Winter in the Marlborough Sounds, Aotearoa: scallops and wines

While most members of this board are enjoying summer, those of us in the southern hemisphere are trying to survive winter. One of the appeals of winter in New Zealand is scallop season in the Marlborough sounds on the other side of Cook Straight from Wellington and a 20-minute hop on an airplane. Four of us gathered for a weekend of fishing and wine tasting with fresh scallops, blue cod and a bit of meat. Here are some tasting notes.

At times it can seem like this board has a ‘one upsmanship’ thread (or three). And if that’s the case, or isn’t, you win, Thierry. I’d trade my Northern Hemisphere end of summer for that in a heartbeat. Bravo [cheers.gif]

I have not posted the wine notes yet… Just sharing experiences with other wine nerds…

Wine notes not necessary. Scallops, scenery, good mates. Win. champagne.gif

Day One

All the wines were served blind.

Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon 2002
This was the starting wine which Andrew announced as “a nothing wine”. Right.
Served in Bordeaux glasses (like all the méthode wines over the weekend) which might attenuate the bubbles but reveal more clearly aromas and taste. In short, we think those glasses emphasise the vinous dimension of Champagne.
This has a bright and golden hue. Aromas of citrus, pear and honey. This shows some evolution; subtle leesy complexity. Citrus, with glazed lemon rind, honey and almonds. This is not a big wine but it elegant and long. Finishes with citrus and honey. We did not guess the wine but 2002 was the consensus. This shows more evolution in a good and more winey way than previous bottle about 3 months ago. Utterly delicious without being over the top. The best bottle of the 2002 I’ve had so far.

2002 Freycinet Vineyard Radenti (Tasmania)
Citrus and white florals. Very lifted, fresh and primary. This looks young and vibrant. This has a lot of fizz in the glass (even in the Bordeaux glass) and that shows in the mouth. Big explosive taste with citrus, honey and a slight nutty character. All front of the mouth and does not sustain structure. As fizz mellows, dosage creeps up a bit. An interesting wine. We could not place it. Fine as aperitif style but not enough to maintain our attention. Disgorged in 2013. 10 years of lees. 65 chardonnay 35 Pinot Noir.

2001 F.X. Pichler Riesling Smaragd Loibner Berg
Golden robe showing evolution, maybe showing more than I expected compared to tasting this 3 or 4 years ago. This is mature but far from over the hill. Verylifted: stonefruit with rich aromas with a touch botrytis. Honeysuckle and a slight whiff of kerosene. Yellow peach, stewed fruit, marmalade. In other words, a very complex wine that evolves interestingly in the glass. Big palate: phenolic complexity with marmalade, honeyed peach. Very long and persistent. Alcohol very much under control. An excellent match for the scallops we just picked on the way to the batch.

2008 Coche-Dury Meursault
This is very serious wine. This is minerally driven with citrus, and stony and dusty concentration. On palate this has precision, focus and richness; just beautiful. Perfect with scallops and their sweet taste. This was the wine of the weekend for all of us.
Ph levels of 2.97 our resident winemaker and wine buff Helen Masters from Ata Rangi tells us. She did the measures! Thanks Helen, a very special wine.

2006 Sylvain Cathiard Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts
Very lifted with cassis, red apples and pomegranate, but also toasty oak, spices and unami. The aromas suggest a wine that is open. On palate this is much tighter: an acidic backbone gives focus and structure to the wine but it needs integration. While the aromas suggest an unfurling of layers, the taste is more uni-dimensional. As the wine opens further, the toasty oak is quite dominant. This was true on the second day too. Whether the oak will integrate remains to be seen. This falls in the category of not open for business. It also shows the tightness of the acidity that I have found in other 2006s. Again, I realise that this wine usually requires long-time celaring. Others on cellartracker seem to have the wine more integrated than we did.

2007 Mongeard-Mugneret Echezeaux Vieilles Vignes
Raspberry, sous-bois and spices. Nice perfumes and sappy, stalky aromas. Helen says tamarind paste. Savoury character and a touch of soy. Quite new world in its aromas and its fruit forwardness. Crunchy red fruit on palate with spices: good length. Focused mineral expression with sappy mid palate. Whole bunch character gives it lift and savouriness.

2002 Prince Florent de Merode Corton-Clos du Roi
Darkest of the reds and little signs of evolution. Bright red and dark fruit with spices and warm earth. Quite tannic wine, with spices and rich black fruit in the mouth. This wine is at its peak or close to it therefore it has the secondary development and the wines has integrated all its components. This is a new wine for us. The red we appreciate the most on this evening.

1999 Château Rieussec
Deep gold. Mature but expressive and rich. Créme brulée, marmalade, roasted vanilla beans, and honeycomb. On palate this is unctuous and rich. An opulent wine.

Shoulda left it with just the first post. Totally awesome. But thanks for the notes, particularly the Pichler. Have some of those, actually one on deck to drink soon.

I need to take the kids up to the sounds one year for Christmas. Such an amazing place

Day 2 at Andrew’s batch.

After a day of fishing, lots of good food to cook, a fireplace and a few wines.

