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Negociants N.Z. Kiwi and Aussie Winemakers Tour 2014

By June 26, 2014No Comments
As one of the best wine importers and distributors in the country, Negociants N.Z. has a superb portfolio. Their ‘Winemakers Tour’ is a fantastic promotional exercise that ranks high on the wine and hospitality trade calendar, and attending gives experience of some of the best wines available. The tour is occasionally opened to the consumer public, and it is a special event to get to. As with many of these exhibition tastings, there are too many wines from too many producers to do justice to fully, and one should have a plan to taste specifically, whether it be selected producers, regions or wine styles. This way, an attendee will have a chance to talk to the winemaker, owner or representative about aspects of the wine or their business.

This year, my approach was to limit myself to tasting one wine from each of the New Zealand producers, this wine being their choice. I only visited and tasted with the New Zealand exhibitors, leaving the Australians until next time. It was an interesting method, as it provided a diverse range of wines to taste, presumably wines that were interesting, exciting or extremely high in quality from the point of view of the winery. Here, I offer my notes, and occasionally an explaining comment on these wines, with a photograph taken of the wineries’ representative. www.negociantsnz.com


Paul and Beatrix Ham – Alpha Domus, Hawke’s Bay

Alpha Domus ‘The Barnstormer’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2013
Very dark, deep, purple red colour, this has a ripe and concentrated nose with an array of aromas ranging from ripe, black berry fruit with hints of pepper, spices and subtle violetty floral and mineral notes. On palate, the fruit is luscious and sweetly aromatic from the ripeness, in no way over-ripe, and supported by very fine, ripe tannin extraction. The elegance and perfume is enhanced by the inclusion of fermented Viognier skins, the amount accounting for <0.5%. A beautiful example of the superb 2013 Hawke’s Bay vintage, and it shows Alpha Domus’ flair with the variety. 18.5+/20 RRP $32.50

Luc Cowley – Auntsfield, Marlborough

Auntsfield ‘Single Vineyard’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Very pale straw-green colour. This has a fulsome and pungent bouquet, packed with passionfruit thiol fruit aromas cut by softly lifted florals, lending a degree of elegance and finesse. Tightly bound and crisp on palate, this has a tightly bound core and line of passionfruit and minerals. The wine follows a very fine textural thread with purity and cut. The pungency promises to blossom with an array of flowers, herbs and minerals. This is around 5% barrel-fermented and underwent batonnage. A strong wine as the Auntsfield house style invariably delivers. 18.5/20 RRP $25.50


Dave McKee – Black Barn, Hawke’s Bay

Black Barn ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2012
Very pale straw colour. The bouquet is very contemporary with tight and intense aromas of white stonefruits complexed by sulphide flinty reduction, the fruit and gunflint integrated and supported by nutty oak and nuances of toast. Beautifully concentrated and elegant, the sweet citrussy fruit forms a fine, firm and packed core. Layers of flinty detail, nuts, oak and stonefruits intermingle and carried with excellent energy. The palate is very finely textured, carrying through to a long, lingering, dry finish with plenty of oak toastiness. Great class and complexity. 100 dozen made. 19.5-/20 RRP $45.95


Wilco Lam – Dry River, Martinborough

Dry River Martinborough Chardonnay 2012
Bright, very pale straw colour. This is very soft, gentle and delicately aromatic, with very fine white stonefruit and floral fruit notes, subtly entwined, with little oaking noticeable. A more elegant expression, refined and with a tight core of detailed sweet stonefruit, citrus and nutty flavours. Piquant, pin-point acidity underlines the mouthfeel, which is delicately creamy and smooth-flowing. Between a number of powerful, complex and richer Chardonnays on show, it would be easy to overlook this. Have I done so? Classy and elegant in any regard. 18.0+/20 RRP $60.95


Adam Balasoglou – Fromm, Marlborough

Fromm ‘Fromm Vineyard’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012
Ruby-red colour with a pale edge. The bouquet is full, soft and gentle in density with a core of red berry fruits and minerals, unfolding red and violet florals, and the beginnings of secondary earth, ink and tar. On palate, quite restrained in fruit expression, with a latent fruit sweetness that unfolds. The palate has density and extract, allied to finesse, the tannins flowing with velvety smoothness, and carrying to a very long, soft, textured, near sinewy finish. This is classical ‘Fromm Vineyard’, with its shy restraint, minerally structure and the need for aeration or bottle age to reveal its terroir and quality. And quality it has indeed, proven over many vintages. 18.5/20 RRP $80.50


