  and others which seemed hellish pricey at the time.  Then of course we must have in a Frenchman for external comparability / reference / reality purposes,  and 1998 was very good on the east bank, too.  Should be good !


******************************

1995 CRU BOURGEOIS,  1995 TOM AND TE AWA


Wednesday 11 June 2008,  6 pm,  6.00 pm,  @ Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $45.00 pp,  Limit 22 places –  Please note conditions
Contact:  Wellington = 04 385 6952;   office@regionalwines.co.nz
Note:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp, on the Monday.

This material first appeared on www.regionalwines.co.nz,  here slightly amended.

After a year's break,  we will start the 11th year of Library Tastings at Regional Wines & Spirits with an affordable reminiscence on the 1995 vintage in Bordeaux.  Classically,  the dictum about better Bordeaux reds was:  it is a sin against the spirit of the bottle to open one under 10 years of age.  Since we are checking out cru bourgeois only,  some of the wines should now be showing pleasing maturity.

1995 was an attractive vintage in Bordeaux,  the better wines having a soft round plumpness of fruit which even on release,  was delightful.  Wine Spectator rates the vintage  94 – 96,  depending on the district.  Robert Parker is less enthusiastic,  at 88 – 92.    

Our dozen wines will be along the lines of:  
1995 Ch Beaumont  (Haut Medoc)
1995 Ch Croizet Bages  (Pauillac)
1995 Ch Gressier Grand Poujeaux  (Moulis)
1995 Ch Angelique de Monbousquet  (St Emilion)
1995 Ch St Paul de Dominique  (St Emilion)
1995 Ch Clementin du Pape Clement  (Graves)
1995 Ch de Pez  (St Estephe)
1995 Ch Senejac  (Haut Medoc)
1995 Ch Potensac  (Medoc)
1995 Ch Fourcas Hostein  (Listrac)
1995 Te Awa Merlot Boundary  (Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay)
1995 Church Road Tom  [ Merlot / Cabernet / Malbec ]  (Hawkes Bay)

Most of these are well-regarded petits chateaux,  some of them wines one frequently thinks of,  in assessing New Zealand reds.  A check alongside a couple will be good,  therefore.  Tom was twice the cost of any other wine.  It will be interesting to see to what extent the then management of Montana Group understood the concept of quality in the Bordeaux wine style,  relative to the wine quality in bottle and the (then amazing) price originally set.


******************************

Tenth Anniversary Library Tasting:   1966 – Forty Years On


Monday 16 October,  2006,  6.00 pm,   @ Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington    
Cost:  $90.00 pp,  Limit 22 places –  Please note conditions
Contact:  Wellington = 04 385 6952;   office@regionalwines.co.nz
Note:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp, on the Monday.

This material first appeared on www.regionalwines.co.nz ,  here slightly amended / more specific.

It is the time for a little anniversary – two actually.  One more general,  one more personal.

It is hard to believe that Regional Wines & Spirits has been presenting my Library Tastings for 10 years,  come mid-October.  Like so many good things about Regional Wines,  the whole concept sprang from founder Grant Jones’ lively imagination,  and ability to then put thoughts into deeds.  Grant’s immediate idea was:  if it catches on,  we’ll call it ‘Adventures in Geoff’s Cellar’.  Initially,  that seemed a flattering idea.  However a few days later,  I had to go back to Grant,  and suggest we take a lower-key approach,  being mindful of security.  

So here we are,  10 years later,  sadly without Grant.  But the most exciting thing for me in presenting these tastings,  has been to see people come to them perhaps because the chosen wine-year marks their birthday or other personal anniversary,  or for other quite personal reasons.  At the last,  one taster shyly admitted the wines were older than they were.  It really gives me a buzz to be able to facilitate that kind of experience.  

