TN: Wines with Simon and Tamra

WINES WITH SIMON AND TAMRA - The Courtyard, Oneroa, Waiheke Island, New Zealand

  • 2006 Champagne Le Mesnil Champagne Grand Cru Prestige Blanc de Blancs - France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
    A fine bead and pale colour. In a Chardonnay glass, a complex bouquet of lemons, blanched almonds, yellow apples, peaches and autolic almond brioche. In the mouth, a little like drinking a sparkling white Burgundy. Weighty, powerful and driven. Citric and mineral, with apricots and other stonefruit and apples. Well balanced but broad with that autolic, oxidative Krug-like element. I liked this Blanc de Blancs very much.
  • 2014 Buisson-Charles Meursault 1er Cru Charmes - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru
    Buisson-Charles is a white Burgundy house very much on the rise in the last couple of vintages, in my opinion. A lovely bouquet of honey suckle, white flowers, lemons, pears and a touch of apricot. Good concentration and power on palate. Poached pears, lemons and grapefruit. Rich, ripe and full but ‘some mineral spareness’, as Simon noted. Rocky, minerals on the moderately long, dry finish. Buisson-Charles really nailed 2014.
  • 2005 Bell Hill Chardonnay - New Zealand, South Island, Canterbury
    Simon served this wine blind in a decanter. Rusty gold colour. I guessed this as a 1990s white Burgundy. A fresh bouquet with toffee apples, baking spices, mandarins, tinned peaches and touches of honey. On palate, intense and fully mature. ‘Peanut brittle, praline’ said Simon. Also, peaches, citrus and honeyed, with touches of creamy aged Époisses. Sparkling acidity still present. Well balanced. On the reveal, a rarity (bottle 215/236) from a top NZ producer. The vines here would have been only a few years old. Very good but drink soon.
  • 1996 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo Sorì San Lorenzo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Decanted seven hours before serving. Very grumpy and closed in the first hour. The last glass, drunk 12 hours after opening, was the best. Complex perfumes of tobacco, preserved and dried red berries, tar, roses, soil, old leather and smoky, barbequed game meats etc etc. It has the sort of bouquet I could happily sit just sniffing for hours, without tasting … On palate, relatively primary for a 21 year old wine. Huge power, energy and, of course, structure, but not without finesse. Detailed and layered, including plums, cherries, clay, creosote, mushrooms, leather and dried red fruit. Savoury with dusty tannins. Not a hair out of place. Magnificent.

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Lovely wines Howard. You guess every white with a bit of colour as 90s WB though :wink:. The BH was under screwcap, right? Sounds it was actually very developed (say cf Moutere of around that age)? Gaja sounds magnificent, as we’ve come to expect of course. You didn’t miss much here… [which means: you did]

Rauno, the BH was under screwcap (although I didn’t see that as the wine was in the decanter). A bit, I’d excuse my thinking the BH as Old World on the basis that that’s the house style …

I’m sure you guys had some nice wines on Saturday …

Cheers, Howard

Have you tried any recent Bell Hill Chardonnays to assess style and improvement?

Nice notes and fine wines. Im also a fan of vintage Le Mesnil and the Gaja Sori San Lorenzo although not sure if Ive had the 96`.

Sanjay - Howard and I have had a fair bit of the BH Chardonnay from more recent vintages. Certainly a move to less ripeness and longer ageability. Search function should yield our notes.

Sanjay, as Rauno says, I’m a fan of Bell Hill’s Chardonnay (and Pinot Noir). This 2005 is early days and not necessarily illustrative of their more recent style. Here’s some notes …

  • 2011 Bell Hill Chardonnay - New Zealand, South Island, Canterbury (6/12/2016)
    Nick’s four wine pairings: Blind, I was convinced on the bouquet that this was a Côte de Beaune Burgundy, perhaps a Henri Boillot. Flinty, matchstick reduction with baguette, biscuity notes and vanillin oak. On palate, the wine was another story. Leaner, with seemingly clumsy fruit. Disjointed and seemingly lacking a little mid palate weight and length. On the reveal, I was disappointed. I’ve previously rated this vintage of one of NZ’s best Chardonnays but not, here, an impressive showing. Perhaps it’ll show better another time?
  • 2009 Bell Hill Chardonnay - New Zealand, South Island, Canterbury (4/21/2015)
    ‘Nothing but Chardonnay’ dinner with Peter Rosback: Under screwcap. The bouquet of the Bell Hill seemed luxuriant beside the Dauvissat. A nose of bright orchard and citrus fruit, particularly grapefruit, white flowers, but the aromas of limestone, chalk and particularly the sulphide complexity seemed signature Bell Hill. I’d hope I would pick this wine blind as on palate those sulphides were classic Bell Hill. ‘Screaming sulphides’, said one taster. Peter also added that the wine had ‘a lot of French oak’. He thought it was, ‘great French oak, well used’, that prevented the wine from being a New World over-scaled wine. For me, the fruit weight and concentration were present to offset the elevage and balance the wine. A detailed palate with citric, mineral, nutty, sulphide and oak combining to add great interest. Perhaps my top NZ Chardonnay of the tasting. No hurry to drink this wine. 1/3. (93 pts.)
  • 2011 Bell Hill Chardonnay - New Zealand, South Island, Canterbury (4/8/2015)
    Dinner with Nick and Wayne: The Bell Hill had a couple more years and was more Burgundian in aspiration than the more New World Millton. The wine was quite reductive (even for drinking this on the second day), with citric, mineral and wet river boulder nuances on bouquet. The sulphur carried over to the palate, but not to a level I’d see as a wine-making fault. Even though this Chardonnay gave the impression of being quite a worked wine, the elevage was relatively invisible and the flavour profile non-linear and detailed. The flavours reflected the nose with elements of citrus, yellow orchard fruits, rocks and minerals. I liked this wine very much but, ideally, I’d give it another couple of years (or more) in the hope that it would further settle and integrate. (91 pts.)

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