These wines were tasted on 29th Feb 2004.
Stonecroft Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Hey! What's this? Didn’t winemaker Alan Limmer say, just two years ago, that we were drinking his last Sauvignon Blanc? "Never say never", says Alan. With the frosts that severely curtailed the 2003 harvest Alan bought some fruit in. "It's difficult to run a winery when you have no grapes to process", he said. These are first crop grapes from a site in Bayview. It's straw gold in colour with subtle stone fruit aromas. Bright and zesty in the palate, crisp and refreshing with citrus and bubble gum esters, a sauvie for those who don't like cats pee. Long stonefruit flavours linger on finish, which is long and dry with a touch of tropical fruit to sweeten the aftertaste. $19.
Stonecroft Gewurztraminer 2003
Harvested from extremely low yields of about a 1/4 tonne per hectare from 20-year old vines, this is outstanding, as it to be expected. Straw gold with bright hues, it's fairly subtle in its entry then explodes with flavours on the palate to reveal ripe spicy stone fruits, musk, Turkish delight and lychee juice. It’s rich and luscious as well as being completely dry and is very long on the palate, gently fading away with time. This wine was barrel fermented in old barrels, as Alan didn't have a tank small enough to handle the small quantity of fruit. 13% alc. $25.
Stonecroft Gewurztraminer 1994
This was Alan's last bottle. Light gold with bright hues, mellow on the nose, showing some development, with sweet stone fruit aromas, very perfumed. Mellow in the palate too with delicate spices, rose petals and a lovely sweetness of fruit, though otherwise dry. Beautifully balanced with ripe fruit sweetness, there's a touch of zesty acidity and lingering spices. The finish is full and rich. I tasted this wine with Prawns seared with lime juice and Vietnamese mint, quite delicious. 13.5% alc.
Stonecroft Chardonnay 2003
Medium gold in colour with plenty of oak influence in the rich toasty smelling, buttery aromas. Oak powers through the palate too. It's tight and youthful with good acidity and ripe stonefruit flavours. Spicy oak lingers. A wine to cellar and let evolve to let the oak integrate to the lovely ripe stonefruit flavours that come forth on the finish.
13.5% alc. $25.
Stonecroft Chardonnay 1994
Deep gold in colour. Quite developed, with an oxidative air, it's mellow and soft in the palate and tastes better than the nose suggested. There's good fruit weight and richness and the oak is totally integrated now.
Stonecroft Crofters VI
A multi-grape, multi-vintage blend with 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 14% Syrah. The backbone of the wine is 2002 but some of the Syrah is from 2003. Garnet red in colour with good depth, it's fairly closed on the nose, revealing only aromas of leather and prunes. In the palate it seems a bit lean, green and leathery to me, some acid points but also some raisin characters as well. The finish is spicy and lifted with a warm cedar and musky oak influence.
13.5% alc. $19.
Stonecroft Zinfandel 2002
Medium coloured red, bright in its hues. Fruity smelling with strawberry jam and wild berries on the nose. Lighter and fruitier in the palate than I was expecting for this variety, it’s dry with good vinosity, a touch of earthiness and an array of fruit flavours including cherry, guava, strawberry and plum. I get flashes of lighter styled Pinot Noir characters with the floral intrigue of this wine. Good with food, try with a rare slice of beef fillet topped with chicken liver paté, or a slice of Kikorangi blue cheese topped with Morello Cherry Jam – have the cheese and jam atop the beef too.
14% alc. $25.
Stonecroft Ruhanui 2002
Harvested from 20 year old vines, this is a blend of 41% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Syrah. Bright in its dense pinky-red colour, there's lovely concentration of berry fruit on nose with just a hint of leather and in the palate there's concentrated plum, blackberry and black currant fruit. It's creamy textured with fairly robust tannins, sweet spicy oak and a deliciously long succulent finish. With its good acidity, it's a wine that will live well in the cellar. Decant for drinking now. Excellent with the fillet of beef topped with the chicken liver paté.
13.5% alc. $30.
Stonecroft Cabernet 1990
It's still dense in colour, a black red with developed bricky hues, incredibly youthful looking for a wine of this age. It smells decadently appealing with wild berries, plums, well-loved leather and fragrant old roses. Velvety textured, the tannins are still there but they are mellow and integrated. There's some wonderful bright berry fruit with warm cedary, slightly spicy oak supporting it. Overall a beautifully developed wine with lovely vinosity and great persistence. 13% alc.
Stonecroft Syrah 2002
The wonderful pepper signature of NZ Syrah characterises this shiny deep red-black wine. It's so wonderfully aromatic with fabulous berry fruit aromas, peppery spice and tar leading into bright fruit in the palate, sweet ripe fruit with fantastic concentration, a touch of leather, honeyed oak, anise, musk and liquorice. A dry wine with fruit sweetness throughout, soft and round, juicy tannins, wonderful balance and wonderfully persistence with it fragrance. This is a blend from 18 year old vines and his 'new' vines, which are now 10 years old. $38.
This is Alan's 14th vintage of Syrah. He's been doing it longer than anyone else has in the Bay. "The more I see of this grape, the more I like it with its multi-faceted seasonal character and its vintage benevolence. I think it likes it here – In Hawkes Bay", says Alan.
The first vintage was 1989 and just one barrel was made off the original row of vines. Alan thought he had used up all his stocks but found a case hidden away a few months ago. He brought a bottle along for us to try.
Stonecroft Syrah 1989
90% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, the latter part of the blend because it was need to top off the barrel. Made in the era when 'big is better' so had lots of extraction.
A fragrant wine, though well into its secondary phase and without any distinct Syrah varietal definition. Smooth and creamy in the palate, lots of leather, then a sweet core of fruit, good tannins still and a long finish.
I've written more about the Stonecroft Syrah in my Wine of the Week review for the week ending 7th March 2004.
© Sue Courtney
1 March 2004