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edited by Sue Courtney

Wine Reviews
Hawkes Bay Charity Auction Preview

by Sue Courtney, 15th November 2001

The Auction artwork 'The Naked Bidder'

The Naked Bidder, an oil on canvas measuring about 1m by 1.2m, is the colourful artwork that is taking pride of place at the Hawkes Bay Vintners' Charity Wine Auction to be held on Saturday 2nd February, 2002. Local artist Kate MacKenzie, in giving her impression of the popular wine auction, has added a fun element to the painting with one of the bidders being maked. "It portrays the feeling of being 'exposed' when bidding in a large crowd", she says.

Well, the only thing that was being exposed at the preview tasting of the auction wines for 2002, was the quality. If there were any naked bidders, I missed them!!

Here's what I tried when the auction wines came to Auckland - a selection of the 28 wines that the winemakers have donated for the cause - many were still in barrel and will be bottled near the auction date, either shortly before or sometime after.

White Wines

Linden Estate Chardonnay 2001
Lot 20: 108 litre quarter barrique
An unfiltered sample. Plenty of mealy lees character, not surprising as the wine is still on lees. Creamy spicy oak, ripe peach fruit and lingering melon. 100% wild yeasts, 100% malolactic. Great potential in this wine from Gunn Estate, which has new owners and new branding but the same winemaker.

Clearview Estate Workshop Chardonnay 2001
Lot 22. 56 litre quarter barrique, to be bottled around the time of the auction at the same time as the Clearview reserve.
Spicy fruit with mealy, fig and melon tones. Very elegant with French oak. A balanced superb wine in the typical Turvey style.

Mission Auction Chardonnay 2001
Lot 30: 225 litre barrique
Subtle aromas with leesy scents. Spicy, almost spritzig at first with bright citrus fruit then peach and just ripe apricot.

Riverside Wines Stirling Chardonnay 2000
Lot 31: 2 x 3 litre jereboams
Lovely creamy spicy oak with sweet peach & nectarine. Oak quite dominant in this powerful wine that needs time.

Red Wines
(by lot number, not in the order tasted)

CJ Pask Barrique Selected Merlot 2000
Lots 2 & 35: 56 litre quarter barrique
This is a component of the famous CJ Pask Reserve Merlot. It has wonderfully sweet fragrances with cigar box nuances to the fore. Hints of leather, elegantly spicy fruit with plum and red licorice, a hint of aniseed and spicy oak. This baby wine has a full-bodied ripeness and slightly grainy tannins.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Road Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1998
Lot 3: 9 litre salmanazar
A blend of about 2/3rd's cabernet sauvignon, 1/3rd merlot and 5% cabernet franc, this has a fruitcake-like richness with spice and a hint of aniseed. It is opulent with great structure and a lovely lift on the finish that lingers with creamy black fruit. From the 'wonder' vintage of 1998, this wine has had many accolades.

Church Road Syrah 2001
Lot 4: 56 litre quarter barrique
Lot 16: 12 litre bottle with hand-painted label
Hints of blackberry, black cherry and plum with fragrant spices, crackling fruit, a fine structure and an almost silky/velvety texture. Very good ripe fruit, which is due to the vineyard site according to the Montana Winemaker, Tony Robb.

Te Awa Farm Cuvee Unique 2000
Lot 5: 6 litre imperial presented in an oak stave cradle
Lot 34: 56 litre quarter barrique
With 50% malbec, 40% cabernet sauvignon and 10% cabernet franc, this wine is a deep red/black colour. Plenty of spice, tannin and leather in this meaty wine. To be bottled sometime after the auction. Very ripe plum/blackberry backed up by superb tannin structure and spicy creamy oak. Excellent palate weight. Flavours linger well with blackberry and spice.

Lombardi Reserve Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
Lot 7: 3 litre double magnum (to be auctioned with a 3 litre Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon 2000)
What a lovely big rich wine with an elegance from the bottle aging. It has great fruit, minty nuances like that in a Coonawarra wine, biscuity characters and spicy oak.

Ngatarawa Merlot Cabernet 2000
Lot 8: 225 barrique to be presented in 750ml bottles.
60% merlot, 40% cabernet sauvignon. Very dense colour. Smoky, cigar box nose. Earthy nuances at first in the palate then sweet currant and blueberry fruit with a creamy texture tending toward chocolate. Another big, ripe, gorgeous wine with approachable tannins already at this stage. It's a very complex and voluptuous wine with chocolate, spice, plum, tar, leather and cigar. One of the stars so far.

