Ascension Wine Estate in Matakana New Zealand

Richard Prebble wrote a book called “I’ve Been Thinking”. I haven’t read it but I am guessing it is quite a short book. I have decided that from time to time I will write a short Blog entry called “I’ve Been Drinking”. It will be shorter even than Richard’s book and way more interesting! I do drink a fair amount of wine. Let’s call it ‘work’ because that’s what I call it. I am always happy to do overtime! I drink mainly non-Ascension wine to benchmark where we are at, to learn what is happening elsewhere, and of course I do get a wee bit of enjoyment from this ‘work’ as well. Lots of people ask me what I drink, which are my favourite wines. Well, I am actually quite promiscuous when it comes to choosing wine and I think that drinking wine is perhaps one of the few areas in life where promiscuity is to be encouraged (see my previous Blog). So here is a clutch of wines, in no particular order, that I have really enjoyed over the last month or so. Most of them are ‘obtainable’. Tell whoever you buy one from that you were “sent by Darryl from Ascension”. If you do try one, I would love to know what you thought. Happy ‘working’, Darryl My faves from the last month or so… Kalleske ‘Pirathon’ Barossa Shiraz 2007. This wine is like Angelina Jolie – curvaceous, sensuous, stylish and fine! It’s is a full throttle ‘Aussie Red’ that still retains the finesse which is so crucial yet missing from many of today’s offerings that are more like skinny models. Kalleske is a small, very hands-on producer and this particular wine won ‘Best Australian Shiraz’ at the International Wine Challenge in London a year or so ago – a very major gong! You probably won’t find the 2007 anywhere, but Caro’s in Parnell have the 2008 for about $36. I still have some 2007 but I would swap it for an evening with Angelina! Clearview Reserve Chardonnay 2008. My style of Chardonnay and one of my ‘top 3′ in NZ. Big, toasty, lots of fruit, creamy. Yum. About $35 from most good wine stores or make an excuse to visit the winery and excellent cafe near Cape Kidnappers at Te Awanga in Hawkes Bay. Vidal Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007. One of the bargains of the year! This is a fantastic, juicy ripe Pinot for under $20!!! This is such a steal that my father-in-law might even consider a purchase. On second thoughts, forget that. Anyway, most Pinots this good are double the price so grab some (if there is any left) at First Glass, Takapuna. Catalina Sounds Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009. Air NZ Trophy Winner for best Sauvignon Blanc. I don’t drink much Sav. Most winemakers would not even confess that it passes their lips! I wanted to see what the judges saw – and I think I saw it! This wine was ripe and complex and when I bought it only about $15. Really good buying and quite widely available. Farnese Edizione NV (Italy). Man, what a monster (but a nice monster… like Cookie Monster)! This is an Italian wine that doesn’t conform to any rules which is (a) why it is so good, and (b) why it isn’t allowed to have a region, variety or even vintage on the label. The winemaker is basically saying “stuff you” to the Italian wine law makers. It’s not cheap at $55 but it is a remarkable wine – traditional Italian varieties presented in a completely ‘New World’ style. The empty bottle on it’s own is impressive! Also from First Glass. Marisco ‘The King’s Bastard’ Marlborough Chardonnay 2008. The latest reincarnation of Brent Marris, the founder of Wither Hills. Brent is a fantastic winemaker and this Chardonnay is soft, fleshy and ripe with loads of appeal. Dangerously drinkable, my bottle lasted through just one episode of “Survivor” – just (it was a tense episode). Chakana Mendoza Cabernet Sauvignon 2007. This Argentinean red was served to me ‘blind’ in a line up of highly rated (and expensive) red wines. When I discovered it cost just $18 I bought half a case! This is an incredibly good wine that I thought had the style and complexity of a good Bordeaux wine 4 or 5 times the price! You’ll find it at Glengarry’s and First Glass. If you have a wine snob acquaintance, they won’t have a show of guessing this one. Ch Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauterne 2006. We enjoyed this with a baked peach dessert and it was superb. Quite big and rich for a Sauterne. I think I paid about $60 for a 375ml bottle but a wine fairy tells me that if you go to it is about $40 – which is excellent. It will cellar for the next 20 years or so but why risk another family member benefitting from your foresight – it’s superb now.

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