Tag Archives: New Zealand Wine

Locations NZ7 Sauvignon Blanc

6 Jun

Locations Wine by Dave Phinney, “NZ7” Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand. ABV 13.5%; SRP $19/bottle.

Color is bright straw. The nose offers grassy herbs, grapefruit, and starfruit. On the palate: gooseberry, grapefruit, with stunning acidity and a delightful mouthfeel. Secondary notes of tall grass/grassy meadows and herbs, with hints of minerality clay, and gravel.  This blend of grapes, 100% sauvignon blanc sourced from three locations within New Zealand, is a classic SB. The Wairau, Awatere, and Waihopai valleys all provided the fruit that generates this gorgeous blend that tastes like a superb single vineyard. Singular in focus, simple yet absolutely complete. Tremendous quality and value from a winemaker you can trust to deliver the absolute ideals from a wine region. 

I paired this with a Provençal herb chicken with baked apple compote, asparagus, green peas and couscous. So delightful on the palate and so SPOT ON with the protein, the herbs, the fruit and the vegetables. This is my idea of a perfect sauvignon blanc pairing, hands down. The secondary pairing with a trio of cheese (brie, gouda, goat) was also a great success. The third pairing was purely accidental: a lemon cookie was tremendous with the grapefruit/gooseberries, and made for a stunning harmony. All in all, this is a killer wine of summer. If you like classic, clean sauvignon blanc, this will make you quite happy, indeed.

 


Dave Phinney’s NZ Sauvignon Blanc from Locations Wine. 

 

 


Surprise! An excellent dessert pairing of lemon sugar cookie with the NZ SB! 

 

#WIYG? 

 

à votre santé!

Advertisements

Villa Maria Estate: Elegance from New Zealand

3 Jul

Helen  Morrison, Senior Marlborough Winemaker at Villa Maria Estates, is doing something right. I know, because she just wowed a team of wine industry insiders and wine bloggers during a live tasting where she demonstrated her Villa Maria wines.  To say the least, everyone was impressed…and wanted more to taste!  I know, I know…to the wines!

Villa Maria Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc 2016, NZ 12.5%ABV. MSRP $15.

A fun, carbonated/bubbly wine I first tasted (and really enjoyed) a year ago at a NZ Trade tasting , I was pleased to see that this vintage felt more elegant and refined from last year’s. Tiny effervescent bubbles precede elegant citrus and floral notes with a hint of baker’s yeast and a dry, welcoming finish. Half the pressure of champagne, this is incredibly fun, easy to open with a standard screw-top stelvin closure, and is an immediate crowd-pleaser. Drink by the patio or poolside all day, but when it’s mealtime, you can pair up with shellfish, cheese, raw or cooked fish, salads, up to medium-rich entrees such as spicy fish tacos, chicken fried-rice, and especially lime-marinated dishes to marry flavors beautifully. When I shared a bottle to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday, the responses were stellar and happily surprised when I told them what they were drinking.

 

 

 

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2016, NZ 12.5%ABV. MSRP $15.

Color is pale straw; the nose provides a massive grapefruit zest with grass and the essence of cut flowers. On the palate: pink grapefruit, gooseberry, and lemon-lime. Delightfully crisp, grassy, herbal, with a very dry, stony finish. A striking resemblance to the last two years’ efforts demonstrates that you don’t change something that is working well! This is perhaps the powerhouse sauvignon blanc that defines the terroir and flavors from the Marlborough AVA. The massive citrus allows you to pair this with just about anything you want, but my favorites are fresh veggies, raw fish, and chicken caesar salad.

 

 

 

Villa Maria Taylors Pass Vineyard Chardonnay 2015. Marlborough, NZ. 13.5% ABV; MSRP $45

This is a “whoa” wine to add to your portfolio! Color is medium gold. Sweet peach and white orchid dominate the nose. Gorgeous lime zest married to a definitive Belle of Georgia peach on the palate, with secondary notes of marzipan, yeast, toasted oak, and gravel, and an elegant mouthfeel.  This was my “WOW” wine of the tasting, and I know was a real surprise to others who are connoisseurs of the chardonnay grape.  Delicious from the moment I put it in my mouth, I wanted to stop there, put my glass down and cede the game so I could start food pairing this single vineyard chardonnay. Why? Let’s add it up: Killer terroir + hand picked + whole bunch pressed + 9 months spent on the lees+ natural ML in oak (25% new French oak,  75% seasoned French oak)= OMG this wine is stellar. Short version? If you see this bottle, pick it up. Drink it, and you’ll know what I say add it to your cellar: it compares well to classic and new world chardonnays in the $60-75 range. And if you don’t care about price? Then for you, it’s just SOOOO tasty!

