Sunday, October 18, 2009

Finding the Time to Fit in Wine

Most nights after I've sung 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' (twice) and smiled hopefully through a trembling bottom lip (not mine, although with the amount of sleep I'm not getting it's a close run thing) I pad down the stairs to an empty kitchen intent on another fast dinner and a speedy trip into bed.

Most nights I vaguely consider that this would be the time to sip a glass of wine, as I chop and stir and bolt down the meal. In another life I would have found it unthinkable to sit down to dinner without half a glass or so. I always appreciated the feeling chef Nigel Slater expressed when he reckoned that even a dinner alone was worthy of a decent drop. Nothing less than you would take to share with friends (as why would you treat yourself less well than those you love).

Some nights I do pour a splash of whatever is lurking in the fridge but mostly it's pedestrian stuff, reliable and on special at the supermarket. A far cry from my working days as Sommelier.

My little Sommelier is a joy but not conducive to contemplation of fine wine and in the heady-go-round of nursery rhymes and exploding nappies I'm left with little time for wine to fit in to life somehow.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Viognier and a Delightful Film

As I was sipping Viognier last night and watching one of those surprising TV movies that turn out to be really great; it struck me that Viognier is, quite possibly, the perfect movie watching wine.

A combination of exotic appeal and low acidity make it a wine to drink slowly but not necessarily with food. Plus it's quixotic enough to hold your interest whilst allowing clever plot turns to take most of your attention.

The Viognier in question was the Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2007 and in the glass it was proving that Yalumba have really nailed this difficult variety in the New World. For a snip of a price it was echoing the varietal's origins in Condrieu and, although presenting a little hot, it had the spice and apricot charms that make Viognier so unique. Still I've yet to taste a Antipodean Viognier that doesn't run to heat and the burn somehow didn't detract from the overall balance of the wine.

So, if you want to cosy up on the couch with something other than a hearty red to accompany the latest rom-com then this is my pick. a 3 glass wine. Also, it's recession and baby budget friendly.

As an aside: the film was Stranger Than Fiction. A bit of a revelation given I don't recollect it showing at the cinema......

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Surprising Sauvignon

It cost, Dad tells me, not much more than $10 a bottle (although I believe the regular retail would be closer to $15) but the Vidal East Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2009 was the first Sauvignon Blanc I tried from the new vintage and I was pleasantly surprised.

This mongrel is a blend of Marlborough and Hawke's Bay fruit (and perhaps a little Gisborne too, so my sources say but the official line says otherwise) but for all its mixed up pedigree and rock bottom price it has a classy, dry, mineral palate that had me reaching for another dash (now we're baby-led we drink in dashes and splashes rather than glasses).

The nose is ripe and bright without bursting with overdone passionfruit thiols and the palate shows a similar restraint. A little minerality and a lemon lift. Juicy acidity so much fleshier and more fun in the mouth than anything 2008 could conjure up. This may be indicative of the quality of 2009 in general but for all that the Vidal East Coast Savvy would be a great buy for everyday drinking. A 'never-disappoint' type of drop to stand by in the cellar. a 3 glass/dash wine.

Another wine-less night in baby-land

Franklin is in his hammock playing the 'it might be my bed time but I'm not going to sleep until you dance attendance at the bedside for an hour' game. He's a marvellous baby and has his night-time sleeping fairly settled but sometimes he likes to mix things up (like tonight) and change the rules.

So I bounce his hammock and shush, shush and wish there was a cold bottle of white in the fridge.

Although I'm breast feeding exclusively; once I get Frank to bed I can have a wee glass of wine safe in the knowledge that he won't require me until 1am, long after the alcohol has left my bloodstream. Infact I could have 2 glasses in that time frame, such is the current thinking on the matter.

Golly, he's just closed his eyes. My suspected hour of attendance was only 15 minutes.

If the fridge situation was different I could have something tasty to drink at 8:10pm. Not bad going.

