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Wine of the Week for week ending 31 Jan 2010
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Alpha Domus AD The Aviator 2007
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

The 2007 red wine vintage in Hawkes Bay may go down on record as the best to date. Some may argue that 1989, 1991 or 1998 was better but 2007 is available now and we can taste the quality. From top end wines to every day quaffers, the quality right across the spectrum of reds is remarkable - Pinot Noir, Syrah, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and those wonderful "Hawkes Bay blends".

One of the fabulous Hawkes Bay blends crossed my lips this week - the delicious Alpha Domus AD The Aviator 2007, made from a blend of 36.4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27.3 % Cabernet Franc, 22.7% Merlot and 13.6% Malbec. From the luxurious deep blackberry colour to the succulent taste, this wine performs from go to whoa.

Right from the first sniff the aromas emanate the wine's class with French oak, cedar, cassis and a hint of dried herb and thyme. That classy oak carries through to the palate - lovely cedary French oak that adds savouriness and a subtle spiciness to the deep, concentrated blackberry, plum and cassis fruit with hints of red liquorice adding a flourish to the finish. All the wine the tannins play a harmonising supporting role - velvety tannins that wrap the flavours round the tongue. A luxurious wine that improves in the bottle and tasting two days later, as I write this note, could it be even better? It's creamy and smooth, the spiciness seems enhanced, the fruit is deep and concentrated and there's a touch of vanilla with cigar box and chocolate notes coming through too. And those tannins, so plush, yet fine, like silk-lined velvet.

The notes say this wine matured in French oak, 75% new, for 17 months, while the label says the wine carries 14% alcohol. The bottle is sealed with a cork and the Alpha Domus website lists the price at $45 a bottle or $40 a bottle, including delivery, for a 6-pack case. From retailers elsewhere expect to pay somewhere between NZ$40 and NZ$50 a bottle.

This wine is in the upper echelon of Hawkes Bay reds because has the pedigree and this vintage shows why it is among the best. What's more, you can drink it right now if you want to, although it's definitely got the structure to probably last another 10 years. Depends if you like primary fruit or more developed bottle characters. I actually like the way it is now. I recall tasting the Alpha Domus AD The Aviator 1998 last October in a tasting of 1998 vintage Hawkes Bay reds. It was showing mint and cedar on the nose and was dense and liquoricey in the palate and though it had bottle-aged complexity it still had an aura of youth. Interestingly the 1998 AD was $50 on release.

A wine to drink, wine to cellar, a wine to accompany with food. Alpha Domus AD The Aviator is made at the descretion of the winemaker and only when the quality is considered exceptional. Find out more from

© Sue Courtney
24 Jan 2010

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