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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."


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Regional Roundup New releases from around NZ

One of the things that always amazes me about New Zealand is the literal length and breadth of our winegrowing landscape.
From early winemaking by the Catholic church in Hawke’s Bay in the late 1890s and then Croatian immigrants in west Auckland in the 1930s, our wine regions and grape varieties have increased exponentially to embrace the whole of New Zealand and include grape varieties from all over the globe. Internationally we are finally being acknowledged as not just a one trick pony producer of Sauvignon Blanc, but as a serious producer of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. My international wine tour guests are often happily also surprised at the quality of our Rieslings, Pinot Gris, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec and even Italian and Spanish grape varieties. In true Kiwi spirit we are having a go at many grape varieties and largely succeeding by experimentation and matching the grape to the holy vinous trinity of climate, soil and weather (the French refer to it as terroir).

Some of the following wines that I have reviewed reflect that diversity.
Montepulciano, hailing from the Abbruzi region of Italy, this grape makes a dark, full-bodied spicy wine with hints of blackcurrants and dark berry fruit.
Dolcetto is a dark-skinned grape famously from the Italian region of
Piedmont. The wine typically has flavours of black berry fruits and a bit of dark chocolate.
Tannat is a red grape, historically grown in southwest France in the Madiran region. Modern French Tannat is characterized by firm tannins, deep colour, and an ability to age well. The aroma profile is gently tarry and jammy.
Here we go.

Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Riesling 2015 $NZ15
A very approachable in a medium sweet style Riesling, with aromas of apple, melon and lime squash. In the mouth it’s a refreshing young wine with mandarin, citrus, elderflower and a hint of ginger spice.  At 12% alcohol it has a reasonable residual sugar level, but that is balanced by crisp refreshing acidity.
Available – fairly widely at wine stores, also Glengarry and Vino Fino (Christchurch)

Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Pinot Gris 2015 $NZ17
Smells like poached pear and red skinned apple. Flavours of quince, clover honey, pear & ginger cake.  Medium bodied and off-dry with a crisp finish.
Available – fairly widely at wine stores, also Glengarry and The Good Wine Company

Main Divide Tehau Reserve Waipara Valley  Pinot Noir 2014  $NZ33
Another winner from Waipara, one of my favourite boutique regions. Lovely medium bodied Pinot that hits all the buttons. Smells like black cherry and fruit cake with a dash of earthy forest floor.
Lovely soft and generous palate of spice, summer berries, back tea and hint of truffle.
Available – Glengarry and The Good Wine Company

Main Divide Waipara Valley Merlot Cabernet 2014 $NZ21.
Just to prove they can grow a damn fine red south of Marlborough and at a bargain price, this is a lovely medium-bodied ripe and juicy wine. On the nose it’s spice, black cherry and mocha.  On the palate it opens up with Black Forest cake, almond, cherry, black berry and cake fruit.
Available – possibly Glengarry and The Good Wine Company

Heron’s Flight Matakana Reserve Dolcetto 2014 $NZ60
Slightly earthy and wet clay aromas with a bit of soy sauce and black currant in the olfactory mix. Flavours of anise, liquorice, a hint of grassiness and ripe black cherry and mocha with medium firm tannic structure. A complex and classic wine.
Available – Heron’s Flight Winery.

Dry River Martinborough Pinot Noir 2014 $NZ86.50
Iconic Martinborough label Dry River has been producing Pinot Noir since the early 1980s. This new release is an opulent and ripe Pinot with a firm backbone of acidity. Funky aromas give way to pot pourri, cigar box and black berry fruits. Silky tannins support a rich complex and juicy ripe palate of cassis, blackberry and a hint of spice. Gorgeous wine that will reward cellaring. 
Available – Dry River Wines  

De La Terre Montepulciano Hawkes Bay 2014  $NZ52.50
Smells like roast meat, black olive, wet clay and cherry fruit cake
Rich, dry and earthy with a core of ripe black berry fruit, and a tight tannic finish. One to cellar.
Available – Herne Bay Cellars Auckland.

De La Terre Tannat Hawkes Bay 2014 $NZ44.50
Spicy aromas plus dark chocolate, black cherry and wet earth. On the palate, it’s rich dark and rewarding with all of the above with some gamey flavours plus a lovely ripe mid palate and medium tannins. Still a youngster, this one would get even better with at least 4 years in the bottle.
Available – Herne Bay Cellars Auckland.

Phil Parker is a wine writer and wine tour guide in Auckland New Zealand