Red wines feature in the September 2011 Cuisine magazine Issue 148. The tasting panel of John Belsham, Ralph Kyte-Powell and Steve Smith MW assessed a range of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from New Zealand, as well as a selection of local reds made from lesser-known red varieties, plus Italian and Spanish reds.
The panel “tasted some outstanding drops” reports Cuisine, the result vindicating the praise that the 2009 vintage has garnered. All of the wines that were awarded four stars and above came, unsurprisingly, according to the report, from Hawke’s Bay. Panellist Steve Smith MW pointed to the Bordeaux practice of blending varieties in Hawke’s Bay to achieve different statements for the producers.
Of the Merlot-based wines, the top-rated wine from 95 tasted was the Matua Valley ‘Single Vineyard – Matheson’ Merlot 2009 followed by the Craggy Range ‘Gimblett Gravels Vineyard’ Merlot 2009 and Cypress Merlot 2009, all awarded 5 star ratings. These were followed by the Black Barn ‘Reserve’ Merlot 2009, Trinity Hill ‘The Gimblett’ 2009, Couper’s Shed Merlot/Cabernet 2009 and Craggy Range ‘Te Kahu’ Gimblett Gravels 2009, all with a 4 ½ star rating.
The importance of Cabernet Sauvignon on the international scene was noted by the Cuisine panel, and successful wines came from the warm 2009 and 2007 vintages in Hawke’s Bay. The 5 star wines were the Newton Forrest ‘Stony Corner’ 2007 and Mission ‘Jewelstone’ Cabernet/Merlot 2009, the latter a wine that has received considerable attention due to its high placing in a comparison with first-growth Bordeaux reds recently. The 4 ½ star Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines were the Alpha Domus ‘The Aviator’ 2009, Matariki Cabernet/Merlot 2007, Babich ‘The Patriarch’ 2009 and Mills Reef ‘Elspeth’ Cabernet/Merlot 2009.
Of the 23 ‘other variety’ New Zealand reds, the Trinity Hill Tempranillo 2009 came top with a 4 ½ star rating.
The textural style of Italian wines was discussed by Cuisine, and the importance of serving these wines with food was highlighted. The panel was disappointed with the showing of the 37 wines entered, with only 13 receiving 3 star ratings and above. The top four wines, all with 5 stars were Antinori ‘Marchese’ Chianti Classico Riserva 2006, Da Vinci Chianti Riserva 2006, Leonardo Chianti Riserva 2006 and Poggio Al Santi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2008.