Vidal Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Lot 12: 28 litre octet barrique
Sweet spicy blackcurrant/redcurrant fruit on a creamy layer of mocha and chocolate. There's plenty of smoky spice in this wine too. Deliciously balanced. Quite a ripe sumptuous wine with the Rob McDonald hallmark. Lifted, fine tannins, sweet ripe fruit and a fantastic lingered smoky finish.

Kemblefield The Reserve Zinfandel 2000
Lot 15: 9 litre salmanazar
John Kemble's first zinfandel has a smoky, cigar fragrance with lifted fruit - like a fruit salad/berry mix of strawberries, cherries and wild berry. The oak is classy - so fine that it does not intrude. Then there's some smoky spice and musk. It's a lifted wine in the palate and so refreshing after the big cabernet and merlot styles. It will eventually be released at about $50 a bottle.

Brookfields Hillside Syrah 2001
Lot 17: 56 litre quarter barrique Lighter in colour than some of the Bordeaux styles Plenty of creamy spice and crackling berry in this lifted, vibrant wine that has some floral nuances and a fruit layer on top of smoky spicy oak with fruit cake spice joining to linger. The smoky flavours last for an age. Q months in New American oak. This wine is more restrained than the blockbuster 2000.

Corbans Centennial Selection 2000
Lots 18a and 39: A barrel of wine, blended specially for this auction, will be auctioned as two half-barrel lots.
A blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc, this is a fragrant wine with cedary oak on the nose and a wonderfully fragrant lift in the palate. Sweet but subtle berry and plum fruit, smoke and cigar box characters and a nice touch of spice on the finish. The cabernet franc with its fragrance seems to dominate at this stage.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Road Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1999
Lot 23: 9 litre salmanazar
This is tighter and more elegant than the opulent 1998 (see lot 3), with lovely redcurrant fruit predominating. Quite firm tannins, a hint of mintiness, sweet spices and a cigar smokiness, the wine is long and rich.

Alpha Domus Winemakers Bordeaux Style Selection 2000
Lot 24: 56 litre quarter barrique
Intensely coloured. Sweet leather and vanilla aromas. Ripe blackcurrant and plum fruit with sweet leather, a touch of earthiness, lifted creamy oak, sweet fruit and oak spices, ripe integrated tannins which seem soft at first but linger on the stylishly creamy finish. Tight young thing with excellent cellaring potential.

Sacred Hill Brokenstone Merlot 2000
Lot 27: 6 litre imperial
Very appealing aroma with floral nuances, spice and creamy oak. Plum, sweet fruit and spice with a gorgeous texture that floats across the palate. Very well integrated tannins. Lingering berry and plum. Superb already. Great potential.

Church Road Merlot Malbec 2001
Lot 32: 56 litre quarter barrique
Spicy and lifted with plum and leather. Doesn't seem to have the structure of some of the wines tasted so far. Plenty of sweet spice and a long finish, so perhaps just slow to evolve.

Esk Valley Gimblett Gravels Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
Lot 33: 6 litre methusaleh (to be auctioned together with a 6 litre methusaleh of the 1991).
From 10year old low yielding vines, this wine is deep, almost black in colour. Wonderfully fragrant with creamy spice and cedar. Very rich in the palate with cinnamon and fruitcake spice, currant, ripe plum and black cherry fruit. This is a masterful wine - so clean and silky with amazing length. Very tight but with firm fine tannins. If this is a representative example of the 2001's, the vintage is going to be just great.

Gunn Estate Woolshed Merlot 2000
Lot 38: 6 litre imperial
A blend of 80% merlot and 14% cabernet sauvignon from the Otihi Valley. Dry berry spice, earthy notes, medium rich tannins, nice touch of chocolate complexity creeping in. Plenty of a spice character of warm berry fruit and plum. Tannins show their presence on the firm spicy cedary finish.

Also tasted on the evening were these three wines that are not in the auction -

Brookfields Pinot Gris 2001
Musky, perfumed scents. Full bodied in palate with peach and ripe grapes, hints of lemon and pear-like texture.

Brookfields Gewurztraminer 2001
Pungent with strong beeswax and peach scents. Sweet ripe fruit , musk, spice with a lovely richness and balance. There is no botrytis in this wine. I think the beeswax-like richness possibly due to low cropping. Good lusciousness. Good cellaring potential.

All proceeds from the aution go to the Cranford Hospice. For further information about the auction and to request a catalogue, contact

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