02 February 2006

Boston Wine Expo notes pt. 1 -- New Zealand

Tasting notes from the Boston Wine Expo. Because of the rather large number of notes, the usual supplemental material has been eliminated; contact me if you have specific questions about a wine. Also, please keep in mind that this was a large, crowded tasting at which a certain efficiency was a necessity; these are notes based on short takes (except where noted), and not necessarily the ideal conditions in which to render definitive judgments.

Part 1 – New Zealand

Amisfield 2003 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – Cranberry, grapefruit rind and red cherry, with a light, smooth, and balanced palate but a short finish.

Babich 2004 “Unwooded” Chardonnay (Hawke’s Bay) – Fig and white plum, showing tropical fruit with nice acid and fantastic brightness.

Babich 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Clean and crisp, with apple and honeydew supported by great acidity. Balanced and nice.

Babich “Winemakers Reserve” 2004 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Gooseberry dominates this huge fruit bomb of a sauvignon, though there’s complexing sweat and grass throughout. What makes this wine, despite the whallop of fruit, is the balance, which is very nice.

Babich 2004 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – A shy nose, but it emerges retronasally as red plum, strawberry and red cherry supported by rich earth. It builds and fills out through the palate to a balanced, long finish. A fine effort.

Babich “Winemakers Reserve” 2004 Syrah Gimblett Road Vineyard (Hawke’s Bay) – Soupy, faded blackberry and leather. Too soft and restrained, and that soupy character is never welcome.

Kim Crawford 2004 “Dry” Riesling (Marlborough) – Clean, with aluminum siding and lemongrass, but a touch soft for a riesling.

Kim Crawford 2004 Pinot Gris (Marlborough) – Very soft, with pear skin and some fennel. Too light.

Kim Crawford 2004 “Unoaked” Chardonnay (Marlborough) – Peach, ripe lemon and a sour, overly tart finish.

Kim Crawford 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Green apple sorbet and sweet yet underripe grapefruit, again with an overall tartness that’s not entirely pleasant.

Kim Crawford 2004 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – Stewed, nasty Styrofoam and ash aromas. Ick.

Crossroads “Destination Series” 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Ripe gooseberry with flecks of steel. Balanced and clean.

Crossroads “Destination Series” 2001 Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon (Hawke’s Bay) – 12 months in French oak, 20% of it new. Soupy blueberry and milk chocolate with espresso oil and obtrusive green notes.

Crossroads “Destination Series” 2001 Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon (Hawke’s Bay) – A second bottle of the same wine. Smoother, with more black cherry, but still strongly green-herbed and no better than OK.

Dog Point 2003 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Ripe gooseberry and grassy herbs with lime and green apple. Vivid and strong, yet classy.

Grove Mill 2004 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Concentrated red fruit (strawberry, mostly) with lemon-lime and pink grapefruit. Extraordinarily ripe, but in a good way.

Huia 2004 Pinot Gris (Marlborough) – Lightly sweet and soft pear. Lovely, though very restrained.

Huia 2004 Gewürztraminer (Marlborough) – Vague suggestions of lychee and peach, with decent acidity. Similarly restrained.

Huia 2003 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Sweaty gooseberry and capsicum. Lighter-bodied.

Huia 2001 Chardonnay (Marlborough) – Restrained and balanced, showing calimyrna fig and big acidity. Nice enough.

Redcliffe 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Sweet pineapple, gooseberry and ripe apple. Nice, but commercial.

Sileni “Cellar Selection” 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Green apple dusted with sugar, gooseberry and tropical fruit that softens considerably on the finish. Dull.

Sileni “Cellar Selection” 2004 Chardonnay (Hawke’s Bay) – Shy on the nose, but the palate is pretty much the opposite of shy: tropical fruit (banana, mango, pineapple) with a syrupy texture at war with decent acidity. A little sticky, but tasty.

Sileni “Estate Selection” 2003 Semillon “The Circle” (Hawke’s Bay) – White pepper, sharp green apple, and armpit esters (not unusual for sémillon) with a clean, crisp and nicely long finish. Pretty good, with (albeit limited) aging potential.

Sileni “Cellar Selection” 2004 Rosé “Saignée” (New Zealand) – Red cherry and sour, sour strawberry. Yuck.

Sileni “Cellar Selection” 2004 Pinot Noir (Hawke’s Bay) – Not the typical source for New Zealand pinot noir, and maybe this shows why: it’s somewhat weedy and reductive and the same time, with mixed seed peppers and ashes burying mild red fruit.

Sileni “Cellar Selection” 2002 Merlot/Cabernet Franc (Hawke’s Bay) – Blueberry, bell pepper and exhaust fumes. Nasty and thin.

Sileni “Estate Selection” 2004 “Late Harvest” Semillon (Hawke’s Bay) – Pleasant sweetness layered with light green apple, kiwifruit, apple skin, and ripe tangerine…and there’s just enough acid to make it work.

Tohu 2004 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Ripe grapefruit, white plum and smoke with very light sweetness. Solid, if predictable, and a good value.

Tohu 2003 “Unoaked” Chardonnay (Gisborne) – Reductive, showing banana extract and not much else. Short and crisp, and more than a little synthetic. This is a step down for this wine.

Tohu 2004 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – A heavy nose, full of baked plums, golden beets and citrus rind. Surprisingly present for a 2004 pinot noir, but organoleptically about the same as previous years.

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