Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Aug 31, 2016
Vino Fino

From the tastings: Gibbston Valley

A typhoon last week stranded Gibbston Valley's winemaker, Chris Keys in Japan and prevented him from flying into Christchurch for this tasting. But after a last minute flight from Queenstown, up stepped Duncan Nicholson, one of Gibbston Valley's 'young bloods' to present the wines. From York in the UK, Duncan has been able to explore his passion with wine at Gibbston Valley and his presentation was knowlegable, informative and very entertaining.

Gibbston Valley wines was established by Alan Brady in the early 1980s with the first wines released in 1987. Pinot Noir especially made its mark, putting Central Otago on the world stage. The rest as they say is history. Alan Brady is no longer actively invloved with the business and it is now owned by American Phil Griffith who continues to invest strongly in the company moving it to new heights. Obviously tourism plays an important role with Gibbston valley with its high profile site, underground cellars and proximity to Queenstown, but the raison d'etre is all about the wines and under Chris Keys' astute guardianship the wines are amongst Central Otago's best.  Read More
A typhoon last week stranded Gibbston Valley's winemaker, Chris Keys in Japan and prevented him from flying into Christchurch for this tasting. But after a last minute flight from Queenstown, up stepped Duncan Nicholson, one of Gibbston Valley's 'young bloods' to present the wines. From York in the UK, Duncan has been able to explore his passion with wine at Gibbston Valley and his presentation was knowlegable, informative and very entertaining.

Gibbston Valley wines was established by Alan Brady in the early 1980s with the first wines released in 1987. Pinot Noir especially made its mark, putting Central Otago on the world stage. The rest as they say is history. Alan Brady is no longer actively invloved with the business and it is now owned by American Phil Griffith who continues to invest strongly in the company moving it to new heights. Obviously tourism plays an important role with Gibbston valley with its high profile site, underground cellars and proximity to Queenstown, but the raison d'etre is all about the wines and under Chris Keys' astute guardianship the wines are amongst Central Otago's best. 

 Vino Fino

Duncan Nicholson from Gibbston Valley Wines

Gibbston Valley Collection Rose 2016
100% Pinot Noir. A dry, strawberries and cream style with hints of quince and peach balanced by refreshing acidity. A rounded creamy mouthfeel, this is quite delicious and an excellent way to start the tasting.  
Retail $29.99   Special $24.99
 
Gibbston Valley Collection Pinot Gris 2015     
From the Bendigo vineyards (School House) and lower sites, all hand picked fruit. Quite floral with pear flavours flowing through the reasonably dense palate. Technically dry at 6gms rs, there is a hint of sweetness from the fruit and the schist soils give some minerality to balance the unctuousness. 
Retail $29.99   Special $24.99
 
Gibbston Valley La Dulcinee Pinot Gris 2014  
La Dulcine - "the sweetheart". A more serious style. This is a single vineyard wine, the highest in Bendigo, certified organic. Hand picked fruit, whole bunch pressed into stainless steel barriques, wild fermented and aged on lees for 12 months with no stirring and full 
malo-lactic; basically hands off, non interventionist wine making. Only produced in the best years. This takes Pinot Gris to another level. Dry; textural; flavoursome and excellent.  
Retail $42.99   Special $34.99
 
Gibbston Valley Red Shed Pinot Blanc 2014  
From the Red Shed vineyard in Bendigo handcrafted in a bone dry, old oak barrel fermented style. Flavours are of creamy nougat, summer straw, citrus and stonefruits. The texture and weight is reminiscent of a Chardonnay. 5 Stars Michael Cooper
Retail $39.99   Special $33.99
 
Gibbston Valley China Terrace Chardonnay 2015      
This is a very exciting Chardonnay. From a 3 ha block in Bendigo. Naturally fermented in and mixture of Barriques and puncheons. Very much a savoury style - flinty, mineral, tension.. with smoky peach and nectarine nuances. Everything is in balance. 5 Stars Top 5 Cuisine. A superb Chardonnay 
Retail $42.99   Special $34.99
 
Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir 2014         
Gibbston produce up to 8 different Pinot Noirs. This is their main and best known label. Mainly from Bendigo with some Gibbston fruit and the result of 14 different ferments. A dark cherry hue. Savoury dark fruits showing the whole bunch ferment complexity (approx. 26%). 18.5/20 Raymond Chan; 4 1/2 Stars Michael Cooper
Retail $49.99   Special $39.99
 
Gibbston Valley China Terrace Pinot Noir 2014          
From the China Terrace vineyard on the slopes of Bendigo, named after the original Chinese gold miners. This vineyard has quite a lot of clay and this combined with extra time on skins and more whole bunch, results in quite a dense style of Pinot Noir. Bold, succulent with layers of flavours. 19.5/20 Raymond Chan; 5 Stars Michael Cooper
Retail $69.99   Special $59.99
 
