Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Heavenly New Zealand flavours

Today was New Zealand’s trade tasting in London and it was fun to see what’s going on in Kiwi land. Although renowned for their delicious Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand has so much more to offer. Today’s tasting really showcased the diversity of New Zealand wine: full-bodied reds from Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet; aromatic Rieslings; honeyed Pinot Gris; velvety Pinot Noir; and I even spotted a fragrant and perfumed Gewürtztraminer. Below are a few of the ones I enjoyed the most – some may be more common in the on-trade market so look out for them on restaurant’s wine lists.

Bald Hills Pinot Noir 2006 Central Otago
Lovely Pinot nose with a rich palate showing dark and ripe raspberry and cherry flavours with smoky, slightly spicy notes. A velvety texture, serious depth of flavour and a refreshing acidity (making my own mouth watering just thinking of this beauty..). It’s imported by
UK company Ellis of Richmond but I am gonna have to come back to you in regards to who stocks this wine. It may be most common in restaurants. Approximate retail price: £23.95

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Pinot Noir 2006 Marlborough
Villa Maria is in my opinion a really ‘safe’ card when buying NZ wine – I have yet to try one of their wines that I am disappointed with. However, not all of their wines make me as excited as this Pinot Noir and the white below. This single vineyard Pinot Noir boasts a stunning savoury and fruity nose with a dangerously seductive palate: smooth, smoky, strawberryish – very yummy with a long length. £19.99 at www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Riesling 2007 Marlborough
A very enticing richly honeyed nose precedes a succulent palate showing flavours of peach, honey, lime and lemon drops. This wine has a fair bit of sweetness but that is balanced and kept refreshing by a good deal of acidity. The finish is long with some minerality coming through. £12.99 at www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk

Unison Pinot Gris 2006 Hawke’s Bay
Pinot Gris from NZ has become really popular of late and many vineyards are now producing a Pinot Gris, although in small quantities. You never really know what you will get in your glass with this grape variety from
New Zealand though. The style differ quite a lot from winery to winery, which can be confusing but also very exciting as there is plenty of new, fresh stuff out there made by forward thinking, experimental and funky wine makers. This example from Unison combines the freshness of good Italian Pinot Grigio (same grape variety as Pinot Gris) with the richer Alsatian style. The result is a wine that’s fresh, rich in flavours (honey, citrus, apple) but finishes on a rather light note – I think this will be a real beauty for fancy spring/summer picnics! Approximate price is £13.95.

Vidal Reserve Syrah 2004 Hawke’s Bay
A plummy nose precedes a big, rich and succulent palate. Plum and ripe cherry fruit flavours mix with some serious spiciness (white and black pepper) with a smoky yet refreshing finish making one long for another sip! £9.99

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