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Wine Reviews - Other Red Wines
by Sue Courtney
Last updated 24 Aug 2016

Although some of these tasting notes may be found elsewhere on this site, this page brings together most of 'Other Red Wines' (other than Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Pinotage), listed alphabetically by Producer. Click here for rating systems and abbreviations.

[2015] [2014] [2013] [2012] [2011] [2010] [2009] [2008] [2007-2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000] [1999] [1998] [older] [index]

2015 Vintage [top] [index]

Matawhero Church House Malbec 2015 (sc) (black label) Inky blackberry red with crimson edges. Amazingly perfumed — a bit of a blockbuster actually — it’s all red fruit and sweet vanillin oak — sumptuous in its aromatic allure - later hint of smoky bacon too. Full-bodied, minty, creamy and spicy in the palate with a velvety flow; bright, lifted red and black fruits; enticing nuances of citrus and mulled wine spices. It’s not often I get so much eucalypt / menthol flavours in a New Zealand wine and it could be polarising to some tasters, but I love it. 13.5% alc. $26. 8Jun2016.

2014 Vintage [top] [index]

Saint Clair Premium Selection Hawkes Bay Malbec 2014 (sc) Inky blackberry red. Concentrated on the nose with opulent aromas offering up savoury oak, cake spices, plums and brambles. Quite savoury, meaty and dark-fruited in the palate with profound concentration. The savoury oak quite brooding, the leathery tannins firm and assertive, these traits offset with a touch of spice and a beguiling rose hip floral lift to the finish, then a touch of anise/liquorice as the powerful flavours lingers. From the Gimblett Gravels region and incredible value. 13% alc. $13.99. 3Feb2016.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2014 (sc) Lustrous blackberry red with crimson bright edges. Sensually smoky on the nose with concentrated red and black berry fruits and hints of vanilla and liquorice. Firm in the palate with a touch of mint, succulent berry fruit, hints of tobacco and firm-edged plump pillowy tannins. There's good acidity to the wine with an underlying spicy savouriness, a juicy succulence and a firm finish with vanilla tones from the 10% American oak emerging as the flavours linger. A wine with the provenance to cellar magnificently but immensely enjoyable already. 10% Touriga Nacional is included in the blend. 14% alc. $29.99. 18May2016.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Grenache 2014 (sc) Rich blue red with a ruby purple depth. The spicy aromatics hint of tobacco and it’s bright and spicy in the palate with firm tannins that are quite assertive – yet they are offset beautifully by the super succulent, creamy nature of the wine with juicy plum and raspberry fruit and a subtle peppery brightness to the savoury finish where some harmonious herbal/woody notes come through. 14% alc. $19.99. 11Nov2015.

2013 Vintage [top] [index]

Obsidian Waiheke Island Montepulciano 2013 (sc) Bright purple red with crimson flecks. Alluring deep, cedary aroma with nuances of dried herbs and fruitcake cherries. Creamy and smooth tasting with juicy ripe plum and cherry fruit, dried herbs, savoury oak, game meat, olives and cedar. There’s a bright spicy undercurrent, a touch of chocolate emerging and a juicy succulent finish that offsets the firm tannins and savouriness brilliantly. Already seductive but the cellaring potential is definitely there. 14% alc. $29.99. 1Oct2014.

Saint Clair Premium Hawkes Bay Malbec 2013 (sc) Saturated blue red in the glass, this has a brilliantly fruity aroma reminiscent of plum, black cherries and wild blackberries with an appealing brackeny, country road sense. Quite savoury and smoky to the taste with freshness and brightness to the fruit. It's red and black fruit – blackberries and raspberries - a little confectionary maybe – with a comforting, velvety mouthfeel. Rich, warming, very enjoyable full-bodied red wine with hints of liquorice coming through. Excellent with a slow cooked beef stew with onions, bacon and garlic sautéed in a pan that was deglazed with white wine and then tomatoes in puree added. 13% alc. $24.99. 26May2014.
Inky purple crimson. Wow, a very different, savoury style of wine with an enticing fragrance of spiced plums and brambles, sweet oak and violets. A sexy, savoury wine with a sweet lick of leather, succulent juicy fruit, hints of chocolate biscuits, smoky oak, slightly grippy tannins and a long creamy finish. The quintessential meat lovers wine. 13% alc. $15.99. 8Oct2014.
This is an impenetrable shiny purple-red-black in hue, and has an evocative earthy nuggetty aroma that has a subtle rose petal intrigue and allure. And in the palate there is the earthy savouriness with a very delicious brambly red fruit sweetness and plush velvety tannins that coat the mouth with sensuality. There’s a momentary herbal edginess with an underlying hint of leather but the overall impression is juiciness and the finish is smoky, creamy and long with a warm, rounded mouthfeel. With hints of chocolate emerging, this is another value-packed offering from Saint Clair. 13% alc. $15.99. 18Mar2015.

Te Mata Estate Hawkes Bay Gamay Noir 2013 (sc) This is just the most delicious, juicy and impressive light style red I have had in a long time. It is a stain-promising purple-pink and smells of juicy ripe boysenberries and blueberries. Then when you taste this juicy, light-hearted, refreshing beauty, there is only one word and that is 'Yum'. The fruit is juicy and sweet but it's quite savoury too with nuances of wood smoke and a bright spicy finish with a hint of red liquorice and smooth tannins in the background. 53% of the wine underwent carbonic maceration and all of the wine had 3 months in older oak. 13% alc. $22.00. 18Nov2013.
A light styled, lightly oaked red with a violet luminescence to the translucent purple red hue. The bouquet is crushed summer berries and in the palate the juicy red fruit is balanced by earthy, slightly savoury flavours with a touch of cake spice and just a hint of red liquorice in behind. Slight tannin grip adds structure to the finish. I love this in the summer slightly chilled. Nick says it is an extremely versatile food wine all year round. 13% alc. $16.99. 14May2014.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Grenache 2013 (sc) Bright black cherry red in hue with crimson pink edges. A warm smelling wine with sweet toasty oak, peppery spices and juicy mixed berries. Distinctly Grenache with its medium-boded palate weight, hints of tar, a touch of leather and fruit in the strawberry, raspberry and red plum spectrum with creamy oak and aromatic pepper-infused spices. Very smooth in its delivery yet structured on the finish. Heading towards European in style. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 19Nov2014.

2012 Vintage [top] [index]

Te Mata Estate Hawkes Bay Gamay Noir 2012 (sc) This vibrant translucent purple red coloured charmer smells so fresh, fruity and clean yet with a Euro-like savouriness too. Rosehip cordial and ribena comes to mind. It's crisp, fresh and almost bone dry with a confectionary-like purple and red berry fruit juiciness, a harmonious cinnamon and clove spiciness and a pleasing amount of tannic grip. Made from the grape Beaujolais made famous it's simply delicious summer drinking. 12.5% alc. $19.99. 13Mar2013.

Clearview Sea Red Fortified Desert Wine (c) This has a translucent dark red hue and while not overly expressive on the nose, a little hint of sage perhaps, it has a luscious and lightly viscous palate with macerated plums, the essence of the fortification liqueur and silky smooth tannins. The grape varieties it is made from are a secret. 17% alc. Cork. $37.99. 22Jan2014.

2011 Vintage [top] [index]

Dry River Craighall Vineyard Martinborough Tempranillo 2011 (c) This is a bright black red in the glass – black in the core and blue-red on the edges. The aroma emanates classy French oak and cigar box with a vinously sweet overlay of wine-macerated dark bramble berries. Concentrated in the mouth with a soft silky texture and orange acidity quite prominent. Red fruit – red currant and a hint of raspberry jubes come to me – then leather, cigar box, cedar, baked tomato and a rich meaty savoury finish where salami comes to mind. I have to confess tasting this blind I thought this a cabernet but I wondered why there would be a subtle pepper note running through. Tasted with a lamb stew, a touch of mocha emerges. But the highlight accompaniment was how superb it was as a match to roasted Kalamata olives. 13% alc. $60. 14Jun2014.

Heron's Flight Matakana Unplugged Sangiovese 2011 (sc) Deep dark red with dark cerise flashes. There's a smokiness to the scent even though only old oak barrels have been used. It's a lovely savoury tasting wine with a deep dark fruitiness, underlying creaminess, a peppery-like spiciness and a bright citrus flare to the finish. Dry and savoury with moderate grip and structure yet succulent and fruity at the same time. Matches well to lamb backstraps rubbed with sumac and sizzled on the BBQ and goes very well with tomatoes too. 13% alc. $25.00. 13Dec2013.

Heron's Flight Matakana Unplugged Dolcetto 2011 (sc) Deep purple red, impenetrable and intense. Rich sweet aromas of plums and leather and concentrated and deep in the palate with a floral infusion to the taste, it's full of blackberries, raspberries and musk with underlying acidity adding brightness and very dry tannins, yet balanced to the fruit. There's a sweet liquorice herbaceousness (fennel, tarragon) and elegance to the lingering finish. Smells deep and rich but is surprisingly more medium-bodied in the palate. 13% alc. $25.00. 17Nov2011.

