The Fine Wine Delivery Company Tasting Team – 27th September

The FWDC tasting team reviewed over 100 wines one spectacular tasting…and they did it all for you!
September 27, 2010.
Last week was hectic, but a very welcome intermission came on Wednesday when Chris Williams and I (Andrew) attended the Negociants NZ ‘Our Friends at Home’ Trade Tasting.

It gave us an opportunity to have a look through the entire Negociants NZ portfolio under one roof and catch up with a few winemakers. The tasting was hosted at Okahu (opposite Kelly Tarltons) on Tamaki Drive, a great venue that sits right on top of the water.
With so many wines to try in one afternoon, we decided to whip around the room and taste the fizz and whites first, to give our palates a breather before hitting the reds.
There were only a handful of sparkling wines on show but the standard was extremely high. Palliser Estate Methode Traditionelle 2006 got us underway nicely with its vibrant and lively fruit flavours. Huia Blanc de Blanc 2004 also impressed us with its elegant, champagne-like texture but the bubbles of the day for me was…..the Nautilus Cuvee Brut NV. Beautifully rich and toasty, if we didn’t have so many more wines to taste I would have stopped right there and drank it all afternoon.
Trying to avoid making too many sweeping generalisations, but a few things were clear.
Chardonnay looks set to make a big comeback and the fuller more opulent styles seems to be where things are heading. Matakana Estate Chardonnay 09 (from Matakana fruit) was creamy and refined, Palliser Chardonnay 2008 was drinking beautifully (no surprise), Black Barn Barrel Fermented 2009 AND Reserve 2009 Chardonnay were superb.
The 2010 Marlborough Sauvignon vintage looks really, really good. The line up from Saint Clair was as brilliant as ever and Hamish Clark is definitely one of the ‘good guys’ of the wine industry. The Pioneer Block wines offer a fascinating insight into the Marlborough region. The Auntsfield Sauvignon 2010 was barrel fermented and delicious. The highlight for me was delivered by Kevin Judd and his Greywacke label. His 2010 Sauvy has mind-blowing depth of flavour and the Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2009 had everyone in the room talking – along the same lines of Cloudy Bay Te Koko, it’s another very special wine.
The standard of Pinot Gris in the room was excellent, and most of them were tending towards dry. Huia and Misha’s Vineyard were the two stand outs, the later being a fraction off dry and luscious with a mineral style finish. Outstanding!
Vinoptima Gewurztraminer 2006 is a magnificent wine and will reward quite a few years in the cellar, even the 2004 tasted alongside it was very youthful – only just starting to open up but an exciting prospect for the cellar.
A couple of new and interesting whites; Alpha Domus ‘The Aviatrix’ Sauvignon Chardonnay Viognier Blend 2009 was really fresh and worked well, and the Hunky Dory (by Huia) Tangle 2009 Pinot Gris / Gewurztraminer / Riesling was also real eye opener that we both really liked.
Have to mention the Ngatarawa Glazebrook Viognier 2009 which was quite rich but perfectly balanced – seriously good.
On to the reds and some lovely Pinot Noir, namely Palliser 2008 which was starting to open up nicely. Marlborough highlights were Nautilus 2008 and Auntsfield Hawk Hill 2008, both showing some nice savoury characters to go along with the fruit.
Waipara Springs Premo Pinot Noir 2009 was super juicy with nice velvety tannins. Central Otago didn’t disappoint with two outstanding Rippon Pinot Noirs from 2008. The Jeunesse is made from young vines and had loads of fruit flavour while the big brother wine was a seriously complex, earthy and surprisingly elegant. Kingsmill Tippet’s Dam Pinot Noir 2007 has picked up a truck load of accolades and it’s easy to see why, and Two Paddocks Pinot Noir 2008 also impressed.
The Misha’s Vineyard Pinot Noirs were exceptional and it was a real treat to taste the ‘Verismo’ 2008 and hear about the passion that goes into it from winemaker Olly Masters.
An absolutely cracking 2008 Syrah from Alpha Domus called ‘The Barn Stormer’ looked exciting (and great value) with spicy, sweet tobacco flavours.
Ngatarawa and Black Barn offered some great Hawkes Bay Bordeaux- style reds, and I got tipped off that there was limited stock available of the Trophy winning Black Barn Tempranillo 2009 available which I can’t wait to try.
By this stage we had covered the whole room which was a relief – our palates were starting to dive but it had been a very enjoyable and satisfying tasting.
There were plenty of standout wines, but I think the three producers who left the biggest impression were Misha’s Vineyard ( a crowd was gathered around their table all afternoon was a good sign), Huia (a stellar line up of white wines– beautifully dry, pure and balanced) and the Sauvignon Blanc from Greywacke, (we certainly won’t forget those in a hurry).
Cheers, Andrew Bulman, Senior Wine Buyer