So the second more personal anniversary is,  in this year 2006,  to present a tasting based on the year 1966.  That was the first year I invested in fine Bordeaux quite significantly,  and those 1966s have formed the measuring stick for my entire subsequent wine life.  It was a good year,  a very “classic” year.  That means the wines had all the bouquet and aromatics and vinosity of the berries themselves,  shaped by oak,  but not dominated by it,  as so many over-ripe Austro-American-styled wines are these days.  To modern tasters,  the 1966s at release would mostly have seemed austere,  but then,  remember,  that was in the days when the dictum was:  It is a sin against the spirit of the bottle to open fine Bordeaux before its tenth birthday.  Not a thought the instant-gratification generation readily identifies with.

The highlight of the tasting will be 1966 Ch Palmer.  I will never forget my first tasting of it,  in assessing these wines for cellaring,  in a caravan in Canterbury (for those were the days when Christchurch was the hub of fine wine importing in New Zealand).  It smelt of violets and cassis,  and tasted like velvet.  It was beautiful from day one,  as so many great wines are.  Few young clarets have seemed better to me,  over the years.  And it is not all the romanticism of fuzzy memory.  1966 Palmer is now rated (in Parker's definitive 2003 edition of his text Bordeaux) as:  a great Palmer,  one of the three or four best wines of the vintage.   Elsewhere he says:  When Palmer has a great vintage,  no other left bank growth is as aromatically seductive to the nose and palate…. Palmer consistently made the best wine of the Margaux appellation between 1961 and 1977,  but with the resurgence of Ch Margaux in 1978 …  it is now often runner-up.  The style of Palmer’s wine is characterised by a sensational fragrance … the richness of great Pomerol but the complexity of a Margaux.

There will be 11 other claret-styled wines accompanying the Palmer,  6 of them Bordeaux,  and 4 from Australia,  all now rare.  From New Zealand there will be Tom McDonald’s 1966 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon,  the follow-up vintage to the 1965 wine which started the modern era of quality winemaking in New Zealand.

1966 Chasse-Spleen,  Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel,  Moulis
1966 Gruaud-Larose,  Second Growth,  St Julien
1966 Ch Mouton-Rothschild,  First Growth,  Pauillac
1966 Ch Palmer,  Third Growth,  Margaux

1966 Pontet-Canet  (then less good),  Fifth Growth,  Pauillac
1966 Prieure Lichine  (back when it was good),  Fourth Growth,  Margaux
1966 Ch Talbot,  Fourth Growth,  St Julien
1966 Hardy’s Cabernet Sauvignon Bin C626,  McLaren Vale & Coonawarra
1966 Ch Reynella Cabernet Sauvignon,  McLaren Vale
1966 Stonyfell Metala,  Langhorne Creek (back when it was the company’s top wine)
1967 Yalumba Rudi Kronberger Cabernet / Shiraz,  Barossa Valley
1966 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon,  Hawkes Bay


******************************
                 

Evolution of New Zealand Pinot Noir:  1964 – 2003


Monday 25 September,  2006,  6.00 pm,   @ Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $40.00 pp,  Limit 21 places –  Please note conditions
Contact:  Wellington = 04 385 6952;   office@regionalwines.co.nz
Note:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp, on the Monday.

With the imminent debut of not one but two $150 New Zealand pinots,  it seems timely to pause for a moment,  and reflect on where we have come from with this quietly exciting variety.  I have been interested in pinot since first purchases of the 1964 Burgundy vintage from the then Fletcher Humphreys in Christchurch,  and cellared my first case of Grand Cru burgundy from the fabled 1969 vintage.  Since then I have watched with alternating degrees of enthusiasm the various interpretations of this great grape pinot noir which have been launched in New Zealand.  Our review will sample a few of those,  over 40 years.

The wines will be presented in two flights.  Flight One will be historic wines spanning the first 25 years,  say 1964 to 1990 or so,  including key wines which acted as New Zealand scene-setters.  For these I will ask you to note their age,  and see them more as souvenirs of an exciting evolution.  The goal will be to rejoice we can actually taste such historic items,  and to see if we can find some residual varietal quality and charm.  I don’t want to be told they are too old.  But,  incidentally,  a 1978 Nobilo Pinot Noir quite recently was in its lightly roseéd way as pleasant as many a faded minor Beaune wine.  Appreciating old wine merely requires a little lateral thinking on the part of the taster,  a preparedness to dream a little,  and try to be romantic.