Rippon Central Otago Gamay Noir 2011 (sc) Dark for Gamay Noir, black purple edged with purple red. Smelling of blackcurrant and raspberry jubes, and juicy and jubey in the palate with a savoury backbone and fine soft tannins, it’s the kind of soft juicy red that immediately hits the g-spot. Some earthy, leathery notes than cake spice, a touch of rose petal and a long savoury finish bring parallels to Pinot Noir. It’s soft, juicy, spicy and fruity in a medium-bodied style. Tasted again a couple of days later it’s fine, silky, perfumed, soft and juicy with some of the gamey characteristics of Pinot Noir. An absolute pleasure to drink, this is undoubtedly 5 star Gamay Noir. 12.5% alc. $36.50 24Jan2012.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Grenache 2011 (sc) Rich red. Intriguing nose of vibrant red fruits and leather and full bodied and succulent in the palate with aromatic spices and white pepper. The floral notes of violets and rose petals are fascinating but there is an underlying leathery savouriness and firm tannins, and the finish is long, juicy, lifted and aromatic. 14% alc. $21.99. 20Nov2013.

2010 Vintage [top] [index]

Ake Ake Vineyard Northland Chambourcin 2010 (c) Deep purple red with bright blackberry/crimson edges. The bouquet offers up creamy oak, raspberries and chocolate and the taste is intense, rich and spicy with velvety tannins, creamy oak, chocolate, rose petals n blackberries. Robust yet supple, it's rounded, mouthfilling and clean with a fresh finish. 14% alc. $25.00. 17Sep2011.

Coopers Creek Single Vineyard Saint John Hawkes Bay Malbec 2010 (sc) Inky amaranth, shiny, intense. There's a floral intrigue to the spicy, creamy oak scent and the taste is rich, ripe and juicy with gobs of plum and blackberry fruit, firm yet svelte tannins, liquorice, leather and a long succulent finish. Exciting wine with lovely use of oak. 14% alc. $27.99. 29Feb2012.

Coopers Creek SV Huapai 'Guido in Velvet Pants' Montepulciano 2010 (sc) Deep, dark black purple-red with aromas of creamy vanillin oak, raspberry, cherry, herbs, chocolate and leather. Sumptuous in the palate with firm yet supple tannins, creamy oak, blackberry, plums, spit roast meat, mint and leather – it's full-bodied and powerful with upfront tannins dissolving and the fruit, tempered with chocolate, is the juicy seducer at the end. 13.5% alc. $26.00. 17Nov2011.

Cottle Hill Bay of Islands Dolcetto 2010 (c) Saturated purple red - very opulent and deep. Earthy, savoury and slightly nutty aromas and very rich, ripe raisiny fruit. A thick textured wine with dry tannins and an aftertaste of blackberry pie. 13.8% alc. $20.00. 17Sep2011.

Heron's Flight Matakana Reserve Dolcetto 2010 (D) Inky black red. Concentrated on the nose, it oozes savouriness with smoky oak, liquorice, violets and leather. A big wine, a juicy wine with firm dry tannins in behind, dark jammy fruit - damson plums perhaps, a touch of liquorice, cake spices and a fresh acid spice. Lots going on, it flirts with every mouthful. High alcohol although not perceived in the initial taste, a little more porty on the second day. Matched well with roasted eggplant, capsicum and tomato - Mediterranean foods. 15.5% alc. $60.00. 15Dec2013.

Heron's Flight Matakana Unplugged Sangiovese 2010 (sc) Intense, impenetrable, black red. Aromas of ripe dark-fleshed plums, violets, cream, nugget and a lovely savoury edge. It looks and smells big and is full-bodied, meaty and beefy to the taste with blackberry and cream rippling through the dark leathery backbone and a spicy finish. The tannins start to dissolve and the plum and blackberry fruit lingers elegantly as some yeasty nuances emerge on the finish. 13.5% alc. $25.00. 17Nov2011.

Hyperion Matakana Midas Malbec 2010 (D) Dark crimson red with a rich, bright, plummy aroma that hints also of rose hip and savoury nuances of earth, barnyard and leather - the fragrance is smooth, creamy and opulent in a cosy kind of way. Initially quite savoury to the taste with chicory and sweet vanillin oak welling through, concentrated blueberry fruit, a red liquorice brightness, firm yet svelte tannins and a very long finish with a fragrant musky infusion and classy French oak on the lingering finish. 13% alc. $35.00. 28Apr2012.

Mahurangi River Matakana Mainly Malbec 2010 (D) A saturated dark crimson red, it seduces with its rich, ripe, cherry, plum and cassis scent that’s layered with smoky vanillin oak, intriguing earthy nuances and rose petals too. Everything on the nose carries through to the palate that has lovely fine tannins, or so it seems on first tasting, but the power of the firm, fleshy, full-bodied wine kicks in and the finish is rich and meaty – almost a meal in a glass. A bit of a chameleon however, as the lingering flavours are lifted and bright with rose petals, violets, redcurrants and milk chocolate coming through. There's some Merlot in the blend that's been matured for 12 months in French oak, 33% new. 14.2% alc. $39. 7Dec2012.

Marsden Bay of Islands Chambourcin 2010 (c) Very deep purple red. The aroma is deep, rich and chocolatey with succulent berry fruit and oak. An intensely fruity and opulent wine with nut chocolate coming to mind. Smooth, rich, creamy and mouthfilling with soft rounded edges, rose hip jam and cherries. 14% alc. $28.00. 17Sep2011.

Passage Rock Waiheke Island Magnus 2010 (c) A blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec & Petit Verdot from Waiheke Island, this is a shiny boysenberry/blackberry red colour with a spicy, savoury, meaty nose and a full-bodied savoury palate. It is smooth, ripe, voluptuous and succulent with a hint of pepper. Mocha, coffee, cocoa and creamy oak interweave through the mixed berry fruit flavours with a vanillin nuance adding to the overall charm. 14% alc. $69.00. 28Jun2013.

Pukeko Vineyards Sticky Beak Bay of Islands Chambourcin 2010 (c) Rich coloured with a smoky leathery scent that hints of wild game. Initially quite savoury with tar and leather, then red and black fruits, a very fine tannins structure and intriguing floral notes to the finish. Intense, powerful wine. 12.5% alc. $22.00. 17Sep2011.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels T Tempranillo 2010 (c) This deep, dark, full-bodied, meaty wine is an enticing purple black colour. I get tobacco, dark fruits, smoky oak and an earthy undercurrent with a succulence to the rounded harmonious savoury finish and hints of dried rose petals lingering. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 28Nov2012.
Inky red with a savoury, meaty, gamey nuance to the scent and a savoury earthiness to the creamy, full-bodied palate with smoky bacon, a touch of tickly spice and leather. Blackcurrant and cherry fruit comes through and though, the tannins are robust and firm, there a silky chocolate layer too. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 20Feb2013.
Deep black red. Savoury and earthy on the nose with a hint of tobacco and leather then succulent dark berry fruits in the full bodied, firm, meaty palate with a harmonious smoky savouriness and a brightness to the finish, as all good Tempranillo should have. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 5Jun2013

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Grenache 2010 (sc) Deep red coloured, ripe, fragrant and juicy smelling; this little ripper is full of juicy, sweet-fruited, drink now appeal. It is succulent and plummy with a touch of pepper, all spice, and chocolate! From the Ngakirikiri Vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels, it’s a blend of 92% Grenache, 6% Syrah, 2% Malbec – a GSM!!! 14.5% alc. $21.99. 14Nov2012.
Deep blue red with a smoky and slightly meaty nuance to the fragrant scent with cherries, spiced plums and wafts of vanillin oak carrying through to the succulent and seemingly more medium bodied palate. It's smooth, creamy and spicy with supple tannins and the whole impression is juicy with lovely lift and length, and a touch of chocolate too. An outstanding wine made from a blend of 92% Grenache, 6%Syrah and 2% Malbec. 14.5% alc. $21.99. 12Jun2013

Weeping Sands Waiheke Island Montepulciano 2010 (sc) A shiny and impenetrable black red colour presents this full-bodied savoury and intriguingly fragrant wine. It's creamy, opulent and concentrated with incredible purple fruit intensity, fine but firm tannins, hints of violets and a long finish. 15% alc. $31.99. 7Sep2011.

West Brook Waimauku Malbec 2010 (sc) Rich plummy red, like a velvet robe. Attractive aromas of vanillin oak and cigar box with a touch of barnyard later reveal Malbec's typically attractive, floral bouquet. Very bright in the palate with red fruit, vanillin oak, fruit cake and chocolate. Initially the tannins seem firm and mouthcoating but become smooth and velvety on the ripe juicy finish that leaves behind a taste reminiscent of a bowl of mixed berries mingling with cedar. Underlying acidity (= longevity) indicates this young wine has a long way to go. % alc. $29.50 28Apr2012.

Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Tempranillo 2010 (sc) Dark cherry red with a vibrant red and blue fruit aroma, hints of tar and an almost rustic savouriness it smells like it could be Spanish … a young wine without too much influence of oak. Creamy on first tasting with subtle smoky nuances, violet jam, this is a medium bodied wine yet it has mouthfilling richness with tobacco notes and woody herbs on the smooth, fine tannined finish. 14% alc. $27.95. 25Jun2013.

