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Robin Garr

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March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by Robin Garr » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:02 pm

Let's head for the Antipodes this month and pay a visit to New Zealand for our monthly Wine Focus. Favored by climate and soil, New Zealand produces excellent wines for the rest of the world to enjoy. Sauvignon Blanc is probably its most characteristic grape, and Marlborough may be its best-known region. But New Zealand's Pinot Noir can be excellent too, and we shouldn't be surprised to see other varieties pop up. So put on your seat belts and let's head south. Open your NZ wines and tell us about them!
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Tim York

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Re: March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by Tim York » Wed Mar 04, 2020 12:21 pm

CT tells me than I have only opened three bottles of Kiwi wine in the six+ years I have been using the system. Because of its cool climate except in the very North, New Zealand tends to produce brightly fruited wines with decent minerality and lively acidity of the sort which appeal to my NW European palate. However, because they are using familiar grape varieties they are on the whole not producing flavours very different from what is made here, apart from what sometimes comes from a bit more artifice in the winemaking. That, as well as poor availability, explains why I drink so few.

I checked the Lavina site and they only offer two, a Cloudy Bay SB and a Pinot Noir from Seresin. There is rather better availability on the Wine in Black site but mostly at high prices. There is a caviste in Falaise which sometimes has some interesting "foreign" wines, so if I go there I may snap something up.

Meanwhile here are my TNs from the CT archive on those three wines -

2014 Wither Hills Pinot Noir Clocktower Marlborough - New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough (19/04/2016)
My guess is that this wine will prove popular with its targeted audience, namely shoppers at the M&S chain in the UK. It is medium/full bodied and, on entry and mid-palate, shows very pretty features of sweet cherry infused Pinot fruit and velvety texture. However, for me the sweetness became a bit jammy and excessive, particularly on the finish where there developed a molasses touch, and that texture became a bit too thick. Add to that an underlying aroma, again most perceptible on the finish, which reminded me of tobacco, and for me the wine increasingly cloyed as the bottle emptied. The wine is quite young and the aspects which bother me may attenuate with age but it is not the wine for my Pinot fix right now.

2013 Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc - New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough (15/11/2017)
There was no doubting the varietal typicity of this wine. It showed a strong nose, medium/light body, lively fruit with the usual notes of grapefruit, gooseberry and grass allied with lively acidity but was a bit lacking in underlying roundness and backbone. A good and exhilarating drink though.

2015 Mohua Pinot Noir - New Zealand, South Island, Otago, Central Otago (31/08/2019)
This is the best NZ Pinot noir which has so far come my way and, indeed, it is difficult to think of a better example of the grape for drinking so young. It had a well developed nose showing a lot of cherry tinged pinosity and a medium+ bodied palate which carried through the aromas from the nose adding some depth of fruit, velvety texture, fresh acidity and a decently long and firm kirsch sprinkled finish. Very good.
Posted from CellarTracker
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Re: March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by Robin Garr » Wed Mar 04, 2020 4:10 pm

Thanks, Tim! This is one of those months when our European brethren have limited choice, but you're more than holding your own!
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Mystery wine: Sisters Ridge NZ Pinot Noir

by Robin Garr » Fri Mar 06, 2020 1:53 pm

I picked up this NZ Pinot Noir at my neighborhood wine shop yesterday, not knowing that I may be one of the few people on earth ever to taste it. ;) When I started Googling to learn more about the producer, I was almost immediately stymied. Nothing about Sisters Ridge, not much about the Teece Family except a link to their Mount Beautiful winery, also in Canterbury New Zealand. The importer? Nothing but an address. No online presence. Nothing on Wine-Searcher.

Surely they didn't make just one case to send to one Louisville wine shop, but I'm puzzled. I assume it's a new (or one-time) second label or contract bottling, but what do I know? Have any of you seen or heard of Sisters Ridge?


Teece Family Vineyards 2017 "Sisters Ridge" North Canterbury Pinot Noir ($19.99)

Clear dark garnet, with a clear edge. Ripe cherry-berry aromas, a mix of red cherries and blackberries with a faint back note of fresh herbs. Tart cherries carry over on the palate with good acid balance, with a lighter touch of tannic astringency following along. The cherry flavors are clean and fresh, lingering in a long, subtle finish. A relatively light 12.5% alcohol, according to the label. U.S. importer: Mistarr Wine Importers, Benicia, Calif. (March 5, 2020)

FOOD MATCH: Red meat, mushrooms, and cheese all go well with Pinot Noir. This one was fine with mild white cheese and with a slice of meatloaf and gravy.

WHEN TO DRINK: The metal screwcap should ensure freshness over the short to medium term. Drink up over the next three to five years.

VALUE:
This is a good cool-climate Pinot Noir showing varietal character. It's a fair buy in the $20 range.

WEB LINK
Here's a link to Mount Beautiful, parent winery to Sisters Ridge.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Wine-Searcher.com has no listing for this wine, perhaps new in the market. Sisters Ridge parent company Mount Beautiful suggests contacting the winery or calling (707) 745-3649 to order directly.

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to find listings for dozens of other wines from New Zealand's Canterbury region.
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Jenise

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Re: March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by Jenise » Sat Mar 07, 2020 8:39 pm

Not one I've seen before, Robin.

Coincidentally, not even realizing this was coming up as a Focus topic, last week Bob and I sampled the new vintage of Sauvignon Blancs from Craggy Range and Greywacke, both of which are carried at our local Costco and something I invariably pick up a few bottles of for summer drinking. I picked up an '18 of the latter for comparison as I recalled being impressed by it.


2019 Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
Tasted alongside the '19 Greywacke. This was rounder with notes of tangerine. Oak doesn't stand out but it makes sense that some is used here when compared to the other wine. Elegantly so.

