Rallentando Riesling 2016
In the last 40 years local wine palates have made giant strides in the evolution towards excellence that took Europe much longer. By excellence is meant the move from sweet to dry. In NZ this transition is far from complete but it’s well under way and nowhere is it better shown than with our Rallentando.
For the last couple of vintages we have recanted from complete austerity and decided to leave a few gms of sweetness – i.e. the 2016 Rallentando has 2gms/l residual sugar. This has the effect of softening the austerity in the early years of its life. Regardless of when you drink your Rallentando though, there is no hiding its steely citrus character which is what we want to shine through.
So the palate is lemons and limes (with not much of the granny smith that is common in other dry Rieslings). This lively attack means Rallentando is at its best with food – chicken and fish – where refreshing the pallid palate between forkfuls is important to all dilettantes.
Perhaps Hillary and Donald could make up over a bottle of Rallentando? Doubt it for a bloke who said “If Hillary can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America”.
Ragtime Riesling 2014
We got the commonly experienced cool damp start for flowering. OK temperatures (early 20’s) a nice autumn but finished in April with more rain than the grapes are happy with. So 15 – 20% botrytis in the Riesling. This is fine for Ragtime which was picked on 16/4 at 19 brix. It’s honeyed character is down to the botrytis influence and helped along with 11gms/l of sugar.
Ragtime is off-dry with a distinctive citrus character, lively acidity, well suited to gossip. Best food match is lightly spiced Asian cuisine. Fish and chips are also fine if not so sophisticated. Will cellar admirably, but best timing for complexity with retained acidity is between year 4 and 5. Good luck with your self-discipline.
Ragtime is said to be a favourite of the ubiquitous Bill Clinton as he accompanies his tightly coiffured wife around the hustings. One veteran commentator said Bill was definitely a bit past it as he grabbed the microphone from Hilary muttering, “I did not sleep with that woman, I didn’t inhale dope but I do admit to my weakness for Coney Ragtime.”
The Ritz 2016 – A Spritzy Riesling
Stretching your gustatory glands earnestly is one way to squeeze out some vocab for your tasting notes. This should be reserved for wine with serious intent. Not Ritz, which is intended to be a frivolous drop leading to flighty banter and happy outcomes.
Winemakers sometimes need reminding that wine is for fun. The Ritz achieves this by being noticeably sweet (37g/l of residual sugar and from the delightful spritz coming from around 3g/l of dissolved co2). Your conversation needs to rise to the occasion – sex, drugs and rock’n’roll are always a good start. Ask Paul Henry. More objectively, our panel of tasters thought the distinguishing sensation of the 2016 Ritz included lemonade lemons, ruby red grapefruit, blood orange, elderflower and French pear. Can’t have it more encompassing than that.
Riesling fruit normally comes in with nice high acidity. 2016 was no exception (7.3g/l) which balances Ritz’ higher sugar.
So, quaff away. But be careful ladies or we may, at your hands, all suffer the same fate as Kim Kardashian’s followers – i.e. after a single bottle she felt obliged to inflict one of her ubiquitous “belfies” on us – the pioneering bum selfie.
Piccolo Pinot Gris 2016
A moderately priced glass of French Pinot Grigio we tried recently (expensive actually because in Dubai!) was exactly what many punters sometimes complain about in this variety – an anaemic/thin texture, with a bit of phenolic bitterness masking any interesting fruit. Yuk!
No such problem with Piccolo which we always pick late to give the best chance of overt ripeness, oily texture and honeyed character (botrytis plus shrivel) that is the hallmark of Pinot Gris from the Coney block. This underlying opulence allows us to lower the sugar level to its 7 g/l without running the risk of leanness. Anyway, to most palates Piccolo has a full rounded texture, plenty of typical pear/stonefruit and a pleasant dry finish which declares it to be a foodies wine. These hapless hedonists usually opt for spicy Asian or middle eastern cuisine as the most enthralling match. If your fitness regime, body contour, self-discipline are too strict for such indulgence, a glass on its own will suffice.
Ramblin’ Rosé 2016
For the truly sophisticated, pink cannot be ignored. “I don’t drink Rosé because it’s for girls”, apart from wounding the politically correct brigade, simply won’t cut the mustard any more. Lolly water with elevated residual sugar it may have been once, but no longer.
The French make it dry for discerning palates and we’re on the same path, having reduced the sugar level from 12g/l a few years ago to around half that level now.
Derived from nice ripe concentrated Pinot Noir fruit Ramblin’ Rosé is made for summer – the best tipple for tittle tattle. Those still hankering for sweetness will get some confectionery nates on the nose with lovely creamy strawberry for the tastebuds. Sherbet is also mentioned.
Ramblin’s pulsating popularity has been declared recently by the usually unexcitable British aristocracy.
Dismayed by the Brexit outcome (but pleased to pass the shambolical parcel to his successor Ms May) David Cameron was seen scuttling to his mansion from No. 10 Downing St. with his wife on one arm and a bottle of Ramblin’ Rosé under the other. Could be worse!
Pizzicato Pinot Noir 2013
In the wide array of vocab mustered by the French to describe a delicious Pinot Noir (try forest floor, barnyard, feral and fecal for starters) Martinborough examples are often best described as funky/ savoury. In the fruit department plums and cherries are a fair rendition.
Coney Pizzicato was low cropped (1.7 tonnes/acre) harvested between 3rd and 18th April at an average brix of 24.5. Assiduously tended, it has the requisite silky texture. Bright ruby red to the eyeball the nose is lifted and sweet with cherry, toasty oak and a smidgen of menthol – palate much the same (nose and palate are supposed to align!) Our restaurant still favours pork, mushroom dishes and oily textured fish salmon/tuna/groper as the ideal companions. Cellaring until 2019 will reward the patient.
The final descriptive word goes to Karl du Fresne’s optimistic observation “Good Pinot Noir is like an orgasm – hard to describe but you know when you’ve had one”. Bonne chance.
Que Sera Syrah 2013
2013 started damp and cool – not the best for full flowering, finished dry and hot – a drought for the cockies but a good year for grapes. No frosts mercifully, although my cryptic notes say “a ground frost on 18/10 – got up at 4.45am – padded about – 1 degreeC – didn’t light pots. Back to bed. Dreamed fitfully of botrytis and woke up screaming. No worries – a glass of Que Sera with my porridge restored equilibrium.
To ensure full ripeness of our Syrah, over half the grapes are dropped unceremoniously to the ground soon after fruit set. The result of this austerity is a low 1.4 tonne/acre yield, financially suicidal, but favouring the imbiber.
Compared to the average Aussie shiraz, local syrahs are typically lighter in texture and more subtle in flavour – a distinction not always detected by our antipodean neighbours whose palates have come to prefer the bolder expression that comes from 40oC temperatures. Each to his own.
People mostly hone in on the peppery/spicy character of Que Sera to which our panel added dark fruits, eg raspberry and toasty oak. Goes with most red meats especially venison. Duck is good.
Before being led away to the gallows, tennis cheat Martina Sharapova was asked, “Any last requests?” “My judgement was clouded,” she wailed piteously “ but please send a crate of Que Sera to my dressing room. “
Que Sera is best with venison and game birds but most red meats are fine. Age for 5-6 years.