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Featured Reviews




Man O’ War Waiheke Island New Releases

25 May,2018

Man O’ War is arguably Waiheke Island’s most significant wine producer, with over 60 ha of vineyards. As with most of the Waiheke Island winemakers, the plantings are predominantly on hillsides, but unusually, the vineyards are situated on the eastern side of the island. Owned by the Spencer family, there has been no expense spared at Man O’ War to get the varieties and the characteristics of the near 80 different sites matched. The vineyards come under the care of Matt Allen who arrived on the island in 1993 to plant the company’s first vines. The winemaker is the very thoughtful and well-experienced Duncan McTavish who took up his position at Man O’ War in 2008. The wines are among the best that come from the island, and come under the more accessible ‘Estate’ range, as well as the top-flight black-labelled ‘Flagship’ wines. Early last year, the company introduced a ‘Single Vineyard Series’ of bottlings, showcasing the specific terroirs of special sites. Here, I review a selection of three new ‘Estate’ wines, these being two 2017 whites and a 2015 red, plus eight ‘Flagship’ wines ranging from 2017 whites to a 2012 red. The flagship Chardonnays and reds are exceptionally good. www.manowarvineyards.co.nz

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW



Man O’ War Waiheke Island Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

16+/20

Bright, pale straw-yellow colour with slight green tints, lighter on the rim. The nose is very fresh with intense and penetrating aromas of grass, nettles, stalky elements and fresh herbs. This is very cool-spectrum in expression. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is elegant and slender in proportion with a gently concentrated core of gooseberries, fresh herbs, nettles, cut-grass and stalky notes. The mouthfeel is fresh with crisp, lacy acidity and the wine flows along a soft-textured line leading to a moderately lingering, mouthwatering finish. This is a cool-spectrum fruited Sauvignon Blanc with a surprisingly soft care and line with balanced acid zestiness. Match with seafood, salads and vegetables, and Pacific Rim fare over the next 2 years. Hand-picked fruit, WBP and fermented in stainless-steel with 12% in old French puncheons to 12.0% alc. and 2 g/L RS. 16.0+/20 May 2018 RRP $24.90

Man O’ War Ponui Island Pinot Gris 2017

Pinot Gris from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

16.5+/20

Bright straw-yellow colour with pale golden hues, lighter on the edge. The nose is light with softly fresh and uncomplicated aromas of yellow stonefruits with apricot notes along with a little honeysuckle and yellow florals. This is moderately taut and youthfully bound. Medium-dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has brisk and refreshing, aromatic flavours of white and yellow stonefruits along with apricots and honeysuckle, unfolding floral elements. The mouthfeel is lively and the wine carries along a light, fine-textured palate line leading to a clean, stonefruited finish. This is a refreshing and lively stonefruit and floral-flavoured medium-dry Pinot Gris with soft honeysuckle notes. Match with Thai, Vietnamese or Japanese fare over the next 2+ years. Fruit from the ‘Paradise’ site on Ponui Island, fermented in stainless-steel with 5% indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned French oak to 11.1% alc. and 18 g/L RS. 16.5+/20 May 2018 RRP $24.90

Man O’ War Waiheke Island Cabernet Franc/Merlot/Malbec/Petit Verdot 2015

Blended Red from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

17.5+/20

Even, dark ruby-red colour with slight garnet hues, lighter on the edge. The nose is well-proportioned and elegantly presented with a finely concentrated core of fragrant blackcurrant and redcurrant fruit, along with blackberries, nuances of liquorice and herbs, spice and earth, unfolding a suggestion of pencilly oak. Full-bodied, the palate has a tightly packed and intense, rich core with concentrated flavours of black and redcurrants, blackberries, with notes of dark herbs, liquorice and earth. The palate shows plenty of fine, grainy tannin extraction providing grip and structure. The acidity is balanced and the wine carries along a positive line leading to an elegant finish of black fruits. This is a firm and intensely concentrated Franc/Merlot-based blend with deep flavours of currants, blackberries, herbs and liquorice on a plate with plenty of structure. Match with roasted red meats and hemi-hard cheeses over the next 6+ years. A blend of 64% Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot, 10% Malbec, 7% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine spending 35 days on skins and 18 months in 25% new French oak. 17.5+/20 May 2018 RRP $28.90

Man O’ War ‘Gravestone’ Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Waiheke Island 2016

