Saturday, July 21, 2012

New zealand wine tasting, or, Shackleton's Revenge!

 Personally I find it difficult to get real jazzed about wine from New Zealand. I think there's loads of potential for very interesting wine, but as of yet it's not the first wine region I go hunting for on a wine list. But in with the goal of keeping an open mind we had a tasting at the store the other night, here's the list:

1. Oyster Bay 2011 Sauvignon Blanc
2. Dog Point 2011 Sauvignon Blanc
3. Craggy Range 2010 Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay
4. Craggy Range 2009 Te Muna Road Vineyard Riesling
5. Spy Valley 2011 Gewurztraminer
6. Peregrine 2011 Pinot Gris
7. Matua 2011 Pinot Noir
8. Wild Earth 2008 Central Otago Pinot Noir
9. Craggy Range 2010 Te Kahu Bordeaux style blend

The stand out winners for me last night was the Craggy Range Riesling and the Peregrine Pinot Gris. The pinot gris was done in a richer, drier, more (dare I say) Alsatian style. The riesling had a touch of petrol to the nose, which some found alarming, others endearing, and pleasant floral fruit qualities on the palate. These two wines show what I consider to be some real regional potential.

It might even be worth qualifying what I mean by potential rather than just letting that statement hang out there in space. A lot of the literature I've read on these winery's websites and on wine makers in NZ in general is that they tend to favor planting on flat land for easy mechanization. Some of the great wine regions in the world make such fantastic wine due to their precipitous vineyards; think the Mosel or Hermitage, you would have to be nuts to plant vines there.

But the insanity in planting leads to great wine in the bottle, maybe New Zealand needs to get a little crazier to make some really great wine.

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