Despite us still languishing in the skirts of winter I'm hankering after Sauvignon Blanc. I couldn't even taste it whilst pregnant as I found the acids too prominant but now with the 2009 vintage coming on stream and my palate back to rights (well, sort of) I'm in the mood for minerally, match-stick-y wine.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The way back to wine

I had Franklin 6 weeks ago and Christ! What a steep learning curve that was!

I'm loving it now but if you'd asked me in the first 3 weeks I think I honestly thought I'd made a huge mistake. He's beautiful, of course (every mummy thinks so, doesn't she), strong, smiling.

......Breathes like an elephant with a bad cold in the night ...... Why does no-one mention that babies are so loud?

So much to learn and know.

And now that I'm not terrified every minute of doing something wrong I think the way is paved back to wine.

One cannot taste wine when tense. And I've been tense.

Wine by its very nature needs a relaxed recipient in order to unfurl and show its colours.

So, soon.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Getting Ambidextrous

Little more than a week on and I'm amazed at myself. Amazed at wee man. Quietly thankful.

It's not going to be as terrifyingly tricky as I thought last week. Tricky, no doubt. But not impossible.

And it is possible to nurse a baby and have a wee sip of wine. Only a wee sip mind.

My thoughtful father ferried a lovely bottle of Alan McCorkindale Waipara Pinot Noir 2007 from Auckland and I had that at dinner over the weekend. Worth seeking out it shows McCorkindale - who is a dab hand at the varietal white - isn't too shabby with Pinot Noir either. And it confirms for me that Waipara is where you want Nu Zillund Pinot to hail from. Just a little more layered, a little more stinky and less fruit forward than most Otago beasties.

Then last night Rich came home with some 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. Past it? Not at all. And I'd rather drink the last of the 2007 Sauvignon than have any truck with the 2008.

This was from the Montana Terroir series which also makes that lovely Riverpoint Gewurztraminer we had the other day. This is the Conders Forest Sauvignon Blanc 2007, hailing from Raupara in Marlborough and made to express the distinct characteristics of that area. Definitely different to other Marlborough Savvy styles this is less passionfruit and more red capsicum with tart guava. A broad palate. Sweaty but not too sweaty.

And as to getting ambidextrous?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Little Sommelier

was born in the end on the 9th of June 2009.

After 48 hours of 'not' being in labour; by C section. Being mum sommelier is not what I expected and the Bollinger is still in the box.

Whilst we get the hang of the breast-feeding wine is still off the menu pretty much and, in any case, looking after my wee prince takes up more time and energy than I could have believed possible.

He's 2 weeks old today and cute as a button. I'm very proud.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

6th of June and dreams of an alternative white

Today 'should' be the day we celebrate the arrival of the littlest sommelier but unfortunately they don't supply babies with calanders in utero.

So the Bollinger Grand Annee 1999 stays on ice and I stay enormous...

I haven't gotten much further with my list of first wines and the concept of trying to pick a first Pinot Noir seems daunting especially with most of my grey matter given over to birthing, feeding, changing and bathing.

Rich has promised to cook me the traditional meal of 'late' mothers everywhere tomorrow night...

A curry. Quite hot.

Accordingly perhaps I should turn my attention to the first Gewurztraminer.

It's an easy call, marred only by the fact that I probably couldn't get my hands on a bottle even for silly money. The Pyramid Valley Orton Vineyard Hawke's Bay Gewurztraminer 2007 is a special wine and marked my birthday last year with it's generous, powerful, unusual presence (the picture at the top of the blog is of that very bottle). I'd have that again in a heartbeat but given the small quantities and the fact that it was the one and only vintage that will ever be made I'm unlikely to repeat the pleasure.

I feel so emotionally attached to that wine that it seems churlish to pick another first Gewurztraminer simply because the Orton isn't available. However, there is another Gewurztraminer that has been making regular appearances of late (not in my glass obviously) and has captured my attention. The Montana Terroir Series Riverpoint Gewurztraminer 2007 comes from the block once owned by Matawhero Wines, which was responsible for some memorable Gewurztraminer as far back as the 1970's. A little like the Orton in that respect. In this instance, however, one of our biggest players (Montana) has come in and saved the old vines and through their Terroir Series are making the flavours of these unique sub-regional sites available to enthusiasts. It's an ethos worth applauding and the wine itself is worth applauding also.

