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Wine of the Week for week ending 6 June 2004
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Alpha Domus 'The Aviator' 2000
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

It's not often I repeat a wine as Wine of the Week, in fact this will be the first time. Then again it is not often that New Zealand wine producers hold back some of their production to re-release with a little bottle age.

Back in August 2002, the Alpha Domus 'The Aviator' 2000 was flown from Hawkes Bay to Auckland in a Tiger Moth bi-plane to star at the Alpha Domus 2000 vintage release tasting and I was there, eager to taste the wines. 'The Aviator' was totally delicious and I wrote a rapturous review.

Alpha Domus AD 'The Aviator' 2000 ... a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and malbec ... is red black with pinky red rims. Crisp raspberry spices show upfront at first then very lovely rich dark fruit with lots of cassis and plum, sweet leather and hints of black pepper. A savoury, smoky, fruity wine with a velvety silk texture, it is soft and very smooth with layers of flavour, a beautifully structured wine with a very long length and deliciously satisfying finish. A dark, concentrated wine, as it sits in the glass and warms up a liquid chocolate aroma wafts out together with exotic spices. It is just so velvety smooth and delicious. A wine to sip and savour.

I finished by saying "The hallmark of a great wine is that it is approachable in its youth yet has the ability to age".

This month I've had the opportunity to try this wine again not once, but twice. First of all at the beginning of the month at the Hawkes Bay Winemakers Hot Red Roadshow 2004 where it was one of my favourite wines in a Hawkes Bay and Bordeaux comparative tasting. I wrote

Youthful, deep, purple magenta coloured. Bright berry fruit on the nose combines with opulent vanillin oak. Big and rich with loads of concentrated plum and berry fruit flavours, it is also savoury and salty with smoky charcoal, currants and rosemary. Rich and sweet with a firm tannin backbone and a long rich concentrated berry/cassis finish, this is intriguing and mouth filling with lovely mouth feel, weight and focus. Top wine of the flight. 19/20.

Then at this week's First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday tasting (26 May 2004) where New Zealand wines were compared to a similar wine from a classic region, it was one of my Wines of the Night. I wrote ...

Inky black in colour with red rather than purple hues on the rims indicating the wine has a little age, it's richly scented with berry fruit, vanillin oak, earth and a touch of barnyard on the nose. The richness carries through to the concentrated flavours in the mouth where cherry, plum and cassis fruit combine with solid leathery tannins and nicely integrated oak. As it opens up in the glass it becomes quite generous and juicy and the finish is delicious and long.

I can now quite firmly state that the Alpha Domus 'The Aviator' 2000 is aging beautifully and if anything is gaining more complexity and deliciousness.

At the Hawkes Bay Roadshow I was fooled into thinking it was a wine from 2002, so dense was its colour and so bright it pinky red hues but at the First Glass tasting the wine showed more developed leathery characters from the outset. That's bottle variation I guess.

If you bought the wine on release it would have cost you $50 a bottle. If you buy it now it will cost you $10 more. But at least you know it has been well looked after in the Alpha Domus cellars.

© Sue Courtney
30 May 2004

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