- Discovering the Joys of New Zealand Wine

Newsletter for November, 2004

This month we review some top New Zealand Chardonnays. For the American audience, we offer some suggestions of New Zealand wines to serve with the Thanksgiving feast. Also we will have a recap of the trophy winners at the recent Air New Zealand wine competition.

Spotlight on Chardonnay

KiwiWineries submitted seven top NZ Chardonnays to a panel of wine aficionados from a DC tasting group known as the Winos-in-the-Park. The wines were reviewed al fresco in the crisp autumn air. The tasting was conducted blind and in random order. The reviews below are in the sequence they were tasted.

Mountford 2001 Chardonnay - Waipara

Light yellow color. Grapefruit and floral on the nose. Notes of pineapple and melon with a bit of asparagus. Soft buttery vanilla and a bit nutty. A crisp finish. US$26.

Clearview Estate 2001 Reserve Chardonnay - Hawke's Bay

A mid-golden color with a warm, toasty peach nose. Full body with notes of peaches, nectarine, and kiwi. A smooth buttery vanilla texture leading to a long finish. Gained strength over time as it came up to ambient temperature. US$49

Thornbury 2000 Chardonnay - Hawke's Bay

Light yellow color. Soft citrus fruit nose. Vanilla and tropical fruit on the mid-palate with notes of butterscotch and mineral. A long, balanced finish. US$20

Cloudy Bay 2002 Chardonnay - Marlborough

Light yellow color. A nose of tropical and stone fruit with spice and caramel. Good body with notes of cherry, peach, vanilla, spice and almond. A long, clean finish. US$28

Kumeu River 2001 Chardonnay - Auckland area

Light golden color. A warm nose with earthy and spice notes. Well-balanced body; some mineral; palate progressed from citrus to stone fruit to nutty then butterscotch. A taut finish. This one also developed more fully with time and temperature. US$25

Goldwater Estate 2001 Chardonnay - Roseland - Marlborough

Light blond color. Soft spice and vanilla nose with stone fruit and melon. Heavier body with oak presence. Warm spicy palate with more spice and nuttiness on the finish. US$22

Pegasus Bay 2001 Chardonnay - Waipara

Slight golden color with a toasty, butter and vanilla nose. Notes of herbs, citrus and spice on the palate. An austere finish. More withdrawn than the classic elegant and seductive 2000 vintage. US$34

Since the tasting focused on upper echelon chardonnays, the tasting was as reflective of the similarities as it was of the differences between the wines. The wines were mostly barrel-fermented with lees-aging along with some percentage of malo-lactic fermentation. While the toasty vanilla and butter notes were common, the wines were more closely in tune with white Burgundy than with California Chardonnays. Preferences varied amongst the tasters. The Cloudy Bay was an initial favorite with Clearview Estate and Kumeu River showing progressively better with time.

NZ Wines for Thanksgiving

It is difficult to give definitive wine guidance for the Thanksgiving feast because the table is usually loaded with a wide array of flavorful dishes and regional variations abound. We do offer some suggestions for your consideration.
SparklingAs you gather round for the feast, perhaps a toast to start.
  • Highfield Elstree Cuvee Brut- Marlborough
  • Deutz Marlborough Cuvee- Marlborough
  • Lindauer Brut - Value
Sauvignon BlancSB does not pair well with the main meal. However, SB may fit in nicely with certain appetizers in the first course.
  • Palliser Estate - Martinborough
  • Kim Crawford - Marlborough
  • Gravitas - Marlborough
  • Spy Valley - Marlborough - Value
RieslingNot the standard choice for the main course but an opulent entry can hold up well.
  • Giesen Reserve - Canterbury
  • Pegasus Bay - Waipara
  • Framingham - Marlborough - Value
GewurztraminerAnother wine that is not a mainstream pick but it holds up well to savory foods.
  • Villa Maria Cellar Selection
  • Forrest Estate - Marlborough
  • Lawson's Dry Hills - Marlborough - Value
ChardonnayOne of the standard wines for the holiday meal. Look for one that is well-structured and full-bodied like those featured above.
  • Clearview Estate - Hawke's Bay
  • Cloudy Bay - Marlborough
  • Sacred Hill - Rifleman's - Hawke's Bay
  • Kumeu River - Auckland
  • Thornbury - Hawke's Bay value - Value
  • Allan Scott Vineyard Selection - Marlborough - Value
Pinot NoirAnother good pick for the main meal. Versatile enough to go with a variety of flavors and soft enough not to overpower the big bird,
  • Mountford Estate - Waipara
  • Ata Rangi - Martinborough
  • Pegasus Bay - Waipara
  • Villa Maria Reserve - Marlborough
  • Felton Road - Central Otago
  • Spy Valley - Marlborough - Value
  • Main Divide - Waipara - Value
Dessert WinesNZ dessert wines are difficult to locate in the US. These are some of best that are produced.
  • Forrest Estate Bortytised Riesling - Marlborough
  • Cloudy Bay Late Harvest Reisling - Marlborough
  • Villa Maria Reserve Noble Riesling - Marlborough
  • Pegasus Bay Aria Late Picked Riesling - Waipara

2004 Air New Zealand Wine Awards

Earlier this month, the results of the Air New Zealand Wine Awards were announced. Listed below are the trophy winners. Next month, we will cover all the gold medal winners.

Champion Wine of the Show: Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir 2003
Reserve Wine of the Show:Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2003
Riesling: Villa Maria Celler Selection Seddon Riesling 2002
Gewurztraminer:Villa Maria Reserve Gewurztraminer 2004
Sauvignon Blanc:Amor-Bendall Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Pinot Gris:Martinborough Vineyards Burnt Spur Pinot Gris 2004
Chardonnay:Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2003
Other White Wine:Trinity Hill New Wave Vigonier 2004
Open White Wine Trophy:Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Rose or Blush Wine: Hunters Rose 2004
Pinot Noir: Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir 2003
Merlot:Villa Maria Reserve Merlot 2002
Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot blends:Esk Valley Merlot-Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Syrah: Passage Rock Syrah 2003
Other Red Wine:Villa Maria Single Vineyard Omahu Malbec 2002
Open Red Wine Trophy:Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Noir 2003
Sparkling: Paradox Marlborough Methode Traditionelle
Sweet Wine:Forrest Estate Botrytised Reisling 2004
Export Wine:Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc 2004

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