Soft straw gold and quite savoury on the nose the wine makes a charmingly viscous mixture of cardamon, rose petals and pineapple. That is to say the palate is oily but without apparent sweetness despite the off-dry residual sugars and the phenolics (so often a bitter pill to swallow in Nu Zillund Gewurztraminer) are low. The usual spiciness of this varietal is quite restrained to taste with the freshness of lemon oil lingering on the finish. Overall there is a singular balance evident in the wine. A fine continuation to the tradition of Gisborne Gewurztraminer. a 5 glass wine (that is to say Rich will happily polish off the bottle seeing as I don't really help these days...)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The first Chardonnay

I have to confess a real love for Chardonnay. But of a very particular sort. It would be wrong to say that I prefer them with as little intervention as possible as I'm not over fond of the New World 'un-oaked' style. More often than not they call the word "flabby" to mind. Or "insipid" (but I've levelled that criticism at Pinot Gris often enough to make it inextricably tied to Nu Zillund Gris). But neither do I like a Chardonnay that's been mucked about with over much.

It's a tightrope.

Reviewing my notes reveals a number of Chardonnay that have flirted with my tastebuds and achieved that startling and and evocative combination of terroir and winemaking that elevates them beyond the ordinary.

At the silly money end of the spectrum there's the marvelous, weighty Bell Hill Chardonnay or the cult status Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay. But neither of these really fit in with the baby budget.

This leaves two special but basically affordable Chardonnay in my mind and it's hard to pick between them. In the end parochialism edges the Shaw + Smith Chardonnay out of contention. But it's a close run thing. I love the balanced exhuberance of the cool climate Adelaide Hills wine. It performs exactly that trick of exhibiting place whilst evoking the personality of the winemaker.

However, the Villa Maria Keltern Chardonnay will be the bottle I'm asking for after the littlest Sommelier pops into the world. I believe I may be being sentimental but it conjures up an almost Mersault-like almondine nose without sacrificing spine-tingling acidity and all at a very reasonable (of course - it's Villa Maria) price.

And it's inseparable with a rainy night in Rotorua a long time ago when Rich and I first met.....

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The first Sauvignon Blanc

This is one grape variety I went off in a big way whilst pregnant. Something to do with the pungent aroma and high acidity had me nauseous during my first trimester and left me cold thereafter.

Reading through my tasting notes I know that I've always had a fondness for the ubiquitous New Zealand white and now that the end is nigh and a whole glass is (almost) back on the menu I'm looking forward to a glug of the juicy, lip-smacking refresher. With all that snow glittering at me across the lake I'm picking an odd time of year to be hankering after Sauvignon Blanc.

So which one?

2008 produced some very forgettable Sauvignon Blanc and the 2009s aren't with us yet so what to want?

Seresin stands out in my mind as a charming take on the Marlborough style with a lot more class than most. Or perhaps something with racy, green Awatere fruit would be better.

Overall I'm leaning towards Hawke's Bay and the more Bordeaux Blanc type wines that come from the region.

Ah, I really feel like the panache of the Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc. That'll be the ticket.

What to drink, when you can drink it..

That's definitely a burning question. I've already let Rich know that I expect Champagne in the delivery room but which one?

I've long been a fan of Perrier Jouet NV as I find the citrus-sy delicacy and floral component infinitely preferable to the masculine swagger of Bolly and its ilk.

We don't see quite the range of Champagne down here in Nu Zillund so some of the more esoteric examples are going to be in the too hard basket but if anyone would like to make a suggestion as to the perfect fizzy drop to 'wet the babies head', I would be grateful.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monowai Estate, the first of my baby friendly vineyards

I first tried the Monowai Estate wines at Wine NZ last year and, despite being a little, relatively unknown voice in a shouting crowd of heavyweights, they impressed with a Chardonnay exhibiting all the balance that you look for but so seldom find.

On top of this, they were being realistic about their pricing and so this yummy Chardonnay was good value.