1996 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill Brut
Showing an evolved robe. Mealy character, with fresh lemon, stonefruit and lemon rind, almonds and toast. Long backbone with beautiful acids; finishes on a touch of honeyed fruit. Rich and elegant with slightly honeyed and bitter finish. Gets better in the glass as the fizz wanes while it still provides lift and complexity to this wine.

1998 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Sec Rich Reserve
Citrus and stronefruit with white florals. Very primary and nice lift; some leesy character and some development. On palate this seems to be more in a new world style; dosage seems a bit high. Quite balanced. The age has seen the wine integrate and the finish is crisp and quite long. A bit outside our usual register so this is quite intriguing. Not entirely a good match with the scallops but then we had a couple more to come that worked better.

2007 Etienne Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes
Fresh and mineral with slight lifted aniseed and minty notes. Helen thinks fresh fennel. Complex and layered with great purity and excellent balance of rich and focused fruit and acidity. Elevage shows on palate but in a delicate and balanced way. Great purity, texture and length. A spectacular Sauzet. Reaching its peak but plenty of life here. Perfect match with the blue cod we fished earlier in the day.

2009 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos
Darker robe than the Sauzet. Showing ripe orchard fruit, pears and apples and underlying minerality. Initially this seems to be a wine with a bit of age or a ripe vintage. The palate is rich and initially slightly broad. However, it is distinctly Chablis and grand cru. The vintage explains the impression. While this was served at a good temperature (not too cold), the wine did benefit from being opened and rather than broadening the wine focused and its origins became much clearer. On day two, the salinity and sea breeze shine through. The wine gained focus and clarity on the second day.

2007 Domaine de la Vougeraie Clos Vougeot
Very lifted nose of red cherries and savoury notes. As it develops it shows smoky barrel and spice characters and some pomegranate. On palate this is a bit of an unusual wine; it’s quite spritzy with cranberry and some sweet cherries. Plenty of discussion as to whether this is microbial development or a secondary malolactic fermentation in the bottle resulting in as lightly carbonic fizz. On the second day the fizz has gone. The savoury character has turned more bretty. So mid palate is a bit pinched. Very much into secondary development with colour showing advancement. A bit of a disappointment.

2002 Château Palmer
Dark and brooding and little signs of evolution. Aromas are tight but cassis and high concentration of black berries and a touch of cedar. This seems very primary; I’m thinking of 2005 for its concentration and power but it is rather tights. The vintage explains the power and the coolish presentation The palate shows cassis and fine grain tannins. Mid palate shows plenty of fruit elegance. Finishes long with a bit of dry coolness. As it opens this shows some lift and some violet. Great purity and focus. No hurry on this one.

Some more pictures.

Very nice wines. It sounds like a wonderful couple of days.
I have a few of those Sauzet Combettes. The 07’s are a real treat.
New Zealand is such a beautiful spot too.

Thanks Don. Just saw your note on cellar tracker. We agree. A great wine.


Great notes and photos Thierry. Especially the heads up on the '07 Combettes. What are your thoughts on '09 Chablis in general? They’ve all seemed lusher/riper than “usual” to me (not necessarily bad) and I’m unsure about how long they will keep…

Hi Thierry, great photos and nice notes on a good selection of wines. Will need to discuss how to finagle an invite out of Andrew for 2015 or 2016!

We are “enjoying” weather in the mid to high 30’s here and humidity too…

Cheers Brodie

last year we dived and hand harvested scallops and had them as sashimi in Blenheim- best scallops I have ever eaten.

Rauno: we’ve found the 09 Chablis open and generous but obviously the signs of the vintage are there. The Dauvissat behaved in an interesting way as it tightened up and became more focused the longer it was opened. I would read this as a sign that there is no rush to drink the wine. Other 09 Chablis have tended to loose their structure as they opened.

Brodie: the day before we left for the Sounds, the wind was peaking at about 140km/h (that’s about 90 miles/hour). See the southerly change on that day: Wild southerly front hits Wellington - YouTube And that’s not a rare occurrence in Wellington at all. We were very lucky with the weather on our trip.

Michel: we talked about that but we probably did not have the right wine for that…

Day 3

A simple lunch; we opened only one bottle and finished a few others from the day before.

2009 Grans-Fassian Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese
Golden hue. Citrus, lemon rind and mandarin with a very slight whiff minerals. Seems low alcohol and it turns out to be 7.5. In the mouth, ripe yellow and white peach and lemon sorbet. Softness balanced with some acidity. A slight waxy character gives richness and substance. Finishes mellow and pleasant without being cloying.
A new producer for us. One of Helen’s German interns thought this was a great producer.

Andrew took that bottle away and had some interesting comments on the second day.

This looks like Pelorus Sounds, North West Bay?

Absolutely beautiful scenery in the photos; visiting NZ is on my bucket list. Oh, and great wine notes as usual. How deep did you dive to get the scallops?

Suspect they were dredged by the looks of it…

Very special place that Andrew has, his own bay. Pity I missed this event and certainly hope to get to the next if Andrew is keen. Caught some great fish directly off the jetty and Andrew got paua wading to his waist. Thanks for the wine notes some good stuff…