Blended White from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

18/20

Brilliant, even, lemon-hued straw-yellow colour with slight green-gold tints, pale edged. The nose is elegantly proportioned with finely packed aromas of nectarines and greengages with green stonefruits, along with soft notes of fresh and dark herbs, subtle nutty elements and lifted white florals. Mineral nuances emerge and intensify with aeration. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a rounded but densely packed heart of fresh and lively green stonefruits along with greengages and nectarines, entwined with nutty oak nuances and floral and mineral detail. This has good presence and depth, and fine underlying lacy acidity, and the wine carries smoothly along a fine line, leading to a detailed finish. This is a moderately concentrated, oak-influenced Sauvignon-based wine with green stonefruit flavours on a smooth palate line. A blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc, given extended skin contact, and 30% Semillon, all the fruit fully barrel-fermented to 12.5% alc., the wine aged 6 months in barrel, with approx. 10% of the wood Acacia, and half of this being new. 18.0/20 May 2018 RRP $29.50

Man O’ War ‘Exiled’ Waiheke and Ponui Islands Pinot Gris 2017

Pinot Gris from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

17.5+/20

Bright, light golden-hued straw-yellow colour, lighter on the rim. The nose is a little restrained in expression, but unfolds gentle voluminous aromas of ripe yellow stonefruits melded with a little honey and musk, building to form a moderately concentrated, rounded core, unveiling subtle nutty notes. Medium in sweetness and medium-bodied, the palate has a moderately rich and luscious heart with flavours of yellow stonefruits along with exotic florals, honey and musk. The mouthfeel exudes a degree of unctuousness and is balanced by fresh, lacy acidity. The flavours show good presence and carry softly to a gentle finish. This is a moderately luscious medium Pinot Gris with yellow stonefruit, floral and honied flavours with some unctuousness and richness. Match with Asian and Middle Eastern fare over the next 3+ years. Fruit from Ponui Island and Waiheke Island fermented with light solids in tank to 12.5% alc. and 21 g/L RS. 17.5+/20 May 2018 RRP $34.90

Man O’ War ‘Valkyrie’ Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2017

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

18.5+/20

Light golden-yellow colour with some depth, paler on the rim. The nose is softly presented with very refined but intense and well-concentrated aromas of white and yellow stonefruits entwined with a complex amalgam of white florals, subtle notes of gunflint reduction and nutty oak. This is very elegant and shows finesse. Medium-full bodied, the palate is finely proportioned with good depth and intensity of well-concentrated white and yellow stonefruits along with hints of citrus fruits, integrated with a layer of nutty oak and restrained gunflint notes. The flavours form a fine and firm core, and the mouthfeel is enlivened by piquant, lacy acidity. This has good linearity and the flavours carry to a long finish of stonefruit, nuts and flint. This is an intensely concentrated, but refined Chardonnay with complex stonefruit, nutty and flint flavours on a firm palate with fresh acidity. Match with seafood and poultry over the next 5 years. Chardonnay fruit from elevated sites with the volcanic-influenced ‘Stony Batter’ clay loam soil, foot-maceration of whole bunches and fully indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 25% new French oak puncheons with no batonnage and no MLF. 18.5+/20 May 2018 RRP $37.90

Man O’ War ‘Valhalla’ Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2017

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

19/20

Bright, even, straw-yellow colour with light golden hues, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is softly full and voluminous with generous and up-front aromas of ripe yellow stonefruits along with nuances of citrus and tropical fruit melded with well-packed complexing aromas of gunflint reduction, creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak. This has depth and power. Medium-full bodied, the palate has rich and mouthfilling flavours of ripe yellow stonefruits with hints of citrus and tropical fruit, integrated with a fine, complex amalgam of nutty oak and flinty reduction. There is a suggestion of richness and creaminess from the barrel-ferment, which is balanced by bright, refreshing acidity. The wine carries with power and drive along a fine-textured line, leading to a long and sustained finish. This is a rich, mouthfilling and concentrated, complex Chardonnay with stonefruit, nutty oak and gunflint interest on a powerful palate. Match with poultry, pork and veal dishes over the next 5-6+ years. A selection of the finest barrels. Fruit from the volcanic hillsides WBP, and fruit from the sheltered hillsides foot-stomped, then fully indigenous yeast barrel-fermented with full solids to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 36% new French oak puncheons, with no batonnage and no MLF. 19.0/20 May 2018 RRP $48.99

Man O’ War ‘Warspite’ Ponui Island Cabernet Franc/Merlot/Malbec 2014

Blended Red from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

18.5+/20

Dark, deep, ruby-red colour with garnet hues, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is full with fresh and vibrant, voluminous aromas of fragrant redcurrant and blackcurrant fruit along with subtle notes of cassis, dark herbs and black plums and a little earthiness. The aromatics build in intensity and penetration forming a tight core. Full-bodied, the palate has rich and mouthfilling flavours of red and blackcurrants, notes of dark plums, entwined with fresh and dark herbs, and some earthiness adding complexing interest. The flavours are bold and up-front, with sweetness and lusciousness, all underlined by considerable alcoholic power. The fruit is supported by fine-grained tannin extraction with fresh, balanced and integrated acidity lending vibrancy. The flavours carry to an elegant, lingering finish. This is a bold and up-front, powerful Franc and Merlot-based blend with lusciously vibrant red and blackcurrant fruit with plum, herb and earthy complexities and fine extraction. Match with roasted lamb, beef and venison over the next 8-10 years. A blend of 60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot and 10% Malbec from Ponui Island, fermented to 15% alc., the wine aged 18 months in 45% new French oak. 18.5+/20 May 2018 RRP $46.90