These wines will include:  1964 or thereabouts Mission Reserve Pinot (cost $1.15,  probably meuniere);  the two remarkable wines which launched the modern pinot era,  1976 Nobilo Pinot Noir and 1982 Danny Schuster’s St Helena Pinot Noir;  perhaps an incredibly rare 1982 Seville Estate Pinot Noir from the Yarra,  to match the latter;  Larry McKenna’s 1986 Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir which put Martinborough on the map,  and perhaps the matching 1986 Coldstream Pinot Noir Yarra Valley wine to show where James Halliday was at that point of his pinot evolution (along with Larry);  of necessity an early 80s Babich Pinot Noir for they moved the market along a good deal towards the goal of lighter,  fragrant (if stalky) pinots;  and maybe we should have a Montana as well,  just to acknowledge key players at both ends of the market.

Flight Two will touch on one or two wines of the early 90s ( thanks to Rob Bishop & Shelley Hood),  reflecting the rise of Ata Rangi and maybe Neudorf as key players,  a 1995 Rippon from Otago to introduce the remarkable rise of that district,  then two of the key wines of the 1998 dry year,  Martinborough Vineyard Reserve and Danny Schuster’s Omihi Selection.  From 1999 on,  the picture starts to gel,  and the pendulum swings more towards Central Otago.  We will have wines from Felton Road,  Greenhough,  Neudorf,  Ata Rangi and others,  including McKenna’s 2003 Escarpment Kupe – designed to be New Zealand’s finest pinot yet.  I have not been able to secure either of the two (Peregrine,  Martinborough Vineyard) super-premium pinots not yet quite ready for release,  sadly.  The Flight Two wines will be presented blind,  to cast a little more light on the actual achievement of pinot quality.  If space allows,  a little frog may be slipped in somewhere,  too.

Needless to say,  this tasting will by virtue of its historic / museum wines,  be unique and unrepeatable.  It is the kind of tasting the industry should do,  but doesn’t.  The first flight of wines will be charged at a token value only.  I hope the theme will appeal greatly.


******************************

Germany in 1976 – 30 Years On


Monday 14 August,  2006,  6.00 pm,   @ Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $75.00 pp,  Limit 21 places –  Please note conditions
Contact:  Wellington = 04 385 6952;   office@regionalwines.co.nz
Note:  There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp, on the Monday.

In his absolute reference work Vintage Wine (2002),  Michael Broadbent describes 1976 in Germany as:
A gloriously ripe vintage with soft,  fleshy,  extremely attractive wines,  the only handicap being a certain lack of acidity in some of them.  This was a year of great heat and drought throughout the summer in northern Europe.  However … the sort of year that brings out the best in the Mosel,  and in particular the Saar and Ruwer,  which normally produce fairly acidic wines.  Although in terms of quality 1976 ranks below the firmer,  greater,  all-round 5-star 1971,  there are few German vintages which have given me more pleasure ****.

Seven of our wines are from the Mosel,  3 from Saar - Ruwer,  and two from the Rheingau.  All are Qualitatswein mit Pradikat.  Notwithstanding German wine law first allowing acidification for the (hotter than 1976) 2003 vintage,  several wines have overt tartaric acid crystals in them !

