Browse Tag


Cott in the crossfire

Brancott 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Neither the pyrazine fest it once was (granted, I’m sure what’s going into this wine now bears less than no relation to what went into it in previous decades) nor the sweet, soft fruit of the double-oughts’ overreaction, instead this is straightforward and varietally correct, but sanded down (and some of the sandpaper remains, texturally) and pretty dull. It’ll do in a pinch, but I’d like that pinch to be a bucket of ice on a Marlborough Sounds beach somewhere, with maybe a cube of that ice in the paper cup from which I’m swigging this. (6/12)

On and on

Fromm “La Strada” 2002 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – Very, very mildly corked, but the wine is so stubborn and the TCA so hesitant that there’s actually something worth drinking here. But keep that mitigation in context, please, as you read the following: blackstrap cherry, a bit whippy and snarly, with lingering firm structural tannins and a long, columnar finish. In full form, this would have been a magisterial take on pinot-as-statuary. Alas. (2/12)

Back in Schwarz

Blackenbrook 2004 Pinot Gris (Marlborough) – Holding up well…so well, in fact, that I have fleeting regrets for opening my only bottle. Well, it’s New Zealand pinot gris, so one can hardly blame me for a lack of confidence. This has taken on more riesling-like qualities with age, and the enhanced minerality and precision are to the wine’s benefit. Yet it hasn’t shed a clear, glass-like pear quality that identifies its variety. In terms of style, it’s chilly-Germanic rather than a richly-spiced Alsatian analogue or weak-fruited Italian. Those who wanted more fulsome fruit should have consumed it at release, but I am far from convinced that this wine is done evolving. Into what is the question. Slightly fruity riesling (with a short finish and less acidity) would be my guess. (12/11)


Kathy Lynskey 2005 “Single Vineyard” Gewürztraminer (Marlborough) – Which vineyard is going solo here? Ms. Lynskey doesn’t say. But while Marlborough is not, historically, New Zealand’s premiere bid at spicy stardom, my long-standing argument – really, I’ve been on this kick since the 90s – that the Long White Cloud is the next-to-Alsace-best source of full-throttled gewürztraminer is not belied by this wine. No, it’s not near the top of the heap. Yes, it’s just a little long in the tooth (it’s always worth remembering that New Zealand’s clonal material is, in general, absurdly young and frequently suboptimal), but what’s left is a coal-soaked study in bacon-fried lychee and drying, almost “orange wine”-like skins. There’s no lushness here, nor more than a token nod at what was, once, probably a noticeable softening from residual sugar. But it was still probably a dry-intentioned wine in its youth, and it most certainly is now, and that’s not always found in tandem with this sort of spice; usually, dry gewürztraminer outside of Alsace can rise to no more aromatic plateau than rose petals. So…a lot of words, not much of a conclusion. Here’s one: if it’s cheap (and this certainly was; I catch a whiff of “inventory clearance” from this bottle), one could really do a lot worse. (10/11)

I once drank a wine named Maria

Villa Maria 2001 “Noble Late Harvest” Riesling (Marlborough) – 375 ml. Mixed apples, honeydew, and spikes – powerfully-hammered spikes – of acidity. Which are necessary, because the wine is intensely, almost neon-sweet, in a showily botrytized fashion. I think this is a really extraordinary wine when it’s fully mature, which this is probably a decade or more from achieving. (10/11)

Fromm here to eternity

Fromm “La Strada” 2001 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – Extremely difficult and sullen. For about thirty minutes I worry about low-level cork taint, for the next thirty minutes I struggle to peer into an opaque glass of murky berries and thick leather, and for the thirty minutes after that I try to figure out of this has just died very quickly (previous bottles were quite expressive, albeit structurally primary), has inexplicably re-closed…or, then, there’s that low-level taint question again. Well, whichever. It’s possible to appreciate the tiny bit this wine gives, but it’s not really possible to appreciate the wine. (10/11)

Feet of Clayvin

Fromm “La Strada” 2001 Pinot Noir Clayvin (Marlborough) – Cooked. A recent purchase, so not indicative of properly-stored bottles. (9/11)

Wither Canada?

Wither Hills 2005 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – Hits all the classic Marlborough notes of reddish fruit, spiky acidity, and a green-tinged edge. Unfortunately, those classic Marlborough notes can be, and have been, surpassed by a fair number of much better wines. This is too paint-by-numbers. (7/11)

Fromm here to eternity

Fromm “La Strada” 2001 Pinot Noir Clayvin (Marlborough) – As mature as one would want it, I think. The berries, strong and lavishly-structured, have not fully developed into something more autumnal, but those equinoxal notes are present, the tannin is still a throb but no longer deadening, and there are baked and sunset aspects to both aroma and finish. This turned out not to be the ager I might have predicted (though this bottle is from a recent store closeout, and thus of doubtful provenance), but has turned out to reward what aging it has accomplished. (8/10)

Fromm “La Strada” 2001 Pinot Noir Clayvin (Marlborough) – Almost exactly like the previous bottle, except with more fruit-to-underbrush development, and a more appealing texture. (8/10)


Fromm “La Strada” 2001 Pinot Noir Clayvin (Marlborough) – A recent closeout, and dying. There are plenty of signs of heat damage somewhere along the line. Alas, this showed up in a local closeout bin and I was intrigued. But I’d avoid the lot based on the performance of this bottle, which should have been in the early stages of blossoming from its closed youth. (7/10)