Wednesday, May 17, 2017
May 17, 2017
Vino Fino

From the tastings - Escarpment with Larry McKenna

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Larry McKenna is widely recognised as the winemaker who introduced New Zealand to quality Pinot Noir - he is often referred to as the "God Father"  or "Prince" of Pinot Noir in New Zealand for his history of the variety here. Originally from Australia Larry started in NZ in the early 1980s with John Hancock at Delegats in Auckland. In 1986 he shifted to the new area of Martinborough as the inaugural winemaker for Martinborough Vineyards. In 1998 he established Escarpment. He was inducted into the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame in 2014.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Larry has continued refining, developing his style of Martinborough Pinot Noir. Tonight's tasting was showcasing the 2015 vintage Insight wines. The model for the Insight series is Burgundian, with the emphasis on small batch, single site wines. The 2015 wines are all exceptional, with subtle and not so subtle differences between them. Preference will always come down to personal tastes but these are examples of not only Martinborough's or New Zealand's greatest Pinot Noir but world class wines. The wine world in the USA was surprised when the 2013 Kupe Pinot Noir was rated number 7 in the Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines of the year (an outstanding result as the Top 100 is selected from the 1000's of wines tasted during the year from around the world and is the highest ever rated New Zealand wine to make the list.)
    


 

Larry McKenna is widely recognised as the winemaker who introduced New Zealand to quality Pinot Noir - he is often referred to as the "God Father"  or "Prince" of Pinot Noir in New Zealand for his history of the variety here. Originally from Australia Larry started in NZ in the early 1980s with John Hancock at Delegats in Auckland. In 1986 he shifted to the new area of Martinborough as the inaugural winemaker for Martinborough Vineyards. In 1998 he established Escarpment. He was inducted into the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame in 2014.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Larry has continued refining, developing his style of Martinborough Pinot Noir. Tonight's tasting was showcasing the 2015 vintage Insight wines. The model for the Insight series is Burgundian, with the emphasis on small batch, single site wines. The 2015 wines are all exceptional, with subtle and not so subtle differences between them. Preference will always come down to personal tastes but these are examples of not only Martinborough's or New Zealand's greatest Pinot Noir but world class wines. The wine world in the USA was surprised when the 2013 Kupe Pinot Noir was rated number 7 in the Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines of the year (an outstanding result as the Top 100 is selected from the 1000's of wines tasted during the year from around the world and is the highest ever rated New Zealand wine to make the list.)
    


 

Vino Fino

Escarpment Riesling 2013
Larry introduced this wine with the usual 'Why don't we drink more Riesling.."  And tasting this, you have to wonder why Riesling seems to be the forgotten variety. No excuses for wondering if it is dry or not - Larry uses the Riesling scale on the back label where it clearly  states this is dry. 2013 was a nice warm vintage and he was able to ferment the wine to virtual dryness (6g/l rs) whilst keeping the alcohol relatively low at 12%. Refreshing classic citrus, lemon fruits with a hint of aged character coming through. This would work well as an aperitif style as well as with food.        
Retail $25.99   Special $18.99
 
Escarpment Pinot Gris 2014 
Larry is certainly not a fan of the 'beverage wine' style of Pinot Gris. For him the wine needs, like Chardonnay, to have some wine-making input to give added textural elements. Aged in old Chardonnay barrels (some over 10 years old) with plenty of lees contact for around 12 months. The result is a wine with spicy, earthy, orange /citrus, bartlett pear flavours. Dry with a slightly oily texture and finishing long. 
Retail $27.99   Special $21.99
 
Escarpment Chardonnay 2014          
Larry has an even longer history with Chardonnay than he does with Pinot noir. From his early days at Delegats in the early 1980's, to Martinborough Vineyards Larry has had a hand in some of New Zealand's most famous Chardonnays. The move to screwcaps has aided the Escarpment style. Larry has never been afraid of a little oxidative character to enhance the palate. This 2014 also has some beautifully managed flinty, gunsmoke flavours. The style is tending to 1er Cru Chablis with some green herb, mineral hints and any overt creaminess pulled back. Best Escarpment Chardonnay for quite some time. 
Retail $33.99   Special $26.99
 