 

 

 

Villa Maria Private Bin Rosé, Hawkes Bay 2016, NZ. 12.5%ABV; MSRP $14.

Deep salmon in color, the nose offers fresh-cut wildflowers and berry compote. On the palate, fresh strawberries atop the tongue while the sides feature ginger, lemon pepper, and allspice notes. Racing acidity crosses the top palate, but the finish is when you recognize the significant body in this stainless fermented rosé of (mostly) merlot.  At this price point, this is a serious wine for serious food or fun in the sun.

 

 

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir, Marlborough, NZ ABV 13,5%, MSRP $26.

 

Color on Day 1: translucent color and bright red fruit!

 

Color is transparent rose with garnet edges and just enough clarity to read a newspaper through it. The nose offers young red fruit and a hint of wildflowers, while the palate takes the bright cherry and raspberry flavors and marries them with a secondary group of spices and then hints of earth and smoke, remaining gentle, yet refined, and medium-bodied overall with a medium finish. On day 2 after opening, the fruit has taken on deeper, darker colors and flavors of mature red plum and cassis, showing baking spice, red pepper flake, paprika, clay and granite on the back palate with a sour cherry across the top, maintaining a quality balance and graceful presentation, while the finish now lingers with a pleasant sour cherry, spice and stone.

 On day 2: Standing tall, with darker & deeper flavor -a delightful surprise to my palate!

 

So, hey! If you’re not already a fan of New Zealand wines, you might need your head examined,  But don’t take it from me. Pick up some of Hellen Morrison’s Villa Maria Estate wines and check them out for yourself- and let me know what you think!

 

à votre santé!

Off the Grid 2014 Pinot Gris

11 May

Off the Grid 2014 Pinot Gris, Marlborough, New Zealand. MSRP: $13/bottle.

With a color of pale straw, the nose shows white peach, passionfruit, honeysuckle and a hint of citrus. In the mouth, white fleshy fruit dominates the front palate while the mid palate shows a more savory side of apricot with supple acidity that leaves your palate feeling mouthwatering and ready for the next sip or bite. The fruit brightens slightly on the finish which has mineral notes of clay, and volcanic ash.

Over five days this paired delightfully with a fruit and cheese plate, grilled chicken, caesar salad,  pizza, and by itself while watching the sun set. For $13, I can’t imagine a better value in pinot gris, one that is sure to please your friends and family when you serve it. Most Americans don’t understand pinot gris, (Clink the link here to a great article from Mary Gorman-McAdams on true difference between pinot gris and pinot grigio) so I suggest you just pour it for your friends, and tell them what it is later. Trust me, it’s easier. Off the Grid has the perfect introduction to pinot gris, and it is obviously capable of pleasing those who already love the grape, like yours truly.

pinot gris

Did I mention they make a mean sauvignon blanc, too? Or are you interested in the cool approach they are using to grow grapes & make their wines? The Forlong Family is doing some amazing work, and you can check out a video about their work on their website here, or copy & paste:  http://offthegridwine.com 

Last: I don’t usually ponder wine labels much, but this one is very unusual, I’ll leave it at that. I hope you take a look at the label and leave a reply below to share your thoughts with us!

OTG-Mockup-PinotGris-2

à votre santé!

A Whole New World…Down Under!

28 Feb

New Zealand.

I confess I have never spent much time thinking about New Zealand.

Sure I’ve been fascinated by Māori culture with movies like Whale Rider and The Lost Warrior. And I’ve wanted to visit what is obviously a lush, beautiful country with rich history in the same way that I want to visit many places in the world I have yet to see first hand.

But wine? No. To be succinct, I never really thought about New Zealand wine. I’ve tasted a few in the $9-12 range which were good wines – nice, every day wines that are totally fine, just not mind-blowing. 

