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Negociants N.Z. Fine Wine Tour

By July 25, 2017No Comments
One of the leading wine distribution companies in New Zealand, Negociants N.Z. has an exceptional portfolio of domestic wines, which is complemented by a similar selection of Australian wines. The Australian group of wines can be expected, due to the founding company which is based in Adelaide and established by the Hill Smith family of Yalumba fame. Nowadays, there are Negociants distribution businesses in key strategic locations world-wide, and this network has given all of the Negociants’ arms to possess a stunning array of international wines. www.negociantsnz.com

Every year, Negociants N.Z. take their portfolio of New Zealand and Australian wines for road trip through the country, inviting the trade and consuming public to sample the latest wines and meet the principals behind the brands. For me, it’s a great opportunity to meet these people in person. Of course, there are far too many wines to taste and do justice to, so I take the approach of tasting only one wine, which I generally ask the exhibitor to choose, and I take a photo of them. My notes on the wines are made under less than ideal conditions, but I include them in my database, as I believe they are still pretty sound impressions, but not as detailed or as accurate as my feature reviews.

Usually, I only have time to taste the New Zealand wines, but this year, I made an effort to include the Australian wines. Just as I was to commence tasting the Australian wines, several of the Australian principals were called away to partake in a masterclass. Several of the stands were thus manned by Negociants N.Z. staff, so I took photos of them instead!
Following are my notes on the wines I tasted, with scores (made in relatively casual conditions), and photos of the people who poured the wines. The RRPs are those provided by Negociants N.Z.

The New Zealand Wines

Luc Cowley – Auntsfield

Auntsfield ‘Single Vineyard’ Southern Valleys Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015 
Dark, deep red colour. This has a rich, rounded and broad, voluminous nose with substance. The dark-red berry fruits feature, with a little floral lift and notes of dark herbs, and just a suggestion of complexing minerally reduction? Knife-edge interest here. On palate, lovely richness and mouthfilling flavours of ripe black fruits and raspberries. Sweet and fleshy, but also with a good core and plenty of balancing grip and structure. Youthful, and with time to go. It isn’t elegant, but sometime size and robustness are excellent, as here. 18.5+/20 Jul 2017 RRP $49.00

Dave McKee – Black Barn

Black Barn Hawke’s Bay Unoaked Chardonnay 2017 
Dave McKee makes outstanding, complex, oak fermented and matured Chardonnays, but has the same approach to high quality with the unoaked style. The fruit must stand on its own and must be respected in vinification. This is Dave’s 15th vintage of this wine. Hand-picked fruit, WBP, cool-fermented, with no lees or MLF influence. It’s all about fruit purity. This 2017 is from a challenging vintage for Hawke’s Bay, especially in reds, but Chardonnay clearly more successful. Bright, light straw-yellow colour with some depth. This has a very fresh and youthfully tight, pure nose with very good depth of steely white stonefruits. Slight savoury nuances add interest. Dry to taste, the palate is firm with mouthwatering flavours of white stonefruits, white florals and mineral suggestions, The fruit has depth and concentration, forming a core with grip and line. The zesty acidity adds energy. This has vigour. 17.5+/20 Jul 2017 RRP $26.30

Ant Mackenzie – Craft Farm

Craft Farm Hawke’s Bay Gewurztraminer 2015 
Under the ‘Ant Mackenzie Wines’ umbrella. 40% barrel-fermented to 14.5% alc. and 27 g/L RS. Bright straw-yellow with some depth. This has a full nose with an array of florals, with exotic rodse-petal, Turkish Delight and spice aromas, along with lychee and savoury, nutty, musky complexities. Medium in sweetness with a full body and alcoholic drive, the flavours unfold evenly with exotic florals, lychees, and savoury interest for balance. The phenolic handling seems spot-on, resulting in richness and a degree of unctuousness. 18.5/20 Jul 2017 RRP $34.90

