Two days of tasting - A Constellation Premium trade tasting followed by a tasting by the 'Family of Twelve' - 12 top kiwi wine families who promote their wines together http://www.twelve.co.nz/
Kumeu River Chardonnay - The best Chardonnay in NZ, even the humble $20 village Chardy is a winner. The village Pinot is also smart and the Pinot Gris drinkable. I am jealous of Auckland Kiwis Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay 2006 Fantastic acidity, great length. Excellent Neudorf Everything Tim Finn makes is superb Fromm Spatlese Riesling 2006 Superb balance. Apparently the assistant winemaker from Dr Loosen did a vintage in Marlborough and taught these guys how to make sweet Riesling. He did a good job Fromm Brancott Pinot 2005 Beautiful perfume, good intensity Lawsons Dry Hills Amazing value whites, even the Pinot is good value. Love their work & their prices. Pegasus Bay The prices are getting up there, but real consistency across the board - Chard, Riesling, Pinot, everything, all top gear. I'd prefer a little less charry oak in the Pinot though Felton Road Pinot's 2007 Archetypal NZ pinot, the base wine is the winner to drink now - brilliant stuff. The Calvert and Block 3 need time. Houghton Wisdom Range Its a reinvention of the old Houghton Regional range. What's in the bottle is top class, particularly the sparkling & Chard Ed Carr Met the sparkling genius for the first time - quiet, intelligent and in his element talking about bubbles. His Hardys Sir James Tumbarumba Pinot Chard 2000 is a fantastic drink. Arras 02 Excellent intensity, long & lovely. Brookland Valley whites Deserving of Halliday's praise. The 07 Sauvignon Blanc is the best Aussie Sauv I have had in a while, The 06 Sem is delightfully aromatic and with intensity to burn. Apparently a bit of aromatic Russian oak is used here and if this is the result, more people should be using it. Bay of Fires Another range that deserves its plaudits. The Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot are all very good value, tasty drinks. 06 Eileen Hardy Chardonnay A very very stylish Chardonnay, but fatter and clumsier than equivalent priced Kiwis. Crap pricing Houghton Gladstones Cabernet 2003 Its a beast of a wine and festooned with medals and it has real guts. The pick of a trio that included Thomas Hardy Cab 04 & Jack Mann 02 (though the Jack Mann really needs time) Tintara Blewitt Springs Single Vineyard Shiraz 2006 Another lovely beast of a Shiraz, its sexy, super smooth & Mclaren Vale to the core. Yum Leasingham Schobers Vineyard Clare Shiraz 2006 A very stylish Clare Shiraz in an Aberfeldy like mould.
Top end Kiwi wine prices Theoretically market forces have driven prices up as the rest of the world cottons on to the quality, but exponential price increases at the same time as exponential planting growth equals a disaster waiting to happen, particularly with the volumes in 08 - its like Australia five yrs ago. Constellation's prices I guess that they have to pay for it all somehow. $80 for Tintara single vineyard? Ugh Kim Crawford What happened to this range? Since Kim left the building everything has gone downhill The Houghton 'Wisdom' labels No wisdom there. Awful, ugly & tacky - an inverse relationship to the wine quality. Craggy Range I seem to be the only one who thinks so, but I think they are mainly style over substance. I like the whites (The Riesling & Kidnappers Chard are both good), but no matter how many times I try the reds, they always disappoint. Oaky, simple young vine stuff. Rude pricing to boot.
2009/10 WCA Wine Journalism 'Young Gun; Wine Judge; Gourmet Traveller WINE and Breathe Hunter Valley magazine contributor; LattéLife & The Retiree columnist; National Liquor News tasting panellist and Chablis lover who fell into the liquor industry chiefly to buy cheap beer.
Nearing 15 years later and I'm still here, now finishing off a Masters of Wine Technology and Viticulture, and still spending all my money on beer and wine...
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