Modern Spain – a couple of Friday night treats

2012 Les Terrasses Velles Vinyes Priorat DOCa Alvaro Palacios 14.5%
Deep colour, raspberry jam and dried herb aromas, roast coffee overtones. A relatively simple, unevolved wine, with chunky, firm tannins, yet a fine, fresh finish.Es Lo Que Hay Garnacha Vinas Viejas 2011 Calatayud DO 15%

Bright, fruity high notes, Plum and currant, no overt oak, juicy and spicy, with dusty tannins, rounded acidity and a pruney aftertaste. A luscious, generous red from Master of Wine Norrel Robertson.

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Brunch review – Geeks on Sainsbury

Geeks has been here for a long time, but we have only recently got around to testing it out. Geeks obviously benefit from Crave’s presence a couple of blocks away, no doubt gets some of their overflow, but also helping to create a café quarter in this part of the city. It isn’t as flash in terms of furniture, nor fitout, generally as is Crave, but Geeks has a cool, understated vibe nonetheless. Servings are smaller than at Crave, but the dishes are a little more sophisticated.

I had smoked salmon eggs bene, which came on a slab of scalloped potatoes that had been flash fried, just the merest smear of hollandaise and very nice slices of salmon. My companion had the homemade granola, which was apparently quite sweet, served with milk curiously (from a cute little milk urn) but apparently it is a good healthy mix.

Coffee is by Red Rabbit, it is chocolatey and rounded. Good to see that Geeks pays for the music streaming (a lot of places don’t.)

Most of the main dishes are $19 ($12 for “small”, or one egg instead of two in the case of egg meals.) All the usual suspects appear on the brunch menu, along with Bi Bim Bap, apparently a famous Korean hot pot. Obviously the owners are of Korean origin. Considering the mania for all things Korean in our household, we will be back for it. Geeks on Sainsbury is a classy local that delivers on price.

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Remnants from Rio

One of the questions I got asked most often was “How was the wine?” But in truth I didn’t drink a single glass in the four days we were in Rio. It is actually quite difficult to get around Rio without a car. Public transport is patchy and if you are staying in somewhere like Copocabana, as we were so lucky to do so, you are isolated from a lot of the night life, including restaurants and bars. Copocabana itself has plenty of eating places and cafes, but everything is squarely aimed at the tourists, so the safest thing is to do what the locals do and drink caiprinhas, or beer, or both.

I stupidly ordered a Coke in one restaurant, assuming that I was ordering sparkling mineral water (should have checked the translation), but for the most part the beer was fairly average and the caiprinhas varied.

It was only on my way out of the country, we had a lengthy wait for our flight out, that I stumbled across a selection of Brazilian wines (like, two) and a whole shelf of premium Uruguayan ones in one of the last duty free stores inside the secure area after checking in for our flight. The local wines just looked bad – I was not going to waste a considerable sum on the equivalent of jug or cask wine in a bottle, no, not carrying that back all the way in my hand luggage.

I did buy one of the overpriced Tannats from Uruguay. Not sure when to / who with to open it, but I am assuming it is pretty smart. One never knows with duty free stores.

But, just as I had given up and had backtracked a store or two, I glimpsed a dump stack of Domaine Chandon and a sign stating that it was on promotion, $22 USD a bottle and though I had tasted this a long, long, long time ago, I just had to buy it.

Domain Chandon Brut (Non Vintage)

The cork was quite compressed, a solid plug, so I am guessing this was an old bottle, disgorged a long time ago. Not a bad thing, though, the wine had a good bead, was fresh and lively on the nose, delicate citrus and honey notes, but the deal maker was the palate. This is a relatively light, crisp style, the fruit restrained and subtle, but that age had made the wine creamy and succulent, definitely a light, aperitif style, but with good concentration and no hard edges. I would have found it difficult picking the origin on this in a blind tasting, it tasted very cool climate, tight and restrained, and yet had that round, creamy mid palate. Lovely stuff – I only wish that I had bought more. [Maybe we can convince Moet Hennessy NZ to ship a few cases in?]

