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New Zealand tasting notes

text and photographs © 2007 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on New Zealand's North Island.


Sileni, Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005
14% Hawke's Bay Semillon. 04 won IWC trophy (?). Beautifully delicate nose, with plenty of verve and grassy, herbal qualities, but just a hint of mealy richness. The fruit has intense sweetness at first, then that rolling, textural mid-palate comes through. Very fine, with the grassy notes and fine, juicy acidity.

Sileni, Estate Selection 'The Circle' Hawke's Bay Semillon 2004
Fine, gently waxy lemon and mealy nose. Lovely fine, mealy, slightly waxy. Palate has fine fruit sweetness and a richness. There is very fine texture through the mid-palate, and a lime acidity. Very fine balance. Low acid and PH. 12.7%. Excellent.

Sileni, Cellar Selection Hawke's Bay Unoaked Chardonnay 2005
Very fine, leesy nose. Tropical fruit notes comes through. The Fruit sweetness is excellent, and there is plenty of ripeness and sweetness.

Sileni, Cellar Selection Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2004
20%, barrel, all French and around 30% Malo. Subtle, leesy, gently toasty nose. Nutty and complex, with very fine orangy fruit. Full, rich texture, with the nutty, warming slightly toasty notes intermingling well with the fine orangy fruit and a tangerine acidity. Very crisp finish, but with plenty of weight.

Sileni, Reserve Selection 'The Lodge' Chardonnay 2004
100% Barrel, all French, around 35% new. Nine months in oak on gross lees. 100% MLF. This has a fine buttery, Burgundian nose, with lots of cabbagy, vegetal aromas. Beautiful palate, with really lovely integration of the fruit and oak. A very fine fruit quality with a beautifully mellow tones and great fruit sweetness and length. Excellent.

Sileni, Cellar Selection Hawke's Bay Riesling 2005
A touch of waxy quality, with a waxy lemon and lime leaf character. Good mineral and fine, leafy, qualities. Lovely length, maybe just off dry.

Sileni, Cellar Selection Hawke's Bay Pinot Gris 2005
Planted some Pinot and top-grafted, so this is first production. 7% old oak barrel ferment. Quite a herby, citrussy quality. With some mealy notes and a very juicy quality. Fine, long, well textured core and mid-palate. Quite a long finish, with some fine juicy, well textured and herb and orangy notes.

Sileni, Cellar Selection 'Saignée' 2005
Tank, with a couple of barrels 'chucked in'. Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Quite a deep colour and a lovely soft, yielding strawberry fruit suggestion of sweetness. Touch of earthiness. Terrific sweetness on the palate, pure strawberry coulis. Fine earthiness and a good grip of tannin. Fantastic rose.

Sileni, Cellar Selection Hawke's Bay Pinot Noir 2004
From a very inland vineyard, about 100 metres higher than the coast. Very attractive, very Pinot nose - lots of strawberry, lots of truffle and earth, with a touch of vegetal quality. The dark cherry, Morello fruit is lovely. Very fresh, but beautiful quality of fruit. Very, very good for the price point.

Sileni, Estate Selection 'The Plateau' Pinot Noir 2004
Crop load reduced slightly, riper fruit and a little more tannin. There's a dark, glossy, cherry quality. This is denser, meatier, with plenty of oomph and plenty of sweetness and richness. Massive, velvety, but for me less fine and slightly less enjoyable than the Cellar Selection.

Sileni, Cellar Selection Hawke's Bay Merlot 2004
Merlot and a little Cabernet Franc. Lovely cedary nose, with fine notes that are very slightly leafy, but have a lovely soft, approachable fruit quality. On the palate a dense, plummy, chocolate-licked quality, with plenty of lushness and weight. Very nice texture and a juicy, mouth-filling.

Sileni, Estate Selection 'The Triangle' Merlot 2004
Crop levels reduced and a little more new oak. Very fine, racy, pure fruit nose. Pure quality of cherry and a touch of red liquorice. This has plenty of finesse and a fine bittersweet edge to the fruit, with liquoricy, plummy darkness, the tannins have fine silky, ripeness and the acidity is good.

Sileni, Cellar Selection Hawke's Bay 2004
Fine white pepper qualities on the nose, with a juicy, lighter raspberry and cherry fruit. Some little chocolaty notes. On the palate the fruit has a silky quality to it, and there's a supporting note of cedar and spice. Maybe a touch short, and is brought up quite abruptly by a slightly sharp acidity.

UK Agent: Raisin Social, Tel: 01883 731173

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