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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Spring Wine Releases In NZ

New NZ Wine Releases
Around spring comes the time in the wine writer’s year when newly released wines start to enter the market.  First a trickle, then a vinous tsunami is unleashed as wine producers large and small stack up all the new bottles up for scrutiny and purchase. 
Writers get to sample for free in three different ways: trade samples couriered to your door, individual winery tastings – often with the winemaker, and finally large trade shows where a number of wineries club together for en masse tasting events.

Obviously, my preference is for the mystery parcel dropped at my doorstep and the opportunity to open the bottle and evaluate a wine over an evening, letting it ‘breathe’ a bit and seeing how it goes with food.  This gives plenty of time not to rush into judgement and to get a good idea of aromas and flavours.  Plus I can get a second opinion from my lovely wife, as long as she agrees with me.

A hosted tasting with the winemaker is great too, because you can ask questions directly and also get feedback from other writers present. On the other hand you feel obliged to stifle any negative feedback out of politeness.  So you say, ‘Mmmm … interesting,’  instead of ‘Oh my god, what were you thinking?’  But realistically, it is a rare occasion to get a dud when sampling our NZ wines; such is the consistency of quality across the board. 

Trade Shows offer a mixed blessing.  They do give the chance to catch up with other writers, winemakers and industry marketing folk. On the other hand it is often a bit of a mad zoo format with, say ten or twenty wineries each offering six or more wines for sampling.  Writers tend are invited along with hospo people (restaurant and bar), retailers, other media, PR folk and so on.   A cynic would say, and I certainly would not – that some people come here to drink free wine and get a wee bit pissed.  When I went to these shows in the early days I tried to be very diligent and dutifully went to each stand to sample all the white wines, and then second round – all the reds.  Apart from confusing my palate, despite spitting and tipping I still ended up quite squiffy by the end.  Nowadays, I confine myself to two or three varieties (usually Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) and finally leave the building reasonably capacitated.
Okay.  So here’s a few releases that crossed my path recently:

Pegasus Bay Waipara Riesling 2010  $28.00
Medium sweet, full–flavoured wine with lots of mandarin and citrus crispness overlaying ripe stone fruit and minerality.
Waimea Estates Nelson Grüner Veltliner 2012  $25.00
(Pronounced Grooner Felt-Leaner). Probably the most famous dry style grape from Austria.  This is a good introduction for NZers.  Some floral aromas, with nectarine and herbal flavours and a dry finish.

Waimea Estates Nelson Pinot Gris 2012  $23.00
Medium dry style, with a Juicy Fruit collection of ripe stone and citrus fruit flavours, plus a hint of stewed apple.

Kumeu River Village Chardonnay 2010  $16.50
A label redesign and launch party saw Kumeu River’s entry level Village Chardonnay get a makeover.  With the Maté’s Vineyard premium Chardonnay retailing at about $70, this is a more affordable option for everyday drinking.  Flavours of hazel nut and toast from barrel fermentation, and some fruity peach and nectarine characters, but with a crisp clean dry finish.

Lake Chalice Raptor Marlborough Chardonnay 2012  $28.00
Similar in style to Kumeu River Village, but a bit more depth of oak flavours and mid palate weight.  Brioche and toast flavours with a nice balance of acid and peachy buttery characters.

Pegasus Bay Prima Donna Waipara Pinot Noir 2010 $84.00
A great Pinot from a good hot, dry vintage.  Ripe and luscious with spicy liquorice, black berry fruit, cherries and plums and silky yet persistent tannin.

Phil Parker is a wine writer and operates Fine Wine Tours in Auckland