2009 Vintage [top] [index]

Abbey Cellars Temptation Malbec 2009 (sc) is a punchy ripper of a wine. Deep in colour - you call it a crimson violet hue - there are hints of chocolate on the nose and it's scented with red berries, roses and violets too. Soft seamless tannins caress the palate where chocolate joins creamy oak, bright red and purple fruits add a profound juiciness and there's a nice touch of spice to the savoury finish. 13.5% alc. $31. 10Jul2010.

Black Barn Hawkes Bay Montepulciano 2009 (D) Deep black red in colour, this is full of rich, ripe sweet fruit - raspberry and blackberry come to mind. In the mouth there's spicy berry fruit, underlying acidity, hints of violets and prunes with a smoky veneer and a savoury undercurrent. The palate is thick set with tannins that seem a little chunky right now. This is a wine that shows lots of promise but just needs time for the tannins to integrate. 14.5% alc. $48. 4Jul2010.

Black Barn Hawkes Bay Sangiovese 2009 (D) Not released at the time of tasting, this is a youthful fruity wine with a dense black red colour, dominant vanillin oak on the nose, firm tannins and a ton of acidity in the palate but does show much promise with bright, juicy red fruit, cigar and a deep brooding finish. Tasted alongside the current 2007 release, this 2009 seems a bigger wine, as well. 14% alc. $48. 4Jul2010.

Black Barn Hawkes Bay Tempranillo 2009 (D) A fragrant wine with a vibrant crimson red colour and a deep juicy flavour. The scents are reminiscent of juicy red berries, sweet smoky vanillin oak, spice and tobacco with creamy American oak aiding and abetting the deep fruit flavours. Red fruits initially spring to mind - concentrated red fruits reminiscent of raspberries, cherries and hints of tamarillo - with smoke, cedar, tobacco, citrus and a vinous complexity. The caressing tannins are velvet-edged and the bright acidity that underpins the wine suggests long term potential. It's a full-bodied red but has a light step and the lingering flavours are earthy and savoury. A serious challenger to the benchmark that long-time Tempranillo producer, Trinity Hill, has set. 14.5% alc. $48. 4Jul2010.

Church Road McDonald Series Marzemino 2009 (c) Intense black red coloured, with a succulent red fruit bouquet, this powerful wine is ripe and juicy in the palate with slightly furry tannins and masses of red fruit and chocolate. While the fruit is sweet, the harmonious finish is savoury and dry. An Italian grape variety grown in Hawkes Bay. 13% alc. $28.99. 31Oct2012.

Hans Herzog Marlborough Montepulciano 2009 (c) A dark red colour with marginal bricking on the edges. The savoury, cedary, spicy bouquet has an attractive vanillin veneer and there is a mellow aspect to the taste with no primary characters at all. It’s warm with mouthcoating plush velvety tannins, cigar box, pencil shavings, macerated currants and violets – a heady wine that begs to be accompanied with food. Tasted blind I initially though 'twas a Rioja Gran Reserva but this is an Italian variety from Marlborough! 14.5% alc. $62.99. 16Jul2014.

Heron's Flight Matakana Sangiovese Dolcetto 2009 (D) This exhibits a lovely rich perfume of cherry and dark fruits with a hint of mocha. Immediately ripe blueberry and plum fruit fills the palate of this fine, silky-textured, medium to full-bodied style with underlying savouriness and liquorice and aromatic musky nuances coming through. 'Parma Violets' (an iconic violet-flavoured British confectionary) too. A 50/50 blend. 13.5% alc. $44.00. 28Jul2011.

Hyperion Midas Matakana Malbec 2009 (D) A deep dark red colour, shiny in hue and opaque in appearance, it smells concentrated and voluptuous yet dark and savoury with rich red fruit, blackcurrants, vanilla and cherry. A big wine, a gutsy wine with firm velvet-textured tannins, juicy red and black fruit, toasty oak, woody herbs and Black Forest chocolate, it has distinctive underlying acidity and, true to Malbec's form, a lifted floral finish that is rich and generous with cherry and vanilla lingering. 13% alc. $35.00. 17Apr2011.

Kidnapper Cliffs Hawkes Bay Malbec 2009 (c) Lovely deep crimson red. Some red berries on the nose exude bright acidity with a meaty richness and smoky cedar complexity. A bit of a blockbuster with huge tannins, ripe purple and black berries, fruit cake spices, leather, liquorice, some violets - rather sumptuous in fact. Typical Malbec with an earthy depth and a floral finish - it reminded me of lamb being roasted with rosemary and redcurrant jelly and I imagine this would be the perfect accompaniment to the roasted lamb too. 13.5% alc. $45.00. 28Apr2012.

Rock Ferry Central Otago Tempranillo 2009 (sc) Deep garnet colour, translucent in appearance. There's a vanillin oak sweetness to the scent and it is smoky and savoury to the taste with an underlying cherry sweetness and a hint of pepper, the mouthfeel is silky and supple and hints of orange zest infiltrate the succulent finish. A fascinating flavour profile and close to what I expected. Outstanding with lamb shanks cooked with orange zest. 13% alc. $39.00. 9Aug2011.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Gamay Noir 2009 – Hawkes Bay (sc) Like the colour of bottled cherry juices with a bright purple crimson edge. Aromas are fresh and fruity and the taste is spicy with a hint of sweetness. The fruit is ripe and juicy, raspberries and strawberries in particular with a creaminess to the lingering finish with a hint of leather, a touch of spice and just a little bit of grip. Te Mata's answer to Beaujolais, it can be well chilled especially in the summer. 13% alc. $17.99. 5Aug2009.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Malbec 2009 (sc) The inky purple red colour sets the scene for the full-bodied opulent stunner. It's spicy, biscuity, succulent and savoury and although it is a veritable blockbuster, its seems incredibly smooth and fine as the wine traverses the palate. It's full of concentrated juicy dark plums and loganberries with hints of violets and a beautifully balanced savoury backbone. First made in 2002, this is the follow-up. A veritable stunner. 14% alc. $53.99. 20Nov2013.
This blockbuster is inky black red with an inviting bouquet of creamy vanillin oak, spiced berry fruit and dried roses, then in the palate it's all vanilla, macerated cherries, a pleasing herbal note that is in harmony with the spicy fruit sweetness, firm velvety textured tannins and a hint of violets on the mouthfilling finish. A totally awesome wine that belies its age, even Shiraz lovers with enjoy this. 14% alc. $52.99 .30Apr2014.

Waimea Nelson Dolcetto 2009 (sc) Not so opaque but deeply coloured and youthful. Aroma is a little dull, with beetroot, vanillin oak and paintbox. Seems over-extracted and concocted in palate. Spicy, perhaps a little pepper, thick tannins, rhubarb and a dry, puckery finish. American oak, firm goupy tannins, tobacco and tar and a lightly green edge. 14.5% alc. $25.00. 17Sep2011.

2008 Vintage [top] [index]

Blackenbrook Nelson Montepulciano 2008 (sc) Deeply translucent purple red. On the nose this is chocolatey, earthy, savoury and meaty and the flavours are all bright, fresh, strawberry and cherry with a jammy intensity. Medium-bodied in style with underlying savouriness, sweet creamy oak - perhaps a mixture of French and American (all French say the notes), tannins are moderate and the finish is savoury and earthy. Almost a little funky - yes, definitely some funk. Good wine. 13.5% alc. $26.90. 21Jan2010/

Hyperion Midas Matakana Malbec 2008 (D) Deep bright red black in colour, opaque to the eye. Rich savoury aromas and bold flavours with fruitcake cherries and a wild berry rusticity underpinned by creamy oak and velvety textured tannins that simply dissolve into the chocolatey softness of the wine. Infused with spice and floral notes, this is a meaty wine with lots of flavour and juicy drinkability. 13% alc. $34. 7 Nov 2009.

Messenger Le Menage a Trois 2008 (c) A blend of 40% Malbec, 30% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc from Silverdale in Auckland, it's bright dark red with a floral driven bouquet layered with concentrated red berries and fruit cake spices, yet there's a lovely earthy savouriness and cedariness coming through. A modern and attract New World style with ripeness and concentration. I found red berries, vanillin oak, cedar and sweet gamey nuances. Fleshy and dry, yet supple and mouthfilling on the finish. 14.5% alc. $210. 6Apr2012.

Ransom Matakana Carmenere 2008 (c) A rich wine with a generous red fruit aroma, it's firm yet succulent in the palate with juicy red fruits, hints of violets and musk, tannins the texture of suede and a very dry yet majestic finish and American oak that is nicely balanced. Sensational match to lamb shanks. 12.5% alc. $32.00. 28Jul2011.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2008 (D) Rich crimson red with spicy, continental delicatessen dried meat scents, this full-bodied, vibrant red is full of stewed red berry fruits with tamarillo, leather, tobacco and hints of fennel, sage and thyme. Firmly structured with well-balanced underlying acidity and a finish that is spicy, juicy and long. 13.5% alc. $33.99. 24Nov2010.
Bright boysenberry red in hue, this Hawkes Bay red tricks most of the tasters into opting for a Northern Hemisphere wine. The aromas are quite tarry and earthy with a blackcurrant fruitiness pushing through and it's tarry and savoury to the taste with firm but fine tannins, fruitcake cherries, peppery spice and a vanillin sweetness. Medium to full bodied in style. 13% alc. $35.99. 18May2011.

