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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."

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

♫ Summer Wine … And The Livin’ Is Easy … ♫

 Yes folks, it’s time to relax, watch tennis, get sand between your toes, and slap on sunscreen. For most of us, the New Year brings a chance to wind down, shrug off the last twelve months and recharge the batteries for the year ahead.

Our drinking habits correspondingly change with warmer weather, generally away from big reds and chunky Chardonnays, in favour of chilled white wines, rosés and lighter reds like Pinot Noir. Yet there are still those long, languid evenings when the air cools and a rich, velvety red is just right to go down with that piece of scotch fillet and a few snarlers fresh from the smoking BBQ.

Sauvignon Blanc is still wildly popular with NZers, as is the upstart Pinot Gris, but we are getting more adventuresome with new white varieties like Grüner Veltliner, Arneis, and even (as below) Bianchetta.

Rosés have made enormous inroads into our drinking habits over the last three years or so. They are made by crushing red grapes, then leaving the juice on the skins for a short period (as little as 4 hours) to extract a minimum of colour before and racking into fermentation tanks. The resulting wines are light, often blush pink and have red fruit flavours of strawberries, plums and raspberries. These are crisp, refreshing drink-young wines, which will not benefit from cellaring. And there has been a shift away from the sweet style rosé to off-dry and bone dry – more in the style of rosés from Provence. As with summer whites, they can stand a bit of chilling. But don’t over-chill them as the fruit flavours will disappear. These are a good match with seafood, salads and chicken dishes.
Pinot Noir is an all-rounder that suits any season and is a good match with duck, chicken, turkey and mushrooms. It can also pair well with seafood like salmon and tuna.

And for the BBQ, as a bang-for-buck big juicy red - it’s hard to go past an Argentinian Malbec.
Here’s a selection for your perusal.

Matawhero Gisborne ‘Church House’  Bianchetta 2010 $25 NZD
Bianchetta Genovese is a rare white wine grape variety used almost exclusively along the coast of Liguria innorthwest Italy. It is most commonly used to make sweet white wines.
A very attractive old gold colour, this wine has aromas of lychee fruit, blond tobacco and peaches. On the palate, it’s rich and complex with a Chardonnay-like flavour profile with a spectrum of flavours from clover honey, to tobacco, but with a dry finish. 19 points
Not widely available. But good luck.

GeorgeTown Vineyard Central Otago Pinot Rosé 2015  $30 NZD
This is a good rosé for folks who tend to write them off as lightweights. Attractive pale salmon pink colour. Subtle nose – strawberries and cream, with a hint of savoury spice. In the mouth it’s
peach, raspberries, cherry and cranberry. Good palate weight at 13% alcohol with a dry spicy lingering finish.18 points
Available: Herne Bay Wine Cellars

De Martino Gallardía Itata Valley  Cinsault Rosé Chile)  2014 $33 NZD
The Itata Valley is located about halfway up the long, skinny Chilean coastal wine growing region. It has a Mediterranean climate and generally grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. Cinsault is a southern French grape variety.  This wine smells of cranberry, almonds and marzipan. Tastes of red summer berries and has a dry mineral finish. 18 points
Available: Herne Bay Wine Cellars
Folium Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013  $27 NZD

A softer style of Sauvignon, with less of the typical racy acidity, plus a bit more complexity.  Flavours of black currant, green bell pepper and herbs with a mineral dry finish. 19 points
Available: Herne Bay Wine Cellars, Farro

Easthope  ‘Black Hawk’ Hawke’s Bay Dry Pinot Gris 1015 $30
Aromas of lime juice, green pineapple and melon.  Opens up on the palate with citrus, peach and honey but with a dry finish. 18 points
Available: Herne Bay Wine Cellars
Bannock Brae ‘Goldfields’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014  $35 NZD
Has aromas of cherry, smoke and tar with a whiff of raspberry. Swished around in the mouth, it opens up with sweet soft fruit – tamarillo and sour cherry, medium firm tannins and a spicy savoury finish. 18 points
Available: many fine wine stores. Check their website for suppliers.

Casa Montes Fuego Negro Malbec Argentina 2012 $22 NZD
Ab fab wine. Smells like ripe summer blackberries and cherries with a hint of dark chocolate. Ripe and generous flavours of black cherry, caramel, liquorice, baking spices and muscatel raisins. 19 points
Available: Online Vino Fino Argentino 

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