22 September 2011

Felton Road 2008 Central Otago Pinot Noir

Over the weekend, while Irish eyes were smiling all over the Auckland waterfront, my Australian eyes were crying in Brisbane. 

Not only were the Wallabies completely fusterclucked by the Paddys, but the rugby watching community were treated like mugs by Channel 9 who, having paid millions for the broadcast rights, decided to delay the coverage of the game played in heaven so they could instead telecast a game of touch football.

Lucky I have Fox.

To improve my mood, I drowned my tears in valium and brandy and a lovely bottle of NZ Pinot.  And I felt a little better.  But more of that in a minute.

For the very next day, as I settled in to watch the next instalment of matches, I was again throwing pillows at my plasma due to the fact that our friends at Fox are too tight to have the non-Wallaby games commentated by people who can speak actual English, and instead force us to listen to the local speech impediment that is the New Zealandish language.

To be frank, when watching a game of footy, I never wish to hear a man come out with phrases like “He teckled hum on the dick”, “Weepu was cleaned out by the sux”, and “Hore uz the All Blix Mr Fux-it”.

Anyway, despite my natural aversion to the accent and their fondness towards denim shorts, I have to admit that I really do quite like Kiwis.  I’m not sure that I could eat a whole one, but they are generally a great bunch of people.

And boy do they make some rocking Pinot.

The Felton Road is pretty much the cream of the crop when it comes to Central Otago Pinot.  At A$65, it’s certainly not cheap, but it is still exceptionally good value.  They could charge twice that and still sell out in record time every year.

The Felton Road vines sit like a verdant oasis in the middle of the barren Central Otagan ranges about an hour from Queenstown.  If you’re planning a ski-trip any time soon, you should definitely do a detour and check it out (preferably after you’ve finished skiing for the day).

The wine is simply cracking.  Bright purple and glowing in the glass, it looks smooth and svelte and downright classy.  And it is.

It smells vibrantly of fresh flowers and all-round sweetness - a preposterously perfumed posy of pinot.

I wouldn’t waste too much time smelling it though, because the drinking is of course what it is all about.  Black velvet, in that slow southern style. A new religion that will bring you to your knees. 

It’s silken, and subtle, and utterly delicious.  Not too heavy, not too light.  Just a luscious blend of sweet and savoury that delivers bombs of flavour long after you have gulped it down.

This is, in short, a simply stunning bottle of wine.  Well played.

Rating: 9.5
Drink with: Stuffed Wallaby
Price: A$65

08 September 2011

Naked Run 2009 The First Riesling

The name of this mob pretty much describes every one of my Saturday nights between 1995 and 1999. And, if I'm honest, pretty much exactly every NYE since then as well.

Running races, sneaky streaks, laps of the block, the occasional midnight swim.  If there wasn't a nudie run involved, it wasn't, and isn't, a real party.

And so, as you might imagine, I was of course very pleased to discover this cheeky little Rizza from the Clare Valley.

I ordered a case at half price from the Vinomofo boys (check it out - it's Groupon for wine). That's $11 a bottle. And that, my dear friends, is sectionably insane for a wine as nice as this.

It's as pale as a Pommy's pallor, but its colour completely belies its impending potency.

It gives off a vibrant whiff that is all lemony and limey and sharp and inviting.

The drinking is then zippy and zingy and dry and chock full of more delicious citrusy tartness.

It's the sort of delectably rewarding drop that encourages you to re-live your glory days by dropping the draws, getting the tackle out and engaging in a cheeky spot of late night streaking.

Through the quad. To the gymnasium. 

Anyway, the lesson here is that it is possible to find a really good wine for $11.  The trick is to find someone that genuinely cares about what they’re producing, and to steer clear of mass-produced rubbish.


Rating: 8.75
Drink with: Frank The Tank
Price: $11-$20


Rosemount 2009 Diamond Label Sauvignon Blanc

This week's review is dedicated to the letter "Y".

