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WTN: Pinotpalooza

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WTN: Pinotpalooza

by Jenise » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:16 pm

Went to L.A. for a New Zealand wine dinner with the Cellar Rats. Practiced on a few pinots, sauv blancs and other miscellany in the days leading up to the tasting. We showed up with a fully loaded Wine Check, of course.

The non-tasting wines of Thursday and Friday:

2009 Dom Perignon Champagne Champagne Blend
Brought this along to start the party. Agree with others on CT: bury it. It's kind of hum-drum right now--not bad, but not quite Dom-like yet.

NV Salmon Montgolfiere 100% Pinot Meunier (sparkling), France
Took this to introduce our champagne-loving friends to the joys of 100% PM, which they probably have never had before. Hook definitely set!

2015 Lowburn Ferry Wines Pinot Noir Home Block Central Otago
Ripe and giving flavors of raspberry, cherry cough drops and roasted parsnips with a touch of allspice. Not a long termer, but highly appealing now.

2013 Rippon Pinot Noir Central Otago
From the first or one of the first people to plant grapes in Central Otago. Dark, concentrated plum and black cherry fruit with attractive white pepper notes and some secondary development. Significant tannins and density of fruit suggest a wine to hold for another 5+ years of life ahead. A real wow wine, and from an American perspective, closer to OR in style than CA. Rewards decanting.

2008 Te Whau Syrah Waiheke Island
Only 48 cases made. Purchased from an Aucklund based collector's cellar. A feminine style with violets, blueberries, blackcurrrant jelly, soft tannins and a silky mouthfeel. Very pretty. Probably getting close to peak but should hold here for a few years.

2008 Tranche Cellars Slice of Pape Blue Mountain Vineyard Walla Walla Valley Red Rhone Blend
To go with the Te Whau, I threw in this Tranche wine, a WA producer I like a lot, that I rescued from a close-out bin at a Thousand Oaks wine store earlier in the day for s mere $20. Big, concentrated, elegant, barely into middle age. Big fruit matches the tannins. Loads of black fruit with tar and a curious (because I don't recall running into this in a wine before, but it was good) hint of molasses. Should cellar thru 2025.

2016 Weingut Willi Bründlmayer Zweigelt Langenloiser Kamptal
Stumbled over this at a deli in Santa Barbara. Expressive nose, crisp and precise on the palate. Will definitely look for more.

2016 Jules Taylor Sauvignon Blanc OTQ Marlborough
A serious, concentrated sauv blanc that I've sought out since being introduced to this producer by Sue Courtney. Sees some oak I'm pretty sure, but that just adds elegance to the panoply of usual kiwi flavors.

2015 and 2013 Carrick Pinot Noir Bannockburn
Our hosts shared a mini vertical of the 2013 and the 2015. The two were in fact almost identical but for the minor fact that one sported a very slight caramel note due to two add'l years in bottle. Solid wines--good fruit and balance in both.

2014 Kumeu River Chardonnay Hunting Hill
Another Sue Courtney introduction. And this is a $40 chardonnay that tastes like a $40 chardonnay--complex and seductive. I knew our friends would love it, and they did.

2017 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough
More grass and gooseberry than the 2016, very pleasantly so. Maintains Craggy's signature clean elegance bit loses the washed rind cheese flavor of early editions. Best CR SB I've had in years.


And now begins the tasting. First, some starter wines with two New Zealand cheeses, curried lamb pasties and a low carb, low fat cauliflower-cheese mixture for spreading on soft lettuce leaves (recipe's in FLDG).

2017 The Ned Pinot Noir Rosé Marlborough
Fruit forward style with the flavor of red rose petals sauteed in butter. A happy wine.

2017 Rippon Osteiner Lake Wanaka
Osteiner is a Sylvaner/Riesling cross, and word has it that Rippon is the only winery on the planet making it commercially. Good stuff--both parent grapes show, and it's clean and refreshing.

2016 Presqu'ile Sauvignon Blanc Santa Maria Valley
A brilliant California Sauv Blanc: Sancerre style with lots of cut and finesse. If this is indicative of everything they do at this winery, it's one to look out for. Tom Hill probably knows all about it. :)

2016 Hillersden Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
Soft, ripe, disappointing. Tastes more like $8 than $16. My fault: I brought the OTQ above to show as a starter wine, but oops we drank it so I purchased this unknown locally. I will now promptly forget I ever knew it.


The tasting pinots:

Each of six couples were assigned the task of bringing a pinot from each of the two islands. So a total of twelve bottles plus one Oregon pinot I brought along to add as a ringer, were divided into three flights: a South Island flight, a North Island flight, and a Mixed flight which included the OR wine. All bottles were bagged, and I had no idea which were mine.

2015 Lemelson Vineyards Pinot Noir Thea's Selection Willamette Valley, Oregon
Interestingly, didn't drink like an outlier at all. Earthy with sweet raspberry and cola notes, mushrooms and herbs. Very similar to the Erewhon in fact and my 2nd fave in the Mixed flight.

