The wine was poured, the deep red blue-liquid sloshing into the bowl. It looked good and smelt alluring with the vanillin oak infused into the concentrated winey aroma and the taste was full of creamy oak and sweet juicy fruit with a chocolatey richness and a subtle suggestion of earth and herb. It was a New Zealand wine, of course, a Merlot-dominant wine, but from where? Neil made me guess.
"Hawkes Bay," I said rather confidently.
"Nope," he said.
"Martinborough?" I posed.
"It has to be Waipara, then."
"Nope." He was enjoying this. I was squirming.
"OK, I give up."
"Marlborough," he said with a silly grin.
I never would have guess this wine was from Marlborough, and if the wine had been in Wine Options, the question master would have to leave out the Hawkes Bay option to be fair. After all, Hawkes Bay is the region that produces the most stellar wines of this style. Marlborough is famous for Sauvignon Blanc with Pinot Noir hot on its heels. Bordeaux grape varieties donít really figure in the big picture. But obviously there are good sites and dedicated producers that can coax the best out of their grapes.
I guess it comes down to site and dedication.
Kathy Lynskey 15 Rows Merlot 2003 comes from 15 rows of Merlot grapes grown on their Marlborough vineyard on a terrace adjacent to the Omaka River near Renwick in Marlborough. It's a rich, concentrated, full-bodied red, a powerful wine with fine tannins, plum and blackberry fruit, a hint of chocolate, spicy cedary oak and a vanillin sweetness to the long, long finish.
It is very polished and definitely needs a big glass. As well as letting the wine open up, a big glass with a wide rim delivers the wine onto the tongue in such a way that the tannins became a fine, flowing velvety cloak flowing behind it. In a small glass with a narrow rim, the tannins are as if the cloak had been taken off and thrown onto the floor, a pile of crushed up velvet.
The wine was aged in a combination of French and American oak for 15 months. It caries 14.5% alcohol by volume and costs $45 a bottle.
Dial up the Kathy Lynskey website to find out where to buy it.
© Sue Courtney
2 April 2006