Matua 2012 Pinot Noir



I have been lurking around the lower end of the Pinor noir market, due to a chaotic year of employment, money has been scarce and unfortunately fine wine is something of a dream at the moment.

I saw a man while searching for a reasonably priced wine, frantically packing Matua Pinot Noir’s into his trolley without checking the vintage.

“They any good mate” I asked and he looked up and smiled.

“They love them at the restaurant, very popular, good colour” He said this smiling and confident.

This seemed like an unusually strong endorsement for a $13 bottle of wine, it sparked my curiosity not only about how he purchased his wine for his restaurant but what sort of customers he had and what they expected.

He took off and I stood staring at the bottle’s price for a long time, finally I just got it- how bad could it be?

Well the wine is interesting it’s aroma has very little to offer except a slight hint of oak and tiny hint of cherry.

My friend was correct about the colour, it has the beautiful deep glimmering Burgundy shade giving it true body. The flavour is saturated in an oakish tones, which conceals the intricate flavours of the Pinot, giving it maybe only three or four strong flavours.

It isn’t smooth, a little hard on the palette, it knocks your tongue around in a greenish overbearing way. This is undoubtedly the reason why it is so low in price, it is a hard working lower class New Zealander, lacking the delicate subtle charms of a wine from a higher strata.

Still, sometimes these wines are really the easiest to be around, they don’t drain your wallet are down to earth and have that cheeky New Zealand relaxed attitude.

The wines strength comes from its region, the fruit is grown in Marlborough and while their are plenty of New Zealand Marlborough wines on the cheaper end of the market that are really very bad,  I would not class this wine as one of them.

It does maybe lean on the mediocre side, but it shows that even the lower end of this market from New Zealand could easily outclass many higher priced Australian Pinot’s


Krinklewood 2010 Semillon


The weather had a touch of the apocalypse today, it was greenhouse humid -horrid sweaty and insect prone. I was aching for a nice white but unsure what to choose. The weather just had a touch of the ‘global warming’ to it; super typhoon Haiyan was ploughing through the Philippines and it felt imperative to get something that was conscious of it’s place in the environment.

The first thing I noticed about this Semillon is it’s aroma, it is very strong and full of heavy tones, almost Chardonnay but with that Sauvingon Blanc capsicum pungency. The aroma is, nutty with smoky tones that become hard to ignore while drinking it.

The flavours are subtle enough and enjoyable enough to counter act the effect of aroma, the lime is the strongest tone the more of the wine you taste the more it seems to be citrus rather than straw like; this leaves the impression that the wine has its own singular personality:  A quiet thinking type an individual separate from the crowd, a unique wine, something to make you ask a few questions about how things are done in the wine world.

The wine is, certified bio dynamic and the winery is ethical in the way it produces the wine. To some people this might not matter so much but I have worked in the Hunter Valley for a vineyard who really didn’t care much about environmental issues and who were totally corporate in their outlook in making wine.

It does in the end make a difference to the outcome of the wine, after all the grape is a plant and reacts to the environment around it, more care in how the vine is tended and consciousness about the wine making process can make all the difference in the wine.

The wine is not what I expected in a Semillon it was something that left me thinking about the variety of Semillon as a whole, which is more than you can expect from a wine these days.

McWilliam’s Blue Label Mount Pleasant Hunter Valley Semillon 2006


After working in the Hunter valley for a while it became clear that one variety stood tall and proud and exhibited the most intricate flavours that it garnered from the region.

Semillon is the Hunter Valley’s flagship variety, and I often found it odd how many people did not recognise this, locals and tourists alike.

The Hunter Valley geographically is not an obvious place that Semillon should excel, the region is prone to horrible fluctuations of weather, each year radically different weather has created some odd results that often is a surprise to those who try the wine.

The first thing you notice when you look at this wine is that beautiful, darker straw like colour, it’s age has given it this delicious tone that gives you hints about what flavours are in the glass.

It has a surprisingly dull aroma, you literally have to dunk your nose into the wine to collect any aromatic information. The best I could fathom was an obvious straw fragrance.

It’s flavours are subtle like the aroma, they lack a little complexity but make up for it by still exhibiting the peppery, lemon and straw like delicateness that is unusual for a wine at this age.

The wine lacks the heavy flavours that come with age, but they are emerging.

This is the sort of wine I would buy on bulk and even wait a little longer to see what happens, it seems to have a little time left on the clock and could even turn into (after 7 years) something that might really be worth trying.

I can’t help feel that there is a little secret here with this wine, that in it’s earlier incarnation 7 years ago over the counter it wasn’t really that impressive.

I am guessing a savvy winemaker made a wise decision to cellar this wine and has totally made the right decision.

You can for $21.95 (at Dan Murphys) have the privilege to enjoy a Semillon that most other Hunter Valley vineyards charge much more to enjoy.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2011


I have mixed feelings about the heavy flavours of the Chardonnay, the first taste of wine I ever experienced was a Chardonnay.