Man O’ War ‘Ironclad’ Waiheke Island Cabernet Franc/Merlot/Petit Verdot/Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Blended Red from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

19.5-/20

Full, even, near impenetrable black-hued red with slight purple hues, youthful in appearance. The nose is full with vibrantly fresh aromas of black and redcurrants along with a layering of cassis and fresh and dark herbs, a little liquorice and pencilly oak, all harmoniously interwoven and integrated. This has beautiful clarity of expression and unveils soft, savoury complexities with aeration. Full-bodied, the palate has beautifully ripe and rich, succulently sweet flavours of blackberries with black plums, cassis, dark herbs with some liquorice and spice, with pencilly oak. The fruit is youthful and possesses vitality, and underlined by fine, flowery tannin extraction providing plenty of structure and grip. The palate has balanced, refreshing acidity. The flavours form a concentrated core that carries with power and linearity to a very long and sustained, sweet-fruited finish. This is a very rich and succulently sweet, ripe Franc and Merlot-based blend with powerful and vibrant fruit flavours of blackberries, currants, plums, liquorice and spice on a very fine palate with great power. Serve with grilled and roasted red meats, and semi-hard cheeses over the next 12-15+ years. A blend of 32% Cabernet Franc, 29% Merlot, 16% Petit Verdot, 12% Malbec and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 18 months in 35% new French oak. 19.5-/20 May 2018 RRP $49.50

Man O’ War ‘Ironclad’ Waiheke Island Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot 2012

Blended Red from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

19/20

Full, dark, deep ruby-red with black hues and slight garnet tints on the rim. The bouquet is softly full and densely packed with a complex amalgam of savoury dark-red plum fruit with earth, dried and dark herbs. This has richness and some secondary detail, all seamlessly interwoven to form a deep heart. Full-bodied, the palate has a fulsome and harmoniously interwoven array of complex flavours of savoury dark-red plum fruit with a layering of dried herbs and earth. The fruit has lusciousness and is underlined by fine, grainy tannin extraction lending plenty of texture and presence. The mouthfeel has a fine edge of acidity that underlines the fruit and the wine carries to a long and elegant, complex, savoury finish. This is a rich and lusciously harmonious complex Merlot/Franc-based blend with an array of complex, savoury plum, earth and black-berried fruits, with plenty of body and grip with fine acidity. Match with slow-cooked game meat and casseroles over the next 10+ years. A blend of 29 components with 42% Cabernet Franc, 20% Malbec, 14% Petit Verdot, 13% Malbec and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, indigenous yeast fermented without crushing to 15.0% alc., the wine aged 18 months in 35% new French oak. Considered the best ‘Ironclad’ to date. 19.0/20 May 2018 RRP $49.50

Man O’ War ‘Dreadnought’ Waiheke Island Syrah 2015

Syrah from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

19+/20

Very dark, deep black-red colour, near impenetrable, a little lighter on the edge with slight purple hues, youthful in appearance. The nose is softly full and gently voluminous with aromas of ripe blackberry fruit with notes of dark raspberries, black pepper, liquorice and Asian spices, unfolding violet florals with hints of minerals, earth and tar. The aromatics grow in richness and detail with aeration. Full-bodied, the palate has rich and well-packed, concentrated flavours of ripe blackberries and dark raspberries, along with an amalgam of black plums, black pepper, violet florals and earth. The fruit is bold and powerful and the flavours mouthfilling. The fruit is supported by fine, grainy tannin extraction and grip, with balanced, soft acidity. The flavours form a fulsome core and the wine carries to a full, long and solid finish. This is a rich, well-concentrated, mouthfilling Syrah with ripe and luscious blackberry and plum fruit along with floral, black pepper, spice and complexing earthy notes on a well-structured palate. Match with Middle Eastern lamb dishes over the next 9-10+ years. Hand-picked fruit from hillside sites including the ’20 Tonner’ and ‘Niko Face’ vineyards, fermented, the fruit from the ‘Asylum’ site with 100% whole bunches, giving an overall whole cluster amount of 15%, to 14.3% alc., the wine aged 20 months in 35% new French oak puncheons. 19.0+/20 May 2018 RRP $54.90

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