Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Christmas is just about here. Luckily I've got the supplies in to get us through it - lots of wine.

We don't do trees, cards, decorations, letters, turkeys and all that other stuff.

We'll probably get pissed.

Listen to this:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


I was looking for a nice rose in the supermarket today and chose the Villa Maria 'White Label' Rose 2017 that I've had before and has been doing OK in awards accumulation. See:

Happily it was on special so I bought a bottle thinking it would go well with the Summer fruits and vegetable salad I had planned for my dinner... see HERE

Next to the VM 'White Label' Rose was another Villa Maria rose I hadn't seen before - Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir Rose 2017.

This was also on special, at the same price as the 'White Label' - $13.99. Knowing that Cellar Selection wines are usually a price point above the 'White Label' wines I bought a bottle to try.
Without doubt this is the big brother or big sister wine. It has a greater depth of fruit intensity and flavour. It has all of the summer fruits characters of strawberries and raspberries that you expect with a good rose but also has a clear and typical Marlborough cherry Pinot Noir character. 
I'm 'sold' on this wine and I'm going to look out for 'by the case' specials.

Tonight I had it for dinner with that Summer fruits and vegetable salad that The Food Curmudgeon prepared. Result - bloody marvellous.

Monday, December 4, 2017


It's CLEANSKINS 2 because some years ago I wrote a post Cleanskins:

Not a lot has changed in regard to Cleanskins. The wine industries in Australia and New Zealand have vintage yield variations from year to year and supply demand changes which can lead to either gluts or shortages.

Cleanskins usually are the excess from wineries. From time to time wine producers have a surplus of some wines where their sales orders don't use up what they have in tanks and, with a new vintage looming they need to move the wine out quickly. When this happens the marketers worry about the bastardisation (erosion) of the retail price or perceived value and would prefer to hide the fact that their XYZ label is now (temporarily) cheaper. If the wine is already bottled with a label then the option is to use an on-line retailer and sell their wine that way (not to be on a retail shelf) and often advertised as a 'Mystery' wine. If the wine is bottled but not labelled or still in tank waiting to be bottled the temptation is to move it along as a cleanskin.

Not all cleanskin wine is ordinary. when I was in the industry I used to buy and sell cleanskins. Once I negotiated the purchase of a cleanskin wine from a winery that was in financial difficulty and needed cash flow. We put our label on it and submitted to a national wine show where it won gold medal and the trophy for its varietal. The producers were pissed off as if they had had the confidence (or the cashflow) to label it and submit it themselves to the show, the consumer interest in a trophy-winning wine would have meant they would gave got five times or more the return.

The problem is that sometimes the vintages are large and there is a lot of wine washing about and sometimes the vintage is small and wine is at a premium. Sometimes there is great demand for wine from a particular country of origin or region or wine type or varietal and sometimes the buyers and consumers move on to something else. The supply and demand ratio moves.

A winery can create a demand for their 'cleanskin' wine to the detriment of their (same wine) labelled product for which they should be able to sell at a higher price. The result is the creation of cleanskin 'brands'.

These 'cleanskins' since they are produced every year might as well be brands and often to all appearances are although they just list the varietal name.

When this happens the likelihood of the wine being an outstanding example that has only been sold as 'cleanskin' because the producer had too much of it to market under his own brand name becomes a lot less. To satisfy the demand for this cleanskin it is more likely that the producer  outsources bulk wine from elsewhere or even plans production early in the vintage year by growing high-cropping material that doesn't get all the important inputs normally associated with making good wine - why bother when you know that it's going to be sold cheaply as 'cleanskin'.

In summary, buying cleanskins is a bit of a lottery. Sometimes you could be getting a very good example of say a chardonnay at a knock down price or you could be getting a cheaply made chardonnay that, due to the low input manner of production is only worth what you are paying. It's buyer beware.


Richard (of RBB) used to look at cleanskins with disdain (see his comment in my earlier post CLEANSKIN above). Now he's strongly advocating the stuff.

I think that he's just got a taste for the cheap stuff now that he's retired.

Sunday, December 3, 2017


Greetings to fellow members at THE CURMUDGEONS INCⓒ.
Sorry to hear about what that dick Baxter did. It's inexcusable to threaten people but beyond redemption to force inferior cleanskin wine on a person, particularly a friar who likes good wine.

My suggestion is to send Baxter and AJ Christmas presents of wine to appear as if they've been sent by admirers.

Here are my suggestions:

Monday, November 27, 2017


I've written lots of posts about chardonnay over the years. I love the stuff and even when I tried to get away from it and drink Riesling I was pulled back:  See HERE

I'm drinking a glass of Tony Bish Fat n Sassy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014 at the moment. This was left over from the weekend when The Old Girl was up here. This is a rich and delicious chardonnay and has opened up nicely after being uncapped on Saturday. I bought a case of this a while ago at a good price from an online retailer and wish I had more of it. This is a good example of the upper end of Hawkes Bay chardonnay being a heavy, high alcohol (14%) beautifully oaked wine that begs to be taken seriously.
I of course ignored that and we drank most of it while playing pool in the snooker room.

I've finished the Bish chardonnay ....... now that reminds me of one of my favourite albums (one that The Old Girl hates and I have to listen to on my own) - Bish Bosch by Scott Walker see HERE

......and have poured myself a glass of Selaks Buttery Chardonnay 2016. This is from a bottle also left over from the weekend. Again Hawkes Bay this is a lighter version (and cheaper). It's 13% alcohol but with excellent fruit. It's not as woody as the Bish but is beautifully balanced as I would expect from Brett Fullerton's winemaking team. I believe that this just picked up a gold medal in the New World wine awards so hope the price doesn't go up. I bought this at about $16 and it's well worth it. It's a 'slippery' wine meaning that it's too easy to drink and before you know it a half a bottle has gone .