Gibbston Valley Glenlee Pinot Noir 2014        
From the closely planted (6,000 vines per ha) Glenlee station vineyard in Gibbston. A savoury/meaty wine with earthy minerality (wet wool), thyme infused plum fruits, liquorice .. a Pinot Noir of character and personality.19/20 Raymond Chan; 4 1/2 Stars Michael Cooper  
Retail $69.99   Special $59.99
 
Gibbston Valley Collection Pinot Noir 2015     
A brand new release with a new label - gone is the old black look. This seems to have more energy and precision then the 2014 and perhaps a touch sweeter fruited, spice notes with hints dark truffle. A very good wine 
Retail $49.99   Special $39.99
 
Gibbston Valley Le Maitre Pinot Noir 2015      
From the original home block in Gibbston, planted by pioneer Alan Brady in 1984 and now certified organic. The label is a homage to him. This has a deep colour with great intensity of classic black cherry fruits on the nose. On the palate there is elegance, super fine tannins and great 'pinosity'. 19.5 /20 Raymond Chan; 5 Stars and potential Classic Michael Cooper 
Retail $99.99   Special $83.99

Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Aug 10, 2016
Vino Fino

From the Tastings: Framingham with Andrew Hedley

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Riesling has been at the heart of Framingham since its inception. The Framingham vineyard was first planted with Riesling vines in 1981 with the fruit going to other wineries. The first wine from the Framingham label was a 1994 Riesling. Self-confessed Riesling lover, winemaker Andrew Hedley joined Framingham in 2001. These days Sauvignon Blanc pays the bills, but Riesling remains a passion. Framingham always produce a stunning range across the styles – from dry to immensely sweet and any conversation regarding New Zealand’s top Riesling producer always includes Framingham. But as this tasting showed it isn’t just about the Riesling. Across the range these are all very good wines – the Chardonnay being one of my personal favourites.
Thanks Andrew – we’ll try and get Andrew back with some of the German and Austrian wines he imports. 


Riesling has been at the heart of Framingham since its inception. The Framingham vineyard was first planted with Riesling vines in 1981 with the fruit going to other wineries. The first wine from the Framingham label was a 1994 Riesling. Self-confessed Riesling lover, winemaker Andrew Hedley joined Framingham in 2001. These days Sauvignon Blanc pays the bills, but Riesling remains a passion. Framingham always produce a stunning range across the styles – from dry to immensely sweet and any conversation regarding New Zealand’s top Riesling producer always includes Framingham. But as this tasting showed it isn’t just about the Riesling. Across the range these are all very good wines – the Chardonnay being one of my personal favourites.
Thanks Andrew – we’ll try and get Andrew back with some of the German and Austrian wines he imports. 



Vino Fino

Framingham F-Series Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Quite herbaceous - almost lime sherbert on the nose with mouth watering acidity. Although hand harvested from a small site, 65-70% naturally fermented in old barrels (10% on skins) and left on the lees for 11 months to enhance palate weight this has finesse and delicacy. 
Retail $34.99 Special $29.99
 
Framingham Chardonnay 2015
Flavours of yellow fruits - especially stonefruits - yellow plum, peach, papaya, melon with just a hint of smokiness and a hint of oak and creaminess. Well balanced, this is just such an enjoyable, easy natured Chardonnay
Retail $25.99 Special $19.99
 
Framingham Pinot Gris 2015
The fruit is picked late in the season with some fermented in stainless and some naturally fermented in older oak. The model is a textural Alsace style with warm weighty pear and spice flavours with just a hint of sweetness at 8gms rs and 13.5% alc.
Retail $25.99 Special $19.99
 
Framingham F-Series Gewürztraminer 2015
The F Series are hand-crafted, limited release wines. There were only 150 cases of this wine made for example.
Organically grown estate fruit was virtually all (80%) fermented in old barrels. Late harvested ​- a 12% "vendange tardive" component with some botrytis adds interest (18 gms rs). A soft, gentle style with ginger, apricaot flavours. As Andrew said .. "this matches more with pork than hot spicy Thai." Elegant and delicious.
Retail $34.99 Special $29.99
 
Framingham Pinot Noir 2014
As Andrew says this is a light "more feminine - charming, elegant, fragrant" style.  A light ruby hue with raspberry, red cherry with some savoury elements.   
Retail $30.99 Special $24.99
 
