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Featured Reviews




Man O’ War ‘Estate’, Privateer’ and Flagship Releases

20 April,2017
Man O’ War has established itself as one of the most serious winegrowers on Waiheke Island. Owned by the publicity-shy Spencer family who possess a significant landholding on the Island, Man O’ War has around 60 ha of hillside plantings divided into 76 individual vineyards, all at the eastern end of the island, plus vines on Ponui Island, producing up to 400 tonnes of fruit for an output of 20,000 to 25,000 cases of wine each year. Matt Allen has been Man O’ War’s vineyard manager from the start of the enterprise, and Duncan McTavish as the winemaker, with the company since 2008. At the ‘Estate’ end, Man O’ War has helped make Waiheke Island wine accessible to the general consumer, while the flagship black-labelled wines have earned extremely high critical praise as among the finest examples from Waiheke. The wines are typically robust and flavoursome, blending the contemporary with the traditional from my tastings. Here, I review a selection of new release ‘Estate and flagship wines, along with a new range of ‘Single Vineyard Series’ bottlings under the ‘Privateer’ nomenclature, these wines crafted to showcase the individuality of certain single sites and the styles they make. www.manowarvineyards.co.nz

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW



Man O’ War Waiheke Island Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

17.5-/20
Bright pale straw yellow colour with slight green hues, lighter on the rim. The nose is fresh and softly packed with ripe gooseberry and tropical fruit aromas along with green tonefruits, lantana, soft grassy notes and fresh herbs. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has an elegantly concentrated core with flavours of gooseberries, cut grass, green stonefruits, along with waxy, nutty and smoky suggestions adding interest. The mouthfeel is refreshing, zesty and bright, with lively acidity, and the wine flows along a fine-textured line, leading to a sustained, dry finish of gooseberries, cut grass and herbs. This is a bright and lively Sauvignon Blanc with fresh gooseberry, cut grass and green stonefruit flavours on a fine, textural palate. Match with salads and vegetables, and Mediterranean fare over the next 2-3 years. Sauvignon Blanc fruit tank-fermented with 30% in barrel with indigenous yeasts to 12.5% alc., the barrel portion aged 9 months on gross lees. 17.5-/20 Apr 2017 RRP $24.90

Man O’ War Waiheke Island Merlot/Cabernet/Malbec/Petit Verdot 2014

Blended Red from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

17.5+/20
Very dark, deep, black-red colour, a little lighter on the rim with garnet hues. This has a full nose with a firm core of blackcurrants, black plums and cassis intermixed with subtle notes of dark herbs and blackcurrant leaf, and soft, earthy nuances. Medium-full bodied, the palate features up-front flavours with a deep core showing blackcurrants and black berried fruit, with plums, dark herbs and subtle leaf nuances. The palate has plenty of weight and presence, with fine-grained, accessible tannins providing a fine-textured line. The mouthfeel is fresh with lacy acidity, and the wine carries with good energy to a long, elegant finish of blackcurrants, plums and herbs. This is an up-front Merlot-based blend with a deep core of blackcurrant, plum and herb flavours with a fine, accessible structure and fresh mouthfeel. Match with lamb and beef dishes over the next 6-7+ years. A blend of 50% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 15% Malbec, 10% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, the fruit hand-picked and indigenous yeast fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine spending 30 days on skins and aged 18 months in seasoned oak. 17.5+/20 Apr 2017 RRP $30.90

Man O’ War ‘Paradise’ Ponui Island Pinot Gris 2016

Pinot Gris from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

17.5/20
Bright straw-yellow colour with pale golden hues and some depth, lighter on the rim. The nose is fresh and full with well-concentrated aromas of mouthwatering, steely, white and yellow stonefruits along with nutty and flinty lees detail, unfolding suggestions of florals and honeysuckle. Medium to taste and light-bodied, the palate has luscious flavours white and yellow stonefruits entwined with flinty, nutty and mineral notes, lifted by white florals and enriched by honied notes. The palate follows a fine, grainy phenolic line with integrated, refreshing acidity, and carries with good energy and vitality to a long, rich and concentrated finish. This is a light-bodied, medium Pinot Gris with rich yellow stonefruit, floral and honied flavours complexed by nutty, flinty and mineral notes on a lively, textural palate. Match with Asian cuisine over the next 3-4 years. Fruit from the ‘Paradise’ vineyard on Ponui Island, a blend of the ‘St Helena’ and GM 215 clones, picked early and cool-fermented in tank to 10.1% alc. and 15 g/L RS, bottled to retain some natural CO2. 17.5/20 Apr 2017 RRP $26.90

