The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($A16.99, sample)
Notable for pushing sub-regionality in a region and variety renowned for its distinctiveness (and, hence, tendency to homogeneity), I found this wine an extreme expression of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. I’m an occasional fan of this style, especially when in the mood for something outrageously vulgar (more often than I care to admit). But the austerity of this wine pushes the boundaries of drinkability for me. Sweaty, herbaceous aromas cut through with hints of passionfruit and gooseberry. The palate is ultra-dry and searingly acidic. Ultra-varietal, to be sure, but challenging in its purity.
Lightband Brightwater Pinot Noir 2007 ($A25, sample)
Another Kiwi wine, this time from Nelson at the top of the South island. Slightly dull colour here, ruby red with orange at the rim. Certainly not a show pony, visually. The nose is very promising, with expressive spiced cherries against light caramel. Not complex but very characterful. The palate seems a bit light on, with streaks of acidity creating a slight impression of harshness. Starts off well, with quite fleshy fruit, but slims through the mid palate as it heads towards coarse grained tannins and a bit of alcohol heat. The flavour, while distinctive, lacks depth, though I wonder if it needs a few months in the bottle to fill out further?
Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Shiraz 2008 ($A30, sample)
Seriously regional aromas of earth, boysenberry, flint and cocoa powder. It’s deep and powerful, mostly savoury and very attractive. It’s a very masculine aroma, like stubble on a cheek, wild and strong. The palate is, as hoped, equally dense with powerful fruit, seeming to stain the insides of the mouth (or so I like to imagine). More sweet boysenberries and tasty oak, plus a bunch of savoury complexities. Architecturally, it’s a bit formless and seems to bellyflop onto the tongue rather than place its feet with any sort of precision. Still, it’s hard to argue with so much great flavour, so best to approach this wine wearing a hedonist’s, not an intellectual’s, cap.