Archive for the ‘new zealand’ Category

Craggy Range – who let the cats out?!

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

……..miaow, miaow, miaow, miaow, miaow!

Craggy Range Te Muna Road Sauvignon Blanc 2007 is the very metaphor for cats’ piss on a gooseberry bush.  Except these Martinborough cats mistook a pineapple tree for the green and prickly one.

Craggy Range and flashing...for some reason

Available from the Wine Society at £12.50.  It’s a good slurp but I think there are better value SBs available from New Zealand, and indeed, the Wine Society.  Check out John Hancock’s Trinity Hill at only £8.50, for example.

2007 Dog Point – more cat piss?

Friday, August 1st, 2008

The title may sound like a cryptic crossword clue, but it simply refers to the last time I tried Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc, the 2006 vintage, which was a superb example of this varietal’s clichéed ability to smell of cat pee.  I was pleased to receive a bottle of the 2007 recently as part of a mixed case so I wondered if I should hide the neighbour’s cat (on heat) before I opened it.

I know some of you beat up on Kiwi SBs and find them the height of 1990’s fashion – so last decade man – yawn, yawn, yawn.  If you are one of those, or you are not into feline urolagnia, switch off now.

Do you mean its nose or do dogs debate?


Seraph Sauvignon Blanc 2007

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Regular readers know that I sampled the Auction service at Virgin Wines with mixed results.  I discovered recently that they have started auctioning Cloudy Bay 2007.  Fabulous idea!  Everyone knows the price of Cloudy Bay.  Although Harvey Nichols sells it every year for about £16-18, other retailers struggle to keep it below £20.  The Sunday Times Wine Club sells it at a rip-off £26.95!  Virgin Wines?  You can start bidding at £1 for 6 bottles!

So I raced to the site and discovered with disappointment that, with 18 hours still to go, the bidding was already at £131 for a half case (£21.83 per bottle).  It only took me 1 minute on Google to find it at £18.99 at  I am not saying that £131 for 6 is bad value, though.  It just pays to keep an eye on availability elsewhere if you value your coins.  Well worth visiting Virgin and placing a bid of £50 or so, just in case! I am going to keep going back for a look.

Anyway, the cricket saison est arrivé, and tomorrow I managed to get a ticket (sold out) for England vs New Zealand at Old Trafford (Manchester).  I know what you are thinking, how on earth is he going to tie all this nonsense back into a post about a wine from Touraine?  Listen carefully, I am about to begin…..

Seraph - Ghostly or ghastly?


Wither Hills Sauvignon 2007

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

At work, we’ve just recruited a new Director of Professional Services. Bringing new personnel into a business is always risky. Appointing someone to a key management position is even riskier. Will they fit in to the culture? Do they really have the skills? Do they have the bottle? In short, will they deliver the goods?

In this case, I am more confident than usual because I have known Neil for many years, and have worked with him before. I think he is ideally suited to the role and fully expect him to fit in and start adding value immediately. That’s the thing about good people – they add value immediately. So once you find them, you need to focus on keeping them on your side. Losing a key person to a competitor or, perhaps worse* to leave the industry, is a big threat to any business.

When I last tried Wither Hills (the 2006), I didn’t give it enough attention, although I liked the wine very much. So tonight I am trying the 2007 and hope to make up for that by giving it due consideration. But the first thing I noticed was a minor omission on the label. It no longer says “Brent Marris, winemaker”.

Wither or not to bother?


Stonewall Pinot Noir 2005

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

All too recently I have learnt just how varied Pinot Noir can be.  If Burgundy is the spiritual church of Pinot, then New Zealand is surely the moonie cult.  But there are wines from Eastern Europe, USA, South America, in fact just about every wine region feels it has to have a go at this sometimes rewarding but often fickle bedfellow.  It seems that everyone loves a challenge and nobody can resist trying to pull the Brigitte Bardot of grapes.

Some of the Chilean Pinot Noirs I have tried recently are extraordinarily good, but not typical of the wines from Bourgogne.  Most commentators agree that New Zealand Pinot Noirs are hitting the stratosphere in quality terms.  I have found many of these to be interesting too, although perhaps a little nearer, in religious terms, to the Pinot cathédrale of the Côte D’Or.

Stonewall - a wine for gay rights?

This bottle of Stonewall, Forrest Estate 2005 came to me from Marlborough via a mixed case from the Sunday Times Wine Club “Pure Pinots” at £69.99 the case.  The first thing that struck me was a boring label by NZ standards.  However, the taste was far from boring.  Strawberry, macaroon, stewed blackberry and grapefruit, is a fantastic mix and this wine added a touch of vanilla ice cream too (or did I serve it too cold?).  It took time to open up though.  This is worth opening half an hour before drinking, if you can keep your sweaty mitts off it for that long.  I couldn’t.

Shibden Mill Inn, Halifax

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Amongst the dark satanic mills of Halifax, West Yorkshire, there are indeed some green and pleasant pastures, and nestling in the hills we found Shibden Mill Inn.  We once stopped for a quick Sunday lunch on a walking expedition and vowed to go back.  On 1 March, Fred had just picked up a brand new Mini Cooper, so a drive out to somewhere remote seemed appropriate.

Omaka…somewhere in middle America (or New Zealand to be precise)


Trinity Hill 2007 Sauvignon

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Tonight it’s the MasterChef semi-final and I’m supporting Emily.  She is young, enthusiastic, innovative, intelligent, bright, ambitious, engaging, tenacious, persistent, creative, spunky, adventurous, and quick to learn.  From a business perspective, she is the sort of person you would employ first and then wonder what role she should fill second.

Trinity Hill 2007 - on the precipice of greatness?

I wish more winemakers were as energetic and creative (in so far as that is expressed in their wines).  I think John Hancock maybe such a star.  I have just tried his Trinity Hill 2007 Sauvignon Blanc from Hawkes Bay.


Belmonte Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Where shall we go this evening?  France?  Italy?  Spain?  Sonoma County?  I think I’ll stay in, somewhere comfortable, with a glass of something familiar.  Yet another Kiwi Sauvignon!

Belmonte SB and its siblings…..for some reason


2007 Cloudy Bay is here – but where’s the rhubarb?

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

A red letter day….or rather, a brown box day.  My first case of 2007 New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs est arrivé and I am over-excited, but there is good news and bad:

I am slightly disappointed that Dog Point is not included in this year’s case.  But this is more than made up for by the price, which at £110 including two bottles of Cloudy Bay seems particularly good value.

The brown box had been left outside my front door, and the ambient temperature was a perfect 8 degrees, so I immediately unpacked the box and cracked open (or rather unscrewed the cap of) the Cloudy Bay.  I expected a complex rhubarb and citrus aroma, like the 2006, but was surprised to get a noseful of gooseberry.

Cloudy Bay 2007 - but where is the rhubarb?


Seraph Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Do you eat ready meals?  The UK is one of the world’s leading producers (and consumers) of ready meals, and I mean by volume, not necessarily quality.  Is that good or bad?  What does it say about our work addicted society that we no longer have time to enjoy a home cooked meal with friends/family at our own tables?