NZ Reds Round-up
As host of this month's Wine Blog Wednesday, I should explain the reason for the topic. I think the true spirit of WBW is to learn something new and before I picked the topic I really didn't know much at all about what New Zealand had to offer in the way of red wines, but was very fond of the ubiqitous Savignon Blancs that seem to thrive in NZ's southerly clime.
A couple of months ago, (many months after I picked the topic), I was lucky enough to find a great tasting that was organized by Chuck at the Jug Shop and it was co-hosted by Stuart Devine, viticulturist and USA Sales Manager at the huge winery, Villa Maria. He brought lots of Hawke's Bay wines and gave us lots of great information about Hawke's Bay and New Zealand in general. I have put together a PDF of the Download NZ_Infopack.pdf that gave us that I think you will all enjoy.
After all the tastings, though, I must admit that I've yet to be blown away by any of the wines I've tried. I'm still going to keep trying, but after tasting even the upper range of the Hawke's Bay meritage blends, Esk Valley's The Terraces at $100 US, I'm not convinced that they are a good value. If I spend $100 on a bottle of wine, the flavors should come bursting in waves, with layers upon layers of flavors. After reading the comments from my fellow bloggers, I think New Zealand has some growing to do.
Benito at Benito's Wine Reviews hails from Memphis, and found simple Pinot pleasure in the 2003 Brancott Vineyards Pinot Noir (Marlborough). He was impressed at the $11.00 US value after being burned by many <$20 Pinots in the past.
The first of many reviews of the 2004 Kim Crawford Pinot Noir (Marlborough) came from Murray at Winetastic. Murray thought its smokey nose shrouded the fruit beneath - in short not a repeat buy.
Mark from the Daytona Daily News Wine Blog "Uncorked" posted his first WBW entry with the Kim Crawford as well along with some nice links to Pinot-friendly recipes to cook.
While we had lots of reviews of Kim Crawford Pinots, none is as original as this review from Beau at Basic Juice . Check out his clever take on this review.
Emma at The Laughing Gastronome chose Daniel Schuster's Omihi Hills Vineyard Selection 2002 (Waipara) and has a great personal connection to this wine, after what sounded like an amazing afternoon with the winemaker himself. She found this perfect for a lazy afternoon.
Jens at Cincinnati Wine Warehouse found the 2003 Tohu Pinot Noir, Marlborough ($20) and found this very pleasant and would recommend it. He even used the B word - Burgundian!
The Wine Cask Blog found the 2004 Mariners Bay Pinot Noir to have more for the nose than the buds. "Raise a glass but make it a wonderful New Zealand white!" they say...
Dave at Purple Lips Wine Log found this beauty: a 2003 Rowland Pinot Noir, Wild Thyme Vineyard, (Central Otago) and got our first "A" rating of the tasting.
Gary at Winorama gave good marks to the 2003 Peregrine Pinot Noir (Central Otago) despite his comment that it tasted "Somewhat like a cherry cola with bitter herbs too" which is not what I'm looking for in an ~ $33 US Pinot.
Joanne and Jack at Fork and Bottle found a 2003 Spencer Hill Pinot Noir Coastal Ridge (Nelson) high on the acidity but still fairly appealing, but its simplicity may not justify the $25 US price tag, especially if it had a restaurant mark-up on it.
Andy at Spitoon, one of our UK regular WBW tasters, seems to have been previously a tad gun-shy of Red Kiwis, remarking on the usually high price/value ratio and green underdeveloped flavors. Reviewed in Spitoon this month is the 2004 Dashwood Pinot Noir (Marlborough) which may have turned his head 'round. Just what I was hoping for with this tasting!
Ed at Tomato in Australia had the 2002 Old Weka Pass Road Canterbury Pinot Noir (Waipara) from just north of Central Otago and it sounds like a winner, but again the price is a bit of a shocker, $50 US. By far, the most interesting looking label so far (see the Flickr slideshow).
Sandy at Toronto's Australian Wine Society reviewed the 2002 Matua Valley Matheson Cab/Merlot from Hawkes Bay from memory as she is giving her palate and liver a break after the Holiday indulgences.
Derrick's posting at An Obsession with Food is a must read for the cloaked backgrounder to the 2003 Spy Valley Pinot Noir (Marlborough) --a very nice piece of political wine writing.
David at The Wine Gift Guy had a 2003 Zenith Vineyards Pinot Noir (Marlborough) and had some fun by getting his Christmas guests to participate and his own review had an interesting contrast/comparison to Chardonnay. Check it out.
