Although I attended two of the Man O’ War ‘Kulta’ Tasting evenings in the last year – the Syrah ‘Totto’ was the one that I missed, being away in the regions at the time. Given that the WineFolio Top 10 Tasting was last month (where we looked at dozens of top class New Zealand Syrah), I’m particularly keen to see how their top tier wines are looking.
The Man O’ War Dreadnought Syrah appeared in our Top 10 Tasting line up – the 2018 vintage coming a creditable 8th, amongst a clutch of really smart wines. The ’17 Dreadnought featured in tonights showcase, alongside two vintages of the Kulta ‘Totto’ Syrah.
There is the added opportunity to benchmark against two classic Rhone wines. Jaboulet’s La Chapelle is perhaps the finest Hermitage Syrah, with the 1961 often described as one of the best wines ever made. And no-one is going to complain about one of Guigal’s ‘LaLa’ wines being offered as the Cote Rotie option. ‘La Landonne’ is a relative newcomer, but consistently gains 100pt scores from critics.
A quick note about the location – in a new section of The Hotel Britomart, on level 1 is The Libraries. A sumptuous set of rooms with flexibility for events such as this – one library is set out for wine; another is the Chef’s library with space for private dining. Aligned in style and format to the hotel and, further afield, to The Landing (take the chance to go there if you can!). Just perfect for tonight’s tasting and I’ll be trying to think of a reason to host an event here!
Starting with the Kulta Methode, and some seriously delicious canapés, we’re soon seated in the Wine Library with the first three Syrahs of the night in front of us. My thoughts on the wines:
2018 Man O’ War Kulta Totto – frosted plum, espresso, smoked meat, vanilla and black pepper and allspice on the nose. Fleshy dark fruits, balanced with a sappy crunch and framed with a seasoning of new oak. Firm tannins. Concentrated, dense and savoury with a peaty earthiness. 94pts.
2017 Man O’ War Dreadnought Syrah – aromas of redcurrant, lilac, cranberry, nettle, damson and chorizo. Exhuberant and energetic with a bounce to the palate. A wisp of smoky oak, and more depth to the finish that rings in a roundness of leather, tar and liquorice. 93pts.
2016 Trinity Hill Homage – Elegant on the nose – boysenberry, cherry, violet with a herbal greenness. Some tightness but plenty of concentration. Poised and ripe, a spiciness of cardamom and white pepper. Tannins are supple and integrated. Graphite, moss and iron-earth in the long finish. 92pts. Needs time yet to fully integrate.
The second flight features the two Rhone syrahs, and an aged 2013 Totto from Waiheke.
2016 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle – Ripe blue/red fruits, floral, with a stony minerality and dried thyme. Youthful with an exhuberant power and drive. A deep, saturated core of juicy fruit, complemented by pencil-lead mineral, spice, mocha, tapenade. Generous, elegant purity to the finish.
2013 Guigal La Landonne – seductively perfumed. Cherry, plum, cassis, truffle, spice and a crème fraiche tang. Polished, plush tannins, driving acidity. Good tension on the palate. Lively, with pure varietal expression. Dry, pithy, elegant and lengthy finish.
2013 Man O’ War Kulta Totto – Real finesse but a confident swagger. Boysenberry, cola, raspberry, poached plum, vanilla and blood orange. Integrated oak, bright flowing acidity, intense and powerful. Svelte tannins, well balanced – precise and focussed. Earthy, with a tar and smoky mushroom undertone. Rich, almost sensual finish, goes for miles. 96pts.