Framingham F-Series Old Vine Riesling 2015
This is Framingham's dry Riesling (less than 5gms rs). "A more old world style wine with more texture and complexity compared to the pure styles of Riesling we make for the Framingham bottling. A little bit of extra hang time on our oldest vines, hand harvested, bunch pressed with no juice clarification, fermented with uninoculated yeasts and left on lees for 11 months prior to bottling". Quite an incredible wine with pure lime and citrus flavours; mineraly and energetic. As Andrew says, "this is full of stuff. And acidity + stuff = balance" Benchmark dry style of Riesling. 
Retail $39.99 Special $34.99
 
Framingham Classic Riesling 2014
Classic by name. Classic by nature. A late pick, off-dry Spatlese style with no botrytis. The flavours are ripe orange/mandarin citrus with salivating acidity. The residual sweetness in this wine is around 17gms with 12% alcohol.
Retail $25.99 Special $19.99
 
Framingham Select Riesling 2016
This is from hand-picked, bunch selection fruit and has only been botlled about a week  when we tasted it. Floral and pretty - there are definite notes of white flowers - honeysuckle, limes, liquid sherbert and again that salivating acidity which balances the around 68gms rs with 8.5% alcohol. Perfect with spicy Thai.
Retail $36.99 Special $31.99
 
Framingham Noble Riesling 2016
This was a tank sample of the about to be released wine. A beerenauslse style with botrytis affected, berry selected fruit. A ridiculous wine - almost syrup, concentrated but balanced by a pure line of acidity that makes the wine dance on the palate. A piece of vinous magic.
Retail $42.99 Special $37.99(pre -release orders taken)

Wednesday, August 03, 2016
Aug 03, 2016
Vino Fino

From the Tastings: James Millton

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Establishing Millton wines in Gisborne in 1984 was really a leap into the unknown for James and Annie Millton. At that time Gisborne was New Zealand's leading wine region ... for volume - the home of cask wine. Only Denis Urwin of Matewhero was really challenging the boundaries. That is, until the Milltons arrived. Inspired by the great wines of Europe and the bio-dynamic philosophes of Rudolf Steiner, they set about establishing New Zealand's first organic winery. 30 plus years on, the wines defy the challenges of the region's variable climate, finding their own sense of place. These are wines that tell their own story. I can recall visiting the winery a number of years ago and it was the first time I had ever been able to taste the vineyard and winery in the wines - the smells; the feel.... to me this was real 'terrior'.
The tasting was, as it always is with James, very evocative, weaving the sense of place; the grapes; the winemaking; the colour; space; time.. into each wine. These wines do not exist in isolation and you really can taste this completeness. And never one to sit back, the wines and styles are continually evolving with newer varieties making their way into the mix including  (although we didn't taste this) a natural orange wine. As James said, "before a wine is great, it must be true.." These wines are very true...

I quote James quite a lot in these tasting notes as I just love his descriptions.

Vino Fino


Establishing Millton wines in Gisborne in 1984 was really a leap into the unknown for James and Annie Millton. At that time Gisborne was New Zealand's leading wine region ... for volume - the home of cask wine. Only Denis Urwin of Matewhero was really challenging the boundaries. That is, until the Milltons arrived. Inspired by the great wines of Europe and the bio-dynamic philosophes of Rudolf Steiner, they set about establishing New Zealand's first organic winery. 30 plus years on, the wines defy the challenges of the region's variable climate, finding their own sense of place. These are wines that tell their own story. I can recall visiting the winery a number of years ago and it was the first time I had ever been able to taste the vineyard and winery in the wines - the smells; the feel.... to me this was real 'terrior'.
The tasting was, as it always is with James, very evocative, weaving the sense of place; the grapes; the winemaking; the colour; space; time.. into each wine. These wines do not exist in isolation and you really can taste this completeness. And never one to sit back, the wines and styles are continually evolving with newer varieties making their way into the mix including  (although we didn't taste this) a natural orange wine. As James said, "before a wine is great, it must be true.." These wines are very true...

I quote James quite a lot in these tasting notes as I just love his descriptions.

Vino Fino



Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2015  
Chenin Blanc is a persoanl passion for James. In the early 1980s, whilst other producers of the region were producing Chenin Blanc for cask wine, James set about emulating the great Chenins of Vourvray. He has more than succeeded with this and the Chenin Blancs Millton produce are world class. Close your eyes - What colour is this? James asks. Pink. Off dry, sec-tendre  with dried spice, dried fruit,apple favours with an earthiness. It evokes what James calls - oishi (Japanese for deliciousness)  Couldn't agree more.   
Retail $32.99   Special $29.99
 
Clos de Ste Anne Chenin Blanc 2014 
The Clos de Ste Anne wines are the pinnacle of Millton wines and all come the 12ha Clos ste Anne vineyard located on the slopes inland from the coastal plains of Gisborne. This Chenin is a much bigger wine than the Te Arai. Grown on clay soils, and fermented in 600l barrels this is quite rich and dense. Golden in colour this has a hint of caramel cream to go with the autumnal fruits. James - "there's a lot of noise going on here."
95/100 - Bob Campbell MW; 5 Stars - Michael Cooper 
Retail $80.99   Special $69.99
 
Riverpoint Vineyard Viognier 2014      
Millton Vineyards were the first in New Zealand to gain Biogro Certification and also one of the first to get a real handle on Viognier. They are one of New Zealand's foremost producers of the variety and the proof is in the bottle. This is a wine full of personality that will partner all sorts of flavoursome foods.  Hand harvested and fermented in a combination of 300 litre French oak barrels and stainless steel tank, using native yeasts. There's a skin fermented portion and a little Marsanne added into the blend providing an element of depth and richness to this wine.​ Grown near the coast this has a distinct brakish, sea-salt, earthy nutty character. 
Retail $28.99   Special $19.99
 
Clos de Ste Anne Viognier 2014         
Being grown inland, this is quite a different wine to the Riverpoint. There is a real sense of warmth to this wine - not as in heat, but friendliness and sunshine with a bready, sweet herb, fennel savouriness. "The texture gives warmth to these aromas like satin sheet.  It is cosy and relaxed, walking on a crunchy shingle pathway through a flower garden on a summers' afternoon."
95/100 - Bob Campbell MW; 5 Stars - Michael Cooper
Retail $64.99   Special $55.99
 
Crazy By Nature Shotberry Chardonnay 2014
“In 1984 they thought we were crazy to grow our grapes naturally. We’ve spent the last thirty years proving that they were right! Now, it seems everybody wants to be crazy, and that’s just what this planet needs. Crazy by Nature – makes perfect sense.”
Made with Mendoza clone fruit with 14.99% of Viognier and Marsanne. "This tastes yellow with the feel of linen." The label may suggest a hint of folly, but this is really very good with quite a full, rich palate. The Viognier and Marsanne add base notes to the high notes of the Chardonnay.
Retail $21.99   Special $15.99

Opou Vineyard Chardonnay 2014       
This dances a bit more on the palate with darker yellow flavours - nectarine fruit, oatmeal and honey. Fullsome and textural.
Retail $30.99   Special $21.99

Clos de Ste Anne Chardonnay 2014   
A fine, almost ethereal style - James describes it as a Stiletto heel rather than the 'fluffy slipper that is the Opou
Hand picked fruit from 25+yo vines on the Naboths vineyard in the Clos Ste Anne. Whole bunch pressed fruit, naturally fermented with no malolactic combined with the vineyard's natural minerality give the wine a sense of precision, yet mouthfilling.   
97/100 - Bob Campbell MW, 5 Stars - Michael Cooper, 5 Stars Raymond Chan
Retail $80.99   Special $69.99

La Cote Pinot Noir 2014          
Gisborne and Pinot Noir don't usually go together. But we are talking about Millton and Jame's ability to challenge conventional wisdom. Millton's Pinot noirs turn expectations of variety and where it maybe from on its head. This La Cote’ is a section of the Clos de Ste Anne vineyard, situated on steep northeast facing slopes. "I look to the old world for inspiration with Pinot Noir. I don’t want a big fruit bomb, nor a dark wine with blocky oak tannin. I want delicacy and a subtle memory that can accompany aromatic foods with flavour”. This suceeds. 
Retail $31.99   Special $27.99

Clos de Ste Anne Pinot Noir 2014       
This comes from older plantings off the original Naboth’s Vineyard as well as a new collection of modern clones from a planting further along the slope called “La Pouche”. "There is a lifted ethereal perfume of currants, forest floor and thorny rosehips, interwoven with the dried stems of fescue, fennel and wildflowers, the richness of ripe black doris plum and dark fruits enhancing the higher notes. Midway through the taste there is a sweet but gripping tannin grain which will allow this wine to age for time to come.  A sense of a limestone streak of minerality lifts the wonder." 
95/100 - Jamie Goode; 93/100 - Sam Kim, 5 Stars Raymond Chan
Retail $64.99   Special $55.99

Clos Samuel Viognier 2013 375ml      
Botrytis affected viognier fruit from the Te Arai Riverpoint vineyard. "Delicate to pick and exotic to taste. A delight to experience the whole meal through. From the beginning with cos salad, pan seared pancetta, honey roasted walnuts and a squeeze of lemon, to a dense terrine with dates and crostini, duck breast and vincotto. Then finally with something as simple as panacotta, it is delightful. Sweet, warm and nutty with a whiff of caramel and wild honey. The very special attribute about sweet wines from Viognier is that they don’t need to rest on the primary characters of sweetness and acidity. It is more about texture and mouth feel similar to chocolate, or the density of clay as a face pack. Try this wine, it is amazing! Serve chilled."
Retail $36.99   Special $31.99