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Perfect Mike Hosking

Text of yesterday’s decision by the TVNZ Complaints Committee follows:

11 September 2014 (on TVNZ letterhead)

Dear Paul Tudor
Further to your email received 14 August I wish to advise the Complaints Committee has completed its enquiry into your formal complaint about Seven Sharp shown on 14 August on TV ONE.
Your complaint has been considered with reference to Standards 4, 5 & 6 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.
The Decision
The Complaints Committee has not identified any breach of the relevant standards and accordingly declines to uphold your complaint. The reasons for this decision are discussed below.
The Programme
The Seven Sharp bulletin of 14 August looked at “Dirty Politics” a book by Nicky Hager. The programme was introduced:
Mike Hosking: ah so question – are we shocked at what Nicky Hager has in his book “Dirty politics”? In a word I think “no”. It is not the big expose Hager claims it is, there is no smoking gun. Sure it links dirty tricks to the Prime Minister’s staff but nothing directly to the Prime Minister himself.
Toni Street: still it’s an interesting insight into just how nasty things can get behind the scenes. Think Judith Collins’ name-calling and we are the first to talk to her about those comments. Heather du Plessis- Allan spent last night reading “Dirty politics” just for you.
Heather du Plessis- Allan then gives her perspective on the book including that:
 The chapter on Judith Collins and Whale Oil is “so gossipy”; giving examples of name calling;
 Cameron Slater’s alleged comments about the mother of a man killed in a car crash on the West Coast – described as “too unkind”; and the alleged comments calling the earthquake struck Labour voters in Christchurch “scum”;
This is followed by an interview with Steven Joyce and Nicky Hager about ”Dirty Politics”.
Mike Hosking starts the interview: Steven (Joyce) if I can just work with you really quickly, cleanly and concisely. Did Jason Ede break into Labour Party computers and steal stuff?
Steven Joyce: No.
MH: did anybody feed Slater SIS information ahead of anybody else?
SJ: as I understand it – no.
MH: did Collins feed any information about Bronwyn Puller to Slater?
SJ: not aware of that; I don’t know the answer to that one, but ah I suspect given the
strike-rate that Mr Hager’s having – no.
MH: has anybody in the National Party done anything illegal at any time, to your knowledge, at all, ever?
SJ: well I think there’s thirty-something thousand people in the National Party so I don’t think that I can vouch for all of them Mike.
MH: at the level we’re talking about? At the top floor, in the top echelons of the National party?
SJ: nah look, this is a major beat-up from Mr Hager, that’s the reality of it. Look nobodies arguing that Cameron Slater is the saint of great all things. Personally I’ve struggled with Cam a bit over the years; he’s not my biggest fan for example. He’s an individual who’s fiercely independent and will say whatever he feels like on whatever day it is. And so I’m not going to defend all his different things but the reality is, we brief bloggers, we have somebody that does that, so does the Labour Party, so does the Greens. Nicky Hager decides he wants to get horrified by it, well that’s fine, but actually in the modern world social media exists.
MH: do you defend Judith Collins’ behaviour?
SJ: well Judith and Cam go back a long way…
MH: well that doesn’t matter – do you defend her behaviour?
SJ: well I haven’t read the book, but ah I understand there’s some chatty emails there, amongst friends, and as in your story there’s some interesting descriptions of other MPs.
MH: acceptable descriptions?
SJ: well I don’t know, I’m not going to go through them one by one.
MH: are charges of any description going to come out of this?
SJ: I would very much doubt it although perhaps for whoever stole the emails, but look I think the whole things a bit ironic really. It’s called “Dirty Politics” is the name of the book, well I think he’s got that part right because what he’s done is about five of the “Dirty Politics” things. He’s gone out and had some emails stolen that he’s used, he’s gone out and reheated some old stuff which is an old political trick and all of that stuff has been through the mill in the past. He’s come up with some new allegations which are joining some dots and adding some heroic numbers together; and then he’s actually declared that the Prime Minister’s the sort-of the ‘devil-beast’ and that’s just classic attack politics.
MH: no-one’s going to end up facing charges? No-one’s heads going to roll out of any of this?
SJ: I very much doubt that.
MH: OK so Jason Ede is safe in your view he’s done nothing wrong at any point?
SJ: well there’s one criticism of him that he actually looked at the wide-open Labour Party server at some point, and interestingly don’t forget that was back in 2011 when the Labour Party actually apologised for leaving all their secure data for the world to see; and apparently that’s news today. And of course they’re horrified today and somehow it’s some sort of massive interference.