Back at the restaurant and looking for budget friendly wines to entice the clientele, Monowai sprang to mind. It didn't move as fast as I would have liked due to its lack of profile but it didn't stop it from being a great drop, punching well above its weight.

At the wine shop for a dinner party drop to go with lamb, Monowai showed up and I thought the Merlot should get an invitation to the party. It took Rich some convincing to leave the Trinity Hill Syrah on the shelf in favour of what I was sure would be another tasteful, judicious wine from this stable.

Monowai Estate Merlot 2006 is from Hawke's Bay but the vineyards are in Crownethorpe, higher up into the hills than most and on opening the wine smelt cool and assured. It's reminiscent of dark cherry fruits and a little bittersweet chocolate. With only 12.5% it holds a lovely poise on the palate. Neither brash nor insipid the Monowai Merlot is a congenial wine. That's to say it's a lovely quaffer with an underlying sense of class that lifts it above the ordinary. a 3-4 glass wine.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The baby vs wine budget

Rich and I had a good talk today about just how the finances will go after the arrival of the littlest sommelier and it's become apparent that, whilst wine won't be off the agenda completely, we will be dealing with a reduced allocation.

I wish I could say that I've a carefully built cellar that will tide us through the nappy-buying years (so expensive - who knew?) but I don't and whilst I'm being a stay-at-home mummy I won't have access to the tastings and releases that were such a big feature of my work life.

So this brings me to a juncture. A time of frugal application and of mindful purchasing. If anything it can exercise my palate and knowledge further as I look to squeeze the best out of every bottle. I don't want to turn into a 'best wines for under $20' hound but there's every reason to make every glass count.

Only a month to go before I can have a whole glass of wine again. I better get cracking. First perhaps a list of what I'm dreaming of drinking....

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tooting My Own Trumpet

It's a peculiarly Nu Zild affliction that crowing about achievement is tantamount to throwing up on someone's shoe.

But I'm obviously in the final throes of pregnancy hormones and as such seem to be glowing in all the right places.

Not that I've actually won anything, yet, and I may not. But my winelist has been nominated for "Outstanding Winelist' at this year's Lewisham Awards (a sort of Oscars for the Auckland hospitality industry) and I'm pleased and proud and glowing that the list I've nutured has a little recognition.

Having said that. It's still not the list I'd love it to be. I've woken up to far too much economic reality over the past year and the romance of writing a crafted, creative list gets dulled by figures and margins.

Still, here it is for scrutiny.

I'm a bit terrified of this bit but here goes........

Wine list

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A wine free life as I write the new list

You'd be forgiven for thinking that I'd given up even tasting wine as my posts slow to a trickle and the bump grows bigger.

In truth I'm tasting quite a bit as the pressure mounts to leave my restaurant in a 'good place' wine-wise whilst I swan off on Maternity leave. I've timed it quite well in the Nu Zillund wine calendar all things considered as this is about the time most Sommelier turn their attention to winter lists anyway.

I'm focusing on building the Pinot Noir and Syrah sections as many Pinots are rolling vintage about now plus enthusiasm for Syrah continues to build locally with many NZ Syrah helpfully keeping step with increasing quality. Also Syrah, as a rule, offers more value for money than Pinot. And this seems topical and necessary.

Just as the economy continues to dominate in the media it remains top of mind for me also. It seems so pertinent to maintain a list of wines that people can afford. To source wines that over-deliver at their price point so that a carefully chosen indulgence feels worth it to my guests. And to have all staff able and confident with gentle encouragement towards the lesser known but highly tasty drops. Actually, this is important all of the time, but doubly so if it starts looking like wine is at risk of being too much of a luxury for most.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jules Taylor Pinot Noir Marlborough 2007

A strong, dark cherry cola of a Pinot. A Marlborough style with a lot of weight and intensity. A fair whack of alcohol too but that's by the by as the fruit holds the extraction and heat together in an appealing package. There's an element of dark fruit syrup tempered by orange zest all mixed up with a heady, confusing aroma of gingerbread spices. The sweetness of cinnamon against a counterpoint of something else. After an investigation in the further reaches of the pantry we pinned it down to mace. For all that it's a one song wine and doesn't develop in the glass.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Armantes Old Bush Vine Garnacha 2006