Weeping Sands Waiheke Island Montepulciano 2008 (sc) Intensely deep dark red-black colour with a vivid purple glow. Savoury aromas with a smattering of dried herbs and while also quite savoury to the taste, there's vibrant redcurrant and raspberry fruit adding a wave of sweetness. With firm textured succulent tannins, a smoky infusion from the well-integrated seasoned oak and a touch of red liquorice and spice this is an outstanding New World expression of a classic Italian grape. 14% alc. $35.99. 30Sep2009.
Purple black in colour with an intriguing earthy, savoury, almost gamey scent with smoky sweet oak and concentrated berry fruit. High toned in the palate with supple tannins, lots of juicy purple fruit, liquorice, hints of vanilla, a delicious savouriness and a lasting, concentrated, succulent finish. Excellent. 14% alc. $35.99. 24Nov2010.

2007 Vintage [top] [index]

Black Barn Hawkes Bay Sangiovese 2007 (D) A current release at the time of tasting and drinking well right now, it's deep in colour and hardly showing any indication of age. Savoury smelling but with plenty of fruit in support, the palate is savoury too with some mellow traits that have accrued with age, a nice little bit of funk and firm tannins. Bright fruit is in harmony with the oak with hints of leather, cigar and perhaps even a suggestion of mint. 14% alc. $32. 4Jul2010.

Church Road Cuve Series Limited Release Hawkes Bay Marzemino 2007 (sc) A dense, shiny blackberry red. Quite leathery and savoury on the nose with a juicy berry sweetness and a pepperiness reminiscent of Syrah. But nothing like Syrah in the palate - it's big, rich, full-bodied and meaty - a monster of wine with huge but very supple tannins, juicy blackberry fruit, creamy oak, earth and hints of leather. If you like savoury with succulence, this is it. Phil says the Italian's answer to Malbec. Ready to enjoy now. 13.5% $32.99. 12Aug2009.

Omaha Bay Matakana Montepulciano 2007 (D) Vibrant saturated deep purple with crimson rims. Savoury aromas and rich, creamy and savoury to the taste - let that first sip evolve because it is so full of flavour. Slightly mocha-infused chocolatey oak, a hint of thyme and earthy notes to complement the brightness of fresh blackberries picked from the roadside. Full-bodied and complex in its flavour, a thought provoking taste treat. To cut through the wine's structure and tannins, simply match with ciabatta bread and blue cheese. 14% alc. $40. 2Aug2008.

Marsden Estate Bay of Islands Chambourcin 2007 (c) After tasting the plush Pinotage from this producer, this is a thinner wine both in appearance and taste. It's quite gamey, herbal and leathery with loads of barnyard character and meaty tannins and leaves a slightly butter taste. It's not fruity at all and definitely not the best Marsden Estate Chambo I've tasted. 13.5% alc. $24.6Oct2009.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Hawkes Bay Gamay Noir 2007 (sc) A gem-like ruby / purple garnet colour, translucent but deep. Fragrant, berryish aromas with fruitcake spice and liquorice staple lollies and amazing structure and depth to the taste for what one regards as a lightly oaked, lighter-styled red. It has lots of bright mouthfeel, fruitiness and savouriness with a touch of tar, woodsmoke and game. 12.5% alc. $19.99.12Mar2008.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2007 (D) Deep, dense, blackberry red in colour, this has dark savoury oak and concentrated plum-like fruit with just a hint of musky florals on the nose and a smoky, savoury, earthy, dry palate with hints of tobacco, spice, a touch of chocolate and a musky fruit sweetness pushing through. The bottled red and purple fruits are juicy and counteract the seemingly massive tannins and while the wine is overall very savoury, it is well balanced by the juicy fruit and underlying acidity. 91% Tempranillo and 9% Malbec. 14% alc. $31.99. 25Mar2009.

2006 Vintage [top] [index]

Ascension 'The Steep Bit' Matakana Malbec 2006 (sc) Deep ruby, bright, not quite opaque. Tobacco and violets mingle on the nose with grainy vanillin cedar. Lifted and fragrant in the palate with a cherry fruit profile, smoky cedar, floral notes, a firm tannin structure and a long savoury smoky finish with a touch of bacon which melds in nicely with the fruit that is more blackberry on the finish. Medium to full-bodied in style. 13% alc. $29. 10Jul2007.

Coopers Creek SV 'The Clays' Huapai Malbec 2006 (sc) Incredibly deep purple coloured with crimson edges, this is a monster of a wine, yet still remarkably juicy and succulent once you get through the door. Savoury, leather, funky and earthy with grippy, rubbed fur tannins. There's incredible depth and purity with floral nuances to the finish. 13% alc. $23. 13Oct2007.

Mills Reef Reserve Malbec 2006 (sc) Very deep in colour. Rich, sweet, floral, earthy and savoury scents. A full-bodied wine that is voluptuous and drinkable with a concentrated creamy richness to the bright berry flavours and a hint of chocolate to the fragrant finish. Smooth, ripe, balanced, deep, earthy and long. Totally delivers, as always. 14% alc. $22.95. 25Jan2008.

Morton Estate Private Reserve Hawkes Bay Montepulciano 2005 (sc) Deeply coloured with rich berry aromas that have a winey smokiness, leather, dried herbs and brambly fruit that smells ripe and goupy. It's a medium-bodied, fine textured, slightly oxidative style with underlying acidity and a rustic character to the finish reminiscent of an Italian country red. A little richer and creaminer the following day, it's great choice for lighter summer drinking and to acoompany lamb on the barbie. 13% alc. $22.95. 20Dec2007.

Omaha Bay Vineyard Matakana Montepulciano 2006 (D) Deep purple black, like blueberry jam with its crimson edges. On the nose there's black fruits, mocha and savoury oak - it smells youthful with an aromatic cedary fragrance. Savoury to the taste with red and black fruits, tar, chocolate and mocha building in the rounded, full-bodied palate with juicy blackberries bursting their flavour in the mouth and underlying citrus peel acidity keeping everything in check. It's brooding and deep with a crushed velvet texture. 13.5% alc. $35. 6Jul2007.

Saltings Estate Matakana Malbec 2006(D) Deep in colour with vibrant crimson purple tints, this intense wine emits a concentrated aroma full of rich fruitcake, plums, violets and sweet smoky oak with perhaps a hint of liquorice and tar. It's ripe and lush and lavishly full bodied with juicy purple plum and blackboy peach fruit but finishes earthy with Malbec's distinct savouriness and oak spice making a statement. With a long full aftertaste with just a hint of mint - this is the star of the Saltings Estate wines and the most expensive too. 14% alc. $28. 23Mar2008.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2006 (D) Saturated deep dark plummy red with a touch of violet and crimson to the liquid's edges. Smoky, savoury aromas with red fruit, tobacco and hints of spice. On the medium side of full-bodied in weight, it's quite savoury with a fruit cake cherry sweetness, a touch of tar and firm tannins. There's an interesting charcoal undercurrent and while there are herbs, tobacco and acidity adding lift and musky nuances adding perfume to the red fruit flavours that are ripe and sweet, there's a nuttiness to the finish too. A wine that goes to another level with the right kind of food. Lamb and tamarillo is recommended. 13.5% alc. $30. 21Jul2008.

Weeping Sands Waiheke Island Montepulciano 2006 (sc) A deep black red, shiny and crimson-edged bright, this clean, modern, upfront style is filled with delicious, juicy, wild berry and chocolate coated cherry fruit with a backbone of thick, velvety tannins and sweet, creamy vanillin oak. Made by Obsidian. 14% alc. $33. 20Dec2007.

2005 Vintage [top] [index]

Clearview Two Pinnacles Hawkes Bay Malbec Merlot 2005 (D) Deep, concentrated purple-black colour with crimson-violet edges. Meaty aromas with mint sauce and leather overtones then plummy red fruits, violets and smoky oak push through. It's fragrant and intriguing on the nose but in the palate it's quite closed at first with big meaty tannins and vanillin oak the dominant features but the concentrated cherry, plum and redcurrant fruit push through the tarry backbone in a very forceful way. It's a big, dark, earthy and concentrated wine that needs decanting to show its best and let those lovely floral characters of the Malbec do their very appealing thing. It's ripe and generous in its full-bodied palate and the spicy, juicy finish has hints of liquorice too. Made from a blend of 46% Malbec, 45% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged in predominantly new French oak for 15 months and bottled unfiltered. 13.5% alc. $25. 22Jun2007.

Coxhead Creek Inlet Red Matakana 2005 (sc) A deep crimson coloured red made from an approximate 50/50 blend of Syrah and Cabernet Franc yet the aroma is so peppery-scented you would think it was 100% Syrah. Peppery on the initial taste too, and quite savoury with a bitter cherry and plum sweetness and moderately soft yet grippy tannins, it morphs as it travels across the tongue into a wine of Bordeaux character with a touch of tobacco, smoky French oak and dried herbs. An approachable wine with structure and flavour. 13.5% alc. $25. 17May2008.

Framingham Marlborough Montepulciano 2005 (sc) A deep crimson-pinky-red colour, bright and youthful, almost opaque in its core. Bright, savoury, meaty aromas mingle with musk, liquorice and rose petal. There's wild red berries and spicy savoury oak in the creamy and complex medium-weight palate. It's very fresh with vanilla, spice, liquorice, rose petals, beautifully balanced acidity and fine velvety tannins that impart a very pleasing mouthfeel. The bright lifted flavours integrate well with the creamy vanillin oak, there's a touch of bitter chocolate kicking around in the background and dried herbs too. Very nicely done but a little elusive if you are trying to guess what the grape variety is. 13.5% alc. $25. 22Jun2007.

Heron's Flight Dolcetto 2005 - Matakana (c) An appealing, deep, bright, boysenberry colour and smells enticing and tempting with sweet cedary oak, polished oak, smoky oak and savoury oak not that it is overly oaky by any means. Concentrated berries add to the aroma's allure. Smoky and savoury to the taste, the sweetness of the cherry and berry fruit comes through with a spicy coating and fine grained dusty tannins while there is good support from the firm acid backbone. It's meaty and savoury with delicious fruit sweetness and a long juicy finish. Very young, but very very approachable. 14.5% alc. $35. 4Feb2007.

Lochiel Estate 'The Laird' Fortified Desert Wine (c) Made from 100% Malbec grown in the rolling hills of Mangawhai, north of Auckland, this is deep purple crimson in colour, bright and opaque, it's spicy, rich, plummy and just a little spirituous on the nose. The flavour is rich, weighty, bright-fruited and expansive with a slight mintiness, deep purple fruit, subtle oak and smooth, satin-sheet tannins. There's no overt spirit flavour at all although there is alcoholic lift and warmth to the finish, which leaves a warm minty sensation and an aftertaste that reminds me of Cadbury's Old Gold dark chocolate with raspberry chips. 500ml bottle. 17% alc. $29. 5Apr2007.

Mills Reef Elspeth Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Malbec 2005 (c) The deepest colour of all the 2005 Eslspeth reds, the crimson edges were gem-like, even in the poor light. Dark and smoky, the violet character of the Malbec grape leaps out of the glass with spicy cedar and fragrant herbs. A nuggetty wine with stewed plums and berry fruits, spice and cigar-like French oak, the meaty tannins are ripe and smooth and the savoury aftertaste has nuances of chocolate over juicy summer berries with rose petals and tar. Great length. Excellent already and could become a superstar. 14% alc. $39.95. 29Jan2007.
Deep inky black red with colour saturation right to the rims. Alluring with its smoky, cedary, rich, juicy aromas and excitng with the jammy, juicy fruit that explodes in the mouth with a full bodied taste of blackcurrants and purple jubes over a firm backbone of spicy, creamy oak. Rich and ripe with an earthiness emerging to balance the upfront fruitiness together with florals that gives such beauty to the finish. Top stuff. 14% alc. $39.95. 18May2007.

Ransom Matakana Carmenere 2005 Dark Red. Sappy French oak and wild berries on the nose carry through to the creamy textured palate. Medium to full-bodied, rich and tasty with red berry fruit, liquorice, creamy oak, hints of tar and herb, a spicy lifted overlay and well balanced acidity on the deep, earthy finish. Silky tannins throughout. An exciting wine from Matakana and a good cellaring prospect too. 13% alc. $26.99. 2May2007.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Gamay Noir 2005 (sc) Cerise-blue. Aromatic, fresh, lots of juicy fruit flavours - blueberries, blackberries, raspberries plus carbonic-maceration characters of fruit and bubble gum, with a long, juicy savoury finish. Light in colour but not in substance. 12% alc. 19Sep2005.
The colour of a purple hued rubellite gemstone. Aromatic, floral, a little peppery - like stock flowers in the distance - and cherries galore on the spice, dry, savoury palate with cigar box notes and a lovely freshness to the finish. A light red wine with lots of flavour. 1Oct2005.

Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Montepulciano 2004 - Hawkes Bay (sc) With some depth to the Burgundy colour, it looks a little like a full-bodied Pinot Noir but that's where the similarity ends. Most of the tasters thought this wine was from Europe. I did too because it has an Italian-like character with earthy, savoury, smoky, dried herb and cherry jam scents that carry through to the creamy palate which has meaty tannins, nutty oak, smoky herbs and a juicy vibrancy from the underlying acidity. Developing nicely and a great food wine. 13.5% alc. $21.99. 23Jan2008.

Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Tempranillo 2005 (D) Richly aromatic, the winey, savoury aroma wafts out of the glass even before being raised to my nose, but with my nose right in the glass the fragrance imparts its glory even more. I smell wild summer berries growing wild amongst the bracken in the Coromandel bush. I smell rose spice - the smell that is left on your fingers when you have just picked a Dublin Bay or Cecile Brunner rose. I smell chocolate, sweet leather, spice and oak. When I finally taste it I am seduced even more. It tastes sweet yet savoury, robust yet juicy, with succulent, velvety textured tannins and mouthfilling flavours reminiscent of black doris plums, wild berry fruits, liquorice, fruit cake spices and dried herbs with a touch of tobacco on the smoky finish. Well-balanced acidity underpins the wine and lifts the finish. Oak seems subtle but when poured from a tasting glass into a bigger drinking glass, the vanillin oak becomes more prominent but remains in balance to the succulent fruit. The best yet. 14.5% alc. $29. 16Oct2006.

Villa Maria Riverstone Red NV Fruit driven red with a dry savoury character, little oak influence, redcurrant fruit and a touch of spice. A great priced quaffer made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. $10.95. 6Sep2005.

2004 Vintage [top] [index]

Ascension 'The Steep Bit' Reserve Matakana Malbec 2004 (sc) Crimson red with purple hues. Smoky cedary oak aromas and sweet, savoury flavours. Tamarillo and cassis fruit, soft tannins, a juicy backbone and a hint of smoky bacon on the finish. A medium-bodied wine, perhaps a little short but plenty of flavour. $24.95. 4Jun2005.

Clearview Two Pinnacles Hawkes Bay Malbec 2004 Deeply coloured with dark, tarry aromas then in the palate there's an earthy, mushroom, pinot-like character with wild berries, fruits of the forest, creamy oak, a touch of leather and quite dry tannins. A rich, dark wine with lots going on. 15% alc. $25. 17Mar2006.

Francis-Cole Rosso Edition 1 NV Deep red colour. Farmyard, barnyard and leather on the nose, herbal and savoury in the palate with nuances of mint. It has good structure, but is unfortunately marred by a medicinal flavour. $23. 4Jun2005.

Heron's Flight Matakana Dolcetto 2004 Opaque in colour with deep cherry red hues, opulent scents of cedary oak and wine macerated black cherries and juicy flavours of sweet Dolcetto grapes but the natural fruit sweetness is balanced by savoury oak and a tarry, almost liquorice-like richness. The texture is creamy, the tannins are firm but not overpowering and the lingering finish is long and drywith a floral character emerging as it lingers. 13.5% alc. $33. 28Jan2006.

Kemblefield Hawkes Bay Zinfandel 2004 (D) Mocha-infused aromatic oak and spice on the nose, dark and tarry in the palate with smoky red fruit that almost tend toward tamarillo. Add plums and concentrated blackberry, it is like an autumn pudding. A fascinating wine that has lots of flavour bursts on a smooth creamy backbone. 14% alc. $24.99. 6May2006.
Fading in its garnet red colour, it looks a little thin – like an older pinot noir. A little pongy and earthy on the nose but spicy and perfumed in the medium-bodied palate with sweet fruit and silky tannins, it's ripe, juicy and creamy with mulled wine spices, an array of berry fruit from strawberry to blackberry, an earthy finish and hints of barnyard as it lingers. Nothing like a Californian Zin, but well made and ready to drink now. Diam closure. $22.99. 2May2007.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Malbec 2004 (sc) Very fragrant, almost soapy, rose, violet and rich berry fruit aromas with the fragrance carrying through to the palate. Ripe and rounded with abundant cherry and juicy purple fruit and a lifted, creamy textured savoury finish with good length. There's a touch of mint on the finish too that would be the perfect touch to set off lamb. 13.5% alc. $19.95. 17Mar2006.