Wilco Lam & Sarah Bartlett – Dry River

Dry River Martinborough Chardonnay 2015 
This wine has a little more input to make it more complex and textural over the original fruit-pure style as previously made, but it is a step along it path of evolution. Wilco Lam is quietly growing this wine. I’ve tasted this 2015 many times, though with one review only. Straw-yellow colour with some depth, lighter edged. An elegant wine on nose, with sweetly ripe, detailed white stonefruit aromas with gentle creamy barrel notes, a little nutty complexity, and still with more to unfold from the core. A subtler wine on palate, showing the intricate detail along with fine textural grip and firm acid, lending linearity. Quite mouthwatering. 28% MLF. 18.5+/20 Jul 2017 RRP $65.60

Adam Balasoglou – Fromm

Fromm ‘La Strada’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 
Bright, very pale straw-yellow colour. The nose is very fresh and bright with slightly cooler spectrum fruit, showing gooseberries, nettles, a little cut grass, and mineral notes. This is still youthful. On palate very zesty and coolish, with gooseberry, cut grass, fresh herbs along with thirst-quenching minerals. Very good fruit depth, the textures in the background, and the acidity to the fore to be mouthwatering. This is putting on richness, and evolving, albeit very slowly, and should live well. Tasted in October last year, and in better balance now. 17.5/20 Jul 2017 RRP $28.70

Richard Ellis – Greywacke

Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Very pale straw, near colourless. The nose is fresh and youthful with near exuberant and rich green stonefruit aromas of nectarines and greengages with notes of ripe capsicums and fresh herbs, unfolding a hint of smoke and nuttiness. The aromatics grow in fullness and depth with aeration. Dry to taste, very vibrantly sweet and rich in fruit, with juicy greengage, nectarine and green stonefruits. Complex detail emerges, nuts and oak? But quite subtle, with hints of creaminess. This has a tight, concentrated core and refined phenolic line. So youthful, but individual and with complexing nuances already. Fully barrel-fermented, with 7% new oak, minimal lees work, but two-thirds MLF. 19.0-/20 Jul 2017 RRP $37.85

Morven McAulay – Huia

Huia Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 

Fruit from two sites, one in Riverlands, the other Rapaura, 5% barrel-fermented, 12.5% alc. Bright, very pale straw colour. This has a very fresh, delicate and elegant nose with fresh herb and subtle gooseberry notes, a little grassiness, nettle, nutty and mineral elements. This is restrained and refined in expression. On palate dry, fresh and steely, the crisp, thirst-quenching acidity prominent. Detailed flavours of gooseberries, fresh herbs and minerals prevail. Atypical for Marlborough, but very classical European/Loire in style. 18.0+/20 Jul 2017 RRP $19.50

Chris Archer – Joiy

Joiy Sparkling NV
A unique wine, the creation of Chris Archer, 100% Riesling, carbonated, and if anything, more akin a Prosecco than any other sparkling wine.  Made using the solera system also, and each ‘bottling’ run quite individual.  The blend is continually evolving, but the wine remains essentially the same, though there are differences in taste to the different runs.  This run is based on 60% Waipara fruit and 40% Watervale, fermented to 10.0% alc. and 32 g/L RS.  Bright, light straw colour.  This has a nose of fresh lime and white floral fruit, a touch of toasty terpenes, the Australian fruit prevailing.  Mediumish to taste, this is soft and light, with flavours of limes, florals and a little honey and toast.  Gentle on palate, slight phenolic grip, simple and easy.  This was the 250 ml bottle.  From 250 ml can, somewhat more harmonious, but lighter in expression.  To be enjoyed as a gentle, mild in alcohol, refresher.  Don’t get overly serious about this, otherwise you’ll miss the point!  15.5/20  Jul 2017  RRP $6.85