Steve at De Long Wine Moment gives the first taste of Syrah in The 2003 Stonecroft Syrah (Hawke's Bay) claiming that this is the lightest-colored Syrah he's ever tasted. While not blown away, he seems willing to give another vintage a try from this small-batch, family-run business.
Alder at the wildly-popular Vinography gave high marks to the 2002 Esk Valley Reserve Red (56% Merlot, 24% Malbec(!), 20% Cabernet Sauvignon) (Hawke's Bay). Meritage blends like this really are coming into their own in Hawke's Bay. At the recent Hawke's Bay tasting that I attended in San Francisco, my tasting notes were similar to Alder's where the elegant, flinty tastes of the Gimblett Gravels terroir came through, "fairly sumptuous wine" "prettier rather than brooding." Check out his always thorough postings.
Hailing from Atlanta, Tami from another blog with a great name, Running with Tweezers, was uninspired by the 2004 Brancott Pinot Noir (Marlborough) (OK, she said it was crap...) "Cherry Kool-Aid" --just what I'm looking for in a glass of red wine. I really like her style though, so check out her site. I think I may have a bottle of that around --maybe I should sneak it into a party.
The good Reverend Jennifer at Cookin' in the 'Cuse joined Spitoon in reviewing the 2004 Dashwood --she didn't enjoy it as much as Andy, it seems. Sounds like distribution in the Syracuse area needs to step up a notch because an exhaustive search of her local wine shops gave her only 3 bottles to choose from.
Next comes a new Podcast to WBW (Yipee!! -I'm hooked on podcasting..) from A Guy A Girl and A Bottle aka Joe and Lori. So I don't give away the mystery of their podcast bottle, I would suggest that you subscribe via iTunes or Yahoo and have a listen. It runs about 8 minutes.
Dave from Vinosense is a real insider in the NZ and Australia wine industry recommends the 2001 Pegasus Bay Prima Donna (Waipara). This one really sounds like a winner. Check out his site with tons of NZ and AU reviews --an excellent resource.
Lady Amalthea from Noshes Thoughts Reves even had a hard time finding a great bottle and she's in Manhattan. She came up with another Hawke's Bay Merlot, the 2002 Babich winemaker's Reserve. From her review, it sounds like another victim of the tough weather conditions in the region. Being that she just came back from a year in France, I suspect she was hankering for that Pomerol again!
Serge from Serge the Concierge found another winner in the 2000 Matariki Quintology. The name comes from the usage of 5 grapes, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Syrah. This is another wine from the Gimblet Gravels and he gave it nice marks for now and wants to check it out with a little more age on it. I had the 2000 and it sounds like the 2001 is faring better.
Catherine at Purple Liquid did a little compare and contrast with the 2001 Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir (Martinborough) and the 2001 Merryvale Pinot Noir (Carneros, CA).
Kieca at my favorite-named blog, This Heaven Gives Me Migrane (go Gang of Four!) found the 2002 Huia Pinot Noir (Marlborough) at Whole Foods in Palo Alto. His review made the wine sound very tired indeed, a pity at only 3 years in the bottle --perhaps he had a bad bottle. This is pretty easy to find around the Bay Area and I'll give it a try and report back.
Rory at Me Hungry! gave us his first ever wine review for WBW#17. He got some 2002 Black Estate Pinot Noir (Waipara) and gave us a taste of some of the good wine writing we expect to see from him in the future. Perhaps another victim of the Waipara weather in 2002, this one was flawed by a bitter finish.
Wine Blog Wednesday's founder, Lenn at Lenndevours also had a tough time finding a good selection of NZ reds in his area of New York. He did find more cherry-cola flavors in the 2003 Borthwick Vineyard Pinot Noir...again, not what I'm looking for in a Pinot.
Chris at Drink Some Wine had a little oops and got some tasty NZ Sauvignon Blanc. He has an interesting blog, though...
Jathan at Wine Expression found the 2003 Mt. Difficulty Pinot (Central Otago) to be a fine bottle, and I'm glad someone tried this one. I've been planning a trip to the Jug Shop to pick up this one.
Tim from The Winecast is another wine podcast that participates in the WBW phenomenon, but this month still gave us a blog review of the 2002 Unison (Hawke's Bay), another Gimblett Gravels blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Sounds like this one has good age potential.
Allan at the Cellerblog also enjoyed the 2001 Matariki Quintology from Hawke's Bay and got lucky on his first try of NZ reds to find this Gimblett Gravels treat.
Whew...that wraps up this month's round-up. I hope everyone enjoyed it. - CD