Friday, August 7, 2009

Tasting Notes: New Zealand Wines at JavaMonkey

Hubby and I are unwinding this evening with glasses of the 2007 "Papa Loves Mambo" blend from Sapolil Cellars, a little winery based in and near Walla Walla, Washington. The grapes, 70% Syrah, 20% Sangiovese, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon are grow in the Horse Heaven Hills. Sounds poetic, doesn't it? Sapolil makes absolutely lovely wines, but they're still tiny, so you have to belong to their wine club or order directly from them to get it. I highly recommend them. The "Papa Loves Mambo" is dark purple in color, has a dark fruit nose, and the fruitiness of the Syrah is given a little bite by the Sangiovese and nice smoothness and depth by the Cab.

Oh, we drank wine last night, too. The focus of this Thursday Wine Series tasting was New Zealand. For those who aren't that familiar with it, New Zealand is that country in the Pacific Ocean that's kind of near Australia and gives the Aussies something to make fun of, which is entirely mutual. It's also where the "Lord of the Rings" movies were filmed. Unfortunately, the wines were not designated as being from the region of the Hobbits, Elves, or, well, you get the idea.

Random Aside: the very first night I can remember being drunk, if that makes sense, was at a big formal dinner that closed out the International Conference for Mathematical Modeling and Simulation in Hobart, Tasmania (that little island off the coast of Australia; no, the Tasmanian devils don't look like the cartoon) in 1997. You may not think that mathematicians and simulators would be good dinner party company, but I was seated across from two of my father's colleagues, one from Australia and one from New Zealand. They picked at each other all night, and in between amusing barbs, were sure to keep my wine glass filled. I don't remember much of the evening or the trip back to the hotel afterward. I was only 20 at the time and hadn't really started drinking yet.

So back to the wines...

2008 Russian Jack Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough):
Nice tropical fruit overlay with seashell underneath; only a little funky.
Rating: Good/Very Good

2006 Bird Pinot Gris (Marlborough):
A little funky and grassy; grapefruit finish with a hint of vanilla.
Rating: Good

2006 Bird Gewurztraminer (Marlborough -- do you see the trend?):
No scurvy here! More grapefruit, but this one was more mineral and floral. It also had a soapy nose.
Rating: Good

2003 Huia Riesling (Isengard):
This one would have probably been better in 2005. Or maybe Saruman corrupted it.
Rating: Only an Orc would love it

Gads, I'm a geek!

2005 Staeteland Landt Chardonnay (Marlborough):
This one had nice layers: floral in front, vanilla and oak in the middle, and some citrus on the finish.
Rating: Very Good

2004 Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Trinity blend (Hawkes Bay): 52% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Syrah
The reasoning behind calling this one a "trinity blend" when it has four grapes in it was discussed, and yes, there were some Douglas Adams references thrown in. It has a dark cherry and anise nose, is well-balanced between fruit and acidity and actually isn't as big as one might expect for the blend. A lot of cherry and cranberry come through as well.
Rating: Very Good/Excellent

Wow, both LoTR and Hitchiker's Guide references. It's a good night.

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