Escarpment Kupe Chardonnay 2015
The Kupe Chardonnay is from the same single old vine block that provides the fruit for the Pahi Pinot Noir. Much denser and ripely fruit than the "Escarpment 2014". Ripe fig, marmalade, smokey and rich. There's a nutty savoury and mineral finish. Superb Chardonnay. 
Retail $53.99   Special $42.99
 
Escarpment Pinot Noir 2014 
The Escarpment is what Larry calls his 'regional' blend. 2014 was a long, warm vintage with the grapes able to be picked in perfect condition. Hand harvested and wild fermented , 50% whole bunch with the wine spending 19 days on skins, and aged 11 months in 30% new French oak barrels. There is a savouriness about this with a mix of red and black fruits and a hint of olive. Mouthfilling with substantial ripe tannins. There is a huge amount of Pinot pleasure to be had from this.
Retail $54.99   Special $39.99
 
Escarpment Pahi Pinot Noir 2015     
From the McCreanor block in Princess St, Martinborough; 28 yo  vines naturally  fermented  with 50% whole bunch, 30% new oak aged for 18 months. Unfortunately due to a vineyard ownership change this may be the last Pahi released. Quite perfumed with dark fresh plum and a hint of red fruits. Quite floral and aromatic. Medium bodied with a coating of lacey acidity around the core of fruit and then the tannins grounding the finish.
Retail $71.99   Special $64.99
 
Escarpment Kiwa Pinot Noir 2015     
 Also 28 year old vines, this from the Cleland vineyard on Cambridge Rd Made similarly to the Pahi, 50% whole bunch, but with a bit more time of skins and a bit more new oak (40%). This shows as being a bit more savoury and earthy then the glazed cherry elements come through on the back palate. Beguiling, intriguing, gorgeous. 
Retail $71.99   Special $64.99
 
Escarpment Te Rehua Pinot Noir 2015        
The vines here are 23 years old, from the Barton Vineyard , Haungarua Rd about 1/2 km out of Martinborough on the alluvial soils. The vineyard is quite sheltered and is the first to ripen.The time on skins is the longest  of the Pinot Noirs at 24 days; has 65% whole bunch, but less new oak (30%). My notes were succinct  - dense, solid, big, rich, ripe. Impressive wine.     
Retail $71.99   Special $64.99
 
Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir 2015    
This is from Escarpment's own vineyard, planted in 1999. Here the vines are much more densely planted than the older vineyards at around 7,000 vines/ha, but the yield from each vine is around 1/2 at 1kg per vine. 50% new oak and 70% whole bunch. This is a stunning wine and probably even better than the 2013 which was awarded the number 7 best wine of the year in the USA Wine Spectator 2015. There is sensual density and weight, yet the palate just floats and again like the Te Rehua a cloud of fine tannin coats the finish. Really quite a monster Pinot Noir that should be cellared for a few years, but like all great wine, beautiful now.
Retail $92.99   Special $82.99

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
May 10, 2017
Vino Fino

From the Tastings: A Tour of Spain

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AJ Thomson has developed a wine importing business over the past few years concentrating on French and Italian wines. Tonight's tasting was to showcase some of his recent additions to his portfolio from across Spain. AJ was supposed to present the tasting, but an unlucky accident on Monday night resulted in him ending up in hospital with a broken neck - sounds horrific and it is, but luckily for AJ no nerve damage and he should make a full recovery after a few months. So whilst missing the personal touch from AJ, but plenty of help from google, we presented the tasting ourselves.  
We tasted wines from 7 different regions of Spain - quite diverse styles and wines.

AJ Thomson has developed a wine importing business over the past few years concentrating on French and Italian wines. Tonight's tasting was to showcase some of his recent additions to his portfolio from across Spain. AJ was supposed to present the tasting, but an unlucky accident on Monday night resulted in him ending up in hospital with a broken neck - sounds horrific and it is, but luckily for AJ no nerve damage and he should make a full recovery after a few months. So whilst missing the personal touch from AJ, but plenty of help from google, we presented the tasting ourselves.  
We tasted wines from 7 different regions of Spain - quite diverse styles and wines.