MH: now Nicky bring you into this, since I talked to you on the radio this morning, everybody’s denied everything. Give me one of your allegations that people haven’t denied today?
Nicky Hager: one of the sad things about doing a piece of work like this is, that you would hope that people would sometimes say, admit, when they have done something wrong. But you’re quite right all the key figures have just said “no, no didn’t do it”. But it’s a book full of communications and exact documentary evidence and so they’re just hoping that people who haven’t seen the book will believe them.
MH: … In talking to you today I put specific allegations to you you’ve been allowed all day to say ‘he did this, she did this, he said that’; every single one of these people have come out and go ‘not true’. So we end the day ‘not true’.
NH: well every person who has read the book with an open mind, which I don’t think it sounds like includes you, but every person who has read the book with an open mind has looked at the stuff about a National Party senior staff member going with Whale Oil inside the Labour Party’s computers, which I think that the police are investigating now,
MH: yep
NH: and then planning hits from that against them is not just probably illegal but completely off the scale of unreasonable behaviour… this is somebody that sits in an office two doors from the Prime Minster.
MH: understand that; which comes back to this over-arching thing that … you seem to be outraged about. There’s this dirty game of politics and people do this stuff and leak and brief. But most of us are saying to you, and have said all day, it’s been going on for years this isn’t big news.
NH: well can I tell you most people haven’t been saying that to me all day. You’ve did on the radio this morning, in fact if you show the public silly little, trivial or petty things that Judith Collins says then they won’t think there’s much of a story so let me give you a different story from the Judith Collins chapter…
MH: give me your best hit right now on Judith Collins…
NH: from the Judith Collins chapter – where she believes that she knows who’s leaked some information about Bill English’s house from inside Ministerial Services, she gives that name to Cameron Slater and Cameron Slater crucifies that guy … he ends up with death threats being made against him, the police have to come in to protect him. And that was a Minister of Police, a Minister of Corrections who’s giving that unsubstantiated name to a blogger and then having the guy crucified. Now that’s just not how a Minister should act.
MH: OK, alright so on that and every other thing that you’ve raised in this book and throughout the media today once every investigation is held and the Greens have run to everybody I can think of that would investigate this; if and when it comes back and literally nothing comes out of this, then what?
NH: I believe that normal New Zealanders who hear about this, not the cynical, maybe not people who feel cynical and ‘all politics is dirty’ but … most New Zealanders will say ‘hang on a moment can we please debate issues, can we please debate policies, and not have that kind of dirty tricks going on with our Cabinet Ministers’…
MH: are you in trouble with this Steven in any way, shape or form?
SJ: ah I don’t think I’m in the book.
MH: no not you personally, your government?
SJ: no I don’t think so. The simple reality is that this is Nicky Hager sitting there saying that these are all these things yet he is the guy doing exactly the stuff. I mean he’s the one actually doing the dirty politics.
MH: which Nicky really is the ultimate irony of this whole book isn’t it? Somebody hacked in, stole a bunch of stuff, you got it ran it through a printer and called it a book?
NH: ha, ha well I tell you what actually happened. Somebody did hack into Whale Oil’s computer, and out of that came a whole lot of information about New Zealand politics which the public knew nothing about. If it had been offered to TVNZ they would have grabbed it. If it had been offered to the NZ Herald they would have grabbed it. They happened to bring it to me, and in my job I wrote it as carefully and faithfully as I could, and you can see every footnote in the back and apart from a few cynics like you actually…
MH: I’m not a cynic I just ask questions, I’ve seen a lot of politics, I’ve seen all this for year after year, after year. I looked for a smoking gun there isn’t one, there will be no charges, no-ones head’s going to roll, you’ve fired off a whole lot of allegations and nothing will come of it.
NH: well I would like you to know around the rest of the media, and with people I’ve been talking to all day, and around the country where this book was sold out in a few hours and the printing presses are running now, people don’t agree with you.
Toni Street: so basically there’s two things to come out of this, the police investigation which we will wait for and secondly how you the public view this. Do you believe these allegations and will it affect the way you vote? Because that’s ultimately what it comes down to isn’t it? (Mike: I guess so).