2013 Erewhon Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand, South Island
My wine. Very complete, and the most complex and Burgundian wine of the tasting. Quoting a previous reviewer: "Medium crimson in color with slight cloudiness, this wine reveals black cherry, pomegranate, cranberry as well as anise on the nose. The mouth feel is fuller bodied than expected and brought cola as well as earthy, mushroom undertones...." My WOTN. If you don't know this winery, it's winemaker was a major darling of the NZ wine scene who left his cushy job at some top producer because he wouldn't make the compromises to quality they started asking for. A Taiwanese blind man whose family relocated to NZ in his childhood, he then began his own label and playfully named it for his own sense of not-quite belonging: Erewhon is 'nowhere' spelled backwards.

2014 Escarpment Pinot Noir Martinborough, North Island
So two of these showed up and were (luckily) in two different flights. About this one my notes said: "ooh! Spicy, good fruit, lovely balance" and rated it 3rd of 5 in a flight that included my WOTN. However, an identical bottle from another source in an earlier flight was just an "Eh": mild orange peel nose and "vacant" palate.

2014 Trinity Hill Pinot Noir Hawkes Bay, North Island
My notes were brief: "perfumey cheap watermelon candy nose." Last place all around. I noticed that it's bringer posted a TN about it on CT, lamenting that even if it did only cost $10 it wasn't worth even that. May I take a moment to gripe about people who bring the cheapest bottle they can find in order to gain entrance to an event where they're going to be served far better stuff? Insulting. And yes, I would say that to his face. Wherein he'd just laugh. He knows he's cheap and he doesn't care.

2014 Dry River Pinot Noir Martinborough, North Island
My wine, opened 24 hours in advance but not decanted. Deep almost opaque purple-red color, highly concentrated notes of cassis and black cherry with bay leaf and complex spices. Outstanding in a the-Kistler-of-New-Zealand kind of way though not near ready yet. No previous experience with this producer, but based on this bottle would peg drinking window for 2024-2030. Took 1st in its flight, and I agreed.

2013 Nga Waka Pinot Noir Three Paddles Martinborough, North Island
Very Santa Barbara-ish nose of red fruits, tomato, celery (V-8!) and herbs. Elegant on the palate, my 2nd place wine in the North Island flight.

2014 Escarpment Pinot Noir Martinborough, North Island
Soft perfumed nose with orange rind, but kind of bland (notes said "vacant") on the palate. An identical bottle showed MUCH better in a later flight.

2014 Escarpment Pinot Noir Kiwa Martinborough, North Island
Bright but dilute in flavor, no real character or presence. After reading HOWARDNZ's excellent review detailing things absent in our bottle, must conclude it's in a dumb phase. Might have gotten travelshocked on the way to the tasting, too. As it was, last place in it's flight.

2010 Villa Maria Pinot Noir Cellar Selection Marlborough, South Island
Very focussed raspberry fruit and good spice, really showed it's South Island-ness and also what I suspect was a cooler vintage. Was amazed by it's age on the reveal--no mature notes, has a good future ahead. Easily my 1st place in the South Island flight, but last place with everyone else who were more seduced by the warmer tones of the other three.

2012 Clayvin (Giesen) Vineyard Marlborough, South Island
Stood out in it's flight for the pepper and bacon fat notes on the nose, more like syrah than pinot but not unattractive. Sturdy fruit on the midpalate with a touch of cedar. My 2nd fave in the flight.

2015 Cottesbrook Pinot Noir, South Island
Classic California style from NZ's cooler climate, a surprise. Could pass for Sonoma any time. Cherry, strawberry, tomato and thyme. An exceptional value for $15 at Total Wine.

2015 Cashburn Pinot Noir Central Otago, South Island
Soft and approachable, maybe too much so. Simple strawberry fruit with a bit of herb. Deservedly last place in its flight.

2015 Cognizant Pinot Noir Marlborough, South Island
Warm and spicy nose, noticeably bluer in color (younger) and riper than the others in the flight. This label is apparently a winery-direct import situation for American retailer K&L Wines wherein the the brand continues but the wine's actual source changes from year to year. Inexpensive but didn't taste cheap.


And then we had dessert, some feijoa jam tarts with Whittaker's chocolates:

2001 Château Guiraud Sauternes Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc
Deep golden color. Apricot and caramel notes, with good tang and Guiraud's drying, chalky minerality. Just wonderful.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Brian K Miller

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Re: WTN: Pinotpalooza

by Brian K Miller » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:42 pm

. And yes, I would say that to his face. Wherein he'd just laugh. He knows he's cheap and he doesn't care.


I would...assume...he is a long term (non-wine) friend, otherwise one might ask: "He was invited to the event, why, exactly"?

:mrgreen: :twisted: :lol:
...(Humans) are unique in our capacity to construct realities at utter odds with reality. Dogs dream and dolphins imagine, but only humans are deluded. –Jacob Bacharach
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Jenise

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Re: WTN: Pinotpalooza

by Jenise » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:14 pm

Brian K Miller wrote:
. And yes, I would say that to his face. Wherein he'd just laugh. He knows he's cheap and he doesn't care.


I would...assume...he is a long term (non-wine) friend, otherwise one might ask: "He was invited to the event, why, exactly"?

:mrgreen: :twisted: :lol:


Yes, a longtime friend but no, he's very much a wine friend. In fact, I met him on the original Compuserve wine forum, so have known him now for around 25 years. We've shared many a bottle and he and his partner are now Cellar Rats too. And where he's never been the guy who brings the best bottle, this time his cheapness was particularly egregious.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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