A Wine Writers View on the World of Wine. Formerly Magics Wine Guide and Reviews for Newbies
Today I began round two of my new year tasting schedule. This time it was the turn of New Zealand at Lords, St John’s Wood, London.
105 New Zealand wineries with 80 producers showing 700 wines made the long trip to London today to show off their new vintages and new ranges.
From Central Otago’s Akura to Marlborough’s Zephyr, the country was well represented, and it showed in the numbers who turned up.
Wine buyers and writers from across the UK, including the more well known faces from the British media, turned up to cast their eye’s over what New Zealand had to offer this year. Jancis Robinson was typing away furiously on her mini laptop, Oz Clarke was talking his way round the tables and recent Honorary Australian of the Year award winner, Matthew Jukes, was in attendance to support his wife’s company, Hallowed Ground, who were showing wines from Te Whare Ra, Mountford Estate and Surveyor Thomson.
All the 2010-11 vintages on show today have been certified sustainable in accordance with the SWNZ (Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand) programme. This demonstrating the significant work being done in the vineyard, the winery and the community in New Zealand as part of the commitment to be 100% sustainable by 2012.
My own focus today was to try and keep away from New Zealand’s staple variety, Sauvignon Blanc. Nothing against them, love Kiwi Sauvignon’s, but there is more to the nations wine industry that needs exploring.
All in all I tasted just over 50 wines today, concentrating mostly on whites. Below are a selection of wines I enjoyed.
I was hooked rather quickly on Riesling. In particular, Central Otago’s Felton Road. Three were on show: Felton Road Dry Riesling; Felton Road Bannockburn Riesling and the Felton Road Block 1 Riesling.
The Bannockburn Riesling, which was one of my highlights again showed similar tropical notes on the nose. The palate, off dry, lemon sorbet, giving a sherbet feel to the palate. God acidity and length.
The Block 1 Riesling. I didn’t write a proper tasting note for this wine. After my first sip I just wrote ‘class’. The wine show similar characteristics as the other two.
I did taste two Chardonnays from Felton Road. My overall conclusion for these wines were they need to develop more in the bottle. A lot of spice and acidity, green, youthful fruit. A lot of promise.
The five Pinot’s I tasted all offered something different.
Firstly, The Bannockburn. Showed soft delicate red fruit on the nose. The palate was a mix of good, soft, bitter red fruit. Some tannins but very short.
Next up, The Calvert. More fruit orientated. More distinctive black cherry fruit on the nose and palate. A little bit green but with the levels of acidity should improve superbly with age.
The Cornish Point was more Burgundian in style on the nose. Still with good red fruit on the palate. Excellent all round wine.
The Block 3. Pepper came out on the nose with this one. Some good red fruit with a touch of aniseed on the palate.
Lastly my highlighted Pinot. The Block 5. More deeper concentrated, jammy fruit on the nose. The aromas echo the palate with a smidgen of minerality. Great all round wine.
Again the Riesling was the wine that stood out for me. The Doctors’ Riesling from Marlborough is currently the biggest selling sub NZ$20 in New Zealand. At only 8.5% abv it offers a lot on the palate. A real depth of lemon curd fruit. Very well balanced with some lovely acidity.
The Valley Riesling showed more traditional notes. Petrol aromas with some spice on the palate.
Supposedly the ‘new’ Sauvignon is Austria’s Gruner Veltliner. I like this variety. A great accompaniment to spicy foods. I’ve had a couple from New Zealand in the past, Tinpot Hut’s Gruner Veltliner and The Paddler, both exceptional wines.
The Doctors’ Gruner Veltliner had a very easy nose. Not over perfumed with fruit, subtle. Dry, crisp and fresh on the palate.
Another variety that is worth looking at is Pinot Gris. New Zealand Pinot Gris offers a lot. Tatty Bogler in particular is a wine that shares similar characteristic with varieties of the same name from it’s native Alsace. Maybe not as aromatic on the nose, nice and delicate. it’s the palate where this one comes alive. Good depth of fruit, spice and acidity.
The rest of the wines I tried from Forrest were good. The Collection Chardonnay showed a good level of oak with a backbite of orange peel. The Sauvignon Blanc’s were a mix of surprisingly light styled wines up to the richer, bottle aged style from the Wairau Valley Collection Sauvignon. Nice to mix things up a bit.
Other notable wines worth looking out for are:
Man O’ War Valhalla Chardonnay. Really good juicy fruit with subtle oak.
Spy Valley Riesling. Dry with good, juicy citrus fruit.
Spy Valley Envoy Pinot Gris. Lovely, intense candy fruit but soft aromas on the nose.
New Zealand Rieslings, for me, are the way to go. They are currently being produced in so many different styles. From your more traditional dry Alsace styles, to great big dolloping, juicy, off dry citrus style wines. Brilliant.
Also we need to pay credit for emerging varieties like Gruner Veltliner. New Zealand is so much more than Sauvignon Blanc. It’s good to see these wines appearing more on our shelves.
In conclusion, it was a good days tasting but if I was to have one gripe, just a small one, it might work better if it was held over a couple of days. The amount of wines I wanted to try exceeded the time available. Also looking at the sheer number of people from the trade it may just benefit everyone to spread it out. I left a bit early too. Try to avoid the ensuing rush for the train.
Great wine chaps.
If you’d like to know more about the wines and wineries from this tasting then let me know.