Later in the bulletin at the end of the programme as part of the standard format of Seven Sharp Mike Hosking has his ‘final word’ –giving his views on the topic of the day. In this segment Mr Hosking states: which brings us sadly to this book. 24 hours on here’s my take on Hager’s efforts. It’s Wellington-centric, it’s got the politicos running around in ever decreasing circles today. For the wider world my sense is no-one really cares. Hager’s taken stolen emails, reprinted them unverified and said to us ‘look! This is shocking!” and for those of us who have been around a bit, it’s not shocking, it’s politics. And politics is a dirty game, always has been. Do the main players come out looking ‘squeaky’? Of course not. But there is no ‘smoking gun’, nothing to bring the government down, nothing I suspect even to the move the polls. Today has been its phosphorous moment; it’s burned -tomorrow it will be out.
Your Complaint
You state: I have never, ever lodged a formal complaint about your programming, however having watched Mr Hosking’s appalling behaviour tonight, I am absolutely shocked at his behaviour towards Nicky Hager. His questions to Mr Hager were attacking, repetitive, not open. His questions to Minister Joyce were open, leading and friendly. He said twice that no charges would be laid – although his assistant host Toni Street pointed out at the end that there was a police investigation pending. Mr Hosking is trying to mislead people to believe that no criminal activity took place. He also interrupted Mr Hager – he did not interrupt the National Party politician. Given how close we are to an election, this bias needs to be stopped.
If the allegation in Hager’s book is correct, that a senior employee in the a Prime Minister’s office has hacked into a Labour Party server, this incident is as bad as what happened in the Watergate saga. The Watergate affair would have been shut down, were it not for some great journalism. Unfortunately, TVNZ seems to be lacking great journalism at present and in Mike Hosking you have a very dangerous person who is breaking all rules of fairness and balanced reporting.
The Relevant Standards
Standard 4 Controversial Issues – Viewpoints
When discussing controversial issues of public importance in news, current affairs or factual programmes, broadcasters should make reasonable efforts, or give reasonable opportunities, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.
4a. No set formula can be advanced for the allocation of time to interested parties on controversial issues of public importance. Significant viewpoints should be presented fairly in the context of the programme. This can only be done by judging each case on its merits.
4b The assessment of whether a reasonable range of views has been presented takes account of some or all of the following:
 the programme introduction;
 whether the programme approaches a topic from a particular perspective (e.g. authorial documentaries, public access and advocacy programmes;
 whether viewers could reasonably be expected to be aware of views expressed in other coverage.
Before considering a complaint under this standard, the Complaints Committee must determine whether the issue being discussed is a ‘controversial issue of public importance.’
The Broadcasting Standards Authority has typically defined an ‘issue of public importance’ as something that would have ‘a significant potential impact on, or be of concern to, members of the New Zealand public’ (refer BSA decision 2005-125). A ‘controversial issue’ is defined by the BSA as one which has topical currency and excited conflicting opinion or about which there has been on-going public debate (e.g. BSA decision 2006-076). The Committee agrees that the revelations in “Dirty Politics” and the subsequent revelations on this topic are such an issue.
As discussed extensively under “The Programme” above all significant viewpoints on “Dirty Politics” were given ample time in the Seven Sharp bulletin. While Mike Hosking did give his opinion on the likely weight of the revelations in the book at the end of the programme and directly to Mr Hager in the interview, freedom of speech as preserved by the Bill of Rights Act explicitly entitles Mr Hosking to hold and express an opinion on this matter, even if that opinion is unpopular with some viewers. Mr Hager was able to respond to this opinion and directly challenges Mr Hosking about this point in the interview. Such expression is also permitted under this standard. No breach of standard 4 has been identified.
Standard 5 Accuracy
Broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure that news, current affairs and factual programming:
 is accurate in relation to all material points of fact and/or
 does not mislead.
5a The accuracy standard does not apply to statements which are clearly distinguishable as analysis, comment or opinion.
5b In the event that a material error of fact has occurred, broadcasters should correct it at the earliest appropriate opportunity.
5c News must be impartial.
