The wines of New Zealand’s North Island

These tasting notes accompany our four-part in-depth feature on New Zealand. Please see Regional report: A major report from New Zealand.



Alpha Domus, Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Lovely nose of lifted, greengage, a touch of passionfruit, fine touch of herbal, gooseberry and greenness, but no overt herbaceousness. The palate has plenty of crispness and a very uncompromising, fine finish.

Alpha Domus, Semillon 2002
Beautiful toasty notes of toast and a nice opulent lime note beneath. On the palate the oak is pretty dominant at present, with plenty of weight, but a fine lemon fruit and a real testiness. Mealiness emerges. Fine candied fruit quality, and will age.

Alpha Domus, Viognier 2005
50% Barrel, 50% steel. Fine pear and ripe, juicy pear and peach. The palate it very fine, with a crisp, quite steely character. The acidity is quite bright and forceful. With a certain pithiness, but nicely judged.

Alpha Domus, ‘AD’ Chardonnay 2004
Various clones planted. This has a very fine nose, with quite a light touch to the oak. This is 70% new oak. This has a very pear-flavoured mid-palate. With plenty of ripe, juicy fruit, but all quite linear and tight and restrained. Very tight, with a fine juiciness about the finish. VG

Alpha Domus, ‘AD’ Chardonnay 2002
‘A good time to be drinking this’ with 2 years. The oak is more integrated and waxy and fine, there’s a rich, full-textured mouthfeel. With a more complex, multi-layered mid-palate. Lovely drinking, with fine, balanced acidity. Nice vanillin notes and soft toastiness.

Alpha Domus, ‘The Pilot’ Pinot Noir 2004
10 months in French oak, with sandalwood and some spicy aromatics. There’s a nice cedary, earthy quality, with plenty of juicy cherry, and quite ripe earthy fruit. The mid-palate has a slight hollowness, and it could perhaps do with a little more flesh. Very spice and cedary in the finish.

Alpha Domus, Pinot Noir 2002
Some really fudgy, fine qualities here, with a softly baked, refined quality, lots of softness and fleshy warmth. Fine vanillin and good cherry acidity. Fine quality.

Alpha Domus, The Navigator 2002
Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and Franc. Lovely nose: instantly aromatic, cedary, fine Bordeaux-like structure with hints of dustiness and capsicum, but beautifully handled. Fine, juicy, structured palate. Lots of cedaryness and fine structured quality.

Alpha Domus, Aviator 2002
Cab dominant blend, in years when the cab is really good. Last vintage until, hopefully, 2006. Beautiful silkiness on the nose. Very, very fine Sandalwood, with ripe berry fruits, blackcurrant and fine red cherry. The palate has a fine mouthfeel, with a juiciness at the core and wrapped in a structure of tannins and a touch of chocolate. Fine acidity at the core. Superb.

Alpha Domus, Aviator 1998
There’s a touch of menthol in this (there were eucalyptus trees in the vineyard), with plenty of spice and cedar. Quite a tight, fine, tightly structured with lots of bloody and fine notes of earth and touches of chocolate. Lovely grip here. Very fine, and ageing well.

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Te Awa, Sauvignon Blanc 2004
50% tank, 50% in oak, 10% new. There’s just a creamy background to this. This has a fine citrus and passionfruity nose, with some tropical notes overlaid. On the palate a fine, juicy acidity. There’s a citrussy quality, with plenty of lemon and lime bite. A little oatmeal richness just comes through.

Te Awa, Chardonnay 2004
This has 100% French oak, around 25% new, for 10 – 11 months. Quite a mealy, slightly herbal note at first, with a rich ripe tropical fruit coming through. There’s lovely freshness, with a waxy, boiled sweet and a nice herbal punch. Excellent, concentrated lime fruit. 2% Malolactic.

Te Awa, Merlot 2002
A little Malbec and Cab Franc, maybe 10 – 12 %. A little touch of dankness and slightly green, earthy note. There’s a liquoricy quality to this, with a broad, dark stripe of cherry and plum skin acidity. There’s a meatiness and definite Bordeaux-style. The cedar comes through and plenty of acidity. Savoury and dense.