My miniscule pour for the weekend. A splash of garnet in the glass. Translucent yet not without depth and clinging to the sides with a rasberry film after swirling. Armantes Garnacha is a wine that pops up in wine writing fom here in little old Nu Zillund to Blighty, the States and beyond. All almost universally cheering on it's plump, vivaceous flavours and approachable price. It's a story that's hard to beat. 50 year old vines! We can barely manage half, a quarter that in this part of the world. Under $20 without a green, stalky note to be seen yet avoiding the cherry-pop swig of lesser Australian models (not that there's not heaps of cheery Oz reds available for well under $20, but this is exotic!).

Spanish Grenache does a lovely line in sweet chocolate aromas and the Armantes is no exception. A hint of caramel, strawberry, rasberry bound up in a proper red wine palate of fine drying tannins. Rustic yet not bombastically so this is floral in all the right places. Bucolic rather than boorish.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Stealing from a friend....

I have taken more out of wine than wine has taken out of me...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Te Mata Estate Showcase 2009

This afternoon was so information heavy I'm daunted by the amount of notes I have scribbled down. The margins of my tasting book crawling with the red ink of the biro I was supplied with. On the back of the price list also.

I'll stick (for now) to the brief impressions that append the full winery tasting notes in the book.

Zara Viognier Hawke's Bay 2008
A full baked apple kind of nose. With a sense of sweetness but not oiliness the palate is filmy and skillful but not showy. Fine citrus, long and balanced at 13.5% the alcohol, so often a problem in Nu Zillund viognier is held in check.

Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc Hawke's Bay 2008
Fig and guava with a honey toast background. The addition of semillon (11%) shows in a waxy quality in the nose and palate. Fine green and fesh with a counterpoint of cream. The 30% new oak is perfectly integrated. "Nalied it' New World Bordeaux Blanc.

Elston Chardonnay Hawke's Bay 2007
Sweet vanilla oak really dominant on the nose overlaying lush pineapple. Despite a new winery decision to hold Elston back (hence the 're-showing' of '07) this still seems bony and awkward. There's some typical Elston grapefruit in there but it's struggling with the full French and full malo right now.

Bullnose Syrah Hawke's Bay 2007
At this stage the Bullnose has an opulent, fruit forward nose with intrinsic blueberry notes. Spiky spices and exotic star anise are evolving alonside prickly tannins. Youthful

Awatea Cabernet Merlot Hawke's Bay 2007
A bowlful of ripe red fruits, dusty cedar. The tannins are mouthcoating but gossamer sheer. This still seems a bit hard.

I think I'm tired. You'd think from reading these notes that I didn't enjoy or admire the new releases from Te Mata when the opposite is true. Te Mata Estate is emminently admirable. The wines enjoyable. A 'class act' and a delightful family business. Hearing Nicolas Buck speak about the winery and their recent successes - off the back of some favourable Parker scores - was heartening, heartfelt stuff.

I'll leave writing about the vertical of Coleraine till tomorrow. Jeez, I need to revisit the notes above.

Must Try Harder

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Now Very Pregnant Sommelier

And it's mighty hard to taste anything properly!

I've a nose like a beagle but I'm so uncertain of my palate and I'm sipping and spitting which is the preferred, professional mode of tasting but has a certain austerity to it.

I'm about to launch in to writing a new wine list to see my place through winter and my maternity leave so there'll be a necessity for wine notes. But wine notes of what colour? And reliable?

More questions than answers. I've been told Jancis completed her Master of Wine (complete with blind tasting) whilst pregnant.... I'm not sure of the veracity of this but if so......

Friday, February 13, 2009

Coopers Creek 'The Pointer' Pinot Gris 2008

I'm not a fan, really, of Gris. I keep trying to find something redeeming in it's inocuous flavours. And failing.