In this case the presenter discussed his opinion on “Dirty Politics”; his main criticisms were put to Mr Hager in the interview and Mr Hager was given time to address the points as he saw them. Mr Hosking’s commentary on the information in the book was clearly presented as his opinion. Opinion and commentary are permitted under this standard. The right to make such commentary is permitted, it is what is commonly termed “freedom of speech”, and is protected under the Bill of Rights Act 1990.
The Committee notes that this bulletin was very early in the “Dirty Politics” story (which is still on-going) and the emails behind the book had not yet been revealed by “Whaledump”. In the Seven Sharp bulletin Nicky Hager was given time to outline his arguments (including a key claim that Judith Collins has given a public servant’s name to Mr Slater and that the public servant had received death threats). Steven Joyce’s (the National Party’s) denial on all fronts in the Seven Sharp interview was also important to record.
In the context of the interview and discussion at the time it is acceptable to challenge the claims in the book, and indeed to accept claims of this nature uncritically would be irresponsible. The story was further reported on TVNZ and in other media as it unfolded including the “Whaledump” emails.
Standard 5 is not designed to regulate personal opinion or commentary (as per guideline 5a). No breach of standard 5 has been identified.
Standard 6 Fairness
Broadcasters should deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to.
6a A consideration of what is fair will depend upon the genre of the programme (e.g. factual, dramatic, comedic or satirical programmes).
6b Broadcasters should exercise care in editing programme material to ensure that the extracts used are not a distortion of the original event or the overall views expressed.
6c Except as justified in the public interest:
 Contributors and participants should be informed of the nature of their participation
 Programme makers should not obtain information or gather pictures through misrepresentation;
 Broadcasters should avoid causing unwarranted distress to surviving family members by showing footage of bodies or human remains.
6d Broadcasters should respect the right of individuals to express their own opinions.
6e Individuals and particularly children and young people, taking part or referred to should not be exploited, humiliated or unfairly identified.
6f Where the programme deals with distressing circumstances (e.g. grief and bereavement) discretion and sensitivity are expected.
This standard is designed to protect those people and organisations taking part or referred to in broadcast. You have complained that the interview was unfair to Nicky Hager. The BSA has previously explained that criticism of political and public figures is permitted and protected under the Bill of Rights Act. In decision 2010-186 concerning the treatment of a representative from the Council of Trade Unions in an interview the Authority noted:
[26]…In Kiro and Radioworks Ltd,3 the Authority stated that the fairness standard:
… does not prevent criticism of public figures. Indeed, it is an essential element of free speech that even the most trenchant criticism of public figures be allowed. …The question for the Authority is whether that criticism overstepped the boundaries of fairness, that is, whether it strayed into abusively personal territory.
[27] As noted above, we accept that the host was aggressive and confrontational towards Ms Kelly, particularly in the second half of the interview. However, it is our view that the criticism was aimed at Ms Kelly in her professional capacity, and was not an attack against her personally. With regard to comments that Ms Kelly’s handling of things was “a complete failure”, that she “might be fantasising”, was “preaching”, and was “clueless”, we consider that the host was expressing his personal opinion, and repeating others’ opinions, of Ms Kelly in her professional capacity, and that freedom of expression protects his right to do so.
In the case of the Seven Sharp broadcast the hosts’ discussion focussed solely on criticism and commentary concerning “Dirty politics” and Nicky Hager in his professional capacity. While some of this commentary included the presenters’ personal opinion, it did not stray
into the personally abusive. Mr Hager was confident in the interview and familiar with the media. He handled the discussion adeptly and was able to put his position across – which he did in a professional and composed manner; indeed in subsequent interviews in other media (NZ Herald AUG 30) he discussed how proud he was of his responses in this interview. The sort of discussion shown in the Seven Sharp bulletin is permitted under broadcasting standards. No breach of standard 6 has been identified.
Right to Refer to Broadcasting Standards Authority and Time Limit
In accordance with section 7(3) of the Broadcasting Act you are hereby notified that it is your right, should you be dissatisfied with this decision, to refer the matter to the Broadcasting Standards Authority, P O Box 9213, Wellington, as provided under section 8 of the Act, for the purpose of an investigation and review of the decision. You have 20 working days after receipt of this letter to exercise this right of referral.
Yours sincerely
Complaints Committee