That has all changed. I attended a tasting that enlightened me, and now I’m finding myself daydreaming about the wines of New Zealand.

Do I have your attention yet? Well, I should. You already know that I’m a classic French wine snob with great appreciation for all European wines: Italian, German, Spanish, Austrian and even a few Greek wines. And then after a decade I started to appreciate what could be found at home in the USA, with great work being done not only in California but also quality wines found in Oregon and a few small producers around the country whose work can actually compare to the Europeans.

Many times it took a visit to a location to taste something to spark my interest. Sometimes by accident I tried a wine from an unusual region and had to investigate (Argentina, Chile) or was handed something I had no interest in and fell in love with (eiswein, white rioja).

Don’t do what I did and wait for someone to push you on the fine wines of New Zealand. Take the plunge. I’ve now spent a considerable amount of time investigating and can tell you beyond the shadow of a doubt: if you appreciate fine wines, you want, nay, you NEED to know about the quality production being done in New Zealand’s Central Otago region.

Here’s the inside scoop: Do you like the quality of the wines that are created on the 45th Parallel? (The wines of Oregon, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone, Lombardy, and Piedmont, for example.) Central Otago is on the SOUTHERN 45th Parallel, along with great wine country in Chile and Argentina. Great winemaking isn’t just about location- they are made, not born. But to make a great wine, the location is the first major point. Location, location, location.  Bill Daly from the Chicago Tribune did a great story on the 45th Parallel. It’s worth a read. But I’m here to tell you that, after tasting these wines, there is no denying that Central Otago has something serious going on.

Here’s the one that really impressed me:

Mount Difficulty Pipeclay Terrace 2010; a single vineyard pinot noir and a screwtop closure. My tasting notes: nose of blackberry and hints violet and lavender. Gentle red and black fruit, sumptuous, lithe, delicious. Secondary notes of spice, oak, and clay. Huge on the mid-palate, strong finish with great tannin-feels like powerful reserve while being kept in check, like a Porsche 928 at only 50mph. Reminds me of Grand Cru / Cote de Nuit.

Did you re-read that last part? It’s no joke. This wine floored me. It was “oh, that’s good. Wait…that’s really impressive. Let me taste that again!”  

MTD10PipeclayPinot

And it’s not just the Pinot. Another wine that left a great impression was a chardonnay from Felton Road. 

Felton Road “Block 2” Chardonnay 2011

Pale straw color, subtle nose- gentle citrus, white flowers. In the mouth, a focused effort of white stone fruit and citrus with good minerality, soft wood in the background. Complexity without any cover-up. Tough to discern specific fruit flavors might be one of the features that is so compelling. Very direct acidity and great balance. I’d never guess this to be NZ, as it feels like a concentrated California wine in the style of great Burgundy. While that sounds like a knock, I love this wine. Amazing with appetizers and fish course. A great, mineral-driven, home run of a wine.

MtDifficulty

I tried nine wines this tasting from the Central Otago. None of them would have landed in the under-$20 range, but every one had solid backbone and quality, without the requirement of a decade of age to have refinement.

For example, check out these tasting notes from this unassuming Quartz Reef Pinot Noir 2010:

-Decanted for two hours. A complex nose of red fruit entices, while a blend of elegant cherry, blackberry and red plum bathe the soft palate with gentle acidity as velvety tannins rise slowly. I enjoyed this wine three nights in a row, with the same responses each time. The wine is well made: developed, mature, and refined. My tongue lolled as my brain raced. If I didn’t know better, I’d be placing this totally wrong. It feels distinctly European to me. Never has being so wrong felt so right. Not long ago, I was have sworn this wine was Burgundy. I’m so happy I know better, and hats off to the winemaker!

Quartz Reef

Following the tasting, I tried several other Central Otago wines and in the process I discovered that one of my biggest wine suppliers carries many of the wines I had tasted. This is a supplier I trust with providing great European wines and choosing ideal vintages. Imagine my surprise to see a list of  names, similar or matching  to the ones I’d tasted? It’s not coincidence. They knew. Now I know. And now YOU know.

New Zealand. It’s a whole new world of wine for you.

mud house

à votre santé!

%d bloggers like this: