(2024) From the Watervale district of Clare, the Stanway family first planted this vineyard in 1974. There's an intriguing hint of crushed almond and honey that's soon swept up in aromas of spring blossom and lime. A little beeswax nuance is delicate and peripheral. In the mouth there is a juicy peach ripeness at the core of this pale, almost transparent wine, but plenty of decisive, lemon zest and cool apple acidity too that balances any hint of sweetness and leave a zippy, taut impression.
(2023) What a very nicely perfumed Pinot from cool climate, coastal vineyards in the Casablanca Valley. Fifteen percent of the wine was aged in French oak for eight months. Moderately pale but bright ruby in colour, the aromatics really do sing: the oak adds a gentle chocolaty toast, but heady violet and rose scents, and bright kirsch-like cherry and raspberry lead the way. There's a sweet character on the palate, I suspect a little touch of residual sugar, but that makes it creamily easy to drink. The buoyant fruit quality is backed up by some toast and juicy orange acidity. A carefully constructed Pinot that, at its price, delivers a nicely rounded package. Watch the video for more information.
(2023) A very careful selection of the best Grenache and Syrah is aged 12 months in barrel. At that point a second selection is made based on barrel samples, and the best goes forward for 12 more months in oak to be bottled as The Gypsy. It has a wonderful garrigue nose, strewn with herbs, wild flowers and crunchy red and black fruit notes. On the palate there is a meatiness and dark spiciness, a depth of fruit and chocolaty tannin, the balance lovely into a long finish that also suggests cellaring potential.
(2023) At the southern end of the North island, Martinborough is New Zealand's original Pinot Noir stronghold. This comes from 20-year-old vines planted on gravels with just 60 metres or so altitude. It spent 11 months in French oak barriques, 22% new. Darker and denser than the Alsace wine, a much meatier aromatic profile, still red fruit here, but more spiced plum, a warm earthiness. In the mouth the wine is more dense, but it has real agility thanks to taut tannins and plenty of cherry and plum skin acidity and dryness offsetting a creamy mouthfeel. A baritone to the Muré's tenor.
(2022) From a block on Te Muna Road, planted at high density in 1999. Fermented in large French oak casks, it was aged in 50% new French oak barriques for 18 months. Dark, less vibrantly coloured than the Te Mata, there's a sappy character to this, quite a deep olive note to the black fruit, gentle truffle beneath. On the palate so juicy and bold, a really decisive acid thrust with a creamy and dense tannin and wood background, giving a polish and intensity.
(2022) This is made by Viña Ventisquero who are based in Maipo, but the 'Kalfu' labelling indicates that this range comes from their vineyards in the more northerly, coastal Leyda Valley, more recently put on the map for its Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and other cooler climate varieties. It's a Pinot from granite soils, matured in oak barrels - 10% new barrels - for 12 months. It wears its cooler climate credentials aromatically, with herbs and beetroot notes to savoury red fruit. In the mouth the sweetness and ripeness of the fruit does emerge, but it maintains that savoury, roasted chestnut and herb-touched sense of cool. Acids are bright and cherry-ripe, and tannins smooth and chocolaty, in a wine that will complement well-roasted poultry, but could take on beef too.
(2022) Rust en Vrede specialise in Cabernet Sauvignon, which comprises 60% of their Helderberg vineyards. Soils are granite and Table Mountain sandstone. with small deposits of ironstone. The wine was matured in French oak 300-litre barrels (20% new) for 18 months. Quite a vibrant colour, and into the pure cassis fruit, a very nice quality of oak here adding a touch of coffee and cream, but there is a gravelly, lightly ashy quality in there too. On the palate there is a refined, bright edge to this, partly from its very crisp acidity and tight tannins, but the fruit quality and that fine oak quality gives a long, classy finish.
(2022) Though part of the Doctors' low-alcohol range, this is farmed conventionally - it's the unconverted 30-odd grammes of residual sugar that give the 9% alcohol and lovely balance. A portion comes from clay in Brancott, the rest from Wairau greywacke stones. Lovely floral notes, it's a ringer for Mosel Riesling, with delicious limey fruit, a sherbetty brightness and pure apple acidity. A touch of phenolic grip just adds some structure around the edges.
(2021) Larry McKenna's Pinot Gris sees a little oak, and has a very pleasantly spicy, lightly floral aroma, the fruit being quite rich and deep: more baked apples and pears, some tarte tatin pastry notes too. In the mouth the sweetness of a little residual sugar emphasises the luscious fruit, lots of succulent nectarine leads to fine citrus. Acid slices through rather beautifully.
(2020) An unusual blend of Pinot Noir, St Laurent and the white Arneis variety originally from northern Italy. Pale colour, strawberries and a leafy herbal character. The palate is dry and fruity, retaining that small underripe berry dryness of herbs and pomegranate. Price and stockist is for the previous vintage at time of review.