Vino Fino

Maset MIM Cava Reserve Brut
Based in the Penedes region just south of Barcelona, Maset del Lleo have been making wines and Cava (Spanish methode champenoise) for almost 250 years. In the last 30 years they have been the biggest direct sales to consumer (through telephone sales based business)  wine seller in Spain, and are now expanding into export markets.
A blend of the traditional Spanish varieties of Macabeo, Xarel·lo and Parellada aged for 15 months for secondary bottle fermentation. This has a fine bead with floral,citrus and light toast and a hint of lemon cream on the dry finish. A very pleasant Cava that offers drinkability, flavour and great value.              
Retail $22.99       Special $18.99
 
Valtea
Albariño 2015
The increasingly popular variety Albariño has its home in the region of Rías Baixas located in the Galicia region of northwestern Spain. Here the climate is relatively cool and damp (not unlike parts of NZ).  This wine is produced by the small, family owned vineyard and winery; Valtea, located in a beautiful valley overlooking the Mino River and within a stone’s throw of Portugal. Hand harvested fruit is gentle pressed and fermented cool in stainless steel, preserving the fruit flavours. Dry with floral, melons and spice flavours with a hint of nuttiness on the finish.  
Retail $25.99       Special $21.99
 
Enate 234 Chardonnay 2015
The Somontano wine region in Spain is one of the lesser known wine growing areas in the country. Nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees several hours northwest of Barcelona around the historic town of Barbastro, this small area is well known for the quality of its wines which are heavily influenced by its warm days and colder nights. Here the newer vineyards have been planted with more international varieties - Chardonnay, Sauvingon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah as well as the traditional Spanish. This is an un-oaked Chardonnay that has plenty of peach, apricot and even a hint of spicy florals. Quite rich and mouthfilling, this is quite a distinct style that was enjoyed by many of the tasters.               
Retail $25.99       Special $21.99
 
Maset Reserva Tempranillo 2012
100% Tempranillo aged for 12 months in oak and a further 36 months in bottle before release. Plummy, slightly ageing characters with earthy spice flavours. Medium bodied and well integrated.               
Retail $25.99       Special $21.99
 
Chivite Gran Feudo Vinas Viejas 2010
Produced by Bodegas Chivite who are one of Spain’s most recognised names. Based in the region of Navarra just to the east of Rioja. Tempranillo with some Grenache, produced a special selection of 30+ year old vines, aged in French and American oak for 18 months. Moderately dark in colour with black cherry fruits and smokey oak and good drive. Plenty of palate interest. A good wine.
Retail $27.99       Special $23.99
 
Enate Crianza 2012
This is a relatively unusual blend for Spanish wines. Here Enate have used the traditional Tempranillo with Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a combination that works well. Aged in barrel for a period of nine months; the Cabernet Sauvignon in French oak and the Tempranillo in American oak. Quite dark with a bit of bricking of colour. There is a meatiness to this dark fruited, savoury wine with a real presence and good length.                  
Retail $25.99       Special $21.99
 
Pena del Valle Barrica 2014
Bodegas Pena del Valle is a collaboration between two childhood friends; Juan de Valle and Miguel  Garcias de la Pena from Tierra de Barros in the wine producing region of Extramadurra, in Spain’s remote southwest. This is an area that is now being ‘discovered’ by new innovative winemakers. This is a blend of Garnacha (Grenache) and Syrah, aged for 10 months in oak. Almost black in the glass, with the fruit flavours in the same spectrum - black berry fruits, liquorice, spice. This has nicely tuned, fine grain tannins and a bit of toasty oak on the finish. Pretty good!                
Retail $24.99       Special $20.99
 