Te Awa, Cabernet Merlot 2003
Frost affected year with a cooler summer. 50 Cab, 40 Merlot. 10 Franc. There’s a tiny note of dustiness, with just a little hint of capsicum. On the palate it is a little leaner. There’s a cool, slightly minty quality to the fruit. Savoury and juicy, a leaner style, with good juicy tannins and a crisp edge of acidity into the finish. Fine Quality.

Te Awa, The Boundary 1999
35% new barrels, all French. Very cool season. Merlot-dominant blend, of around 85% Merlot, 10% Sauvignon and 5% Franc. There’s a touch of dusty, slightly herbal quality here. The nose has a fine earthy, cedary, very Bordelaise quality. On the palate it is quiet cool and classy, but the slightly lean, green streak does come through and detracts slightly. The fruit is very sweet, and the tannins have just that hint of greenness, but a coffee note comes through.

Te Awa, The Boundary 2000
Slightly more baked plum and cherry pie quality. Spice and fine, clove notes. Excellent spices and clove but a touch of herbal again. This has a slightly dank palate. There is good fruit. Nice acidity, balanced.

Te Awa, The Boundary 2001
Very good season. 82% Merlot. Nose of sandalwood and incense. Not certain if the wood is quiet right on this. There’s a meatiness and an incense quality. On the palate the fruit is slightly mean. Very dry tannins. Second bottle much better. Much more vibrant fruit. Fine, cedary oak. Palate it much more convincing. With plenty of rip, sweet fruit wrapped in a clove and cedar framework.

Te Awa, Syrah 2002
100% French oak, 15% new. Very expressive nose of schist and black pepper. Solid, fine black fruit. Very crisp, fine cherry character. The palate has a fine, ripe, very solid blackcurrant fruitiness. There’s plenty of verve and bite, with a peppery overlay and a very juicy acidity. The tannins and very ripe, but grippy and quite lean – nicely so, giving an edge to the wine with good acidity.

Te Awa, Pinotage 2003
15 – 20% new oak, this has a lively cedarwood and spicy, peppery black fruit nose. There’s a touch of chocolate too. The palate has terrific fruit sweetness, and a real concentration and focus. The tannins are quiet rustic, but not harsh, and the acid is good. In all, this has a fine, good quality palate and good length.

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Wild Rock, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Lovely perfume with tropical fruit intensity and a fine, delicate floral note, not too much herbaceousness, but a little gooseberry hint. Very sweet, fine fruit on the palate, with a wonderful blend of sweetness and punchy, verdant, lime-slicked acidity. £8.99

Wild Rock, Marlborough ‘Vin Gris’ Pinot Noir Rose 2005
Lovely soft, strawberry and red fruit perfume. A touch of dried herbs, rose hip. Very nice fruit on the palate. An initial fruit sweetness like cherry and raspberry gives way to a fine acidity. Lovely texture and fruitiness. Good balance. £8.99

Wild Rock, Pinot Noir Martinborough 2004
Very fine Pinot expression, with a soft, quite delicate strawberry nose. Nice perfume and earthiness, a touch of damp, autumnal leaves. Lovely smoky, gently juicy fruit on the palate. It has plenty of acidity, but a nice fleshiness. Good, elegant oak comes through adding smokiness on the finish. £8.99

Wild Rock, Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2004
100% Merlot (not in UK at moment). Fine, cedary quality, plenty of pencil shavings and ripe, creamy fruit beneath. On the palate there’s a touch of boot polish and plenty of crisply delineated, vivid red fruit. Very dry tannins, with lots of acidity and crisp, lipsticky quality to the fruit. £7.99

Red Rock, Gravel Pit Red Merlot/Malbec 2004
Nice dark, dramatically rich black fruits on the nose. There’s a nice richness and sweetness here, with hints of black olive, but mostly spicy, meaty black fruit. On the palate a good black fruit quality. Plenty of damson and bittersweet black plum and cherry, and a fine smoky rounding out with oak. Well-balanced. £8.99

