The Suttons Apple Shed at The Summit is a must visit for lunch while on the Granite Belt. You wont get any more rustic – the cafe restaurant and juice / cider tasting facility is set up in a tin apple shed, which is kept cool by running water over the roof. The food is rustic and brilliant – just like grandma used to make. The apple pie is enough to make the visit worth it, and the varietal apple juice / cider / vinegar tasting is instructive.
Suttons make two ciders – a bone dry and this, the medium sweet. Pale straw doesn’t make it look like much, and the bead is subtle and medium. It tastes like all things apple – waxy skins, floral inner mouth perfume, and sweet slightly bruised flesh. I’d guess this is a max of varieties making this up, they grow 30 varieties on the property. At 8% alcohol its a little “breathy”, and could use some more flavour intensity to match it. Finishes crisply.
Pleasant and fresh, only the alcohol is a little high.
60% Nebbiolo 40% Barbera. Made to drink early, and combines fresh fruit and savoury character nicely for this.
Purple garnet to look at, and just as attractive to smell and taste.
Lifted nose full of fresh boysenberry and strawberry. This is a scent of the Granite Belt at this time of year.
Theres a richness of texture here, tarry blackberry pastille that’s cut through by fresh strawberry and rhubarb. Acid freshness from the barbera, lovely savoury tannins from the nebbiolo. Don’t think this has seen much wood, if any. This might take on some bottle age, but hey, guzzle it now and enjoy the chewy delicious fruit and tannins with a Sunday roast. 13.5% ABV.
Fiano from the Granite Belt. A serious one at that.
Waxy lemons and quince nose. Add lime pith, lemonade, and the palate has an airy, light and bright gin and tonic character to it. A trace of bitter almond on the chalky dry finish. Fresh and Lively. Nice.
$45 unless you join the Symphony Hill mailing list and agree to take a dozen bottles a year (freight free). You could do worse, but the competition is at $24 to $32 (Coriole, Olivers Taranga, Ballandean, Witches Falls) .
88 BCP. Serious.
No this is not a wacky Christmas drink, but a lovely gin from an urban distillery in Madrid.
Made in the London Dry style with plump juniper to the fore, the coriander and licorice root elements also show early. Some mid palate sweetness might normally come from citrus but in this case it is raspberry and also touched by the grape origin of the Santamania neutral spirit. Strangely this shows more when tonic water is added. Lovely lift to this as well, and the earthy botanicals show nicely on the finish. Refreshing.
Every time I visit the Granite Belt, the standard of wines I get to try gets better and better. There is still some rubbish up there for sure, but it seems the quality of wines is on the improve, and I’m also getting better advice on who to visit.
Pyramids Road is a small production operation and has one of the more homely, even rustic, cellar door setups in the region. The standard of wines I looked at was rock solid – and I was caught by surprise at the quality of their range. This is the wine I bought as a sampler.
Pale straw. Candlewax, fresh cut hay, melon. Add pineapple and passiofruit / peach on the palate and there you have the bones of a cracking summer drink. Unwooded, but there seems to be a little winemaking going on to add just a little to the fresh fruit here, maybe a little lees or skin time? Refreshing summer drink with some nice pippy, pulpy phenolic grip to finish. Doesn’t show its 14% ABV either.
$22 at cellar door. Who needs Sauvignon Blanc. 86 BCP.
Aah, red burgundy. A robust one at that, and I suspect it has benefited from its 9 year sleep since purchase. Even now it needs a fair time to open and show itself, and when it does it doesn’t disappoint. More forward than many, bricking colour might put some off, from a well regarded year like this, but delicious nonetheless. Bright redcurrant, some deeper boysenberry and soy sauce development, into a slick lush palate closed out by a robust old school tannic finish, which also shows some bright acids. Linear presentation of the elements, but don’t be put off. Lovely wine of intensity and length that demands food. Probably peaking now or soon, but could hold for along time if you like tertiary characters. 90 BCP.
Central Otago Pinot at nearly 8 years, there would be many who poo poo the idea, and off-handedly dismiss their ageing potential. But this wine confirms what I saw in a 2011 masterclass when we looked at the 2005 of this same wine – these wines do age, at least the good ones do.
This comes from a single vineyard right at the end of the revered Felton Road real estate, not far from the Kawarau river. Well drained despite a bit of clay in the soil, and north facing. Cool year, 2009, and perhaps this shows in the palate a little, in a good way.
Tomato leaf and a touch of VA lift help a subtle plum and crushed leaf nose waft forth. Palate is lovely structure – nice mocha tannin frame around some strawberry and cream fruit, leading to darker forest berries with traces of coffee grounds and a rooibos tea note too. A distraction – the acid on the finish is out of balance and there is a lemon sherbet hint in among the goodies, there may have been a tartaric addition here. But that’s picky. Elegant, structured, and in good shape now, will hold for longer. So close to world class. Central Otago lovers will (rightly) wet their pants.
89 BCP. Maybe 90.
Wowee, this is the bizz. I guzzle the Lieser Kabinetts early as they are so friendly fruity and fun, but the Spatlese is a different proposition. So youthful, still lots of primary energy crackling through this. Some yellow fruit to accompany the orange citrus tones, and flecks of slatey, briney minerals and taut ripe acids. Restrained and satisfying all at the same time, and still going strong 4 nights later. Restraint and balance here , perfect with a fatty white meat dish (pork) or just on its own. 93 BCP.
This is the standard Scarrone, not the Vigne Vecchia.
Tomato leaf and sundried tomato, red earth, some lifted fruit pastille. The palate is the other way around – warm rich ribena fruit, some woody spice, and tomato leaf spice and high toned acid at the close.
Finished off nicely with fine tannin, this isn’t especially complex, but it is richly fruited, expertly made, colours within the lines, and drinks well. You’ll ahve to buy the VV for added complexity, albeit at added price too. That acid spine pairs well with a fattier meat like lamb. 88 BCP.
Straw to pale gold. This is toight as a toiger. Faint peach and orange smells, below some lucerne and cashew overtones. The citrus notes try so hard on the palate, but they just don’t compete right now with cracked wheat, lanolin, lemony acids, and tight, white, out of sight phenolics that have the wine in lockdown. Orange peel just wins through again late on the finish, as a tease for what this will be one day.
This is still coiled up and will take a long time to unleash. Needs a 5 year sleep at least, and set your timer for when this awakes, it will be a thing of beauty. Not cheap, over $300 if you can find it. 94 BCP for its awesome potential.