But I'd always thought this a cut above the usual. Weighty enough without the startling alcohol that smells like a headache in a glass. Only just off dry. Eschewing the residual sugar levels that many others use to mask poor fruit or to provide interest...

I'm rather damning with faint praise here. And as my mother says
"if you have nothing nice to say then you shouldn't say anything at all"

But the Coopers Creek Pointer is a decent Pinot Gris. It's got that whiff of pear drops and quite a bit of baking spice thrown in. It likes food. A red duck curry helped it to sing and show off its texture and fruit sweetness. a 2 glass wine

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Worrying About Wine

It seems when the wine is gone for the drinking I worry about it staying gone. Most notably I'm bothered by the city planning in Nu Zillund and the recommendation that we continually free up land at the edge of the city. Apparently this is the answer to our over-inflated, un-affordable housing market.

Which has nothing to do with wine. Except it does.

Kumeu is a small but powerful wine region on the western skirts of Auckland. It's production including the excellent Chardonnay of Kumeu River, amongst other things. But if our city planners have thehance of their way Kumeu will no longer be at the edge of the city but part of a scraped earth 'sub-division'.

Or worse (or better I imagine it's how you look at it) it will have to sidle up to yet another mall.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Harder Than I Thought

to be a pregnant Sommelier.

And harder than I thought to keep writing about wine when it's practically off limits. The clinical tasting of wine, but missing out on the enjoyable drinking of wine is not for me,

it seems.

So what to do? The interest does not abate but I've enjoyed writing about specific wines on my terms, with my voice, a peculiar paean to my palate. Selfish-ish.

There's a whole world of wine outside of the drinking and musing but what to add to the fierce intellects and historical sagacity?

And will it be as much fun? As the drinking.....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Esk Valley Merlot Hawke's Bay 2004

Does this winery make a bad wine? If so I've yet to taste one. Esk Valley have a wide ranging portfolio, including what was the only planting of Verdelho, until the sneaky tykes at Villa Maria poozled some, somewhat to Gordon Russell's chargrin?

But it was the 2004 Merlot that emerged from the cellar to go with Dad's roast lamb.

Upon opening this is all savoury, leathery cedar with dormant fruit but after an hour in the decanter it brightens up to purple notes of plums and smoke. The tannins so smooth as to be almost indistinguishable but for all that it is a plush, plump wine. A wine that defied my expectations as I'm starting to find many 2004 Hawke's Bay reds showing signs of too much vintage heat and too little restraint. However after that initial prune-y whiff the Esk Valley demonstrates an underlying freshness. Comfortable rather than impressive but who doesn't like a little comfort (or a lot?). a 3 (ah go on 4...) glass wine.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sal's Great Portfolio

Co-Pilot is one of my favourite distributors. They may not carry the big Nu Zillund names but they have a great, idiosyncratic selection of vineyards and encompass quirky to classic styles. Syrah from Kerikeri, the once ubiquitous but now sadly unfashionable Gisborne Chardonnay and other gems that have me champing at the bit to list (if only I could get the buying public to understand).

Koura Bay Sauvignon Blanc Awatere 2008
Made by Simon Waghorne of (Auckland fashionable favourite) Astrolabe fame and Simon's Sauvignons are stylish for a reason. As they're stylish and don't venture too much down the thiol route. The nose is punchy and unmistakabley Awatere. A little more fine boned perhaps with floral tones. The palate has wonderful, crunchy, Braeburn acidity that even the pregnant lady can handle (and right now my palate is highly tuned to acid above all else). Expressive and modish. a 3 glass wine

Johanneshof Riesling Marlborough 2003
Stones and stonefruit don't usually sit so comfortably side by side but this bone dry Riesling pulls off a mean trick with a delicate, refreshing, long mineral and lime palate without coming off austere. It's a great relief to find an enjoyable, dry local Riesling. There's no doubt we pull off the Germanic model with increasing ease but this wine proves that for dry Riesling a lie down in a cool place can do wonders for your personality in the summer. Quite something. a 1 bottle wine (if I didn't have to spit I would drink the bottle.... with food)

Brunton Road Chardonnay Gisborne 2007
Roasted nuts, warm peach and lots of jewellry make this an attractive model of Chardonnay. Drinking well this is mouthfilling without being huge with it. And that warm Gisborne sun makes short work of the citrus acids that are so prevalent in other local Chardonnay. 25% new French and American oak lend a touch of coconut to the already clement (but not flabby) drop. a 4 glass wine.

