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1995 Providence Vineyards "Marangai," Matakana, New Zealand

I don't often cellar wines for long periods of time, but occasionally I'll leave a bottle to sit for 6 or 7 years either because I'm curious how it will change, or because I think it's a special wine that I want to save for a special occasion. This wine falls into the second category.

After living and working in Japan for nearly 2 years, I returned to the States, leaving behing a "family" of Japanese co-workers with whom I helped build an office from the ground up. One of my parting gifts from one of the senior members of the office was this bottle of wine, which he said was one of his favorites of all time.

I wrote his name, Kazuhiko Kitamura, and the date (August 2001) on the label, and filed it away at the bottom of my cellar.

In the last year or so, I've eyed it several times, and today I decided to cook a nice dinner and bring it out. I knew little about the wine when I received it, and subsequent research on the Internet has yeilded little in the way of additional information. Providence Vineyards is not online, and this wine is pretty rare, to the point that it only brings up 3 or 4 hits when typed into Google. The closest match is this importer who carries the 1996 vintage.

The wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec, and as far as I could tell from the alchohol content (12.5%) is probably done in a lighter more European style.

Tasting Notes:
This wine has clearly aged quite a bit in the bottle, and is headed towards brick, while still maintaining some of its youthful ruby color. Unfortunately it seems to have oxidized a little more than it should, and when it was first opened, it had a heavy, sharp Madiera-like nose to it. After a couple of hours decanting, it had regained its composure and behaved a little more like what it was intended to taste like. The nose is herbal with notes of sultanas, dried flowers, and oregano, with a hint of dried rasberry fruit. The body of the wine is supple, but a little overly tart with lean flavors of minerals, raisins, dried cranberries, leather, herbs and spices. This is not a fruit driven wine, but one which is expressing something much more restrained and earthy. The finish is long, and unfortunately overly hot -- again I think due to the oxidization. Clearly this was a well structured wine, but unfortunately it is past its prime.

Food Pairing:
Ruth has been sick with a cold lately, and the weather was cold and rainy today, so I decided to make something aromatic and comforting. We started with a wilted spinach and goat cheese salad with red wine and balsamic vinaigrette and then moved on to lemon and thyme stuffed cornish game hens with blackberry sauce and mashed Yukon Gold potatoes.

Overall Score: 7

How Much?: $110 - $115

My advice to you if you own it: drink it now (decant for a long time) unless, unlike me you have some ideal cellar where it has been sitting undisturbed for 7 years and might do so for another 5. This is clearly a well structured wine, but either it was not set up to age well, or I haven't taken the best care of it.

If you're looking to find it, good luck -- the only place I could find on the Internet that carries it is a store in Japan, and not being able to read Japanese I couldn't tell if it was in stock or whether they would ship it anywhere.

Regardless of my disappointment in having waited to long to enjoy this wine, it was a nice trip down memory lane, and a good memory of my times and friends in Tokyo.

Comments (14)

Bob Skubic wrote:
04.19.04 at 5:41 PM

so is the 7 score for the wine or the food?

of course I kid.

David C Howard wrote:
11.22.04 at 3:09 PM

I have some 97 and 98 of which i could part with a couple if someone was sufficiently interested. It will have to travel from Melbourne Australia though!

Alder wrote:
11.22.04 at 3:16 PM

Thanks for the comment and for your offer. I haven't exactly had anyone clamoring to get ahold of this, and I'm not sure I'm up for paying shipping from Melbourne.

Have you had any of it lately? I was sad to see that my bottle was in such bad shape. Whats your evaluation of this wine ?

Barbara wrote:
02.28.05 at 12:49 PM

Alder - I was interested in trying this wine after reading your review so contacted the vineyard to find where it is available in Auckland. Apparently nowhere, but I can purchase it from the vineyard by the case. It's out of my price range though at NZ$130 +GST per bottle.

Dave wrote:
08.28.05 at 3:40 PM

I am looking to purchase Providence Vineyards (NZ) and point of shipping is not a big deal to me.

