Yvonne Lorkin Wine Column for week beginning Sat 27 Jan 2018

I’ve made a horrifying discovery in recent months.  Actually it’s more like I’m making a horrifying admission.  To set the scene I’ll admit that I’m still old-school in that I write most of my wine tasting notes by hand, in a notebook.  Then I type them up and post them on my website or pop them into the column you’re reading now.  I know you’re probably thinking that’s terribly inefficient, to which I say, big woop, don’t care, I’m an artist (I also tend to get petulant under pressure in case you were wondering) I’ve also never had a problem reading my own handwriting, in fact I thought it was pretty good, until I recently asked someone to transcribe my reviews and they really struggled.  So I took a look at them and sure enough, it took much squinting and lip chewing to decipher my scribble.  I promised to take more time and care whilst writing notes, but do you know what?  Immediately I became aware of just how uncomfortable and uncoordinated my right hand has become.  Hand writing neatly is now a real struggle.  It couldn’t be old age surely?  I’m only in my early 40’s and not a skerrick of arthritis to be seen.  Then it hit me.  I think I’ve been crippled by my mobile phone.  There would not be many a waking hour after 6am that I’m not cradling that thing, my middle, ring and little fingers wrapped around its body, my index finger clamping it at the top and my long-suffering thumb stretching and scrolling constantly.  It’s a scary thought that I’ve owned a cellphone since 1993, since the days when Vodafone was called BellSouth. Before texting was a thing, the phone was glued to my right ear for hours every day, which is hardly healthy.  Then texting and apps and social media tsunami’d onto the scene and now we’re in a world where managing our digital lives involves almost as much pressure as managing our real lives.  As a consequence, I think my phones have been messing with my muscle tone, my ability to grip a pen properly and my basic hand-eye coordination, resulting in below average handwriting and discomfort whilst doing it.  Lord help me if it affects my grip on a wine glass!  So todays is not really a wine column, it’s more of a warning column to put the cellphone down, or at least have a crack using the opposite claw.
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Matahiwi Estate Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2017 $22 (3.5 stars)
Using a parcel of fruit they’ve sourced from Hawke’s Bay, these skilled, Wairarapa-based producers have created a wine bursting with classic grilled grapefruit and lemony, smoked pineapple flavours.  It’s toasty and roasty and yet really fresh, plus it has a solid citrus backbone and a nutty core.  I think it’s a winner with chicken schnitzel burgers.
www.matahiwi.co.nz

Lime Rock White Knuckle Hill Central Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir 2013 $60 (5 stars)
The White Knuckle is a vertigo-inducingly steep vineyard where large life insurance policies are necessary for the mug that loses the toss to tackle it with the tractor. It’s worth the pain and fear because the ripe cherry and spice-saturated flavours are sensational.  Only made in years when the fruit is exceptional, it smells like a centuries-old, kauri trunk fallen in the forest and covered in moss and lichen.  An ancient tree soaked with recent rains and slowly merging with the earth below.  It’s a strangely lush and sexy smell to match a succulent, exotic palate.
www.limerock.co.nz

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Today we’re screaming ‘hooray for chardonnay!”

Petane Station Esk Valley Chardonnay 2016 $30 (5 stars)
Philip Barber is a serious winemaking talent to watch if you’re a chardonnay fan.  With the ability to source fruit grown in the seashell-strewn soils of Esk Valley, thrust upwards after the 1931 Napier earthquake, his wines show incredibly complex minerality, texture and even a hint of delicious salinity.  I love the aromas of grilled stonefruit, grapefruit pith, caramelised fennel and spice.  There’s a hint of bacon and pineapple which makes it old-school ‘excellent’ and new-school fresh and frisky.  Balanced and beautiful.
www.petanesstation.co.nz

Askerne Reserve Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016 $31.90 (5 stars)
The perfume of this wine is so delicious it’s difficult to yank the glass away from your nose for long enough to actually sip it.  A hint of butterscotch merges with fresh nectarine, grapefruit and pineapple plushness on the nose and palate, while a zesty vein of spice and toasted crumpet joins them on the finish.  It’s a blend of three clones that’ve been fermented in new and aged French barrels with a mixture of wild and manmade yeasts, then aged on their lees for 9 months before bottling.  The result? A fresh, terrifically tangy wine with weight and wow factor that’ll only improve over the next year or three.
www.askerne.co.nz

Maison Noire Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016 $25 (4 stars)
For fans of a leaner, cleaner, more Chablis-style chardonnay then this’ll be right up your cul-de-sac I reckon.  Lemon and grapefruit goodness unveil on the nose, while spicy, citrus-soaked layers last long in the background.  Plus there’s a ribbon of creamy almond laced with soft smokiness on the finish to keep you going back for more.   www.maisonnoire.nz

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