Olly Masters – Misha’s Vineyard

Misha’s Vineyard ‘Verismo’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011 
Pale red colour with some depth and garnet hues. The bouquet is very elegant and tightly bound, with a fine and firm core of savoury red berry and cherry fruits entwined with complexing secondary dried thyme herb and game notes, unfolding ethereal florals. The palate possesses rich and very well-concentrated fruit flavours, the sweetness a feature. The vibrancy is enhanced by fresh acidity, and the wine follows a taut, textured line with underlying power and drive. The wine carries to a complex lingering finish with an array of savoury red fruits, herbs and hints of game, all lifted with fragrant florals. This is a classical cooler-year expression of elegance and fragrance, now with complex development appearing. 18.5+/20 Jul 2017 RRP $68.80

Erin Harrison & Ben Weaver – Mt Beautiful

Mt Beautiful North Canterbury Chardonnay 2015 
Straw-yellow with slight green hues. This has a soft, rich nose of yellow stonefruits with a little savoury secondary development emerging. The oaking inputs are very subtle, and allows the fruit to be the feature. On palate this has good underlying power and drive. Stonefruit and citrus fruit flavours are interwoven with some nutty and steely mineral elements. Again the oaking component is in the background, and the palate showcases freshness now. I remember this being more rounded, earlier this year. Clearly this youthfulness suggests there is the ability for further bottle aging. 17.5+/20 Jul 2017

Mt Beautiful ‘Reserve’ North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2015
A pre-release sample. A selection of the 10 best barrels, the wine spending 18 months in oak, and bottled under natural cork. Pale red colour. The bouquet is soft and ethereal with subtle and classy red floral and red fruit aromas that build in depth and intensity in the glass. On palate, very bright, lively and vibrant, with fresh soft-red fruits and an array of red florals with herb detail, along with spice elements and nutty oak. The fruit is supported by refined tannin extraction, providing linearity, and the mouthfeel retains excellent freshness. This is a beautiful wine with a refined core that will allow it to develop further. 18.5+/20 Jul 2017 RRP $TBA

Clive Jones – Nautilus

Nautilus Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
Bright, pale straw-yellow colour. The nose is softly presented showing real depth and concentration of white and yellow stonefruits in a flinty amalgam with creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak. The palate is full-bodied and possesses presence, the flavours showing stylish restraint, but undeniable concentration and richness, with stonefruits and citrus fruits, mealy detail and layers of flinty complexity, along with creamy and nutty oak. This is subtle with its MLF expression. This is deliciously rich, complex and has proportion and style. Outstanding wine, Predominantly clones 15 and 95 with a little 548 and 1066, fully indigenous yeast barrel fermented with high solids, the wine spending 11 months in 25% new French oak, undergoing batonnage and approx. 85% MLF. 19.0/20 Jul 2017 RRP $35.95

Sorry, no photograph of Brett Bermingham from Opawa taken
But I can confirm he’s a handsome dude

Opawa Marlborough Rosé 2017 
Brett Bermingham has given a lot of thought to the rosé style. His is 100% Pinot Noir, given 24 hours skin contact, 20% barrel-fermented to 12.5% alc. and 4.5 g/L RS, and a little MLF. Pale peach pink, light edged. The nose is very fresh with lifted red florals and notes of cranberries and a suggestion only of confectionary. A little savoury detail adds thirst-quenching interest. Dry to taste, this is very fresh and still tight, with an intense core of cranberries and redcurrants, pomegranate and florals. The fruit expression is one of delicacy, but without any deficiency. Crisp acidity and light phenolics carry this mouthwatering wine to a bright and detailed finish. A touch of Provence with Marlborough terroir. 18.0/20 Jul 2017 RRP $22.50

Sandy Moore – Palliser Estate

Palliser Estate Martinborough Methode Traditionnelle 2014
61% Pinot Noir and 39% Chardonnay, 12.5% alc. and 8 g/L dosage. Very pale straw colour. This has very attractive white and yellow stonefruit aromas balanced and complexed by bready, yeasty autolysis. This has balance, harmony and finesse. Dryish to taste, the palate is creamy in texture, with sweet and aromatic stonefruit flavours, this balanced by a very fine, tight acid line, and refined phenolic textures. The yeasty autolytic complexity is harmonious, and this has a delicious completeness and stylish finesse. This has developed in richness since last tasted. 18.5+/20 Jul 2017 RRP $52.00