Kimberley Judd – Greywacke, Marlborough

Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay 2011
Straw-yellow colour, this has a full, rich and complex bouquet of warming yellow stonefruit aromas fully integrated with gunflint notes, unveiling fine, lifted and refreshing herbal nuances. A soft, broad and mouthfilling wine, this unfolds ethereal waves of ripe yellow stonefruits, savoury florals, citrus detail and sulphide flinty elements. A firm core underlines the palate and the wine possesses great drive, with refined, soft textures and detailed length. The finish is marked by refreshing acid lift. This appears tighter than on last showing. 19.0-/20 RRP $42.50


Claire Allen – Huia, Marlborough

Huia Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2014 
Pale straw-yellow colour with slight green hues. The nose is very fine and intense with lifted rose-petal florals, revealing some exotic musk and refreshing herbal notes. Quite dry, but very refined and tightly bound, pure, sleek and concentrated flavours of exotic florals and stonefruits for a core with excellent linearity. There is alcohol presence and drive, but the balance is superb and there is no spirit or heat intruding, but rather, only guiding and driving the linearity. A single vineyard wine, organic, fermented to 14.5% alc and 1 g/L RS, in 1 y.o. oak. Discreet, but with character. 18.0+/20 RRP $19.50


Chris Archer and Cath Hopkin – Joiy, everywhere!

Joiy NV (Not Rated)
Very pale straw with light effervescence. This has restrained and soft aromas of lime fruit with nuances of honey. Slightly sweet, the palate is soft and frothy with gentle, and delicately luscious flavours of honey and lime. This is subtle with its richness and quietly satisfying as a mellow, wine. The palate features soft, drying textures which provide the structure for some drive.
Adding a small segment of lemon transforms this. The aromatics are lifted with lime and florals, and the palate becomes more refreshing and steely in crispness. There’s cut and a sense of energy and linearity. This makes it a cooler weather drink or a warmer weather drink.

100% Riesling, from a single site in Waipara, fermented relatively warm to 10% alc., with 38 g/L RS. This is a 2013 vintage wine, but the label is non-vintaged. If you’re a wine geek, you’ll dismiss ‘Joiy’, and you’ll miss out on a delight. (250 ml) RRP $6.85


Misha Wilkinson and Olly Masters – Misha’s Vineyard, Central Otago

Misha’s Vineyard ‘High Note’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010 
Dark, deep, ruby-red colour. The bouquet is full and firmly packed with aromas of ripe, dark-red berry fruit, the nose youthfully brash with a solidness and robust density. Savoury minerally notes bring complexity. Tightly bound and well-structured, the fruit is ripe with sweet dark red cherry and berry flavours, expressed with lovely purity. The minerally, earthy nuances are very much in the background, and more chalky and textural. The palate is taut, sinewy, lively from brisk acidity, and long in length. This is still very tight and youthful, but the extract and structure promises a long life. This is indicative of the vineyard site. 18.5+/20 RRP $45.00


Chuck Spelman – Mt Beautiful, North Canterbury

Mt Beautiful North Canterbury Riesling 2011
Pale straw-yellow colour with some green hues. The bouquet is very elegant, fine and bordering delicate, the pure lime fruit now giving way to secondary toasty and kero notes and complexity. Off-dry to taste, the mouthfeel features very fine textures forming an excellent linearity, and crisp, racy acidity. Enticing honey and lime fruit flavours and a little toastiness are carried with very good tension to a dry, gentle finish. This is 11.0% alc., 12 g/L RS, with a TA of 7.7 g/L and pH 2.95. It has developed with finesse and beauty, and its delicacy is its feature. Is Riesling the star variety for Mt Beautiful? 18.0+/20 RRP $25.50


Clive Jones – Nautilus, Marlborough

Nautilus ‘Cuvee Marlborough’ Methode Traditionnelle Brut NV
Approx. two-thirds Pinot Noir, with 6-7 g/L dosage, tiraged in 2010 and disgorged in March 2014. All the information you need is on the label. Bright straw-yellow colour with fine bead and good effervescence, The bouquet is softly full and well-integrated and harmonious, quite complete with fine stonefruit and hints of citrus, seamlessly melded with bready autolysis. Dry, tight and finely-textured with creamy, smooth flow, the detailing of stonefruits and yeastiness is subtle, and beautifully proportion, leading effortlessly to a lovely piquant and dry, refreshing, mouthwatering finish. Sheer class in bubbles, Nautilus is becoming more refined with each release. 19.0-/20 RRP $42.95


Brett Bermingham – Opawa, Marlborough

Opawa Marlborough Pinot Gris 2014
Very pale straw colour. The nose is bright and aromatically lifted with aromas of spiced pears, exotic florals and honeysuckle, along with youthful esters. The bouquet grows in depth and intensity. Dry to taste, the aromatic character is the highlight, with spices and tropical fruits, along with exotic florals, following a very fine, dry, textured line. Though youthful, this will develop into something noteworthy. 13.5% alc. and 2.8 g/L RS, the fruit equally from the Omaka and Wairau. Opawa is growing up to stand tall beside big brother Nautilus. 18.0/20 RRP $22.50