My mother handed me a plastic picnic glass, filled with cask Chardonnay the odd smell at that time reminded me of vinegar, sadly turning me off wine for much of my early drinking years.

Many have told me of the pleasures of the Chardonnay, but even within the wine fraternity the feelings are sometimes strained. The problem is not so much the fault of the poor Chardonnay grape, but the worrying force of the market or to be more blunt; popularity. The 80’s left plots of Chardonnay dotted all over Australia that even now vineyards eye with strange uncertainty.

This Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay, grown in the Adelaide hills has shrugged free the deep oak heaviness of the 80’s chardonnay. It reminds me a little of the mineral like Chablis, but with light straw and butterish flavours exhibiting beautiful peach and apricot tones, it has a overall honey effect with all the flavours combined.

The wine reminds me of a very nice Champagne like the Veuve, which has a very small percentage of Chardonnay.

The only negative is that you can still taste a little of that back palate bitterness, this is overtaken by the light and relaxed feel of this wine.

This is a wine that unexpectedly grabbed my attention, it oddly reminded me of a wine with some cellaring, much like a 6 year old (or older) Semillon.

Because of that cellared taste this wine gave me one of those wonderful experiences in life, that of finding a hidden and unexpected gem.

Nanny Goat Vineyard 2012 Pinot Noir


It was a Friday afternoon and I was aching for a wine, the first few sips slipped around my tongue and I felt a smooth velvet shot of pure pleasure.

After a long week drinking horrible freeze dried coffee, a glass of pinot noir from Otago New Zealand was a pure unadulterated luxury.

I had and have mixed feelings about ‘Central Otago’ region. When I worked in the wine industry people who talked about pinot noir always mentioned Central Otago.

I knew one cellar door worker and wine lover who refused to buy pinot noir from anywhere else. ‘Not even Burgundy?’ I asked once. ‘Oh yes of course Burgundy first’ he said with a laugh.

When I finally got to visit the Burgundy region on a winery tour I asked our wine tour guide what he thought of New Zealand pinot noir, he made unusual gestures with a grimace, mumbled something about French Burgundy he gave a very French kind of grumble, which I took as a satisfying nod that they where worried.

‘Mirrored nanny goats stand firm, head to head, the slope steep, rugged country all around’  

This is written on the label and it certainly furnishes the imagination about where this pinot is actually growing, a place where only the nanny goat can reach and which people are fighting over to put their plots in.

The wine has a beautiful royal purple colour, the aroma was very light and casual slight scents of oak and pepper with raspberry.

The wine itself seemed to have a strong structure that firmly says ‘I am a pinot to contend with’ however after a few glasses I started to doubt my first assumptions.

It has a very slight tomato like flavour, it tends more towards the raspberry and pepper flavours, the label mentions ‘violet’ but I have never eaten a violet and I find it unusual to mention a flavour of something you can’t really eat.

(If you really ate a violet flower I would wager the flavour would be nothing like what we think of violets)

The wine was lacking in the front part of the palette, it lacked those sharp zippy flavors of a fresh wine which leads me to feel that maybe this would not be a great wine for the cellar.

I had the impression that this is usually a pinot that does produce very complex flavors however I had lucked out and purchased a vintage that wasn’t the best.

Overall however the New Zealand pinot noir has something altogether different to offer. There is something in the flavour in this wine that Australian pinot cannot replicate and I am guessing it is all to do with climate.

It is so nice to sit and have a conversation with a wine like this and even though this isn’t a premier wine, it still is a great one and of very fine quality which is totally worth a try.

This is certainly one for flashy occasions and you would take this to a dinner party or on a date, or for something special.

Mount Macleod 2010 Pinot Noir

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This Pinot Noir is from Gippsland Victoria, not the usual place in Australia for Pinot Noir but still cold enough to create a good enough environment for the tricky Pine black grape.

When I think of Gippsland I envisage tall gums and dense forest, ten canoes kind of atmosphere the kind of place to truly make you zone out with ambient music and imagine pre-colonial Australia.  (all while in a warm bath of course).

I have tried this Pinot Noir the 2009 incarnation and for $17.60 and I was pleasantly surprised the cinnamon and sweet cherry flavors are something I always look for in a Pinot  so I had an open mind for Mount Macleod Pinot Noir 2010.

The 2010 incarnation is interesting,  It never ceases to amaze me the subtle changes in Pinot noir from year to year the complex matrix of events that can make or break a good wine are truly staggering.

This particular wine is a good example of this, it has similar flavors but the cinnamon is more relaxed and the tomato is more forward there is a lack of sharp whippy like flavors that snap into your palate like a springbox thumping and jumping exciting the senses.  It has a new feel a bubbly fresh fruity feel. It’s youth  makes it flirtatious  in a way that is peppery and spicy.

This lacks the complex variety of flavors that winemakers love and probably why it has its low price tag.

However this is a great wine to just have on a Friday after a long and difficult week or one just to drink while you cook tea.