Okahu Estate Northland Chambourcin 2004 (sc) Deep and dense in colour and full of deep, dark, earthy, savoury, gamey flavours, complimented by sweet smoky oak with hints of chocolate, wild dusty berries, a touch of spice and nuances of herbs. 13.5% alc. $27.99. 16Feb2007.
Deep red in colour, it's savoury smelling with bitter chocolate, leather and black and red fruits on the nose and tastes a little jammy with hints of maraschino cherry. Call this a meaty wine - a big, rich, meaty, gamey wine with smooth, slippery tannins and an earthy, mushroomy depth. A wine with power, richness, succulence, flavour and plenty of chicory and chocolatey oak. Smooth and creamy, long and silky, it has the brightness, it has the depth and is drinking very nicely now. 13.5% alc. $28. 7Oct2007.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Gamay Noir 2004 - Hawkes Bay (sc) Light in colour, it looks like pale Pinot Noir or a heavier Rosé. Fragrant, fruity, savoury and soft with good vinosity throughout and a lifted finish, a light alternative to pinot noir, a dry red to match to spicy food. 12.5% alc. $18. 20Sep2004.
Translucent dark red, gemmy in appearance, aromatic and floral with berry fruit and liquorice adding to the scent and light fruity flavours that have an earthy undercurrent with hints of beetroot and tomato, and a smoky finish. The vinosity of the wine gives mouthfeel and palate weight. A light-bodied red to match to lightly spiced Asian flavours. 12.5% alc. $19.95. 12Apr2005.

Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Montepulciano 2004 (white label) This looks like a young Pinot with its medium opacity and purple edges and it smells savoury, earthy, tarry and just a little musky. The tar comes through in abundance in the palate to join juicy bramble-like fruit with underlying strawberry acidity and Italian herbs like Oregano build on the savoury, earthy finish. Fresh and juicy, it depicts the Italian grape variety well. 13.5% alc. $21.99. 25Oct2006.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Tempranillo 2004 Rich deep dark red. Savoury, leathery aromas with a touch of paint box and rich, gutsy flavours of sweet fruit, musk, leather, spices, lots of oak and warming alcohol. It has the structure of cabernet and hints of a cassis character too, and there's a pinot noir-like earthiness to the finish. Needs a big glass and food. 14% alc. $30.99. 25Oct2006.

2003 Vintage [top] [index]

Ata Rangi "Stella" Celebre 2003 - Martinborough (sc) Ripe, lifted, peppery and fragrant - this is an enticingly floral red wine. In the palate there's a salty, leathery nuance with grainy tannins, vanillin oak, raspberry-red rather than black fruits and a savoury finish. While it doesn’t have the generous fruit fullness that is found in similar-priced Hawkes Bay reds, the finish is long and silky. Made from a blend of 35% Syrah, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot, it's named after winemaker Helen and Ben Masters baby Stella, born on Christmas Day. 13% alc. $32. 11Jun2006.

Herons Flight Matakana Il Rosso 2003 Medium depth pinky red hue the colour of fresh black cherry flesh, and a smoky, slightly tarry aroma. Sweet fruit fills the palate with juicy fresh black cherry flavours aided and abetted by the tartness of cherry skins and red cherry guavas. Add to that a tomato savouriness, creamy vanillin oak, soft tannins and a tarry earthy kick to the spicy finish with good acidity to carry the flavour and you have a very characterful wine. 100% sangiovese aged in older oak. 12.5% alc. $22. 23Jan2005.

Lucknow Estate Gamay Noir 2003 Bright crimson tending to vivid purple. Sweet smelling fruity nose, firm tannins and a dry briary palate, it's fresh with purple fruits, a touch of leather and lingering cherry and spice. Made from the Cru Beaujolais clone 222. An interesting alternative. 26Aug2003.

Luna Negra Waiheke Island Malbec 2003 A hugely concentrated, rich wine with a blackberry red colour of inky depth, some herbal nuances, a touch of tar and very fine, rich, dry tannins integrating into the cedary, vanillin oak with chocolate on the finish. A monster of a wine and just delicious if you like this style. $70. 8Sep2005.

Okahu Chambourcin 2003 - Northland (sc) Inky red black in colour with purple crimson rims - very dense with a youthful brightness. Gorgeous, lifted aromas of wild berries in the bush alongside a dusty road on a hot summers day. The wild berry flavours carry through to the palate with creamy oak and soft juicy tannins and there's a kind of earthy, leathery, wild animal note in there too. A red liquorice flavour comes through on the finish and there's a savoury, herbal character to the aftertaste. It's a big, soft, juicy mouthfilling wine and as it lingers, bitter cherry and chocolate flavours emerge. 14% alc. $27.95. 30Jan2006.

Stonecroft Zinfandel 2003 Translucent ruby coloured. Fragrant with crushed berries, hints of lavender and rose petal on the nose. A medium-weight wine with good fruit concentration giving an impression of sweetness, a satin-like texture, ripe juicy blackberries and a smoky, spicy, musky aftertaste with a hint of liquorice as it lingers. 14% alc. $28. 24Feb2005.

2002 Vintage [top] [index]

Crab Farm Hamish Jardine Malbec Merlot 2002 (sc) Dense dark red with crimson rims. Opulent ripe berry fruit and sweet oak aromas. A firmly structured wine with sweet oak, ripe fruit, grippy yet sultry tannins and a long, full-bodied, juicy, rich finish. Nicely rounded throughout. A very good wine. 13% alc. $32. 4Jun2005.

Crossroads Talisman 2000 Unbelievably deep in colour - a deep, opaque, red-black - so youthful for its age. On the nose there's savoury oak backing a concentrated perfume of cracked berry fruit. Quite oaky to start but the fruit fights its way through to become rich, opulent, mouthfilling and moreish with boysenberry, blackberry, cherry, chocolate and cigar box in the background with a beautifully fine tannin structure and fantastic length as the flavours linger. A blend of six undisclosed grape varieties. 12.5% alc. $38. 28Aug2005.

Framingham Marlborough Montepulciano 2002 Black red, dense in its colour. Wonderfully ripe fruit, smoky, creamy, vanillin oak and leather on the nose, a good spine of acidity in the palate, it's soft in its attack but nevertheless robust in its structure. Some leather in the palate too, savoury with a touch of woodsmoke, perhaps cigar box, a little tar and the fruit – wonderful dried cherries and prunes and even a little citrus. A fascinating wine, full of flavour, I like it a lot. Spicy, faint woody herbs and an oily richness. It has the ripeness I found in the Herons Flight but absolutely no chocolate. Screwcap. 12.5% alc. 2Jan2004.

Herons Flight Sangiovese 2002 An attractively dense cerise red with a slightly spicy, peppery and creamy oak bouquet and chocolate creaminess in the palate, it's a ripe mouth-filling wine choc full of ripe cherries and blueberries with subtle spices and a touch of acidity to lift the finish. It's robust and leathery when first open becoming creamier as it adjusts to the atmosphere. A wonderfully ripe wine with great structure and a clean finish. This is the fourth vintage for Heron's Flight and the ripest to date, and although it is deliciously enjoyable now, the acidity will ensure that it ages well. A rich wine made to go with creamy cheese, I thought it just fine with a warm summer tomato soup and Neil had it with bacons and mushrooms, both dishes from the Herons Flight Café. $50 a bottle, great packaging, a conversation maker. *****. 31Dec2003.

Kemblefield Reserve Malbec Merlot 2002 Dense in its colour as one would expect, it's like a shiny ripe blackberry to the eye. Deep, dark-fruited scents, bowls of berries with a touch of spice, the faintest hint of leather, then later a little savoury but mostly ripe fruit enhanced by oak. A mouthfilling wine with masses of juicy fruit and lovely structure built on fine tannins with good acidity on the finish and just a touch of creamy chocolate which lingers with peppery spice and earthy notes. Great persistence with a floral intrigue when scents of violets come forth. Made from 55% Malbec and 45% Merlot, this really is the star of the new releases. 14% alc. $34.95. 8Mar2004.

Kemblefield Reserve Zinfandel 2002 Deep purple red with plenty of colour and depth. It's a little chocolatey on the nose with cherries, a hint of currant, pepper and juicy brambly berries, a solid ripe wine, balanced and round. Creamy oak combines with spice and currants to become quite savoury as the wine evolves. There's pepper and other exotic spices, brambly cherry pie flavours, a touch of acidity, well-integrated robust tannins and a slightly salty finish – a saltiness I liken to that of baked rosemary herb. An interesting wine, every mouthful is a new taste discovery. 14.5% alc. $49.95. 8Mar2004.

Mills Reef Elpseth Malbec 2002 Very black, dense, inky in its colour with a lovely fragrance of spicy oak melded with leather, plum and a hint of tobacco. Deep, dark, smoky and mysterious, the essence of Malbec with concentrated fruits, hints of liquorice, there's a floral note with smoky herbs and an earthy undercurrent. Fleshy and juicy with soft acidity, the huge fruit in the wine balances the tannins. Amazing wine!!! *****. 14% alc. $39.95. 30Jun2004.