The chance to taste 12 x 1976 German rieslings is unlikely to be available again in New Zealand.  Our wines will be (though I don’t guarantee my deciphering of the archaic script in one case):

1976 Ayler Kupp Riesling Spaetlese (Sichel)
1976 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spaetlese (Licht-Bergweiler)
1976 Geisenheimer Schlossgarten Riesling Spaetlese  (von Schornborn)
1976 Maximin Grunhauser Abstberg Riesling Spaetlese  (von Schubert)
1976 Niederberg Belden Riesling Spaetlese (Liesen)
1976 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese (von Schorlemer)
1976 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Auslese (von Schorlemer)
1976 Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Auslese (Tobias)
1976 Schloss Vollrads Auslese (white capsule)
1976 Wehlener-Sonnenuhr Auslese (Prum-Erben)  
1976 Wiltinger Sandberg Riesling Auslese (von Schorlemer)
1976 Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Beerenauslese (Tobias)


******************************

The Top 1986 Bordeaux, Part 2


Tuesday 20 June,  2006,  6.00 pm,   @ Regional Wines & Spirits,  Basin Reserve,  Wellington
Cost:  $175.00 pp,  Limit 22 places –  Please note conditions
Contact:  Wellington = 04 385 6952;   office@regionalwines.co.nz
Note: There will be no refunds for cancellations made after 9.00 am sharp, on the Tuesday.

Robert Parker (in his 2003 book, Bordeaux) says of the 1986 vintage: “The year 1986 is without doubt a great vintage for the northern Medoc, particularly for St Julien and Pauillac.” This tasting will offer three First Growths among ten classed Bordeaux. The First Growths include 1986 Mouton Rothschild, considered by most informed commentators to be (Decanter, May ‘06): “the star of the vintage, with some claiming it could be a 1945 in the making….. Parker has time and again given it a perfect 100-point score, not to mention a drinking window up to 2096. Other strong performers include…..Margaux and Las Cases”. All three of these wines will be in our Library Tasting. It is therefore an incredibly rare opportunity to taste mature wines considered as fine as Bordeaux can produce.

How of course one costs such a tasting is open to debate. The price for 1986 Mouton has increased by 50% in the last 12 months alone, in London and New York. All the predictions for the 2005 Bordeaux releases en primeur this month are that the First Growths will exceed $500.00 per bottle. Retail might be nearly twice that. In addition to the three First Growths, the tasting includes four ‘super-seconds’. For interest, I asked 'The Fine Wine Experience', London, to cost the tasting below, as if they were presenting it in London. They replied: £140.00, which is about $420.00. Whereas, we are offering the opportunity to taste ten classed 1986 Bordeaux and two Australasian cabernets for $175.00. The least of the French wines is worth that, per bottle.

The wines, their classification, and their Parker score will be: 1986 Ch Mouton Rothschild (1st, 100), 1986 Ch Leoville-Las-Cases (2nd, 98), 1986 Ch Margaux (1st, 96), 1986 Ch Gruaud-Larose (2nd, 94), 1986 Ch Cheval Blanc (=1st, 92), 1986 Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou (2nd, 92), 1986 Ch Montrose (2nd, 91), 1986 Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste (5th, 91), 1986 Ch Pavie (=2nd or 3rd, 90), 1986 Ch Palmer (3rd, 88), 1985 Mt Mary Cabernets (***** JH) Victoria, and 1987 Stonyridge Larose (***** GK) Waiheke Island. Note the Grand-Puy-Lacoste is in both Pt I and Pt II, to calibrate the tastings. I regret I don’t have 1986 Mt Mary (but the label is regarded as one of Australia’s most Bordeaux-like wines), and the 1987 from N.Z. is simply to provide a better match, it being Waiheke’s first high-quality red.

If that list is not tantalising enough, here are Robert Parker’s (paraphrased) thoughts on 1986 Mouton: “In most tastings where a great Bordeaux is inserted with California Cabernets the Bordeaux comes across as drier, more austere, and not nearly as rich and concentrated (California wines are inevitably fruitier and more massive). To put it mildly, [in the 1986 flight] the 1986 Mouton-Rothschild held its own (and then some), in a flight that included the Caymus Special Selection, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cask 23, Dunn Howell Mountain, and Joseph Phelps Eisele Vineyard. Clearly the youngest looking, most opaque and concentrated wine of the group, it tastes….. of creme de cassis in abundance, exhilarating purity, and awesome layers of finish….. impeccably made. Anticipated maturity till 2096.”