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The Cricketing Gods Love Wine

With all the shock and awe that has arisen from the publication of Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics (it is a really good read, by the way, extraordinarily crafted given the very short turnaround time) some people may have forgotten that New Zealand has a fine tradition of whistleblower books.

One such book is called Thirty Pieces of Silver, which was about the law firm Russell McVeagh and some of the dirty dealings that came to light after the Winebox Inquiry. Thirty Pieces of Silver was written by a celebrated lawyer, Tony Molloy QC, and had a profound effect on the firm in question, triggering a major shakeout of that firm’s partners and altering the shape of big city law firms in this country for good. I worked in another big city firm at the time (not as a lawyer, I might add) and while people were unhappy with what Molloy had done there was also tremendous respect for his integrity and discipline in his researching the scandal.

That integrity and discipline was already evident to those of us who got into wine in the late 80s / early 90s. We were blown away by some of the pioneering NZ wines of that era, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 1986, Kumeu River Chardonnay 1987, Stonyridge Larose 1987 and St Nesbit Cabernet Merlot 1987. The first vintage of Te Mata Coleraine was in 1982, in fact John Buck’s first Te Mata vintage overall was in 1979, but Coleraine really didn’t start to hit its straps until the 1989 and 1990 vintages. Antipodean released a group of vintages around the same time, 1985, 1986, 1987, but the price for these first releases, in the mail out in 1989, I remember was astronomical, so I couldn’t afford to buy any to see how good / or not the wine was.

So what the newly emerging wine buffs had for red wine excitement was this unknown producer called St Nesbit, from a peninsula on the Manukau Harbour of all places making restrained, Bordeaux-like Cabernet Merlot blends. The 1987 vintage came and went, then the 89, 90, 91s, they were all good, they were all expressive of their vintage and they were being made by a tax / trust lawyer in his spare time from a bizarre location, Hingaia, which, when we looked it up in the map, was somewhere near Karaka in South Auckland.

There had been a precedent for creating something world-class from a less than auspicious location. Mate Brajkovich, with his now Master of Wine son Michael (second person outside the UK in 1989, Michael Hill-Smith passed in 1988), was releasing some of the New World’s finest Chardonnays from a tough terroir in Kumeu. Kumeu River Chardonnay 1989 remains a key lockstep in my wine evolution, as does St Nesbit 1989 released a year later, these were significant advances on what had come before – Vidal (with Chris Pask’s new Gimblett Gravel vineyards) had blown the wine judges away with their 1987 Reserve reds, Goldwater and Stonyridge also had great wines that year, but our first genuinely Bordeaux like wines (again I hadn’t seen any Antipodean at this stage) were from St Nesbit.