Craggy Range, Old Renwick Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Lovely opulence with a hint of oatmeal over very ripe fruit, with tropical notes and plenty of plush, ripe pear and peach. Palate has a rush of sweet fruit, but a searing core of grapefruit and lime acidity powers through. Lots of verve here, and a touch of lime and ripe, almost figgy touches on the finish. £10.99

Craggy Range, Avery Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Slightly more austere at first, with a more mineral tone, and a fine citrussy fruit quality. The palate has lovely acidity – a big lime and wax core, with nectarine and juicy ripe ogen melon and peachy fruit. Very fine, with fruit sweetness playing against that core of mineral acidity. £12.99

Craggy Range, Te Muna Road Vineyard Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005
22% oak fermented, 40% of which is new, partly wild yeast fermented. Big, leesy, waxy nose, with a dollop of acidity and just a touch of steely, mineral quality. Some herbal, grassy punch too. On the palate it is really ripe and tropical, with lots of pineapple and lychee flavours, around a fleshy nectarine quality, and then that acidity punches through, extending the finish where there is a supporting, mealy quality. £12.99

Craggy Range, Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2004
100% whole bunch pressing, 100% barrel, 40% new. All wild yeast. Very distinctive nose. It is not quite nutty, or toasty, but has a minty edge and a lovely vivid fruit quality. A touch herbal and sage or thyme-like quality. On the palate the fruit is bold and tropical at first; a big sweet edged blast of pineapple and nectarine, but then a core of white fruit and white fruit acidity (apple and pear) comes through. Very good acidity, and a nutty, gently toasty level of oak just supports the long, juicy finish. £15.00

Craggy Range, Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2004
91% Merlot, a little Cabernet Sauvignon (possibly a little Cabernet Franc or Malbec in some vintages). Big, dusty, herbaceous and tobacco-streaked character on the nose. Lots of Sandalwood and cedar. Plummy fruit beneath. Terrific fruit sweetness. Palate filling and rich, but with a real cut of cherry acidity. Nice plush, plummy, chocolate-licked fruit, and a ripe tannic structure. The oak is warm and coffeeish, giving a plush, deep finish. Very attractive. £15.00

Craggy Range, Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2004
17 months in wood. ‘We treat this like a Pinot’ – no racking, hands-off. More depth and opulence here. There’s a still a touch of charcoally edge. But a sweeter, more full fruitiness too. In the mouth it has a cool, long, quite polished but ripe and sweet black fruit – blackberry and black cherry, with some aromatic tones. Nice balance here, and a lovely sweetness marrying with grippy chocolate tannins and acidity. £18.99

Craggy Range, ‘Sophia’ Gimblett Gravels Merlot Cabernet Franc 2004
12 months in French oak, then blending, then back into oak for a further 8 months. Fine, very polished Sandalwood and cedar nose. Lovely fudgy depth, with licks of dark chocolate. Lots of spice and ripe, sweet black fruit. Very dry, juicy, palate-filling richness of fruit. Fine, silky tannins, with lots of chocolate and ripe fruit. Good acids, but this is all about quality of fruit and wood integration. Lovely quality here. Poised and elegant. £25.99

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Sileni, Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005
14% Hawke’s Bay Semillon. 04 won IWC trophy (?). Beautifully delicate nose, with plenty of verve and grassy, herbal qualities, but just a hint of mealy richness. The fruit has intense sweetness at first, then that rolling, textural mid-palate comes through. Very fine, with the grassy notes and fine, juicy acidity.

Sileni, Estate Selection ‘The Circle’ Hawke’s Bay Semillon 2004
Fine, gently waxy lemon and mealy nose. Lovely fine, mealy, slightly waxy. Palate has fine fruit sweetness and a richness. There is very fine texture through the mid-palate, and a lime acidity. Very fine balance. Low acid and PH. 12.7%. Excellent.

Sileni, Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay Unoaked Chardonnay 2005
Very fine, leesy nose. Tropical fruit notes comes through. The Fruit sweetness is excellent, and there is plenty of ripeness and sweetness.