Bodegas Perica 6 Cepas Tinto   
Based in San Ansensio, in Rioja Alta, this high quality winery has been operating for over 100 years. With 140 acres of its own vineyards spread throughout Rioja Alta, they also source fruit from throughout the Rioja region. This is the wineries’ take on a modern Rioja - aged for 6 months in French oak with a funky screen printed label. Quite fruit forward with some nice dusty tannin in the background.   
Retail $37.99       Special $31.99

Bodegas Ateca ​Atteca Old Vine Garnacha 2014
Bodegas Ateca has its headquarters in the village of Ateca, in the province of Zaragoza, fourteen km away from Calatayud. The gnarly old vines of Garnacha are planted on the hillsides at about 3,000 ft above sea level. This is a big, dark, juicy wine filled with sweet dark cherry, red and black liquorice and hints of orange peel, and a faint herbal note on the nicely dry finish. Quite an impressive wine that was the favourite of the night.               
Retail $32.99       Special $27.99
 
Maset del Lleo 1777 Reserva 2009
The presentation on this, Maset's top wine, is impressive. Each bottle is hand labelled, with the  wine details hand-written and individually numbered. The top is then sealed with wax and wrapped in sacking cloth. 100% Tempranillo aged for a number of years in French oak. The result is an aged wine of finesse. The red fruit flavours are changing into the more mellow, savoury spectrum with nice aged balsamic hints. Again a very good wine.  
Retail $42.99       Special $36.99


Wednesday, May 03, 2017
May 03, 2017
Vino Fino

From the tastings: Steve Bennett MW

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“A Few of My Favourite Things” - Presented at Vino Fino 26 April 2017
A selection of wine-styles from France, Spain, NZ and Australia 
Selected by Steve Bennett MW

Steve Bennett has been importing wines from around the world, and particularly Europe for a number of years. Many of the wines have become established names (think El Burro, Rojo, Arriba..) However, utilising his Master of Wine contacts he continues to add many new, different and exciting wines to his portfolio. Tonight afforded Steve the opportunity to show some of his favourites. An eclectic mix but all very good, presented in Steve's humorous inimitable manner. This was an excellent tasting with all the wines tasting very well. Of note was Steve's own Kairos Sauvignon Blanc 2009 which he served blind. Amazingly fresh but with some aged textural nuances that led most tasters to think it must be European. 

“A Few of My Favourite Things” - Presented at Vino Fino 26 April 2017
A selection of wine-styles from France, Spain, NZ and Australia 
Selected by Steve Bennett MW

Steve Bennett has been importing wines from around the world, and particularly Europe for a number of years. Many of the wines have become established names (think El Burro, Rojo, Arriba..) However, utilising his Master of Wine contacts he continues to add many new, different and exciting wines to his portfolio. Tonight afforded Steve the opportunity to show some of his favourites. An eclectic mix but all very good, presented in Steve's humorous inimitable manner. This was an excellent tasting with all the wines tasting very well. Of note was Steve's own Kairos Sauvignon Blanc 2009 which he served blind. Amazingly fresh but with some aged textural nuances that led most tasters to think it must be European. 


Vino Fino

Champagne Paul Louis Martin ‘Bouzy Grand Cru’ NV -Reims, France
The Paul Louis Martin Champagne House has been family owned and run since 1864. A single vineyard Estate of just 10ha  in the Grand Cru Village of Bouzy, Montagne de Reims, home to great  Pinot Noir. Paul Louis Martin’s daughter Francine Martin-Rapeneau, aided by her son Vincent, as taken over and they remain fervent about the quality of their champagne. The wines from the Montage de Reims have much more weight, and power than those from La Côte des Blancs. While they are still excellent as an aperitif being more rich and robust in style they are able to stand up to a much wider variety of food accompaniments. 60% Pinot Noir – 40% Chardonnay “Bouzy” is one of the top quality villages in Champagne’s Montagne de Reims and is well known for rich, full bodied, intensely toasty wines like this one – a star.” 18.5/20 www.joellethomson.com. 94/100 Dan Murphys
Retail $79.99 Special $67.99