When I got married in 1995, I had a range of wines at the reception, but the red wines on the table were mostly St Nesbit. I remember talking to one of the waiters from Great Catering Company after the guests had left and he getting excited because he was allowed to try a couple of different vintages from the bottles that were left open.

Who was Saint Nesbit? I will leave you to look up that lovely and loving story.

But the driving force behind the wine label was Molloy’s unflappable determination to make a single wine from one estate, in the Bordeaux mold. Unfortunately nature intervened with several disastrous vintages and then, even worse, the vineyard itself became diseased, wiped out by virus and Molloy’s family and friends had to start over.

It has been great to see that this once legendary New Zealand wine label is now coming back and the latest vintages reflect something special amongst local wines. What is most exciting is to see the personality of the different vintages, all of the wines are structured and well made, but there is real definition to each and every one of them, and more importantly balance and drinkability. These are truly brilliant wines considering that we have not heard from St Nesbit for such a long time. Class, sophistication, subtlety and finesse, but then these are all qualities that we got from Tony Molloy QC himself. These currently available vintages are all different – all good – all great drinking.

This Election Night, then, I might have to toast the new government with a glass of St Nesbit and, if she gets re-elected that is, I might have to send the Member for Papakura a bottle, since St Nesbit is in her electorate, to remind her of the values of honesty and integrity.

St Nesbit 2004
One of the first few vintages from the replanted vineyard (the very first from the new vines was in 2002?) this is boldly fruited, dense, a bit of a blockbuster. There is some lovely sweet berryfruit here, also sour cherries and dusty firm tannins. With this bottle age we are seeing earthy, savoury characters, slightly rustic in style, but big and powerful.

St Nesbit 2007
The most Bordeaux like of these current vintages, and thus more typical of what I remember St Nesbit to be, this is an elegant, racy, supple wine, boasting cedar and blackcurrant notes, creamy, vanillin oak over the top, and a pencil lead character that reminds me generally of Cabernet (Sauvignon or Franc?) and more particularly Left Bank Bordeaux. Classy wine – my favourite to drink now.

St Nesbit 2008
If you are more attuned to Hawkes Bay reds or Waiheke, then this riper, richer, more heady wine will appeal to you. The impression here is more plums and dark berry, the wine seems sweeter (higher in alcohol), rounder and plumper. For me, the Merlot component is currently holding forth here, it is this variety that is most expressive, but there is also an excellent acid backbone and firm, but not heavy handed tannins, so this may evolve in a really interesting way in the cellar over the next three to five years.

St Nesbit 2009
Like the 2008 before it, 2009 shows great structure and finish, but the overall impression is of a drier, more firm and taut wine. I would also hazard that 2009 is slightly lighter in extract (and weight?) than the earlier vintage, but it is another one that I prefer, due to the leather and cedar characters, mint and herbal overtones, so here the other varieties are singing and Merlot plays a supporting role only. Another elegant, structured wine that would be great now, decanted, with red meats and hard cheese, but which could also mature gracefully with another four to five years in the cellar.

St Nesbit 2010
Initial impressions are that this is another big, ripe vintage, certainly it is a little more broad shouldered than the 2009 vintage, but my general conclusion is that this is a youthful, fruity wine that needs more time. Big, sweet, cherry-berry characters, some toasty oak over the top yet to be resolved / integrated, juicy and dense on the palate, while this is fruity and relatively uncomplicated in the mouth, it is also tannic and structured, you have been warned! This should age gracefully for up to ten years.


Post Script / Addendum (18 September 2014)

The wines above were first tasted, as a group, on Friday 15 August 2014.