Sileni, Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2004
20%, barrel, all French and around 30% Malo. Subtle, leesy, gently toasty nose. Nutty and complex, with very fine orangy fruit. Full, rich texture, with the nutty, warming slightly toasty notes intermingling well with the fine orangy fruit and a tangerine acidity. Very crisp finish, but with plenty of weight.

Sileni, Reserve Selection ‘The Lodge’ Chardonnay 2004
100% Barrel, all French, around 35% new. Nine months in oak on gross lees. 100% MLF. This has a fine buttery, Burgundian nose, with lots of cabbagy, vegetal aromas. Beautiful palate, with really lovely integration of the fruit and oak. A very fine fruit quality with a beautifully mellow tones and great fruit sweetness and length. Excellent.

Sileni, Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay Riesling 2005
A touch of waxy quality, with a waxy lemon and lime leaf character. Good mineral and fine, leafy, qualities. Lovely length, maybe just off dry.

Sileni, Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2005
Planted some Pinot and top-grafted, so this is first production. 7% old oak barrel ferment. Quite a herby, citrussy quality. With some mealy notes and a very juicy quality. Fine, long, well textured core and mid-palate. Quite a long finish, with some fine juicy, well textured and herb and orangy notes.

Sileni, Cellar Selection ‘Saignée’ 2005
Tank, with a couple of barrels ‘chucked in’. Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Quite a deep colour and a lovely soft, yielding strawberry fruit suggestion of sweetness. Touch of earthiness. Terrific sweetness on the palate, pure strawberry coulis. Fine earthiness and a good grip of tannin. Fantastic rose.

Sileni, Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir 2004
From a very inland vineyard, about 100 metres higher than the coast. Very attractive, very Pinot nose – lots of strawberry, lots of truffle and earth, with a touch of vegetal quality. The dark cherry, Morello fruit is lovely. Very fresh, but beautiful quality of fruit. Very, very good for the price point.

Sileni, Estate Selection ‘The Plateau’ Pinot Noir 2004
Crop load reduced slightly, riper fruit and a little more tannin. There’s a dark, glossy, cherry quality. This is denser, meatier, with plenty of oomph and plenty of sweetness and richness. Massive, velvety, but for me less fine and slightly less enjoyable than the Cellar Selection.

Sileni, Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2004
Merlot and a little Cabernet Franc. Lovely cedary nose, with fine notes that are very slightly leafy, but have a lovely soft, approachable fruit quality. On the palate a dense, plummy, chocolate-licked quality, with plenty of lushness and weight. Very nice texture and a juicy, mouth-filling.

Sileni, Estate Selection ‘The Triangle’ Merlot 2004
Crop levels reduced and a little more new oak. Very fine, racy, pure fruit nose. Pure quality of cherry and a touch of red liquorice. This has plenty of finesse and a fine bittersweet edge to the fruit, with liquoricy, plummy darkness, the tannins have fine silky, ripeness and the acidity is good.

Sileni, Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay 2004
Fine white pepper qualities on the nose, with a juicy, lighter raspberry and cherry fruit. Some little chocolaty notes. On the palate the fruit has a silky quality to it, and there’s a supporting note of cedar and spice. Maybe a touch short, and is brought up quite abruptly by a slightly sharp acidity.

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Mission Estate, Ghiti Road Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Very attractive nose, with passionfruit and nicely developed tropical aromas, some lychee and touches of green, quite grassy notes. Quite ripe fruit o the palate, and plenty of citrussy verve.

Mission Estate, Jewelstone Chardonnay 2004
Very fine, Burgundian, slightly cabbagy nose, with butter and plenty of green fig and ripe apple and pear fruit. Whole bunches, with 50% all French oak. Very fine, mouthfilling qualities. Lovely fruit sweetness, and a nice mealy texture through the mid palate. Good citrus acidity, very lemon zesty.

Mission Estate, Jewelstone Chardonnay 2002
Fine nose, but aromas are slightly danker. On the palate the fruit is good – clean and fresh on the palate, with plenty of juicy nectarine, fleshy peach fruit, with the oak better integrated. Fine quality. And drinks very well.