Pete Eastwood – Rippon

Rippon Lake Wanaka Central Otago Gewurztraminer 2015 
Bright, pale straw-yellow colour. The nose ha good depth and intensity of rose-petal florals and Turkish Delight, with subtle musk and honey notes. The aromatics have clarity of expression with a fresh steeliness, but all the while with excellent presence. Dry to taste, the palate is tightly bound with crisp and zesty, lively acidity, shoeing rose-petal florals along with steely minerals. Subtle layers of detail unfold, as the wine flows along a light-textured phenolic line. This is classical Central Otago steeliness and minerality to me. 13.5% alc. and 7.3 g/L RS. 18.0/20 Jul 2017 RRP $37.00

Stewart Maclennan – Saint Clair

Saint Clair ‘Pioneer Block 5 – Bull Block’ Marlborough Gruner Veltliner 2015
Very pale straw colour, very light on the rim. The nose is softly concentrated, building in depth and density in the glass, unfolding stylishly expressed ripe herb notes with white stonefruits. This has lovely detail with white stonefruits and mineral suggestions. Dry to taste, the palate is fresh, crisp and zesty with brisk acidity, but an intense and concentrated core underlines the palate. This has good fruit presence, and is guided by an integrated phenolic-textured line. The fruit has stonefruit, herb and mineral interest, with white florals. More up-front and front palate wine, but this has developed well and will continue to do so. When Gruner Veltliner has richness, as this has developed, it confirms the potential of the variety in New Zealand. For me, there are not enough examples like this Saint Clair yet. 18.5-/20 Jul 2017 RRP $25.00

Jacqui Murphy – Two Paddocks

Two Paddocks Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015 
The addition of Bannockburn fruit into the Two Paddocks Pinot Noir blend has given a more complete wine. This is 62% ‘Fusilier’ (Bannockburn), 16% ‘Last Chance’ and 14% ‘The Red Bank’ (both Alexandra) and 8% ‘First Paddock’ (Gibbston). Pale ruby-red with some garnet and good depth. The nose is soft and gentle, quite beautifully ethereal with red florals and savoury red berry fruits, along complexing dark-red fruits melded with slight dried herbal detail. Medium-full bodied, the palate is rich, bright and lively with a vibrant mouthfeel and fine-grained tannin extraction supporting the stylish savoury dark-red berry fruit and dark herb flavours. Some subtle whole bunch stalk complexities emerge in the glass. This is harmonious and very elegant, and thus has beauty. 18.5/20 Jul 2017 RRP $55.00

Angus Thomson & Carol Bunn – Urlar

Urlar Gladstone Sauvignon Blanc 2016
I was particularly keen to try this wine again, as I’ve followed it from its conception. Winemaker Carol Bunn has tried to instil more fruit clarity into the wines, and I and Urlar owner Angus Thomson believe she has succeeded. My recent review of this wine caught the wine when it was in a dumb phase. It still looked very good, but today it was on song. Very pale straw colour with pale green hues. The nose is fresh, vibrant and intense with an array of aromatics with a nod to the cooler spectrum, gooseberries predominating along with fresh herbs, cut grass and hints of tropical fruits. Dry, crisp, brisk and quite intensely deep with lively gooseberry fruit, distinctly mouthwatering with hints of minerals and saline. The wine follows a very fine-textured core and line. 18.0/20 Jul 2017 RRP $25.00

Andrew Moore – Waipara Springs

Waipara Springs Waipara Valley Riesling 2016
Presented by Andrew Moore whose parents began the business, Andrew with the company 17 years in sales. Very pale straw colour. This has a soft nose of gently expressed citrus fruits, with a little talc botrytis, and honey. Off-dry to taste, this is crisp and clean with light and delicate flavours of white florals, honey and subtle citrus fruit notes, and slight muskiness. The mouthfeel is soft with gentle phenolics and soft acidity, leading to a soft, finish. 10.0% alc. and approx. 20 g/L RS. 17.5+/20 Jul 2017 $22.50