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. 29Feb2004.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Gamay Noir 2002 - Hawkes Bay. A lightish style with good colour, a fruity flavour and a sweetish finish. It's soft in tannins and savoury in profile with cherry, sweet rhubarb and thyme flavours and little influence of oak. It improves with sitting in the bottle and there is a slight suggestion of oak apparent on day 2. 26Nov2002.
This light cherry red coloured wine has smoky jammy strawberry, raspberry and blackcurrant aromas. It's a little chocolatey too. Light, soft and fruity with a spicy fruit flavour and a Euro-like savouriness. $21.95 15Jan2003.
Pink cherry colour with the aroma of sweet cherry lollies on the nose. This is fresh and fruity with cherries and juicy boysenberries combining well with the undercurrent of tarry savoury characters. Light and rather luscious, it has developed well in the bottle. Would be great with pasta or ratatouille. 7Aug2003.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Omahu Malbec 2002 (sc) A vibrantly coloured, deep, inky, crimson black. Fragrant - but quite yeasty too - a character that carries through to the palate. Full-bodied, rich and fleshy with fragrant wild berry fruit, well-integrated cedary oak, chocolate, a little bit of peppery spice, rich ripe grainy tannins, lifted acidity on the finish and a violet-enhanced chocolatey aftertaste. Matured in French and American oak of which 60% was new. 14% alc. $55. 12Aug2005.
Dense shiny, inky black with vibrant purple rims. Opulent aromas of chocolate covered coffee beans and spicy creamy flavours with loads of mocha, a touch of mint, liquorice and peppery spices, leather, big grunty tannins, sweet succulent oak and a lifted cedary note to the dry finish with a violet-like fragrance coming through as it lingers. As the aftertaste fills the mouth, there's bitter chocolate, bitter chocolate and more bitter chocolate. An amazing wine that is now starting to soften and integrate. 14% alc. $57.95. 8Feb2006.

2001 Vintage [top] [index]

Borthwick Wairarapa Sangiovese 2001 There's cherry hues to the red of this wine. It's developing well in the bottle, becoming somewhat Syrah-like with its peppery nose and spicy backbone. Dry and savoury, lots of berries – not a juicy Aussie style of wine – not too heavy and not too light. Savoury. I like it a lot. Great food style. 31Dec2003.

Collards Shanty Block Malbec 2001 Vivid and dense in colour, extremely fragrant with aromas of violets and deliciously juicy ripe red berry and cherry flavours, velvety tannins, smoky oak and a ripe and juicy finish. 18Aug2002.

Fromm Marlborough Malbec 2001 There's brilliant blackberry hues and purple -red crimson rims to this inky coloured wine that emits a big yeasty aromas and hugely powerful flavours of earth, leather, spice and tar. It's intensely concentrated with a very dry, rich liquorice and succulent tannin finish. 26Aug2003.

Herzog Marlborough Montepulciano 2001 This is outstanding wine; deliciously sweet ripe fruit mingles with spice and firm ripe tannins, creamy oak, a hint of menthol. It's very youthful and ever so grippy right now, so needs to mature in the bottle to let that tannin bite settle. Spicy notes linger. 85% Montepulciano, 15% Cabernet Franc. 21Aug2003.

Monarch Sangiovese Te Horo 2001 Ruby colour, ripe fruit with juicy strawberry and boysenberries, creamy oak, savoury tannins, hints of leather and a touch of spice. Nicely balanced and drinking well. 20Aug2002.

Pleiades 'Maia' Marlborough Malbec Merlot 2001 This blend of Malbec and Merlot results in a rich, dark and savoury wine with a lick of leather, a touch of peppery spice, concentrated plum and blackberry fruit and creamy oak held together by powerful tannins. It has the benefit of bottle age and is drinking very well now. I thought it magnificent with a herb encrusted rack of lamb cooked medium rare. $32. 5Oct2003.

Sanderson Sangiovese 2001 Very light in colour with raspberry / violet hues. Very ripe fruit that is quite unusual in its flavour - rhubarb and guava, perhaps. This is unoaked and quite fruity and jammy. 19Aug2002.


2000 Vintage [top] [index]

Ata Rangi Celebre 2000 Wow! Fabulous nose on this wine. Fresh and vibrant with a floral edge. Lots of peppery spice in the palate with a hint of chocolate, delicious ripe red berries and cedary oak. A powerful wine with firm ripe tannins and a long sweet-fruited finish. Will definitely stand up to robust foods. A blend of syrah (40%), merlot (20), cab sauv (19) and cab franc (1). 9Sep2002.

Borthwick Wairarapa Sangiovese 2000 Medium density red wine with subtle spice aromas. Sweet fruit that is also meaty and savoury with a strawberry jam flavour emerging. Dry, light tannins, floral nuances, light and bright savoury notes and a creamy texture with light leather lingering on the sweet ripe finish. There's a nice fruit flavour in this most interesting wine. The vineyard yielded 4 barrels, in this, their 2nd vintage of Sangiovese. 18Sep2001.
Interesting wine, medium in colour, lots of tea-like tannins but musky sweet fruits and a meaty savoury finish. 20Aug2002.

Kemblefield Reserve Zinfandel 2000
Really meaty smell, like kidney then later dried roses joined by prunes and stewed rhubarb aromas. Spicy and a little porty in a way. Cloves, cinnamon, musk, rhubarb and creamy blueberry, a hint of chocolate - lifted and spicy. 2Jun2002.
2 days later: An array of fruits - strawberry and cherry, prune and blackberry and raisins emerging. Also meaty and savoury, woody and smoky with some musky spice lingering with old roses. A medium to full-bodied wine with light to medium tannins and good acidity on the lifted finish.
One week later: Lighter profile red in the cherry rather than blackberry spectrum. This wine was an excellent match better to seasoned roast chicken but did not go well with a beef casserole.

Lombardi Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 50% Sangiovese, 50% CS, 10% CF. Deep, bright, rusty red. Leather notes on the bouquet, and leather, plums and Xmas cake spices in the palate. Quite lifted with some drying spicy fruit. A very interesting wine. $34. 24Sep2001.
Also tasted blind in a line-up of Sangiovese dominant wines, mainly from Italy - rich blackberry fruit, a quite opulent new World style with very ripe fruit and pretty oak that is fairly dominant at this stage but all in balance. 18/20. 29Aug2001.

Marsden Estate Chambourcin 2000 Deep red with purple hues. Game meat savoury aromas - tarry, smoky. In the mouth there are juicy ripe berries mixing with savoury and spice. .Good depth of flavour, good acidity, smoky gamey finish. Sweet and sour. Interesting wine. Something that reminds me of pinot. 29Jun2002.

Moana Park Malbec 2000 (Dartmoor Valley, Hawkes Bay). Lighter in colour than other 100% malbecs I've seen. That doesn't take anything away from the flavour though. Jammy, plummy fruit is sweet and ripe with soft tannins, a nice balance of integrated oak and lovely lingering flavours. 17Sep2001.

Omaka Springs Marlborough Gamay 2000 is made in a Beaujolais Villages style with carbonic maceration. It's a pretty light cherry pink and in the mouth is light and fruity with hints of tropical fruit, strawberry & cherry jam. It is sweet and pretty and will be lovely drinking over the summer. I can just imagine lazing on the deck and sipping on this wine while enjoying some summer fruits and cheese. Approx $14.95. Tasted 17Sep2001.

Pleiades 'Maia' Malbec Merlot 2000 (Marlborough) 80% Malbec, 20% Merlot. Now this dense and inky purple black colour is what I expect Malbec to be. What a lovely fragrant aroma of ripe red and black berries together with the smoke of a freshly fired cannon. Dense and powerful in the mouth with concentrated black fruit, rich ripe tannins, spicy meaty oak, an earthy depth and a smoky blackberry finish. Ripe, smoky and slightly minty with a leathery hint and a creaminess on the finish, this is a wine that begs to be cellared. The 'gunshot' and fragrant character of this wine made me wonder. Often cabernet franc is attributed to these emitting these qualities in a Bordeaux blend but perhaps Malbec, which is a grape of the Bordeaux region, enhanced those characters. A very good wine. $30. 30May2002.
After 12 days of sitting around with the cork in it, this is still going strong - yes there is a hint of oxidation at first on the nose but that passes to laves aromas of dried roses and citrus. There's still concentrated fruit in this black, spicy rich and voluptuous wine. Quite a bit of sediment hanging around the bottle too. 11Jun2002.

Stonecroft Zinfandel 2000 Bright carmine colour of medium depth. Lifted, berry fruit driven aromatics with berry pie nose. This is a lovely spicy, bright, fruit and refreshing, fruit driven wine. There's good acidity, firm tannins, a creamy richness, leathery spice, a cherry brightness and emerging cassis that lingers with the merest hint of milk chocolate. $25. 16Feb2002.

Voss Estate Waihenga 2000 (Martinborough). Lovely, rich, ripe berry fruits of plum, raspberry and blackberry with hints of leather and a little chocolate. Well coloured, sweet and ripe with firm tannins, a nice oak influence and a meaty note on the finish. A most enjoyable wine. 18Sep2001.

1999 Vintage [top] [index]

Arahura Malbec Cabernet Franc 1999 (South Auckland) A 60/40 blend. Fragrant but quite leathery also. Lifted bright fruit in the palate and a dense earthy finish which becomes quite sweet on the follow-through.

Ata Rangi Celebre 1999 A blend of several unnamed varieties but has 30% Syrah (more than in previous years) with emits a rich, ripe pepper spice dominating aroma. Smooth and creamy in palate with crushed velvet texture, juicy tannins and strong dusky/vanillin oak influence. A long finish with bright cherry and berry fruits. Although not as opulent and forward as the 98, still a super wine, which I enjoyed very much. Tasted 27Aug2001 @ Ata Rangi release tasting.