Mission Estate, Jewelstone Syrah 2004
60% new oak. Lovely spicy, clove-scented nose, with mulberry fruit, and a fine cherry character. Lovely fruit on the palate too, with plenty of vibrant cherry and sweet blackcurrant fruit. The oak is heavy on the mid-palate. With lovely quality, but perhaps only just over oaked. Still beautiful fruit and beautiful quality here.

Mission Estate, Jewelstone Gimblett Gravels 2004
A little touch green, with some asparagus, but cherry and black cherry. On the palate a charming quality of softening, ripe strawberry and black currant fruit. Very nice balance wit nice ripe tannins and good acids. Finishes better than it starts.

Mission Estate, Reserve Merlot 2002
From the same block as the Jewelstone Chardonnay. A touch reduced at first. But really slaty, mineral, schisty qualities. The palate has a fine quality of cherry and quite charming red plum and liquorice fruit. Some spice and clove comes through to support, but the integration and the acidity is good, giving a lot of charm.

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Burnt Spur, Sauvignon 2005
Tank fermented, combination of Martinborough and Marlborough fruit. Very nice slightly more understated vegetal nose, with hints of asparagus and green, grassy and a lovely tropical fruit quality; lots of pineapple and lychee. Good texture and mouthfeel, fine, ripe fruit. Very opulent, spangle and vivid lime acidity.

Martinborough Vineyard, Riesling Jackson Block 2005
Very dry herbal and lemony notes. Little touches of aromatic, lightly flinty and petrolly. Fine, waxy, fleshy texture, with plenty of juicy fruit and a fine, crisp acidity, that stays quite thick and rich.

Martinborough Vineyard, Riesling Manu 2005
27gl. Delicate, sherbetty, quite floral nose. Very fine, with some candied fruit and delicate spiciness. Quite full, with good fruit and a sweet, light palate.

Martinborough Vineyard, Pinot Gris 2004
50% old barrels, all stirred every two. Nice herbal tinged, rich, quite leesy nose. Fine apple and pear white fruit character. The palate has lovely weight, with a lovely grapefruit and orange fruit. Good acid. Fine skinny characteristics. Have been making PG for 10 years.

Martinborough Vineyard, Chardonnay 2004
25% New French oak, rest old. Lees stirring. This has a very fine green fig quality, with a fine, spicy, herbal, tobacco oak. Buttery and rich, and quite Burgundian. Lovely waxy fruit here, like waxy lime and nectarine, very juicy. Very lovely fruit, classy and fine length.

Burnt Spur, Russian Jack Pinot Noir 2004
Lovely, savoury, spicy, herb tinged and peppery Pinot. Soft, herb-tinged raspberry fruit. Lovely fruit on the palate. A touch light on fruit through the mid palate, but maintains good sweetness, and a fine balance of lighter tannins.

Martinborough Vineyard, Te Tera Pinot Noir 2004
Lovely earthy, schisty, quite complex earthy and bracken quality. Some fine plummy fruit. The fruit is very clean and quite weighty, and the texture is good. Lovely long, savoury, juicy finish.

Burnt Spur, Pinot Noir 2003
A blend of estate and bought in fruit, though will be all estate from 2004. A subtle, gentle herbal and earthy, smoky quality to the cherry and rounded, plummy fruit. Very fine, ripe, fleshy plum and good texture.

Martinborough Vineyard, Pinot Noir 2003
‘Martinborough Terrace’ Very fine quality here, with a touch of mint and a fine, ripe fruitiness. Very fruity, though not too much. The fruit on the palate is ripe and juicy, with lots of plum flesh and a fine, rounded finish. Silky and tannins ripe.

Martinborough Vineyard, Pinot Noir 2002
Definitely touches of more herbal, complex, undergrowth and mushroom notes. The palate is leaner, but really lovely quality of fruit with a great spicy depth of oak and fine tannins. Quite grippy and ripe, with plenty of juicy fruit and well balanced.

