Yvonne Lorkin wine column for week beginning Sat Nov 25th 2017

The man with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the New Zealand wine industry, the man lovingly referred to as the high wizard of wine writing, the Gandalf of good grog-buying if you will, is Michael Cooper.  And this week he’s released the 2018 Buyer’s Guide to New Zealand Wines, the 25th edition.  Twenty fifth!  I think that’s a half-jubilee right?
“The first Buyers Guide (published in 1992) took me by complete surprise because it sold 11,000 copies!” Cooper told me many years ago. “So that told me there was a very real need for a book like that, a collection of tasting notes that gave buyers guidance”.  He’s certainly not wrong there, with sales maintaining ever since, both in print and digital. “I’m pretty lucky as a writer because there’s this incredible interest in the topic. The other good thing is that you can go and write it again next year.  You couldn’t do that if you decided to write the history of the Roman Empire could you!” The point of the Buyers Guide, according to Cooper is not to answer all the questions about wine, but to answer just one, and that is ‘should I buy it?’
Cooper examines the subject of value very closely in his writing and much kudos is placed on his ‘Best Buy’ recommendations.  This year he names Vidal Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (RRP: $19.99) as its Best Red Wine Buy of the Year and describes the wine as “A refined, savoury, age-worthy red, likely to be at its best from 2019 onwards; it’s as classy as many producers’ $40 reds.”  The Best White Wine Buy of the Year went to the Mud House Waipara Valley Riesling 2016 (RRP $14.99) which he described as “Bright, light lemon and green, it is attractively scented, with strong, vibrant citrusy flavours, hints of passionfruit and ginger, mouth-watering acidity and a persistent finish.”  Michael’s book costs $39.99 and is available in good book stores, or you can purchase a digital subscription online at www.michaelcooper.co.nz

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Petane Station Hawke’s Bay Malbec Rosé 2017 $25 (5 stars)
Crafted from 100% Malbec, this is an incredibly juicy, mouthwatering rosé that smells like pomegranate, wild provençal herbs, redcurrant and a hint of pepper.  Crisp, crunchy and darn gorgeous not only to sip, but the bottle looks like money right?  I love how long this lingers on the palate – it’s a beautifully-made wine indeed.  Bright, luscious and incredibly satisfying.
www.petanestation.co.nz

Three Miners Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016 $38 (4 stars)
The tiny sub-region of Earnscleugh (between Alexandra and Clyde, on the Clutha River) is where Three Miners is located and where their magic is manifested.  I love this pinot noir because it’s so bright and spicy.  Soaked through with smoked strawberries, rhubarb, zesty, black tea and cherry flavours, it’s plush, perky and a fabulous example of something super-glorious.
www.threeminers.com

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So if I won $38million I’d be heading straight to the Church!

Church Road Grand Reserve Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2016 $45 (5 stars)
New favourite alert!  Chris Scott and his team have crafted a seriously delicious, rich, complex sauvignon from fruit grown in their Redstone vineyard in the Bridge Pa Triangle.  100% wild fermented and matured in older oak, it shows soft herbaceous, lemongrassy notes combined with nutty layers and a mineral-driven spine.  Finely-tuned and incredibly fresh, it’s an absolute star sauvignon blanc.
www.church-road.co.nz

Church Road TOM Syrah 2014 $200 (5 stars)
That’s correct.  Two.  Hundred.  Dollars.  But think about the last thing you spent $200 on and I guarantee it won’t be anywhere near as satisfying and succulent as this wine.  The syrah fruit was sourced from Bridge Pa (just sublime syrah dirt there) and immediately you’re hit with the most exotic, alluring perfume of soft pepper, black guava, bouquet garni herbs and graphite.  Plush, plucky and deeply flavoured with cocoa, charred spices and is saturated with dark berries.  Its hefty 15% alc is beautifully integrated, making it lithe, luscious and legendary.
www.church-road.co.nz

Church Road TOM Chardonnay 2014 $150 (5 stars)
Winemaker Chris Scott chose fruit from Church Road’s Tuki Tuki Valley block to fashion into what should (if I had my way) be a national treasure.  Expertly crafted and scented with grilled grapefruit, seasoned popcorn, ground almonds and roast stonefruit.  Its personality draws you in, it almost glows.  It’s got gorgeous tension in the mouth, a mineral core where all the elements are perfectly balanced.  So juicy and opulent, yet seriously stylish, it’s a stunning chardonnay.
www.church-road.co.nz

 

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