Allan Johnson – Palliser, Martinborough

Palliser Estate Martinborough Pinot Noir 2011 
Moderately deep ruby-red with youthful purple hues. This has a deep and densely concentrated bouquet with rich, ripe, dark red berry fruits along with subtle savoury dried herbal complexities, lifted with floral notes, and stalk and stem detail suggesting whole clusters. The aromatics unfold in waves of interest. Elegantly presented, this has a deep and well-concentrated core of sweet red fruits along with lush and juicy notes that reveal soft spices and an array of interwoven dried herbs. The palate has a fine-textured core and line, the acidity quite soft, enabling accessibility. However this will keep well, for another 5-6 years. Another Palliser Pinot Noir that delivers all you’d want. 18.5+/20 RRP $54.50


Nick Mills – Rippon, Central Otago

Rippon ‘Mature Vine’ Central Otago Riesling 2012 
Very pale straw colour, the bouquet combines intensely concentrated aromas of limes, minerals, citrus zest and white florals that blossom in the glass with real volume and intricacy. Off-dry to taste, flavours of limes, lemon zest and sherbet build in richness and lusciousness. The palate has a very positive flowing core and line with ripe acidity, gentle liveliness, and very fine textures, leading to a soft, dry, lingering finish. A brilliant, luscious flavour explosion. Surely vine age has given balance, fruit extract and harmony? 19.0+/20 RRP $37.00


Sarina Ibbotson – Saint Clair, Marlborough

Saint Clair ‘Omaka Reserve’ Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 
Pale straw colour, the nose is firmly held, but exudes real richness of ripe citrus and tropical fruit and bold oaking, showing lifted vanilla and savoury bacony-toasty oak melded with creamy, nutty barrel-ferment notes. Full-bodied, softly rich and mouthfilling, the palate unfolds waves of ripe tropical and citrus fruit, and layers of toasty oak. This is powerful, weighty and dense, with great drive and energy, and near unctuous in texture. This is Saint Clair at its exuberant best, not afraid of making a statement. 18.5+/20 RRP $38.95


Jacqui Murphy – Two Paddocks, Central Otago

Two Paddocks Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
Lighter purple-red colour, youthful in appearance. The nose is tight and brash, still needing time to come together, with fresh, herbal-nuanced red berry fruits, oak toast and a touch of reduction. Clearly with the componentry to show good things. Elegant and tightly bound on palate, the tannin grip and acid bite still apparent, but there is bright and sweet red berry fruit with clarity alongside some oak chariness. This has similar complexing detail and quality oak as in the single vineyard ‘Last Chance’ Pinot Noir. Give it another year to be delicious. 18.0-/20 RRP $55.50


Angus Thomson and Guy McMaster – Urlar, Gladstone

Urlar Gladstone Pinot Noir 2012
Light ruby-red colour with a little garnet. The nose is light with charming fragrance, showing red berry fruits and red florals, intermixed with subtle fresh herb, undergrowth and dried herbal complexities, the bouquet beginning to develop. An elegant and cooler-spectrum expression, the red fruit and floral flavours are succulent and sweet. The tannin extraction and structure is perfectly light and moderate, and the acidity is in place without any imbalance. It’s a feat to get such a pleasing wine in a tough year. The organically tended vines must be in tune with the earth. 17.5+/20 RRP $40.00


Bronwyn Skuse – Vinoptima, Gisborne

Vinoptima ‘Reserve’ Ormond Gewurztraminer 2004 
Light golden colour with good depth. This has a full, soft and broad nose with great volume, packed with aromas of ripe, savoury tropical fruits, hair oil, ginger and wonderfully lifted exotic florals. Off-dry to taste, lusciously decadent and exotic fruit flavours of savoury tropical fruits unfold waves of honey, spices and ginger. The mouthfeel is unctuous and is driven by alcoholic power, with soft, rounded textures that carry the flavours to a dry finish. This is in a superior condition to the bottle I tasted recently. That’s bottle variation with bottle-age, and one can give a 10 y.o. wine some latitude. 19.0/20 RRP $101.50


Scott Berry – Waipara Springs, Waipara Valley

Waipara Springs Waipara Pinot Gris 2013 
Bright straw-yellow colour, the nose is very fine in expression with exotic florals, rose-petals and honeysuckle, the bouquet impressive with its clarity. Dryish to taste, the mouthfeel is refreshing with crisp acid cut, adding a steely edge to the floral and spicy stonefruit flavours. The raciness carries the wine through to a very fine phenolic, dry finish. Totally stainless-steel fermented to 13.0% alc. and 5 g/L RS. Pinot Gris is a relatively new variety here, but already, the style for success has been found. 18.5-/20 RRP $23.95

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