On Wednesday, 17 September, I was able to taste the remaining vintages from the “new” St Nesbit. Many thanks to Great Little Vineyards for this opportunity. Unfortunately the rigours of re-establishing this great estate mean that these may be the last wines sold under this label and that the Molloy family may withdraw from production. The vineyard will go on, but for the moment the future is uncertain and this may be it for this iconic label.

Here are the remaining wines:


St Nesbit 2006

Starts initially like any other Bordeaux varietal New World wine, with fruit prominent on the nose. plum, dark berry, capsicum and cedar aromatics, but then reveals savoury, complex elements somewhere between marmite and iodine. This earthy, secondary aspect comes through again on the palate, the acids are clean and fresh, the tannins taut and direct. This wine took quite a while to open up, suggesting a good cellaring candidate for potentially five plus years. One of the more elegant, perfumed St Nesbits, but already expressing a great deal of character.


St Nesbit 2005

Quite meaty and earthy aromatics, the berryfruit here has evolved into mineral, woodsy notes, showing a lot of development. In the mouth, however, the sweet fruit comes through, with a creamy mid palate, brusque, yet textured tannins and a hint of sweetness and alcohol.

Altogether bigger and more dense than the 2006, perhaps showing a slightly warmer or drier vintage, I am not sure (South Auckland is not exactly a wine region from where we get regular vintage reports.) More developed as well, this is enjoyable now, but will hold nicely for the next three to five years at least.


St Nesbit 2003

Another amazing wine from St Nesbit, especially when one considers that this was the second vintage released from the replanted vineyard (note – I have not yet tasted the 2002, the inaugural vintage from those new and improved vines, but on the basis of this wine, it ought to be exciting.) This fully mature wine shows a mineral overtone which is the hallmark of the entire line up, game meat and macerated berry notes, clove, black olive and diesel. If this is any indication, the younger vintages have potentially some wonderful development ahead of them. The palate gives the impression of another warm year, it is concentrated and dense, with a hint of fruit richness, but the finish is dry and firm, gravelly and dusty very much in the Bordeaux mold. So the wine is just starting to dry out a little, but this is outstanding drinking now and over the couple of years. Beautiful wine, one of the highlights of these recently re-released vintages.

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Churton 2012 Marlborough Petit Manseng 9%

From New Zealand’s best Viognier producer comes this, New Zealand’s finest Petit Manseng.
Funky, honeysuckle nose, hints of baked apple, honey, grapefruit skin, this is sweet, lush, with a slight phenolic kick on the end. And sorry, sorry, sorry Churton, I opened this alongside Thai chicken curry, which had a lot more kick than normal (and really needed a dry wine.) This is medium sweet, probably entirely appropriate at this stage of Churton’s journey with this amazing variety, but I must say I was a bit shocked (no I did not check out the alc level before I pulled the cork.) Youthful, yet characterful wine, another great experiment from one of most thoughtful winemakers.

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Cotswold Gold (Galbraiths)

Many thanks to my conspirator – third time lucky, finally, finally Galbraiths had Cotswald on tap tonight and a pint was in the offing.
Cotswald is a really interesting, light, fresh, dangerous ale, seeming a little heftier than it’s supposed 5.4% but still a pilsner version of English ale, possibly not the best drop on a stormy Auckland evening, but which would be crackerjack on those still, limpid, moody November evenings…
I love Auckland in springtime… but this beer is so fresh and drinkable why are not enjoying this in summer.
Styrian Golding hops, they have a real twang (this beer reminds me of a Tuatara Pilsner – but not as malty, not as rich.) Delicate, fine malt (Galbraiths are the masters of malt in NZ) fresh mouthfeel, not the yeasty, spicy finish of an East German or Czech pils, but very similar in structure albeit in an “English ale” mindset. This is great stuff, one of Galbraiths better experiments, well done.
Apparently, Sam has attempted a dry hopped version of the Cotswald. Would love to see!

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