Man O’ War ‘Little Beast’ Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

17.5+/20
Bright, even, light golden-hued yellow colour, paler on the rim. The nose is tightly bound and elegantly concentrated with aromas of white stonefruits entwined with nutty notes and a layering of gunflint and mineral complexities, along with subtle oxidative detail. The nose has good depth and fine intensity. Medium-bodied, the palate is tightly bound with elegantly interwoven flavours of white stonefruits melded with layers of flint and mineral complexities, and nuances of nuts and oxidative hints. The palate is firm in expression with a fine, grainy phenolic line and fresh, balancing acidity lending drive. The wine has positive linearity and carries with good power to a long, tightly concentrated, lingering finish of white stonefruits, nuts and gunflint. This is a firm and tense Chardonnay with white stonefruit, gunflint and mineral flavours on a firm-textured, linear palate. Match with most white meat dishes over the next 4-5 years. Clone 15 fruit from the ‘Little Beast’ vineyard, hand-picked and WBP, and indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned 500 L puncheons to 13.2% alc., the wine aged in barrel with MLF conversion and bottling in Spring. 17.5+/20 Apr 2017 RRP $40.90

Man O’ War ‘Death Valley’ Waiheke Island Malbec 2014

Malbec from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

18+/20
Dark, deep, near saturated black-red with youthful purple hues, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is full and evenly packed with aromas of ripe blackberry and boysenberry fruit, along with a soft and harmonious amalgam of earth, spices and cedar. Full-bodied, the palate has rich and sweetly ripe flavours of blackberries, boysenberries and plums, unfolding liquorice and spice notes. The fruit is vibrant and supported by grainy tannin structure and grip, with fresh, lacy acidity adding to the vitality. The mouthfeel is vigorous and robust with good energy and line carrying the wine to a full, solid and lingering finish of dark plums, liquorice and spices. This is a rich, robust and vigorous Malbec with ripe blackberry, boysenberry and plum flavours shoeing power and linearity. Match with barbecued and roasted red meat dishes over the next 6-8+ years. 100% Malbec from the ‘Death Valley’ vineyard fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in seasoned French oak, then 5% given a further 2 months in new American oak. 18.0+/20 Apr 2017 RRP $40.90

Man O’ War ‘Exiled’ Waiheke and Ponui Islands Pinot Gris 2016

Pinot Gris from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

19-/20
Full, even, light golden-hued yellow colour, a little lighter edged. The nose is full, round and deeply packed with opulently ripe apricot and yellow stonefruit and pear aromas entwined with honey, exotic florals and nutty elements, revealing an underlying minerally freshness. Medium-sweet to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a lively and bright core of, rich, opulent, honied stonefruit flavours unfolding a layering of exotic florals and tropical fruits, and subtle notes of flint, nuts and minerals. The mouthfeel is luscious and decadent, with fine phenolic textures underlining the fruit, and balanced acidity lending vitality. The wine carries to a rich, long, honied finish. This is a rich, opulent medium-sweet Pinot Gris with flavours of yellow stonefruits, tropical fruits, florals an honey on a luscious and lively palate. Match with mildly spicy Middle Eastern and Asian fare over the next 4+ years. 100% ‘St Helena’ clone Pinot Gris, from 4 sites on Waiheke Island and the ‘Paradise’ vineyard on Ponui Island, hand picked and fermented in stainless-steel to 12.5% alc. and 33 g/L RS, and bottled to retain some natural CO2. .19.0-/20 Apr 2017 RRP $36.90