Well, not the letter so much as the question.

Why would you bother buying it? Why would you bring it to my house? Why am I wasting my time writing about it?

This is, to me, an insipid, gormless, and pointless wine. It has so little taste and substance, it might as well be tapwater.  It's not even strong enough to get you drunk and dull your tastebuds.

This is wine for lazy, follow-the-leader types.

For the kind of people who think it's clever to put stick figure drawings of their families in the rear window of their cars. And who mistakenly believe that the rest of us give a toss.

For people who think it's acceptable to put ice cubes in their wine.

For people who have given up, or who by all rights should.

For the English.

I think I once had a nice Rosemount wine. Sadly, this was not one of them.

You can do better.  And so can they.

Rating: 5
Drink with: Sorry, but I've got nothing
Price: $10.99

01 September 2011

d'Arenberg 2003 Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon

Well my name's John Lee Pettimore. Same as my daddy and his daddy before.

Ok. Not really. But since today is International Cabernet Day, I've been tucking into some tasty '03 d'Arenberg Coppermine Road Cab Sauv. I've also been listening to Copperhead Road on repeat all day.

Anyway, d'Arenberg's answer to John Lee Pettimore is its fourth generation owner and chief winemaker, Chester d'Arenberg Osborn. Same as his daddy, and his daddy, and his daddy before.

Chester is an interesting character. He's got hippy hair and quirky 1980's dress-sense, but even when he's asleep, he knows more about making wine than the rest of us all rolled up together and squeezed through his basket press. He goes particularly gaga for Grenache, and if you ever get a chance to read or listen to his passionate sermons on the topic, well you should.

He sends out more than 40 styles of wine from his McLaren Vale lair, with eccentrically evocative names such as The Love Grass Shiraz, The Lucky Lizard Chardy, The Feral Fox Pinot, The Broken Fishplate SB, The Laughing Magpie (ie Kookaburra) SV, and, seriously, The Cenosilicaphobic Cat Sagrantino.

Cenosilicaphobia is, incidentally, and quite literally, the condition of fearing an empty glass. Sounds frightening, doesn't it? I wonder if, in turn, there's a word for those with a fear of cenosilicaphobia.

Anyway, since it's Cabernet Day, I'd probably better start talking about the big C. No, not Chester. The Cab Sav. And more specifically, the Coppermine Road Cab Sav.

To start with, the name - it's a bit boring by comparison to Chester's other offerings, but is eponymous with the road which borders the d'Arenberg home block.

In the glass, it's a dark, glowing beast of wine. It prowls around, flexing its muscles and managing to look far more solid than liquid.

And the nose is massive. Really massive. It hits the nostril with a dominating combination of cherry ripe and coffee shop - the sweet whiff lures you in like a Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope, and then the dusty, hi-octane savouriness rumbles your jungle and smashes you fair in the face with a colossal right hook.

But while the sight and smell threaten to completely overwhelm your tastebuds with a brutal campaign of shock and awe, what actually follows is a lesson in good manners and subtlety. Yes, there's an intensely concentrated wave of tasty fruit and smokey BBQ sauce, but the long, dry, muscular, cabernet tannins are well-toned and fine, rather than being jacked up on 'roids and pumping iron.

In short, it's bloody good.

I should say that I also tried the 2007 model earlier in the evening - all the same juicy flavour is there for sure, but it's still very full of testosterone and adrenaline and needs a bit longer to soften up. Buy it now by all means, but send it to the cellar to relax for a few more years.

Cabernet really is one of those wines where the divide between a good and a bad drink is very obvious. Pick a good one, softened nicely by age, and you'll be as happy as a dog with three balls. Pick a bad one, and you'll be pulling faces like a bulldog chewing a wasp.

I've learned a thing or two from Chester, don't you know - it's hard to stay away from Coppermine Road.

Rating: 9.25
Drink with: Steve Earle
Price: $60