Browse Tag

new zealand


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)

Main street

Donaldson Family “Main Divide” 2005 Riesling (South Island) – Makrut lime, icy-bright sweetness, ripe apple zing. Fresh and zippy. (7/10)

Wing it

Donaldson Family “Pegasus Bay” 2002 Riesling (Waipara) – Creamed dust and papaya. But otherwise flat, dull-fruited, and short. Something went wrong here, and since other bottles from the same source have been fine, I’m going to blame the cork. (5/10)

Leaning stove

Pisa Range 2003 Pinot Noir Black Poplar (Central Otago) – Dark beet and blood orange. Still powerfully youthful, and in fact it might be hardening a bit. I keep reading Kiwi wine cognoscenti suggesting that many of the early-00s pinots are on the downslope. So I’ve opened a handful. So far, the only conclusion I can reach is that they’re out of their minds. If anything, these wines haven’t even hit their midlife crisis yet. (5/10)

Mohua the lawn

Mohua 2008 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – Starts off with the bitter beet, dusty blackberry, and blood orange rind so common to New Zealand pinots (is this a clonal issue? it sure seems ubiquitous), but then goes absolutely nowhere. Half of a good wine. Where’s the second act? (5/10)

Palliser o’ mine

Palliser Estate 2005 Pinot Noir (Martinborough) – If there’s a “standard” New Zealand pinot noir character, with adjustments for climate and vintage, this has it: dark and intense berried fruit, beet (and lots of it), a little hint of blood orange rind, and liquid earth with a fully-integrated structure, even in its youth. Straightforward, approachable, and tasty. (4/10)

Dog house

Dog Point 2008 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Goes right to the heart of Marlborough sauvignon-ness (sauvignon-icity?) but in a defter, more polished way than the abrasive style that made the region. This, in case it’s not clear, is a good thing. Underripe citrus and grass vie with just enough razory acidity for dominance, and while the wine’s racy enough, it’s neither tooth-scraping nor functionally underripe. Solid, paradigm-defining wine. Which is not to say that there’s not better out there, because there is. (3/10)

Main street

Donaldson Family “Main Divide” 2005 Riesling (New Zealand) – Fruity and a little aggressive, but the bones are just starting to show through the skin, and the wine’s picked up a brittleness it didn’t have even a few months ago. I don’t know if it’s closing or fading. (3/10)


Fromm “La Strada” 2002 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – The hyper-masculine aggression of this wine has really been shed over the last year or so, which is something I didn’t expect to happen quickly or, in my more pessimistic moments, at all. It’s still no delicate flower, for sure, but now both the flavors and the overall body are something more recognizable as pinot noir, albeit still far, far on the fringes of the weight that’s typical from anyone else growing this grape in Marlborough. (Well, except maybe Glover’s, but that’s mostly about tannin.) The dusty, black-soiled elements are now met by freshening acidity, while a scowling array of berries must accept the presence of lighter, crisper elements in their midst. This wine, always so brutish in the past, is undergoing a fascinating transformation, but I wonder if I’ll have the patience to wait this story out to its denouement; I’ve only a few bottles left. (3/10)


[vineyard]Fromm “La Strada” 2002 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – Perhaps the always-fearsome structure is beginning to weaken, or maybe there’s just bottle-variation here, because the dark, moody, truculent fruit is more accessible than usual, and the wine’s youthful aromatics have suddenly reasserted themselves. Thus, a wine that used to smell like pinot but feel like tannat begins to veer away from a stage in which it more closely resembled the latter. Frankly, this is pretty enjoyable, though one has to like filo-esque layers of tannin. (12/09)