I can hear a sigh of relief from so many people around the country as we have now moved into Level 2. I know we are all looking forward to some sort of new normality. It is for this reason it is especially important to celebrate all that is New Zealand and hence my selection this month has a strong focus on NZ wineries. What is it that makes NZ wines exciting; to begin with most of our viticultural regions are cool climate areas. Cool climate growing conditions produce, fresh, pure flavours and the resulting wines have naturally higher acidity and typically lower alcohol levels.Higher acidity and less alcoholmakes wines refreshing and more enjoyable. Cool climate growing conditions also gives the potential to make wines of exceptional quality, the risks due to poor weather can be higher but when the weather is perfect, the quality can be outstanding.
First Wine:Our benchmark variety; Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough
Taste: This wine has the classic aromas and flavours of Marlborough SB, that of gooseberries, passionfruit with hints of grapefruit and lemon zest. The palate is fresh and clean with an excellent balance between fruit and acidity. A salivating, refreshing, dry wine with intense flavours and all the classic hallmarks of our most iconic variety.
Serve with: Canapés or line caught fish.
Style: A classic Marlborough SB style, which is a fresh, punchy dry white wine unoaked with moderate alcohol (12.5%).
Serving Temperature: 6-8 degrees, a fridge typically cools to around 4 degrees which is too cold for white wine as it reduces aroma and flavour. Take the bottle out of the fridge and let it warm up for 15 minutes or so before serving.
Second Wine:Another variety of NZ that is rapidly becoming a benchmark wine
Taste: Delicious aromas of ripe brown pears combined with hedonistic smellsofa crispy skin, roasted chicken in the baking dish, surrounded by its juices when you remove the dish from the oven, heaven. This wine has an oily, viscous texture with melon, honeysuckle and beeswax flavours, soft acid, balanced by a long, warm finish.
Serve with: Roasted white meats.
Style: This is a refreshingly riper style of Pinot Gris that reminds me of Alsace (the home of this variety). Those roasted chicken aromas are typical of riper Pinot Gris from Alsace. These aromas combined with the rich, oily palate make for a delicious drinking Pinot Gris, a refreshing change from many Pinot Gris’s on the market which can be thin, bland, and propped up by sugar.
Serving Temperature: 8-10 degrees
Third WineMarlborough Chardonnay is going through a revolution, as is the wine producer Giesen.
Taste: Lovely rich aromas of tree ripened peaches, butter, hazelnuts grapefruit, burnt match and smoky notes, yet the palate shows restraint and a good balance between fruit, oak and savoury complexity. The palate is long with good acid levels, resonating a European style of Chardonnay where the palate is long and linear, rather than the up-front, fruity style typical of some NZ wines.
Serve with: Roasted chicken or pork with a medley of roasted vegetables.
Style: This is a good example of the new style of Chardonnay emerging from Marlborough; wines showing great complexity but with more restraint and elegance on the palate, emulating the style of White Burgundy (the home of Chardonnay.Giesen, also have been going through a revolution, expanded their range of wines to include exciting, high quality wines from top vineyards, using close planting and organic practices. They are now setting the benchmark for many varieties in Marlborough other than just Sauvignon Blanc.
Serving Temperature: 10-12 degrees will allow this wine to shine.
Fourth Wine:Another example of Marlborough Chardonnay
Taste: Intense fruit aromas of raspberries, strawberries with cinnamon and aherbal vein. The palate is elegant with lashings of red fruits, but the palate builds and builds where the smooth, mouth coasting tannins tickle and titillate the insides of your cheeks more and more with every sip.
Serve with: Duck or pork and savoury vegetarian dishes; creamy pasta with a mushroom medley.
Style: A classic Marlborough Pinot Noir with a strong fruity expression that is balance by the savoury and herbal complexity, making for superb drinking.
Serving Temperature: 12-13 degrees
Sixth Wine:Variety is the Spice of Life and hence I am throwing in one amazing Italian white wine that I recently tasted.
Taste: Pale colour, hedonistic aromas of lemon curd, grapefruit, lime pith andfennel. A rich oily palate that is full bodied with the tell-tale bitter almond kick with a little salinity on the finish. Delicious.
Serve with: Canapes, seafood and white meats
Style: This is a rich, oily white wine offering excellent drinking and speaks of the new, clean style of white wines emerging from Italy, wines with fresher fruit flavours and less oxidative characters that have compromised the quality of many Italian white wines of the past.
Serving Temperature: 10-12 degrees
Stay safe everyone and remember to keep it mostly local, we all need to support each other.