Yvonne Lorkin Wine Column for week beginning Sat 9th Dec 2017

As I write this, a clutch of businesses on the street where my office is located, are preparing for our annual street Christmas party.  Five bucks and BYO nibbles is all we needed to bring apparently.  Due to this column deadline, I have not had time to go out and get ‘nibbly-fied’ – so to make up for being a useless street party participant, I’ve bundled up a bunch of wines that I’d been tasting during the day and hopefully that little extra smorgasbord of sips will be enough to keep me in the good books.  Enough to not be accused of being that slacker with no community spirit over in number 10.  In two days time, our family have also been invited to another street party.  This time it’s for a gathering of our neighbours who all live sort of within the same block of what is a rather long avenue.  My husband will happily tootle along with me, but my two teens won’t have a bar of it (which is disappointing because it’s a special kind of treat for me watching them attempt to keep their eyes open while virtual strangers quiz them on what subjects they’re studying at school, what jobs do they do around the house and whether they’d like to babysit or earn extra pocket money walking their labradoodles).  Again I’m expected to attempt to rustle up something vaguely colourful and tasty.  As I’m slammed with work, chances are the best I can do is front up with a bucket of Cheezles – however I will still bring wine.  Sparkling wine most probably.  Sparkling wine that looks and tastes glamourous and diverts attention away from my flaccid attempt at bringing food.  There’s nothing more impressive than popping a cork amongst a crowd of people to gather oooh’s and aaah’s during the festive season.  It’s my sip of choice come Christmas and two of my current favourites are Moet & Chandon’s sweeter-styled Ice Imperial Champagne ($69) and the deliciously dry Astoria Prosecco 2016 ($19).  However if you’re looking for something localised, I’m also obsessed with the Akarua Vintage Brut Methodé Traditionnelle 2011 ($48) which recently secured the Champion Sparkling Wine Trophy at the 2017 Bragato Wine Awards and a place in the Dish magazine Top 12 Sparkling Wines of 2017.

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Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial Champagne $69.99 (4 stars)
Here’s the opposite of what Moet used to be all about.  Lean, dry and minerally, this is not.  Fat, tropical tones, peach and sweet, musky layers that cry out to be poured over ice and sprinkled with mint or flecks of dried berries.  Apricot, caramelised characters and a rich, luxurious sweetness wash across the palate and leave a long, lingering, treat yourself finish. Moet over ice.  Yum!
www.thegoodwine.co.nz

Astoria Butterfly Treviso Prosecco 2016 $19 (4.5 stars)
Been avoiding prosecco because you think it’ll be too sweet? Well, fret no more, because here’s a crisp, citrus-laced spritz-fest in a bottle.  This tangy example from Treviso shows lovely tension in the glass with a subtle lick of green apple and honey.  At a positively demure 11% alcohol, it definitely won’t send you sideways — and it’s also absolutely divine with classic vanilla sponge cake. If you prefer something savoury, though, go for tempura-battered oysters drizzled with mignonette dressing!
www.atouchofitaly.co.nz
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Here are three sips that have something for the biodynamically, organically, vegetarian-inclined imbibers…

Millton Te Arai Gisborne Chenin Blanc $29 (4 stars)
Glossy and golden in the glass, this organic, biodynamically produced chenin blanc has late summer afternoons written all over it.  With its perfume of apple leather, nana’s talc and musky magic, it’s aromatically intriguing, yet on the palate it delivers a whoomph (technical term there) of racy acidity, crunchy apple, pear and citrus pith on the finish.  Darn lovely and a must with sage, silverbeet and parmesan frittata.
www.millton.co.nz

Momo Organic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 $19 (4 stars)
Crafted by the talented team at Seresin Estate, this organic, biodynamically-grown glass of gorgeous is sauvignon but not as you’d normally know it.  With its smoked passionfruit, bruised lemongrass and elderflower perfume it’s rather seductive and smooth.  Peach and lime layers linger around a creamy core (gathered from 6 months lees aging) to leave a long, attractively astringent finish.  Magic with mussel fritters.
Widely available in supermarkets.

Moana Park Hawke’s Bay Merlot Malbec 2016 $25 (3.5 stars)
Here’s a vegan-friendly red that has masses of blackcurrant, violet, dried herb and pepper notes on the nose and has black tea, cherry, red fruits and spicy notes on the palate.  Fresh acidity, grippy tannins and good length make this a great BBQ sipper with tender, roasted mushroom and eggplant stacks.
www.moanapark.co.nz

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