Okahu Chardonnay 2005
This wine uses a little fruit from their Northland vineyards with the balance coming from Hawke's Bay and is a powerful example of the varietal. A nutty, earthy lees-y nose gives way to a little orange fruit and a touch a deep greens. Baked apple sweetness and crust. The palate is fresh and elevated by fine acidity. Recherche.
a 3 glass wine.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Wine Nation?

I stumbled (quite literally) on this article by Laura Shapiro. And although penned (tapped?) to address the American condition it struck a chord thinking about the way Nu Zillund approaches wine. We may not have the "two-buck chuck" but this passage could desribe the kiwi nation as readily as America

As a nation, we have habits that go back centuries and make it almost impossible to incorporate wine comfortably into ordinary life. We eat and run, we swerve frantically between teetotaling and bingeing, we think of food as a necessity but wine as an indulgence, and we wouldn’t dream of raising our children to drink sensibly by offering a little watered-down wine at the dinner table. Wine-drinking nations see wine as an intrinsic part of the meal, a feature so unremarkable that food-and-wine practically constitutes a single entity. Americans just don’t think that way."

We've just come out the other side of the festive season, and all the excess that entails, and there's has been some mind-numbing navel gazing devoted to our binge-drinking culture which I don't really want to add wieght to. But, as a kind of belated New Year's resolution, I would like to push the envelope this year of wine and life, inextricably linked, as healthy and inclusive.

I'm starting a family come June and it would be nice to think I could play a (very small) part in helping Nu Zillund work towards the kind of wine culture we romanticise from the old world.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2005

This would be a pleasant but fairly unremarkable drop but for one thing.

The vintage.

Nu Zillund Savvy is usually drunk with no bottle age at all. The 2008 is mostly what you'll find, maybe a few 2007 lying about in dusty corners. But 2005. Crikey you'd be hard pressed to find much of the stellar 2005 Hawke's Bay Bordeaux blends still kicking about. More's the pity.

And this isn't from the Cloudy Bay Te Koko (Bordeaux Blanc) school of oak aging and late releasing. It's good, solid Villa Cellar Selection but nothing more.

A nose of celery but more than that. It's like quiche. The aromas of cooked asparagus mixed with creamy egg and the sweetness of ham. Those big, popular passionfruit thiols turning to something altogether different. At 14% the wine never lacked concentration and weight but with the benefit of almost 4 years the racy acidity has mellowed. It still shows length as the acids present a different kind of power, carpentry for the unfamiliar flavours rather than leap and attack. a 3 glass wine

Monday, January 5, 2009

Terriero Negroamaro Puglia 2006

A tiny tipple to accompany spring lamb with minted roast veg.

This is delicate and smells dry. Of baked earth and warmth. I'd refute the "masses of fruit' tag. There's red fruits and summer blackberry but they're lively flavours hemmed in by fresh acids which belies the slightly raisin-y colour. The tannins are round without being plump on the bramble berry palate and a hint of woody spice holds it all together. A fairly uncomplicated drop but not simplistic. It develops a malty, soy aspect in the nose as it sits and this carries through to the taste. a 2 glass wine.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I've come down in the world

Last New Year was seen in with Salon 1995, this year all I could get my hands on was Moet et Chandon Grand Vintage 2000. Still it would be churlish to complain.

Surprisingly pale despite its time in the bottle, the Moet Grand Vintage 2000 has a wonderful nutty attack that leaps from the glass, so much so that a colleague deemed it inappropriate after midnight as it was "too much of a meal in a glass". The fruit characters are subdued, tending more towards the softness of ripe pear and the yeasty, toasty elements are pleasingly correct, if a little dominant. a 3 glass wine.