To my shame, I’ve been drinking even more than I’ve been writing up while in New Zealand. Here are a few bits and pieces of marginal interest.Mission Estate Winery Hawkes Bay Merlot 2006I used most of this wine for cooking but swilled a glass once the casserole was underway. And whaddya know, it’s actually pretty good. Nice fruit, easygoing structure, no boiled lollies in sight. Definitely on the riper end of the spectrum for Merlot, and none the worse for that. Great quaffer. Wish all Aussies at this price point were as good. Fruit comes from various vineyards in the Hawkes Bay region, including the Gimblett Gravels.Mission Estate WineryPrice: $NZ14Closure: StelvinDate tasted: December 2007Jacob’s Creek Shiraz 2005I don’t know what this wine is doing in here, but let’s just say that it was offered, and as we all know, it’s rude not to accept a gift.It’s actually not too bad, certainly a fault-free wine at the very least. The fruit flavour has that confected red fruit quality that screams “industrial” to me, but hey, it’s tasty and has lots of flavour. Not bad.Jacob’s CreekPrice: $NZ9Closure: StelvinDate tasted: December 2007Matua Valley Late Harvest Muscat 2006I was having cravings the other night in Gisborne (just a few nights before the big earthquake, no less) and wandered up to the local supermarket to grab some dessert and, of course, wine to go with. I have no idea what grapes are in this wine, although the label does, at least, let the purchaser know that they are from the Gisborne wine region.There’s some nice, sweet fruit flavour here, a little “jasmine tea” in character, but harsh acidity quite overwhelms any sense of flavour. It’s not the sort of acidity that is cleansing or sprightly — it’s just harsh and unbalanced. Oh well.Matua Valley Price: $NZ12 (375ml)Closure: StelvinDate tasted: December 2007

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