Martinborough Vineyard, Late-Harvest Riesling 2004
Very lovely unctuous nose of green fig lightly touched with honey, figgy, buttery, good greengage fruit. Medium to full-bodied, with a lovely sweetness, very fine fig and ripe melon flavours, lovely juicy, orangy quality. Finishes very clean and long.

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Waiheke Island


Culley, Marlborough Riesling 2005
Lovely tropical-edged, very ripe fruit. Little waxy notes, and fine apple and greengage aromas. Very fine palate, lovely juicy lemon and crisp apple fruit. Very nice balance, very fine and refined. There is fine acidity here, with a sense of minerality. Very tangy, with apple and crisp flavours.

Culley, Marlborough Sauvignon 2005
Distinct herbal lift, with some Marlborough pungency, beautiful lychee and ripe tropical fruit aromas. Fantastically thirsts quenching quality, with vibrant fruit, lots of ripe melon and lime and really zesty, fresh acidity.

Cable Bay, Marlborough Sauvignon 2005
Only free-run juice from best blocks, some barrel fermentation and all aged on lees. A much mealier, with very fine mineral aromatics. Just hints at the herbaceous quality. Lots of citrus and a lovely toffee-edged richness. Terrific pineapple and ripe melony character. Fine acidity too, in a balanced, long wine. Mouthfilling and rich.

Culley, Marlborough Chardonnay 2005
“You can always make OK chardonnay – it is a very forgiving variety, but to make a really good one is as hard as Pinot Noir” Unoaked. Clean, ripe aromatics, with lighter pear and very delicately edged tropical aromas. Lots of tropical and delicate aromatics. On the palate a hint of tropical richness, and good texture, with a light oatmeally quality. Nice balance and a fine lemony length.

Culley, Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2004
100% Barrel ferment in Francois Frères oak, around 18% new. No malo, apart from around 25% that has gone through wild yeast ferment that sometimes goes through malo. Fine, very complex, nose, with an array of yeasty, ripe aromas. Very nice toasty oak qualities too, and has a fine citrussy acidity running through it. Long and multi-layered finish.

Culley, Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005
Quite a dark, earthy colour. Quite a dense, slightly closed nose at present (bottled recently) with an earthy and plummy fruit quality coming through. The palate has a real richness and plenty of fruit and substance.

Cable Bay, Pinot Noir 2004
Lighter colour, with a very attractive spice and cherry fruited nose. Very light, with a silkiness and more refined, elegance. Delightful wine.

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Esk Valley, Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Hawke’s Bay fruit, with gently tropical, softly citrus aromas. The palate has a rich texture, with fine lemony fruit, that fills the palate with fine, light flavours. Decent length and a nice crisp, well-balanced style with some passionfruit coming through and a touch of grapefruit. £7.49

Villa Maria, Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Marlborough fruit, with plenty of Marlborough zing and herbaceous zest. Much more distinctive style. Very mouthfilling, with that herbal, slightly asparagus character coming through. There’s a real juicy, slightly tropical quality, with nectarine and racier, citrus and a huge grapefruity acidity counteracting a touch of RS. £7.99

Villa Maria, Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Marlborough. ‘Usually great value – Reserve fruit that didn’t make the cut, or marketing says they can’t sell all the Reserve, so de-classified’. Very low winemaker input. There’s a classy, still hallmark Marlborough character, with plenty of leafy, nettly quality and a gooseberry and passionfruit profile. Lovely sweetness and unctuous quality on the palate, with lychee, mango and tropical nuances, with lovely clean, grapefruity finish. £9.99

Villa Maria, Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Distinctly flinty, with a real note of minerality and plenty of asparagus and punchy gooseberry fruit, and really vivid profile. The palate has a searing core of herbal-edged, lemony fruit, with a very vivid, vibrant core that is much edgier and much more defined than Private Bin for example. Very taut acidity. £12.99

Villa Maria, Single Vineyard Graham Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Single vineyard in Awatre Valley. Massively herbal, green-tinged and lots of punch and verve. Big, searingly dry, very precise palate. Stunning aromatics and pungency, with a terrific core and focus, and very, very dry and distinctive. £12.99