Esk Valley Reserve Hawkes Bay Malbec 1999 Huge colour black right to the rims. Cigar box aromas. Dense and spicy, soft and ripe but also some massive tannins in there. A little meaty. What's the fruit - blackberry some meaty fleshy fruit.- black peaches - black plums? A minty nuance. This is a totally fabulous wine - quite unique. Just 5 barrels were made. $53. Five barrels from the Terraces vineyard and one from Gimblett Road. This wine may be a one-off, as the malbec usually goes into the Terraces, and there was no Terraces made in 1999. 25July2001.

Forrest Estate Merlot Cabernet Rosé 1999 Attractive, light pinky/purple colour. Fairly rich wine scents and lots of up front fruity flavours of blackcurrants, redcurrants and cherry combine. Later there's strawberry and raspberry too. In the palate there's lifted acidity and citrus with a hint of spice and a nice texture of glycerol, reminiscent of a liqueur. Altogether it's delightfully balanced and refreshing. RRP $14.95. 25Aug1999.

Heron's Flight Sangiovese 1999 Deep ruby red with a cerise glow. Ripe fruit aromas with an earthy rustic note then in the mouth bitter sweet cherries, vibrant and ripe wild berry fruits and strong dry upfront tannins with peppery spice. Then the velvety vinous texture of the wine takes over. There is a lovely depth of flavour and concentration with a rich fruitcake spice and a creaminess from the well-integrated new French oak. By the time you get to the end of the glass the wine seems so mellow and the rich full flavours linger for a long time. This wine has great structure and a fine future ahead of it and will benefit from cellaring. If you have to drink it now, try with some bread and strong cheese such as Kapiti Brick. WOTW 17Dec2000.

Herzog Marlborough Montepulciano 1999 Deep colour, blacky red. Fragrant with berry and creamy oak. Rich creamy texture. Big black meaty fruit, vrbrant spices. Strong tannins. A meal of a wine with a clean velvety finish. 14%. $72. 21Jan2002.

Sanderson Hawkes Bay Sangiovese 1999 Very lifted mint and musk aromas, Has the tea tannins I associate with Italian wines. Sweet plum, cherry and strawberry fruit. We enjoyed this. 6Jun2002.

Stonecroft Zinfandel 1999 This is the first commercial release of a Zinfandel in NZ. It is not the style Alan Limmer wanted to make - not a high alcohol (14% or above) porty type wine. It's bright plummy red of medium to deep intensity. There's cherries and spice on the nose and in the palate, lifted sweet fruit with an intense berry fruit character of raspberry and cherries with spice. There's good acidity. It's a lifted fruity wine with a long finish and a touch of spicy leather on the finish. $25. 26Feb2001. WOTW 11Mar2001.

Vin Alto Clevedon Sangiovese 1999 Cherry scented, a touch of spice, a little hint of pepper and liquorice, it's nutty and dry with a pleasing tannin structure, oak is not overpowering, maybe it has a touch of chocolate on the finish. A light to medium-bodied style with a rich palate structure and excellent persistence, this excellent example of Sangiovese from New Zealand is an absolute most for food. Enzo Bettio recommends hearty bread and cheese. 13% alc. about $28.95. 26Aug2003.

1998 Vintage [top] [index]

Ata Rangi Celebre 1998 Made predominantly from merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, cabernet franc and the bits and pieces from the new vines including the Italian grapes, sangiovese and nebbiolo. Great aromatics of spice, cassis and hints of violets. In the palate rich, ripe, succulent and juicy berry fruit, heaps of oak, big tannins and a minty nuance. This is one for the cellar. 18/20. Nov 2000

Crossroads Talisman 1998 A blend of six red varieties - not stated on the label. Dry, salty, savoury, bread, marmite, spice, tannin, licorice, leather. An interesting array of flavours with sweet, ripe fruit. Very rich, very long. Fascinating wine. 2 May 2001

Stonecroft 'Aquilon' Fortified Syrah 1998. It is a wine that has only been partially fermented, so the aromas are very attractive and quite heady with sweet scents of flowers, fruit and jam and a subtle spiciness. Fruit-rich with sweet blackberries and plums, well structured with fantastic balance, length and flavour and a lovely smooth velvety texture. The flavour left in the mouth after the wine has gone is rich, clean, long and very more-ish. 18.5% alc. About $40. WOTW 12Mar2000.

Vin Alto Clevedon Celaio 1998 A blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and CS. There's some development to the dark brick red colour of this intensely fragrant wine that has the mellow aromas of fruit, liquorice, spice and old cedar. a soft, round, mouthfilling wine with a firm tannin backbone, cedar, spiced plum jam, cherries, bread and spice and a savoury finish. Terrific flavour, terrific mouthfeel, terrific length, ready now, it's a wine to sip and savour. 13% alc. $31.95. 29Oct2003.

Vin Alto Di Sotto 1998 A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese from Enzo Bettio's Clevedon vineyard, he calls it a 'baby super-Tuscan'. It's a tawny-hued and lovely ripe smelling wine with the scent of cherry liqueur and a big tannin structure with ripe leathery plum and succulent mixed berry fruit - perhaps there's some strawberry too, then a dry, rose-influenced finish. It really needs food for my palate, perhaps a big stick of salami. Di Sotto means 'down under'. 26Aug2003.

Vin Alto Retico 1998 A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo from Enzo Bettio's Clevedon vineyard, this is quite tawny but dense in its colour. It's a hugely concentrated wine with amazingly rich raisin, prune and cedary oak aromas. It's like plum and brandied Christmas Cake with a dollop of liquorice, it's quite dry on the finish however. An intensely concentrated nutty red wine with the influence of botrytised grapes, almost like port. 16% alc. 26Aug2003.

Older Vintages [top] [index]

Ata Rangi Celebré 1997 Minty aromas and soft, lovely integrated cassis, blackcurrant and plum flavours. Although I find this wine finishes with a 'pongy' note and I can detect some of the 'vitamin B' character that I associate with the yeast. Do let you put this off - I have never been the world's greatest fan of this wine. Other friends of mine just love it..(52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Syrah and 3% Cabernet Franc). $30.00. 23Aug99.

Okahu Estate Saint Jacobs Rare old Tawny Port Looks like Olorosso Sherry Smells like sherry. But tastes like Muscat. It is in fact a port. Nutty and lifted with mulled-like spices and baked oranges, rich and sweetly mouth coating although the wine finishes dry. Vinously appealing at the end of the tasting with that brandied fruit cake richness. $37. 6Feb2002.

Matawhero 'Bridge Estate' Gisborne Red 1989 A blend of 34% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Cabernet Franc aged for 10 years before release it had a dense colour of bricky red and aromas like an aged Bordeaux characters and reminiscent of an empty chocolate box. The wine is quite dry in the palate at first with a little bite of acidity and perhaps the slightest of herbal notes. Mellow, yet lively, it initially seemed to lack fruit but then the juicy plums and berries emerge from some hidden spot. There's a lovely body and richness from this rounded, balanced and smoothly textured wine with its soft tannins, moderate alcohol levels of 12.5% and a structure as solid as the bridge it is named after. It finishes with a lingering ripe fruit sweetness and an amazing length of flavour with chocolate complexity. There is an elusive, attractive quality in this wine. $39.95. WOTW 24Oct1999.

Matua Valley Grenache Cabernet 1997 Has developed well since first tasted about a year ago. Dense colour like that of a red fleshed plum with a flash of black cherry. When tasted previously the wine was quite floral with smoky, dusky, meaty scents, they are now quite berryish with a dash vanillin oak. In the palate it's earthy and dusty, with forward fresh berry fruit flavours and a touch of meaty spice. There's a decent dollop of alcohol and lifted, ripe flavours on the finish accompanied by the hallmark pepper and spice character of grenache. The lingering flavours are quite smoky. This is a big, full-bodied wine of excellent balance and structure, the cabernet providing the backbone, while the grenache provides the richness and power. About $26.00 WOTW 13Feb2000.

San Marino Palamino Dry 1967 The golden coloured liquid tasted mellow, smooth and seductive and although dry, it had a voluptuous stone fruit sweetness topped off with vanilla and honey, a clean finish and an incredible length of flavour. Bottled in 1994, the 26 years in oak and subsequent bottle aging beautifully complemented the nutty 'rancio' character of the Sherry that, if it was Spanish, would be 'Amontillado' in style. $15. Tasted at the Kumeu River Winery, 22Mar2003.

Lombardi Special Reserve Port Bin IV Deep ruby red. Licorice and berry bouquet. Spice and licorice in the palate to.. At first it seems a little oxidative, but fills out to a very drinkable, rich, alcoholic wine. $18. 24Sep2001.

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Index to Varietal Tastings
Chardonnay Gewurztraminer
Riesling
Pinot Gris Sauvignon Blanc Other Whites
Bubblies Sweeties Pinks
Cabernet dominant Merlot dominant Pinotage
Pinot Noir Shiraz Other Reds

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