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Negociants N.Z. Fine Wine Tour 2018

By July 25, 2018No Comments
This annual event is one that is highly anticipated by wine and hospitality professionals throughout the country. Negociants N.Z., one of this country’s leading wine distributors takes its portfolio of New Zealand and Australian wines around the country, offering attendees the opportunity of tasting over 100 wines from at least 16 New Zealand and 6 Australian producers. The trade in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch, and the public in the latter 3 cities could meet principals and winemakers, and discuss the wines and other related topics. Masterclasses on key varietals and styles were also held. Also on display are the wine ‘accessories’ ‘Coravin’ and Antipodes Water www.negociantsnz.com
I’ve attended nearly all of these tours over the years, and have reported on them on this website. Due to the number of wines on offer, and numbers attending, I’ve taken the approach of just tasting one wine from each of the exhibitors, that wine being their choice. It is surprising what is given to taste; often it is the most prestigious or most expensive wine, sometimes it is a new style, or it can be one of the most popular or most affordable wine. I try to take a photo of the principal too, and I post the photo, and my impressions of the wine on my site. The tasting notes and scores are impressions only, and there are many distractions, so I do not add this information to my database. So I ask readers to take a less strict interpretation of my comments; they are however, the best I can manage under the circumstances. They follow alphabetically by wine name, New Zealand first, then the Australians.
Negociants N.Z. and the participating exhibitors must be commended for the Fine Wine Tour. It’s four days travelling, working some long days and evenings, and no doubt there is a considerable cost involved. But the interaction with the trade and consumer is invaluable, and it strengthens the customer bonds and the brand recognition.

New Zealand Exhibitors

Luc Cowley – Auntsfield

Auntsfield ‘Single Vineyard’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Very pale straw colour. The nose is soft with ripe, passionfruity aromas and gentle density. This has lovely harmony. Medium-bodied, the ripe passionfruit flavours are softly presented, and the palate is composed of fine phenolic textures with bright acidity. The integration, balance and togetherness is gorgeous. Luc Cowley reported that 2018 wasn’t an easy vintage, but lessons learnt from 2017 were invaluable. (18.5/20) RRP $25.35

Dave McKee – Black Barn
Black Barn ‘Barrel Fermented’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015
Very pale straw colour with green hues, youthful appearance. The bouquet is very fine and toightly bound with pure aromas of stonefruits and nutty oak.. This has power and intensity. Very fresh and bright, with brisk, slippery acidity, this has a refined, taut core of stonefruits, subtle barrel ferment notes and nutty oak. There are no distracting funky components. Beautifully pristine, but unmistakably Chardonnay, this will develop well over 5-6+ years. 100% MLF, and no reductive gunflinty sulphides. Great Chardonnays can be made without them. (18.5/20) RRP $38.25
Ant Mackenzie – Craft Farm, Ant Mackenzie Wines

Craft Farm ‘Home Vineyard’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016
Pale golden-yellow colour. This has an elegant, tightly bound nose with layers of stonefruits, mealy complexities and nutty detail. Rich and textured on palate, this achieves excellent balance between fruit sweetness and phenolics. Layers of flavour here, subtle oxidative notes, great depth and intensity, lovely savoury presentation. (Under Ant Mackenzie Wines) (19.0/20) RRP $39.85