The Cup & Rings Godello  2015 by Norrel Robertson MW -  D.O. Monterrei, Spain 
The Cup and Rings Godello is a joint project between Norrel Robertson MW and Terras do Cigarrón in Monterrei, Galicia, and is named after the prehistoric, carved stone design commonly found in Galicia and in Norrel's original home of Scotland. Hand-harvested from separate pickings of a large, single vineyard called Villar de Vos which has great difference in soil types from laderas de pizarra to soils composed of silt, sand, clay and alluvial wash from the River Támega which runs through the heart of the DO. The climate is a unique mix of continental and Atlantic influences which create the perfect environment for the production of high quality Godello grapes which are pre-chilled to 10ºC then gently crushed using only the lightest free run juice. The juice is then gently settled before fermentation in stainless steel with Burgundian yeast strains which tends to favour lees ageing and mouthfeel. A 20% portion is also fermented in old large French oak barrels at ambient temperatures of 18 to 19ºC. The two portions of wine are then brought together and the wine receives lees stirring for a further 6 months before filtration and bottling. 'Charming, inviting wine." Tom Cannavan wine-pages.com 90/100 Decanter Magazine
Retail $26.99 Special $23.99
 
Kairos Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Served Blind)
Steve's own label. He sourced the fruit from a vineyard on the stoney soils of the Wairau Valley. Naturally fermented in 6-8 yo oak - the ferment took nearly 2 years to complete! This has developed into a really intriguing, interesting wine with wild herb, vanilla custard tones. It is a wine that sits on the palate for you to contemplate its flavours and textures. Steve described it as "NZ Sauvignon Blanc on a 'Survivor show'" - a sinuey, wild and a bit wooly. I loved it and it is a pity we only have about a dozen bottles left. 
Gold Medal & Trophy Winner, 5 Stars Bob Campbell MW
Retail $32.99 Special $23.99
 
Montsable Chardonnay 2015 - Pays d’Oc, France
The wines of Montsablé are inspired by the desire to craft elegant Burgundian varietals in the sunny climate of Languedoc in the south of France. Working with growers in the cooler Puisserguier vineyards of the Saint Chinian area of Languedoc - a landscape of high hills, shallow chalky soils and controlled yields to seek out fruit that delivers pure flavours and great balance. In the winery, the must is lightly clarified before fermentation in order to express the varietal aromas of the Chardonnay and the fruit is handled carefully with maturation on fine lees in stainless steel vats for a part of the cuvee to build texture and mouthfeel. Only 20% of the wine is aged in French oak to add just the most subtle of seasoning. The result is a Chardonnay with great palate weight, bright fruit and texture.
Metro Top 50 Wines of Summer 2016, 4 stars Raymond Chan
Retail $24.99 Special $19.99

The Cup & Rings' Mencia  2014 by Norrel Robertson MW - D.O. Bierzo, Spain
Vineyards are located in the valleys between the villages of Corullon, Villafranca del Bierzo and Cacabelos. Very complex soils ranging from alluvial clays and stones at the valley floor to granite and schist higher up on the slopes. Bush vine Mencia , hand harvested , crushed and destemmed. Temp controlled alcoholic fermentation to 28 degrees celcius for 7 days with plunging and delistage for colour and tannin extraction followed by a short maceration. Pressed off skins using only free run wine followed by full malolactic fermentation. 91/100 Falstaff Magazine. “The Pinot Noir of Spain” - Drinks Business
Retail $26.99 Special $23.99
 
Mont Rocher Carignan ‘Vielles Vignes’ 2014 - Pays d’Herault, France
Carignan was the single most common vine variety planted in France until it was overtaken by Merlot at the end of the 20th century, yet many wine drinkers have never heard of it. Carignan's origins are presumed Spanish and as a late-ripening variety is only suited to warm climates. This wine is a project of 2 UK Masters of Wine, Giles Cooke and Feargal Tynon whose aim is to produce modern drinkable wines from indigenous varieties. Sourced from small parcels of old vines the grapes are destemmed and crushed. The fermentation is carried out at controlled temperature, around 23°C. The ageing is carried out in tanks with a small amount of French oak staves to add more complexity and roundness to the blend with a third of the wine aged in barrels for 3 months to add softness. The resulting wine is extremely tasty, eminently drinkable and extremely affordable. Metro Top 50 Wines of Winter 2017
Retail $18.99 Special $14.99 
 