Looking at the little list I made in that old post I'd only drop off: Sacred Hill orange label as they've buggered this up and gone with cheaper materials and; Selaks Winemakers Favourite as it doesn't exist anymore - probably now is the Buttery.
There's lots of good other Hawkes Bay chardonnays that I could add - not now though as I've got to put dinner in the oven (meat loaf and roast potatoes).


Monday, November 20, 2017


I've been buying Villa Maria Hawkes Bay Rose 2017 in New World supermarkets for a couple of months now.  It's bloody nice and, when on special I'd stock up on the stuff. When I first spied it (I look out for new vintage release Rose wines as they are at their best when young) I ignored the big gold decal on the bottle which, when you read the lettering say's something like "NZ's most admired wine brand" or some bollocks like that - unworthy I think of Villa Maria and I wonder if Sir George is aware of what his marketers are doing.

This is the decal - ignore the sauvignon Blanc

This is the wine I've been buying

The wine is superb and fits any occasion or time of day.
I had mixed feelings when I learned that it just won a gold medal in the New World Wine Awards*.
It endorsed my appreciation of the wine but now every bugger will be wanting to drink it. My buying over recent years has been driven by finding excellent wines that 'every bugger' hasn't yet and, as sales volumes might be low the producers or retailers knock the price off.

This is what the NEW WORLD WINE AWARDS judges said about the wine:

Beautifully balanced with textural ripe strawberry flavours and a perfect acid and sugar balance. This Rose has drinkability by the glassful. A Gold medal last year and this year, and the wine is even better if that's possible. Perfect summer Rose to drink while enjoying an outdoor concert.

Yeah, OK and the
"Rose to drink while enjoying an outdoor concert."
comment matches my 'any occasion' comment so we agree on a couple of things.


Rose wine styles have been making a bit of a come back.

Most producers are now making one or two styles under their various brands and labels and there are a lot to choose from.
The trick is in selecting a good one that isn't 'lolly-water' nor an old tired, brown-looking one. Roses are best drunk young so new release 2017 wines - from say September onwards are generally at their best until mid 2018. The provenance of the brand is useful to know (e.g. the Villa Maria PB 2016 went gold as well) and once you find a favourite it pays to check it out each year. There are so  many now though that it pays to check out some other brands and styles and, in case the Villa Maria becomes unaffordable - other prices.

*Asterisk and italics because this is a supermarket chains wine awards.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


I've mentioned many times the advantages of blending wines at home. Her Indoors and I even do this at restaurants and at other people's homes but get funny looks though.

Today I opened a bottle of wine I procured through Blackmarket wines. It was The Doctors 2013 Arneis.

I'd bought a case (6) of these at a ridiculously cheap price - $8.95 a bottle for $20+ wine and it was delivered yesterday. The wine is dry but stacked full of flavours that just need more bottle age to emerge. It's not stunning drinking now but, given time will develop nicely. I went on-line to buy another case but it is all sold out. Bummer.

Now anyone reading this who has read some of my earlier posts will recall that I've been a bit scathing about arneis and 'emerging' varietals in New Zealand. Well, scathing is a gentle way of putting it as I admit I've been downright vitriolic. See here:

Or here:

Or here:

and, generally I stand by what I've said but - needs must.
I'm not earning as I was before and not being given free wine like before and have to -gasp- buy wine! I seek out all my favourite varietals, styles and brands but make my choice based on price - hence shopping on-line at Blackmarket and other sites. Really good bargains amongst the varietals I principally favour like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling are becoming fewer and farther between so I'm forced to look at other offerings for day to day quaffing.

I bought the case of arneis for a few reasons:

  • The Doctors is a trusted brand made by Forrest Wines
  • The accolades were really good (5 stars) from trusted reviewers
  • The price was outstanding
Re the price ($8.95 down from low to mid twenties) supports my theory that these new varietals are a waste of winemaking and marketing resource - professionally speaking, but on a personal level I'm very pleased. The wine as expected is very dry which falls outside of popular drinking styles. The depth of fruit and flavour is there though and time will bring them out. Being a 2013 wine it's already 4 years in bottle and still has a long way to go but bank managers see things differently and have probably advised the winemaker to 'move it along sir'. Their loss my (and all of those other greedy bastards out there) gain.

As I said I tried to buy another case but it was sold out. I'll keep a watch though because I doubt if the 2014 vintage will fare any better commercially speaking.

Thinking about this and the austere nature of the wine I took an opened bottle of Riesling out of the fridge - Gale Force 2016 Marlborough Riesling:

This is a low alcohol, slightly sweet wine with lovely flavours that I also bought a case (6) from Blackmarket. The price? $9.95 a bottle. A bargain.
I mixed some of the arneis with the riesling - by increments until I got the blend right and the result was a fresh and flavoursome wine - way more flavoursome and serious than a pinot gris or sauvignon blanc at, for the price I paid, a much lesser price than good examples of those other varietals


I had already decided that my 'dinner' this evening was going to be apple sponge.
I had three apples in the fridge that needed to be eaten and, as I'd damaged my leg yesterday, didn't feel like going to the supermarket for fresh provisions. Using the reliable Edmonds Cook Book as a base I whipped up an apple sponge with the addition of raisins, a cinnamon stick and Grand Marnier.
Delicious. It went perfectly with the arneis/riesling blend.