Tom Hindmarsh – Dry River
Dry River ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Riesling 2017
Very pale straw colour. The nose is tight and taut with lime and lemons, white florals and minerals. Dry to taste, this is sleek and silky smooth in flow, with very fine linearity. Beautiful acid balance, not searing. Great class and refinement. (18.5/20) RRP $56.00 Wilco Lam also poured a sample of Dry River ‘The 12 Spies’ Martinborough 2017 – a blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 25% each Syrah (with a touch of Viognier) and Tempranillo. The Tempranillo dark-red fruits immediately showing, unfolding the Pinot Noir. Curiously, the Syrah not a strong player. Some acidity shows through. RRP $65.00
Adam Balasoglou – Fromm
Fromm ‘Cuvee H’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016
Pale ruby-red colour. The nose is quite refined in expression with fragrant red berry fruits and dark-red florals. But considerably richer on the palate than the colour and aromatics suggest. Vibrant dark-red and black berry fruits with florals and hints of mineral, maybe dark herb suggestions. This has a very fine-textured structure, tight and firm at the core. This has become more serious since I reviewed it. (19.0-/20) RRP $65.20
Kimberley Judd & Chris Wensley – Greywacke
Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay 2015
Pale straw colour. This is softly rich and voluminous on the nose, quite fulsome, but integrated with beautiful layers of complexity. Ripe yellow stonefruits, mealy elements, barrel-ferment. A powerful wine on palate with richness yet retaining style. Great sweetness and density, layers of complexity unfold in the mouth. Stonefruits, mealy notes, nutty oak, some gunflinty detail. All in balance and wonderfully interwoven. The softness is cut by fresh acidity. A special wine. (19.5-/20) RRP $42.25
Morven McAuley – Huia
Huia Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014
Deepish red colour, lighter on the edge. The nose is finely concentrated with a deep core of red berry fruits and dried her detail. This is just beginning to develop secondary complexities. Deliciously rich and lively on palate, still with plenty of red berry fruits, unfolding a little savoury, secondary detail. Excellent, fine-grained, powdery tannin extraction, with soft acidity. The depth and density becomes clearer in the glass. This is a slow developing wine. 6-9 years ahead. (18.5+/20) RRP $42.65
Chris Archer – Joiy
Joiy Sparkling Rosé NV
Pale pink colour. This has raspberries and herbs on the nose, with the berry fruit growing in the glass. Dryish to taste, and light-bodied, this is fruit-focussed with strawberries and raspberries unfolding herbal elements. Goof harmonious effervescence with some depth and light textures, just enough to balance the fruit sweetness. The acidity is just right. An easy drink indeed. This is a blend of Shiraz and Merlot from the Clare Valley. 250 ml can serving. (17.0+/20) RRP $6.85
Jill Massey – Misha’s Vineyard
Misha’s Vineyard ‘Verismo’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
Deceptively light in colour with ruby-garnet at the heart. The bouquet is very fine and elegant with red berry fruits a little dried herb and earth secondary complexity, the florals still providing lift, the aromatics showing with intensity and finesse. Elegant, maybe sleek, firm at the core, but quite refined, with underlying power and linearity. This is smooth flowing and beginning to integrate superbly. Red fruits, fragrant florals, dried herbs, earth, all detailed and complexing. This is still young in mouthfeel and will go another 6-9 years. (19.0-/20) RRP $81.50
Ben Weaver & Garrick Gut – Mt Beautiful
Mt Beautiful ’10 Barrel’ North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2015
Lighter ruby-red with slight purple hues. Initially shy on nose, but the intensity and depth builds to show concentrated dark-red berry fruit with hints if plum and liquorice, with dark herbs. Rich and plush on palate, this has fine-textured tannins lending the palate elegance of style. This has a strong core with a little alcoholic power. This is a serious wine. The inaugural release of this label, fully destemmed, aged 11 months in 50% new oak and then a further 7 months in barrel to integrate. The best Mt Beautiful wine I have seen to date. (19.0/20) RRP $53.15
Katy Prescott – Nautilus
Nautilus ‘The Paper Nautilus’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Very pale straw colour. This has a very tightly packed and intense nose of passionfruit, nettles and green stonefruits. This has great depth and presence. Extremely concentrated, firm and intense, the fruit has wonderful penetration and depth. Passionfruit and nettles show the cooler aspect with green stonefruits the complexing inputs. A little phenolic grip and beautifully handled acidity. Predominantly Wairau Valley fruit. (19.0/20) RRP $34.90
Brett Bermingham – Opawa
Opawa Marlborough Pinot Gris 2017
Bright, pale straw-yellow colour. This has plenty of volume and presence of aromatic stonefruits, pears, honesuckle and florals. Dry to taste, but rich with mouthfilling flavours, this is quite up-front. Pears and stonefruits, florals and honey again on palate, with soft textures and good acidity. The fruit is sweet and lush, The flavour interest is up a step from previous vintages. Brett Bermingham cites the influence of new clones 51 and 52, from a new organic vineyard, though the vines are only 6-7 y.o. (18.5/20) RRP $23.85
Palliser Estate – Allan Johnson
Palliser Estate Martinborough Chardonnay 2017
Bright, pale straw-yellow. The nose is very well-concentrated and possesses real intensity, with layers of stonefruits, mealy complexities, and nutty oak. The aromatic richness is excellent. Lovely toasty oak notes emerge. On palate still quite taut and tightly bound, but the fruit richness, oak and detail is developing, and unfolding in layers. Still a little elevated in acidity. This has developed superbly on the nose since I tried this on release, and the palate is going the same way. Definitely 5-stars now, and more to come. (18.5/20) RRP $43.15
Leslie Johnston – Rippon
Rippon ‘Rippon’ ‘Mature Vine’ Central Otago Riesling 2015
Very pale straw colour. This has lime fruit with white florals and just the beginnings of toasty secondary development. This has depth and breadth, unfolding a touch of oxidative elements. Dryish to taste, the palate is tight and taut, with fresh lime fruit flavours, along with florals and thirst-quenching minerals. The palate possesses very fine phenolic features with fresh acid cut. Still youthful on palate with a degree of gravitas. 12.0% alc. and 9.6 g/L RS. (19.0-/20) RRP $37.10
Stewart Maclennan – Saint Clair
Saint Clair ‘Dawn’ Marlborough Methode Traditionnelle 2013
Pale straw colour with fine bead, the bouquet is tight with refined aromas of white florals, citrus fruits, unfolding biscuit autolysis forming a firm backbone with detail Dry to taste, the fruit is rich with fine and sweet citrus and florals, along with positive, complex layered autolysis, with bread and yeast. The mousse is very fine and the acidity lends real freshness. This has more definite autolytic complexity and depth than the first vintage. 67% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir, 5 g/L dosage and 35 months on lees. (19.0-/20) RRP $39.25
Jacqui Murphy – Two Paddocks
Two Paddocks ‘Proprietor’s Reserve’ ‘The Fusilier’ Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
Even ruby-red colour, a little lighter edged. The nose is elegant with a tight core of ripe dark-red berry fruit, the aromatics unfold in volume and unfold some nutty oak. The palate is rich and sweet with ripe red berry fruits, quite up-front and accessible, and plush with sweet dark herbs anda little earth. This is a ripe expression with plenty of fine tannin extraction and soft acidity. It speaks of Bannockburn. (18.5+/20) RRP $79.70
Jannine Rickards – Urlar
Urlar Gladstone Riesling 2016
Very pale straw colour. This has a taut and concentrated nose showing lime and florals with a suggestion of toast lending complexity. This has lovely intensity. On palate still a little closed, with taut and shy flavours of lime juices, along with mineral and toast interest. The palate features very fine textures and excellent acid cut. Give this another year and it should be 5-stars. (18.0+/20) RRP $26.00

Australian Exhibitors

Kate Sturgess – Brokenwood

Brokenwood ‘Graveyard Vineyard’ Hunter Valley Shiraz 2014
Dark ruby-red colour with black hues at heart. The nose is tightly concentrated and deep, with ripe blackberry and raspberry fruit, the aromatics showing lovely detail and growing in concentration in the glass. Rich, but concentrated, taut and very refine, the fruit is sweet with blackberries and raspberries on palate, along with iron and minerals. The fruit vibrancy is underlined by very fine-grained, powdery tannins and soft acidity. This is more akin to Europe than South Australia. Kate Sturgess says that 2014 was a “stellar vintage”. (19.0+/20) RRP $249.55

Jack Walton – d’Arenberg
d’Arenberg ‘The Dead Arm’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015
Very dark, black-hearted red colour. The nose shows very ripe blackberry fruit with black plums, but unfolding pepper, spices and fragrant violet florals to lend a degree of elegance. Rich and opulent on palate, lusciously sweet-fruited, blackberries and black pepper, plums liquorice, then violet florals. This has power, concentration and plenty of structure, and a fine, firm finish. 20 years ahead of this classic McLaren Vale star. (19.0+/20) RRP $68.45
Emma Shaw – Jim Barry
Jim Barry ‘The Armagh’ Clare Valley Shiraz 2009
Dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red. The bouquet is full, sift, deep, opening to reveal ripe blackberry and blueberry fruits, with liquorice and Asian spices, and ethereal florals. The core is concentrated, revealing subtle secondary and cedary layers. On palate, this is rich and lush, the fruit and mouthfeel showing great vitality. Black fruits, plums and liquorice, this sweetness is the feature, but all underlined by very fine-grained, powdery tannins. Great length, and plenty of life ahead. Another two decades easily. (19.5/20) RRP $N/A
Leigh Woodrow – Langmeil
Langmeil ‘Valley Floor’ Barossa Shiraz 2015
Dark ruby-red colour with real depth. The nose is full and voluminous, with ripe blackberry, plum and liquorice aromas, all quite accessible and up-front. This has a rich, lusciously ripe and powerful palate with black fruits, plums, liquorice, spices and pepper, all in balance and easy to see. The tannins are soft, but there is plenty of texture, grip and structure. Up-front and mouthfilling, this ticks all the Barossa boxes. (18.5+/20) RRP $37.35
Evan Gill – Vasse Felix
Vasse Felix Margaret River Chardonnay 2016
Pale straw-yellow colour. The nose is concentrated with rich aromas of stonefruits, reductive gunflint and nutty oak. This is beautifully balanced with the fruit at the heart, and the inputs in support. Fresh on palate, still youthfully tight with bright stonefruits, nutty and creamy barrel-ferment and reductive gunflint, nuts and minerals. The textures are very refined, and the acidity lends poise and finesse. Gingin clone (same as Mendoza), fully wild yeast barrel-fermented, the wine spending 9 months in 42% new oak with batonnage and 100% MLF. (18.2+/20) RRP $41.80
Natalie Cleghorn – Yalumba
Yalumba ‘The Signature’ Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2014
Dark, deep, black hued ruby-red colour, impenetrable at heart. The nose is concentrated, firm and intense with ripe plums, blackberries, liquorice and aromatic herb and floral fragrances. This has a sleekness to the proportion. An elegantly structured wine, but with very well-packed flavours of ripe black plums and blackberries along with minerals and curranty notes of the Cabernet Sauvignon. Very fine-grained, and the intensity is startling. A blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 43% Shiraz. The ‘signatory’ is Chris Greening. (19.0/20) RRP $55.60
Matt Nickson – Antipodes Water

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