A call for help from Wayne Sharman, the Cellar Master of the Porirua Wine Society, to fill in for a guest speaker who had to make an unexpected trip out of town was answered by my partner Sue Davies, who proposed to present a selection of wines from her Wine2Trade portfolio. (Click here to see the wineries in the portfolio.) The theme that was decided was "In and Out of Sorts”, with three white wines made from varieties grown and made in comfortable or proven situations and regions, followed by three red wines, unusual or seemingly grown in the ‘wrong' place. I accompanied her, and offered some background support in her presentation. The night was a fun and interactive one, with the society members asking many questions and offering their own insights.
Having tasted the wines on many occasions, it was very interesting from my viewpoint to see how they appeared on this night, especially compared to the review descriptions on this website. Sue had prepared a list of the wines with my reviews as descriptions, and the wine society members could also compare their impressions with how I had described and rated the wines. As most wine enthusiasts are aware, wines change in time, improving or seeming less good as they develop. An influence is the situation of tasting and the mood of person tasting the wine. These and many other factors affect our perceptions. Thus a score or rating is a ‘moveable feast or drink' and certainly not definitive. I certainly admit I'm not infallible in assessing wines, but I do try hard to get it right and approach the process methodically, given over three decades of looking at wines reasonably seriously. The other aspect that one must consider is that of bottle variation. With the wide use of screwcap, such variation has diminished. However there can still be differences from bottle to bottle.
The ‘In and Out of Sorts' Wines
The first wine shown was the Vynfields Martinborough Pinot Rosé 2011
, reviewed in January 2012. (Click on the wine to see my review.) This night, the aromas and flavours seemed to be described spot-on, but the palate was richer and more luscious than the description. A mouth-watering rosé which I would rate the wine 17.5+ to 18.0- now. So a good result!
Next was the Mount Edward Central Otago Riesling 2008. The review provided was inadvertently the second tier Earth's End Central Otago Riesling 2008, which I reviewed as a 3-star wine. On the night, the Mount Edward looked better than this review – and so it should have! It was richer and more complete and deserved 4-star in my books. Interestingly, the society members thought the wine looked better than the Earth's End review that was provided, too, showing there's no fooling people! And indeed, upon comparing my current thoughts with the actual Mount Edward review posted in March 2011, it was much more similar, the wine now showing a little trace of toastiness from bottle-age. I would see the wine at around the same score (17.0+) as I last reviewed it.
Third was the Starborough Awatere Valley Pinot Gris 2011, reviewed last in December 2011. The description and score were very much in line with how the wine looked on the night. No difference, and a case for consistency, my rating remaining at 18.5+. This is a powerful Pinot Gris that should age very well.
Onto the reds, the first was the Terrace Edge Waipara Syrah 2009, reviewed in May 2011. On the night, the fruit was a little more developed and showing drier savoury notes, indicating complexity coming on, and tonight the oak toastiness standing out a little. Not too much change from the review, maybe a half point less from 18.0 to 18.0- or 17.5+, but definitely a 4-star wine, and a very pleasing surprise for a Syrah from the South Island.
The second red was the Charles Wiffen Marlborough Merlot 2009, reviewed in August 2011. Tasting a little better this night than the review description, without any trace of herbs, mint or green olives. This has no herbaceous streak, the only clue to its cooler provenance being its elegant profile. This is solidly 4-star, and I'd nudge my score up to 17.5 to 17.5+.
The final wine was the Heart of Gold Gisborne Syrah/Tempranillo 2009, reviewed in October 2010. This is a wine that has grown into itself with greater depth and expression. The fruit is sweeter and the tannins beginning to moderate. Clearly Syrah in character and I'd increase my rating a tad, say to 18.0+.
In conclusion, the earlier descriptions of the wines posted on this website seemed to be good in portraying the character and quality of the wines. Time changes things and some of the wines demonstrated their move in terms of maturing. The date of the reviews gives the reader a base point for them to make allowances for such development. I was pleased that the society members felt my scores and ratings fair, if not on the slightly ‘harder' side, thus supporting my wish for the reviews to be useful for the general wine enthusiast. Phew!
The Porirua Wine Society
I've always enjoyed going out to suburban wine clubs. They offer many points of difference to the organised events run by wine merchants hospitality establishments. Their locality is an incentive for people who don't wish to travel to the inner city, and the camaraderie of neighbours is distinctive and supported strongly. A with all clubs and similar organisations, it requires some dedicated people to keep them going, driving interest, arranging varied activities, attracting new and young members, and funding. The Porirua Wine Society has a committee and officers which does this well. It has been my privilege to work with many of these people over the years.
It's gratifying to see the Porirua Wine Society going strong after over three decades, since its establishment in 1980. The aims of the club are to bring together people who share a love of, and promote the understanding and discerned appreciation of wine. Tastings and vineyard visits are the main activities with regular dinners and social events held every year.
The Porirua Wine Society meets on the second Tuesday of the month, at 7.30 pm for an 8.00 pm start, at the historic Gear Homestead in Porirua, just 15 minutes drive from downtown Wellington. There is an annual membership of $25.00 and a $15.00 charge for each meeting. The society runs a medium sized cellar from which aged wines are drawn for tastings.
For more information about the Porirua Wine Society, contact Wayne Sharman on Tel: 027 545-7764 or email: email@example.com