The Australian Wines

Cenna Lloyd – Negociants NZ, for Brokenwood

Brokenwood ‘Graveyard Vineyard’ Hunter Valley Shiraz 2013
Very dark, deep ruby-red with purple hues, very youthful in appearance. The bouquet is elegant with a tightly bound core of black berry fruits with dark raspberries, notes of black pepper and minerals, unfolding floral nuances. Elegant in proportion, not a blockbuster, this is nevertheless tight and taut with depth and density. Lovely complex black and red fruits intermixed with pepper florals, earth and minerals. The fruit is sweetly ripe, but tempered by fine-grained tannin extraction and an excellent thread of acidity. 13.5% alc. Aged in French oak, 10% in puncheons, 40% of the oak new. 19.0/20 Jul 2017 RRP $192.00

Nicki Waldin – Negociants NZ, for d’Arenberg

d’Arenberg ‘The Dead Arm’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2013 
14.6% alc., aged 18 months in French and American oak barriques. Very dark, black-hued red colour. The bouquet is elegant in presentation and proportion, with intense and concentrated aromas of blackberried fruit, plums, liquorice and spices with a hint of eucalypt. This is remarkably refined and stylish. The palate is rich with sweet, but tightly bound flavours of black fruits, plums and liquorice. There are complexing spice and eucalypt notes. The fruit is supported by fine, grainy tannins which feature to lend the wine an elegance of structure and style. Beautiful intensity with a little classy elegance and grip. 19.0-/20 Jul 2017 RRP $64.40

Martin McManus – Negociants NZ, for Langmeil

Langmeil ‘Orphans Bank’ Barossa Shiraz 2015
Dark, deep ruby-red with slightly lighter edge. The nose has beautifully ripened sweet and aromatic fruit, showing blackberries, plums liquorice and spices and rich cedary oak. This has some menthol and eucalypt complexity under the fruit. On palate, tight, rich, sweetly concentrated, quite lush and opulent with ripe black fruits, berries, plums liquorice and an array of Asian and Middle Eastern spices. The fruit is supported by enormous extract, but very fine-grained and fine-textured, nearly supple, with integrated acidity. This is sheer opulence and nearly ‘over the top’. Absolute decadence. 19.0+/20 Jul 2017 RRP $59.00

Evan Gill – Vasse Felix

Vasse Felix Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, and 1% each Petit Verdot and Merlot. 18 months in 40% new oak. 14.5% alc. Dark, deep ruby-red with a strong heart. This is very deep on bouquet with ‘density of texture’, with blackcurrant fruit harmoniously infused with earth and minty herbs, and a layering of minerals. On palate, this is tightly concentrated with great intensity of blackcurrant fruit softly and harmoniously interwoven with earth, herb and mineral flavours. The fruit melds with the fine-grained tannin structure, and fresh, lacy acidity lends tension. The depth of the wine grows and this carries with excellent length to a lingering, concentrated finish. 19.0-/20 Jul 2017 RRP $48.00

Nicky Earle – Negociants NZ, for Yalumba

Yalumba ‘The Signature’ Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2013
The 55th release of ‘The Signature’, with Andrew Murphy as the signatory. Aged 20 months in 37% new French, Hungarian and American oak barriques and hogsheads. Very dark, deep, black-hued red colour. The nose is a rich and ripe, luscious amalgam of blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, unfolding spices, plums and liquorice from the core. The palate is rich and near decadent with sweetly ripe black fruits, a little earth and spice with sweet oak. The flavours are packed and concentrated forming a dense, near robust core with fine, grainy tannin structure and grip providing presence and suggestions of robustness. In the end, elegance prevails and the wine carries to a very long and sustained finish. 18.5+/20 Jul 2017 RRP $55.00


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