Villa Maria, Private Bin East Coast Chardonnay 2005
15% Barrels. Very fine apple fruit, with a fine leesy background. The palate has generous, easy-going acidity and enough orchard fruit, with little hints of the tropical about it. £6.99

Esk Valley, Black Label Chardonnay 2005
Hawke’s Bay fruit. A much more prominent vanilla and toast nose. Very ripe, almost minty ripeness to the fruit. A little more confected in style, with plenty of vividness and bangs per buck. £7.49

Villa Maria, Cellar Selection Chardonnay Marlborough 2004
Water immersion bent barrel staves. – extra aromatics. Burnt toast, sesame seeds and very fine, fine nutty aromas. Fine citrus fruit and a cool pear quality. Lovely fine fruit, with fine pear and very good fruit quality. Lovely length and lovely finesse. Finishes long and pure. £8.99

Vidal Reserve Chardonnay 2004
Hawke’s Bay fruit. Very harmonious, with lovely soft, sweet oak integration. Very good palate sweetness, and integration. But very fine fruit quality and good length. £9.99

Villa Maria, Single Omahu Gravels Vineyard Viognier 2005
Tank sample of this Gimblett Gravels vineyard. Very intense Viognier character, with terrific tropical and peach and apricot aromas, and plenty of spice. There is great quality here, with a clean, fairly light-bodied character. There’s plenty of richness, but a clean, savoury style.

Vidal, Riesling 2005
Marlborough fruit. Quite sherbetty and aromatic, with blossom and talcum fragrance. With a fine Mosel-like character, on the definite dry side, but with lovely balance and purity – plenty of citrussy acidity. £6.99

Villa Maria, Cellar Selection Riesling 2004
Marlborough fruit. Very different, with a waxy quality and slight note of Paraffin and lots of good quality fruit. Fine palate, with plenty of buttery weight and a fine, quite racy acidity. Waxy lemon and fine. £8.99

Villa Maria, Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2004
Marlborough. Special Italian must-pump that does not ‘screw’ the wine, but gently paddles it. 10 – 11 days of cold soak. Lovely big, fragrant charry, charcoally nose, with lots of strawberry and soft cherry. Good palate, with texture and a raft of soft berry and strawberry flavours, wrapped in a subtle sheen of vanillin and toast. Quite creamy and spicy into the finish. With lots of grip and savoury character. £11.99

Villa Maria, Reserve Pinot Noir 2004
Marlborough. Partly a vineyard selection, but all barrels tasted blind and reassessed, so best barrels go through too. Fantastically charcoally, schisty minerality. Lovely fruit quality. Very fine, racy fruit quality, with lots of cherry and tight-grained, finessed fruit. Tight, silky, very poised. Lovely fruit. £15.99

Villa Maria, Single Vineyard Rutherford Pinot Noir 2004
Quite a young vineyard. Mostly Pommard clone. Slightly meatier, earthier nose with truffly notes and plenty of earthy quality. Quite a creamy quality to the oak here, but the fruit wins through on the palate, with an almost minty edge of ripeness and plenty of juicy, crisp fruit. Fine length and density. £19.99

Vidal, Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2004
All Gimblett Gravels fruit. Nose is quite reserved, with muted, meaty tones. Quite dense. The palate has a densely-textured, quite creamy and red fruited, with a peppery, meaty creamy quality. £9.99

Villa Maria, Cellar Selection Merlot Cabernet 2004
Quite a rich, gently meaty red fruit quality. Tiny touch of peppercorn. There is delicious sweetness on the palate here, with a ripe, chocolate-edged quality. The palate is quiet mouthfilling and rich. £9.99

Villa Maria, Reserve Cabernet merlot 2002
There’s a ripe, warm, earthy tone here and plenty of meaty breadth. A little violetty perfume. Here’s a dry, herbal quality and nice balance here. £15.99

Esk Valley, Reserve Merlot Malbec Cabernet 2002
24% Malbec. Quite meaty and dense, with plenty of weight and density. Plenty of violet and creaminess. The palate has a fine, rich, dry palate, with £14.99