2019 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough

Oooh! Tasty, fierce grassiness with kaffir lime and white grapefruit. Admirably cut and precise.

2018 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
Drank alongside the '19. More body with rounder fruit than the '19 but less feral. Both are great and on any given day I might prefer one more than the other. Today [she said, sharpening her claws], I go with feral.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bob Parsons Alberta

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Re: March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Mar 08, 2020 12:18 am

Greywacke rightfully has a great following so nice notes here,
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ChaimShraga

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Re: March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by ChaimShraga » Tue Mar 10, 2020 7:37 am

I'm somehow a bit loath to open any of my meager 5 bottles of New Zealand Pinots.
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Re: March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by Robin Garr » Tue Mar 10, 2020 8:56 am

Fair enough, Chaim. We'll give you a pass, hoping that April's Focus works better for you!
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Re: March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by ChaimShraga » Tue Mar 10, 2020 9:32 am

If they were a few years older, I'd go for it, but the oldest is 4.
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Jenise

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Re: March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by Jenise » Tue Mar 10, 2020 9:46 am

ChaimShraga wrote:I'm somehow a bit loath to open any of my meager 5 bottles of New Zealand Pinots.


Ditto; mine are things like Felton Road and Two Paddocks 4-5 years out that will reward further cellaring. We just don't see a lot of NZ wines on the shelves here, having the largesse of Washington wines for cab and syrah and Oregon to the south for chardonnay and pinot noir. Local wins. BUT...stay tuned for another tasting note.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by Jenise » Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:12 pm

Okay, guys, top this one. Here's a wine that Sue Courtney once described as a legend among NZ collectors. She even attended a tasting where all kinds of people flew in to create and partake in an extensive vertical, and she published the notes here that made enough of an impression on me that when I saw a few bottles up for auction in the secondary market, I nabbed a few. This is the last one; I took it to a South America themed tasting last Sunday night, as explained in the note:

1999 Stonyridge Vineyard Larose Waiheke Island Red Bordeaux Blend
Took to a blind tasting dinner with a South America theme. Owning nothing that would be either notable or suitably aged, subbed this 'ringer' as it's at least from the same hemisphere. Surprisingly nice compared to out last bottle maybe 6-7 years ago, it showed a feminine, potpourri kind of nose and on the palate drank like a lean Bordeaux with a lot of leathery antique notes. Great finish. It wowed the crowd.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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JC (NC)

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Re: March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by JC (NC) » Tue Mar 10, 2020 2:03 pm

I have three different N.Z. Sauvignon Blanc wines on hand and will open them over the next two weeks. One is the readily available Kim Crawford, but one is a wine I ordered from another state..
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Re: March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Mar 10, 2020 10:37 pm

Local winebar downtown in the NZ mood. The 2018 Sherwood Estate Pinot Noir Stratum (New Zealand, South Island, Canterbury, Waipara).
Light ruby in color..... fresh strawberry and raspberry, light body, medium acidity, a little vanilla note,. Some very light tannins, short finish. simple, juicy and pretty average. I thought a very commercial style, not showing any Waipara characters that I read about elsewhere.
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John S

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Re: March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by John S » Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:37 pm

I can't top Jenise's Stonyridge - I've only had one glass of that famous wine at the winery many years ago - but here's another classic, even longer term NZ Bordeaux blend. This is from Hawkes Bay, the centre of Bordeaux blends in NZ. The Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve 2010 is a blend of Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet. Cabernet used to not ripen fully in many years (although that's a thing of the past now in the Gimblett Gravels region); Merlot and even Malbec were more reliable, so they have always been the majority of the blend in this wine. I always thought this was a wine that punched above its weight in NZ, always good value compared to other classic Bordeaux blends like the Stoneyridge Larose and Te Mata Coleraine. Esk Valley's top wine is 'The Terraces' (another Bordeaux blend) but I have never tried that wine, again only released in the best vintages.

Still dark brick/ruby in colour, with little bricking yet. A nice nose of red fruits, milk chocolate and a hint of menthol and cinamon. Still youthful on the full bodied palate too, with similar flavours and a smooth, velvety texture but still some nice ripe tannins lurking in the background. A blend of both old and new world, an impressive and tasty wine. Ready now but should last at least another 10 years (A-).
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Peter May

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Re: March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by Peter May » Mon Mar 16, 2020 9:57 am

I've only got three bottles left at NZ reds

2013 Clearview Estate Old Olive Block (New Zealand, North Island, Hawke's Bay)

2014 Esk Valley Winemakers Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon /Malbec (New Zealand, North Island, Hawke's Bay, Gimblett Gravels)

2017 Seifried Zweigelt (New Zealand, South Island, Nelson)

The Olive Block I'm keeping because that's what advice from winery has been in response to recent emails.

The Esk Valley I think needs more time, borne out by your tasting.

Maybe I'll get to the Seifried this month, but that depends on when or if we get back from the Cape. It's all closing in. Winery restaurant reservations cancelled, state of emergency declared....
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Re: March Wine Focus: New Zealand

by Jenise » Mon Mar 30, 2020 3:23 pm

With a wink, because New Zealand is mentioned, here's a TN on a Jim Cowan California pinot we opened last night along with the previous note I posted about it:

3/30/2020 - I LIKE THIS WINE:
Didn't realize that I still had two of these; the last one we drank was in 2014. Wonderful gamy nose, sweetly intense cherry/raspberry fruit on the palate and finish. Deeper color than previously and obviously aged but not mature. Showing great at 10 yo.

2/26/2014 - I LIKE THIS WINE:
Has gained complexity since our first bottle a year ago, showing more minerality and herbs. Too, it's less strictly cherry and more of a raspberry-cranberry blend. Blind, I believe I'd have guessed New Zealand before California. Delightful for current drinking, but no rush.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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