Thursday, December 01, 2005

Saint Clair wines

Time flies when you are having fun.

Another week has come and gone and now I have two sets of tasting notes to get out.

The Saint Clair tasting covered a lot of wines. Eleven. Three Sauvys, a Pinot Gris, a Riesling , two Chards, three Pinot noir and a Merlot.

The three Sauvignon Blanc, Vicar's 2005, Saint Clair 05 and the Wairau Reserve were tasted as a group. Although there was little to distinguish one from the other in terms of colour, the nose of these wines really illustrated the variance in style. The Vicars was typical tinned asparagus and vegetal/slightly herbaceous characters with a very lively lime acidity. The Saint Clair was the most popular of the lot at my table even after my assessment of sweaty armpit. When will I learn to be quiet? I rarely get beyond that if I pick it up. Sure there might have been some green capsicum going on but.. yeah. Same for the Reserve. Similar but with more. There was a minerally, pencil shaving aroma backing up the fruit as well. It was a very oily, rich wine and a very progressive style compared to the others. All affordable and with this range, definitely something for everyone.

Onwards to the 2004 Pinot Gris. I have to realize that when I try a new one, not to always compare it to others that I adore. But this WAS good. A showstopper of hazelnuts and buttered popcorn. Then sandalwood and almond cream. Word has it that the 2005 is even better. Put me down for a bottle. Depending on the growing conditions, I'll have to ask, I might be tempted to hang on to one for a few years.

The Riesling was also good and I was hard to pressed to decide on one to take home. Faint high petrol notes, an ethereal rose violet soft candy floss sweetness and a little lemon. Would you say oily? I guess so. It definitely had a feel about it. Evident in the glass. A nice wine.

I'd be tempted to drink (a lot of) either of these wines this summer. Maybe the Riesling with a blue cheese stuffed chicken breast and the Pinot Gris with a cheese platter or a light pasta dish. It is causing me to think a little.. this Pinot Gris. I can't wait unit my order comes in so I can decide once and for all.

The Chardonnay 2004 was also a solid effort. I think the "marmalade on toast" description oversimplifies this nicely complex wine but that is what I wrote down. It is a very tasty drop even with the hint of sugar on the finish. I also think I picked up a little diacetyl from the malo, a good thing. The Omaka Reserve was tasted next. Making a lovely statement, the nutty, nicely oaked wine still had a decent citrus and stonefruit balance. The time on lees and use of only half new oak is evident in the creamy, rich, mouthfull when tasted. Yum. Pricewise, the 04 is a good buy at $20 and with no price given on the Reserve, I would hazard a guess at just under $30.. not for everyday, but on the "sometimes an ordinary night needs a nice wine" list. I can certainly see it spiceing up a simple pasta supper (pasta bianco) or roast chicken and kumara.

Pinot Noir is always an exciting wine for me. I have only really got "into it" recently. I have drank it, but never really appreciated it as I have through these exercises.

The Saint Clair 2004 was the brightest wine in the glass. By that, I mean the ruby garnet colour wasn't all that deep but very brilliant. I expected cherry fruit, which I got but the year has softened or concentrated it a little to a dried cherry, plum. The complexity was subtle, bay leaf and green olive. With a blue cheese, it would really compliment with its faint barnyard notes. Whatever it is that makes Pinot Noir so good with cheeses and with game, albeit on the lighter side, was undoubtedly in this glass. The Omaka Reserve on offer was from the 2003 and 04 vintage. The 2004 was lovely with cooked cherry jam, smoke and sundried herbs. The ruby coloured wine was a chewey mouthfeel. Not green, maybe a little band-aid? I think so. And I also think it was a very nice wine. The 2003 was a mellower version of the 2004 with some higher spice or maybe bacon bit aromas. They were faint and it was the end of a long tasting.

Which leaves the Merlot. I am going to try it again, I think I should to do it justice... The 2003 Rapaura Reserve struck a chord. It was sweet soil smell. At first I thought mushrooms, but the sweetness, reminded me more of Brio (it is like the Italian version of coca-cola). The fruit was currants and some spice along with what I think was a more cedary oak Was that licorice too? Yes, I am asking myself what I was on that evening... so even though I am not a huge merlot fan, there was something in this that makes me want to give it another go before making a full out assessment. That said, I think it has a few years to go. Not a long sleep mind you, but definitely another year or two.

A good tasting.. and an olafactory workout. I can see the little cilia in their Olivia Newton-John legwarmers now..
I need the week for my senses to rest.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Great descriptions Mary. I envy people who have the ability to describe wine in this manner. It is not something I've ever mastered. I'm not sure what happened to a previous comment I left. Maybe I forgot the word verification.