01.02.06 at 6:33 AM

The 1995 Providence Marangai is the worst vintage produced by Providence. In fact, the winemaker named the wine 'Marangai' which means rain in Maori as the wine was watered down by rain. The most brilliant vintages are the 1993, 1994, 1998 and 2000 and the 2002 has a slightly different style. This is a cult wine and definitely the best wine produced in NZ. I have several cases of different vintages and it is definitely one of my all time favorites. I have these for sale so contact me if you are interested. This wine shows well in blind tastings especially against the Grand Crus form St Emilion and Pomerol.

hugh remash wrote:
03.21.06 at 3:18 PM

Providence will be imported in limited quantities soon by Vinum Importing and Distributing in Seattle.

Klaus A. Schittko wrote:
09.06.06 at 3:52 AM

Last week we have drinking a bottle Providence of the year 1994. It was very well and much better than two years before. I think this wine goes better for the next five years. We have in cellar the 1993 + 1994th, included one bottle 1993 Personel Reserve. The PR is one of the best wines I ever drink. Sorry for my bad english.

Nigel Martin wrote:
12.10.06 at 12:18 PM

The 1993 wine was included in a tasting I went to in 1997, and I was bowled over. It was by far the nicest wine I have had at a tasting, and although it cost a lot more than I had ever spent on a wine before, I bought 4 bottles (all the merchant had left).

I am just drinking the last. Or so I think: I only have a record of drinking 2 before this one, but I don't make notes of all that much that I drink. I drank the first in Jan '04, and found it delicious, but was very disappointed by the second in Oct '05. The first taste from this bottle was positively nasty: an acid nose & taste. It improved greatly with an hour or two of breathing. J (my wife) liked it, and by the end I thought it ok, but disappointing bearing in mind how good I expected it to be. Good flavour, but still a strong overlay of pungent acidity. When trying to draw the cork, the corkscrew pulled out of the cork, and I used the butler's friend to get the cork out. The cork looked ok, so it was not obvious that it was a faulty cork, but seems quite possible.

Which brings me to the current bottle. It has the same problem with the cork. Again, the cork looked ok, but on a more critical inspection it did seem rather spongy. The wine itself is better, but still has an aggressive acidity that was marked on first tasting, but is fading after 30 minutes. The wonderful flavour is still there underneath, but all the same, it is very disappointing given the very high expectation.

I drink mostly claret, and I drink it older than most people. I have a good cellar, so the wine has been kept in good conditions.

el jefe wrote:
03.16.07 at 8:40 PM

This wine is now available through Vinum importing in Seattle. 2002 and 2000 vintages @ $70.00 per bottle wholesale.

Craig wrote:
06.14.07 at 2:11 AM

Tried the 93 Providence about 5 years ago. It was an extremely good wine which I picked up retail for $60NZ. We had it up next to the 94 Stonyridge Larose. On the night we opened it it was more approachable than the Larose and probably had the better of it. The next day we polished off the remainder of both. At that stage the Larose was better. Perhaps indicates its not the best cellar proposition.

Some friends have tried it and have enjoyed it.

Other people ive talked to that have tried Providence scoff at it - they didnt like it much. I think much of its reputation is protected by its unavailability and price

These days the prices are prohibitive and I laugh a bit at all the "me too" wineries setting up in Matakana and trying to charge the same sort of dosh off the bat.

Ed Pratesi wrote:
09.29.08 at 5:26 AM

I had purchased the 1996 of this wine in a six pak and opened one aobut two months ago - corked. I followed this up over the weekend and four of the remainng bottles were corked. Each of the corks were as Nigel stated extremely spongy and distintegrated upon extraction.

A very unfortunate experience.

Google wrote:
10.18.14 at 10:54 PM

You can certainly see your expertise within the article you write.
The world hopes for more passionate writers like you
who are not afraid to say how they believe. At all times follow your heart.

10.20.14 at 11:05 PM

There is certainly a lot to learn about this
issue. I really like all the points you made.

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