Radio NZ National Wine Recommendations 4th November 2011

Spent a superb couple of days in Marlborough last weekend at the bi-annual Marlborough Wine Weekend celebrations where wine fans like me got the chance to immerse ourselves in very focused, specialised tastings of different styles and wines from various sub-regions in some absolutely spectacular locations.  It’s a great way to see how diverse our largest wine region actually is – which is good because I’ve been guilty of generalising about Marlborough in the past.  Found out that if the Awatere valley was separated from the Marlborough region, it is actually large enough on its own to be considered New Zealand’s second largest wine region – bigger than Hawke’s Bay.

Great sub-regional sauvignon blancs on offer, amazing ‘museum corner’ sauvignon’s too – great to see some Marlborough sauvignon’s still holding strong after a decade or more in the bottle.  Highlight was the pinot noir tasting in the historic woolshed out at Auntsfield which is New Zealands first and oldest vineyard.

The day after returning to Christchurch I zoomed 40minutes north to Waipara Springs winery to taste 64 examples of Waipara’s finest wines before heading to an amazing dinner held in an old limestone quarry out on Ram Paddock Road to showcase great Waipara lamb and pinot noir – great stuff.   2009’s had very very light colour – like kids cough medicine – but the flavours were deep and delicious.

So pinot noir has been a bit of a hero for me lately and it’s no surprise to see that pinot noir scooped 17 out of the 83 gold medals handed out at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards (results announced today) – that’s the most of any variety entered and it’s the fourth year running that that’s happened. 1489 wines entered.  Sauvignon got 14 and Chardonnay 10.  2011 is the 25th anniversary of Air New Zealand’s sponsorship of the awards too.

Cheap and Cheerful

Saint Clair Vicars Choice Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 $13 – $17

Classic lime and passionfruit pungency with a splash of crushed herbs and some tropical tastiness in there also.  Very light, zesty and refreshing with a good dose of gooseberry character that Marlborough is famous for.  It’s got a nice vein of minerality running through it and it has a lingering texture on the finish.  Widely available.

Mid Price Magic

Pruners Reward Waipara Pinot Noir 2009 $25

This is a very snazzy mid-priced label produced by the talented Porter family team at Bellbird Spring.  Don’t let the light, brick-red colour fool you, this is quite a dense and complex wine.  Scented with wild strawberry, cherry, pot pourri and allspice it has lovely silky texture and deliciously fruity freshness.  It’s extremely good value for money because it’ll last a few years yet.

Treat Yourself

Staete Landt Marlborough Viognier 2010 $44 

This is an absolutely eye-popping example produced by Netherlands natives Ruud Maasdam and Dorien Vermass out on Rapaura Road.  Perfumed with white florals, orange zest, citrus oil and alluring apricot stone notes.  It is deliciously rich, oily and unctuous in the mouth, yet has cleansing acidity and a succulent, silky finish.  Just beautiful. *When Abel Tasman first discovered New Zealand back in 1642, the name he gave to this land mass was Staete Landt” which means “Land (discovered in honour) of the Governors (Staete) (of the Dutch Republic)”.  So there you go…



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