Man O’ War ‘Valhalla’ Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

19-/20
Full, even, light golden-yellow colour with a lighter edge. The nose is full and softly voluminous with harmoniously layered aromas of white and yellow stonefruits entwined with an amalgam of savoury nutty and creamy barrel-ferment aroma along with flinty complexities. The aromatics build in depth and density with aeration, the complexities well-integrated. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a firm core, immediately opening with mouthfilling flavours of white and yellow stonefruits layered seamlessly with nutty notes and subtle gunflint and mineral notes. The mouthfeel balances creamy barrel-ferment textures with a fine phenolic-textured line, and fresh, lacy acidity. The wine has power and the palate flows to a long, lingering, fine-textured, dry, nutty finish. This is a firm and powerful Chardonnay with harmoniously mouthfilling flavours of stonefruits, nuts, flint and complexing minerals on a fine-textured palate. Match with poultry and pork dishes over the next 5-6 years. A selection of the finest barrels. Fruit from hilltop volcanic sites WBP, and from sheltered clay sites foot-stomped with skin contact, fully barrel-fermented by indigenous yeasts with high solids to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 32% new French oak puncheons, avoiding MLF. 19.0-/20 Apr 2017 RRP $40.90

Man O’ War ‘Deadnought’ Waiheke Island Syrah 2014

Syrah from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

19/20
Very dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues. This has a full and softly concentrated nose with aromas of ripe blackberry and dark raspberry fruit entwined with plums and liquorice, unfolding black pepper and lifted violet and dark-red florals, and a layering of earth, spices and oak. Full-bodied, the palate has rich and deeply concentrated, mouthfilling flavours of ripe blackberries and dark raspberries interwoven with plums, black pepper, liquorice and pices. Subtle dark-red florals and cedary oak elements emerge as the wine flows along a fine-grained, structured line. The fruit richness is balanced by the refined tannin extraction, with integrated acidity enhancing the harmony. The wine carries to a long and sustained, elegantly concentrated finish of blackberries, liquorice, pepper and spice. This is a rich, concentrated Syrah with ripe blackberry, raspberry and pepper flavours complexed by floral and spice notes on a fine-structured palate. Serve with slow-cooked game meat dishes over the next 8-10 years. 100% Syrah from 6 sites, predominantly destemmed and indigenous yeast fermented with a very small portion of whole bunches to 14.6% alc., the wine aged 18 months in 35% new French oak puncheons. 19.0/20 Apr 2017 RRP $54.90

Man O’ War ‘Bellerophon’ Waiheke Island Syrah/Viognier 2014

Syrah from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

18+/20
Dark, deep ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is elegantly proportioned with deeply fragrant aromas of dark raspberry and blackberry fruit entwined with nutty oak elements unfolding dark-red and violet florals, with spices, game and savoury herb notes emerging with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a tightly bound and elegant core of dark raspberry and blackberry fruit harmoniously entwined with dark-red and violet florals. The fruit is supported by moderately extracted, fine-grained, flowery tannins with integrated acidity lending liveliness and drive. The mouthfeel has good energy and linearity, and the wine flows smoothly to an elegant, lingering finish of dark-red fruits, florals, spices and funky herb detail. This is an elegant, aromatic, fine-grained and smooth Syrah/Viognier blend with dark raspberry, floral and spicy flavours. Match with Asian and Middle Eastern fare over the next 6-8 years. A blend of 97% Syrah and 3% Viognier from 3 sites, co-fermented by indigenous yeasts with approx. 30% whole bunches of both varieties to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 25% new French oak. 18.0+/20 Apr 2017 RRP $59.90

Man O’ War ‘Ironclad’ Waiheke Island Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot 2011

Blended Red from New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

18+/20
Very dark, deep, black-red colour with garnet hues, a little lighter on the rim. The bouquet is elegantly proportioned with concentrated and intense aromas of blackcurrants and blackberries along with cassis liqueur, fragrant dark herbs and black minerals, unfolding savoury, secondary earth and tobacco notes. Medium-full bodied and elegantly presented on the palate, the flavours of blackcurrants and blackberries are refined and intense. Subtle cassis and savoury herb notes unfold, revealing tobacco, earthy and minerally, savoury secondary complexities. The mouthfeel is lively with fresh acidity enhancing the fresh herb elements, and the fruit is underlined by fine-grained, flowery tannins. The wine carries with brightness and liveliness to a light, nuanced finish of blackcurrants and herbs. This is an elegantly concentrated, fine-grained Merlot-based blend with blackcurrant, blackberry and herb flavours along with some secondary earthy notes on a fresh, lively palate. Match with herb=marinated lamb, beef and venison dishes, and semi-hard cheeses over the next 6-8 years. A blend of predominantly Merlot and Cabernet Franc with Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 22 months in 35% new French oak. 18.0+/20 Apr 2017 RRP $54.90
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