Gran Familia Rioja Reserva 2011 - D.O.C. Rioja Alta Spain
Gran Familia Rioja Reserva comes from Bodegas Castillo de Fuenmayor, located near Briones at the heart of Rioja Alta. This winery belongs to a family with one of the longest traditions in Rioja winemaking and our winemaker has access to some of the finest wines in Rioja.  The 2008 vintage is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 10% Garnacha and is made from vines with an average age of 25 years which are grown in premium Rioja Alta vineyards with soils composed of clay and limestone. The wine is aged for a total of three years, with at least 12 months in oak barrels. Selection of barrels is of particular importance in Rioja where oak is such a critical element in winemaking. For Gran Familia we chose to put 50% of the wine into American oak barrels and 50% into French oak barrels. This results in the perfect balance of fruit and oak flavours.
Metro Top 50 Wines of Winter 2017, 4 Stars Joelle Thomson, 4 Stars Bob Campbell MW
Retail $24.99 Special $19.99 
 
Thorny Devil Single Vineyard, Old Vine, Dry Grown Grenache 2014 - Barossa, Australia
"Two UK-based Masters of Wine - Giles Cooke and Fergal Tynan have joined forces with winemaker Peter Leske in this international venture based out of the former Nepenthe winery in the Adelaide Hills. Named after aa little lizardy fellow called a Thorny Devil which is found in the vineyard. With Grenache, they were looking to use Pinot Noir winemaking techniques to maximise fruit purity, texture and finesse rather than making just another rich red wine. The fruit was gently crushed to retain as many whole berries as possible before a cold soak prior to fermentation. Fermentation began naturally and hand plunging twice a day was carried out through to dryness. Gently pressed off skins before 10 months lees age in old French oak hogsheads. The resulting wine has the characteristic Barossa punch but there is a beguiling texture and perfume that keeps you interested.
“Really quite perfumed and also very delicate on the palate. This certainly doesn't taste anything like a 15 percenter. Very beautiful texture and freshness. Entertaining fruit and very succulent. No jamminess. Bravo! Really super charming. Maybe Barossa has something to teach Châteauneuf?”
Jancis Robinson MW Favourite New Wave Grenache
92/100 Jamie Goode, 92/100 - The Wine Front, Gary Walsh , 91/100 – James Suckling,
Metro Top 50 Wines for Winter 2017,
Retail $32.99 Special $27.99 

No Stone Unturned ‘Old Vines’ 2012 by Ed Adams Master of Wine - D.O. Terra Alta, Spain 
Garnacha 62% Cariñena 23% Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah 15%. The wine comes from the very best plots of Pepe Fuster’s stone covered 26 hectare vineyard in Terra Alta in Catalonia, north-eastern Spain. The Garnacha vines are nearly 50 years old and this age gives the wine great concentration and complexity of dark, spicy, blackberry fruit which has been seasoned and enhanced by 10 months in the finest new Dargaud & Jaegle oak barrels from France. No Stone Unturned is a big, serious wine which is ripe and juicy enough to be enjoyed now but will also last a good 8-10 years in bottle.
Gold Medal Wine & Spirit Asia Wine Challenge 2014. Decanter World Wine Awards 2014 - Commended
Retail $44.99 Special $28.99 

 

Tuesday, May 02, 2017
May 02, 2017
Vino Fino

Website Issues

Apologies if our website is slow to load. There have been issues with the Adobe server base in Australia over the past 2 days (totally out of our control) Their website assures us that they are working urgently to solve the problem. If you need to contact us please email (wine@vinofino.co.nz) or telephone (03) 3655134 Read More

Apologies if our website is slow to load. There have been issues with the Adobe server base in Australia over the past 2 days (totally out of our control) Their website assures us that they are working urgently to solve the problem. If you need to contact us please email (wine@vinofino.co.nz) or telephone (03) 3655134