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Lincoln, Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Very attractive, rich. Gently waxy nose, quite rich and leesy notes, and moving into the passionfruit spectrum. Quite rich, nectarine and peachy hints. Lovely gentle green apple acidity, and plenty of verve and length. A lovely food wine style. £8

Lincoln, Gisborne Gewürztraminer 2004
Very rich, very powerful nose. Lots of very pungent floral-edged fruity aromatic. A touch of Nivea cream and plenty of punchy fruit. Mouthfilling, with lovely leafy, waxy rich tropical fruit, but then a fine grapefruit pithy acidity adds a cut and verve to the finish. Nice and tangy. £9

Lincoln, Unoaked Chardonnay 2004
Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne fruit. A mealy quality to lemony, apple and pear fruit. A touch of herbal quality and quite buttery. Good rich, buttery texture o the plate. Mouth-filling, quite unctuous tropical fruit, with hints of pineapple and very ripe nectarine and melon. Good tangy finish again, with rounded, soft, but adequate acidity that adds a lovely crispness. £8

Lincoln, Barrique Chardonnay 2004
Gisborne fruit. 12 months in French oak, around 60% new. Rather oak-dominant at present with vanillin and buttery, toasty notes evident. A tropical fruit quality beneath. On the palate quite a rich texture, with a minty edge to very ripe orchard fruits. Fine, dry, juicy acidity and a long finish. At the moment it needs a little more time to integrate, but very promising.

Lincoln, Gisborne Merlot 2003
About 50% new French oak. Lovely big cedary, plummy, dark, ripe red cherry fruit. A hint mint eucalyptus. Lovely soft, dry, mouthfilling plum and chocolate textured fruit. Beautiful soft, with an elegant texture suggesting lots of ripeness and softness. A touch of earthy, more vegetal fruit adds complexity, and a long, balanced finish with soft tannin structure and gentle acidity. £7.99

Lincoln, Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir 2003
Whole bunch pressing, 3 week maceration. Very dark, dense colour. Very spicy and earthy, with some meat stock aromas and hints of juicy cherry fruit. A very solid style of Pinot noir, with palate-filling soft fruit and plenty of texture and weight. Juciy and chewy tannins, in a big, but really quite complex style given the price point. £8.99

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Coopers Creek, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Nice big, herbaceous aromatic nose, with lots of asparagus and nettly aromas. And a fine level of fruity, passionfruit and greengage fruit. Hints of lychee and tropicality. The palate has lovely fruit definition. Lovely lemon and lime acidity and a really very nicely balanced wine. Fine definition and balance. £7.50

Coopers Creek, Gisborne Viognier 2005
About 50% aged in old barrels. Biggest producer of Viognier in New Zealand. Very delicate nose, with notes of ripe pear and a touch of lychee and floral, exotic fruit. Mouthfilling and rich, the flavours are of stone fruits and orange, with very nicely restrained quality, and the punchy mineral and lemon acidity pushes through. Does not betray its 14.5% ABV, staying quite refined. £9

Coopers Creek, Marlborough Riesling 2005
Very lovely, pure, delicately lime and waxy lemon scented. Little hints of opulence and a spangle and mineral quality. Palate has a fine, delicate waxiness, with tiny hints of herbs and a real streak of minerality. Touches of beeswax and a long, very elegant finish. £7.50

Coopers Creek, Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005
Five months in French oak, predominantly new. 4th crop from this vineyard. Quite a rich, dark. Quiet a dark, schisty, mineral nose, with schisty qualities but a touch of sulphur too. Some plummy fruit comes through. The palate has a little more elegance, with a juicy cherry edge, good acidity. Starts to open up, and a fruity, plummy quality comes through. Definitely a richer style of Pinot Noir, but tangy, and successful in the final analysis.

Coopers Creek, Hawk’s Bay Merlot 2005
Partly from Gimblett Gravels, partly from other areas of more silty soil. Very dark, meaty, schisty, quite serious and concentrated fruit on the nose. Tight, plummy aromatics. Palate has lots of dry, powerful tannins dominating at present. Over tight, very focused cherry fruit. Lots of richness and savoury qualities.


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