Having recently attended and enjoyed a meeting of the Porirua Wine Society (click here to read my blog article), it was a pleasure to head out further up the Kapiti Coast, north of Wellington, to Paraparaumu to speak at the Kapiti Wine Club. This is another ‘suburban’ wine club that has a long history of promoting responsible wine enjoyment and education, and it has been a group that I have had the privilege of presenting to a few years ago. The club meets every month, on the fourth Tuesday, at the Senior Citizens Centre, Ocean Road, on the way to the beach. It is an excellent venue with all the facilities. Club head Tom Ranson wanted to put me through my paces, tasting and evaluating a number of wines selected by him to be served ‘blind’ to me. The club members were to go through the same process, but he felt the method and approach I took as a professional would be useful and educational for them. My partner Sue Davies was also invited, and with her input, which was not always in agreement with my opinions and conclusions, an entertaining night eventuated. Here are the wines, and my impressions:
Six Blind Wines
Grove Mill ‘Grand Reserve’ Marlborough Riesling 2010
Quite pale in colour, this displayed distinctive toasty notes with herbal elements indicating Riesling with bottle-age or possibly oak-aged Sauvignon Blanc. Medium-dry to taste, the sugar level confirmed the wine as Riesling. This possessed very smooth and soft textures and excellent acidity, the flavours quite gentle, but in the developed toasty spectrum, with honied notes in support. A quality wine, from cooler climate growing conditions, South Island the probable location. On revealing identity, the only worrying factor being the relatively forward secondary toastiness in what would be regarded a youthful wine. 12.0% alc., and 24 g/L rs.
C.J. Pask Gimblett Road Hawke’s Bay Viognier 2010
Light straw-yellow colour, this had a tight and classical bouquet immediately recognisable as Viognier. Spices, ginger, apricot kernel, quite light and delicate. Other possibilities entertained were Gewurztraminer (not flamboyant enough) or Pinot Gris (possibly too weighty and structured for Pinot Gris). Dry to taste, savoury ginger and spices rather than aromatic perfumes. Good power and drive, with excellent depth, but also with a roundness and softness of texture. Well-handled phenolics, and plenty of freshness. This had a purity of fruit and quite uncomplicated, without oak influence. A North Island example, and youthful with it. Attractive for its purity. 14.0% alc.
Vidal ‘Reserve Series’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2010
Light straw-yellow with golden hues. Textbook grapefruity Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay with gunflint reduction and minerals a strong component on the bouquet. Medium-bodied, but with excellent drive of ripe, lush citrus and tropical fruits, with melons. Youthful in expression, and the reductive notes very much in balance. Oaking likewise very sensitive, allowing the fruit to speak. Not the bigger, more oaky ‘Winemaker Reserve’ style, but more the Villa Maria ‘Cellar Selection’ level. Sue picked this as Vidals, I was less certain on a producer. For me, silver medal quality – on a good day, maybe better. The wine has won gold medals at shows.
Brancott Estate ‘P’ Patutahi Gisborne Gewurztraminer 2007
Light golden colour, distinctly Gewurztraminer on bouquet, with soft and full aromas of Turkish Delight, with honey notes and slight herbal interest, all very harmoniously put together. Medium in sweetness, this is up-front and with an attractive blend of Turkish Delight and honey, the textures soft and oily. Though gentle in progression through the palate, there is still plenty of freshness and the alcohol/acid cut provides good balance. The finish fades away somewhat. Clearly varietal, with softer acidity and riper fruit suggesting North Island. Not the zestiness or tighter, leaner mouthfeel of cooler climate, nor with the delicacy of fruit. On revealing identity, pleasingly youthful for the age. 14.0% alc., 17 g/L rs.
Te Mata ‘Coleraine’ Cabernet/Merlot 1998
Black, impenetrable red colour with garnet on edge. This is a bit of a blockbuster with densely packed black fruits, Bordeaux-varietal in style with intensity and linearity. The fruit ripeness is a feature, and some secondary meaty, game notes emerging. A full-bodied wine on palate with very ripe black fruits, hints of spices, game and mint unfolding. Very juicy and plush, with plenty of sweetness in reserve, and backed by significant tannins, all in balance. A little more air time saw brettanomyces funkiness grow. The second bottle more elegant, more complex waves of cedar interest with brighter acidity and much cleaner, but surprisingly less rich and weighty. Upon revealing the label, the age of the wine surprised, again pleasantly. Much talk focussed on bottle variation and maturity. A most interesting comparison of aged bottles, and an impressive wine in any respect. The best 1998s are still holding up well. I thought it a Hawke’s Bay/Waiheke Island or possibly cooler-climate Australian, 2005 or 2006 in vintage. This wine is quite remarkable. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc.
Church Road ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Cabernet/Merlot 2009
Youthful, purple hued black-red, saturated colour. Very ripe, fresh, youthfully primary, black berry and black plum fruits and a healthy dose of new oak spice and shine. The ripeness of the fruit and the depth are features here. Not into the raisiny spectrum, but fully-ripened to show near liquorice. Great sweetness, but balanced by serious extraction. Overall, a sense of elegance and style indication a cooler provenance, Hawke’s Bay. Very little of the iron-earth that marks the wines of the Gimblett Gravels. The wine tastes of the excellent 2009 vintage, with plenty of Merlot fruit flavours, but an underlying Cabernet Sauvignon structure, seeming to be the less predominant variety. 50.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 49.5% Merlot. Outstanding wine.
The Kapiti Wine Club
Tom Ranson intimated that the wine selection for the night was going to be rather special, and indeed it was. Though regular meetings might not have such a classy selection, the wines tasted and discussion were always interesting. Visiting winemakers and distributors feature regularly on the programme. The meetings are well-run with the structure of a guided presentation. If you reside in the Kapiti Coast, north of Wellington, and are interested in wine tastings and education, I recommend you contact Tom Ranson on Tel: 04 905-1523 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org about attending the Kapiti Wine Club meetings.