- Discovering the Joys of New Zealand Wine

Newsletter for October, 2004

October - a new growing season in the Southern hemisphere, while harvesting continues in the North with a touch of frost on the pumpkin. This month we celebrate new growth with a new feature: From the Heartland - a column by our Mid-States correspondent. For your Halloween treat, we preview an exciting, new Sauvignon Blanc.

From the Heartland by Erin M. Myers

Our intrepid reporter in the Midwest attended a recent tasting of New Zealand wines conducted by Cyclone Liquors, a great wine store with a fabulous selection, in Ames, Iowa. Her review of the wines:

Nobilo Pinot Gris Icon 2003: Although this wine was featured first due to the light reputation of pinot gris, this formidable wine could have been featured later in the tasting line-up. The wine was quite dark for a pinot gris, resembling apple juice. The nose featured fresh fruit. The palate was also fruity with mellow hints of apple and pear with tropical fruits. Rating: 88. Retails at Cyclone for $19

Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2003: This wine comes from a three vineyard blend; predominately from the Awatere Valley. This SB was pale straw color with pear, melon, and grapefruit on the nose. It was distinctly more crisp than the pinot gris. Flavors of grapefruit, passion fruit, and melons combined with a prickle on the tongue to give a fruity crisp and refreshing wine. The finish was dry but the aromatics lingered. The fruit aspects of the wine increased as the wine warmed. Rating: 88-89. Retails for $20, on sale for $17

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2003: Tasted before and a consistent pleaser. Its pale yellow/green colors give notice that this wine features less fruit and more herbaceous aspects. The nose was full-bodied with hints of apple and grass. The taste is acidic and tart upfront, less fruity, with an herbaceous finish. Rating: 91. Retails for $19, on sale for $17

Brancott Chardonnay 2000: This was the oldest white wine in the tasting. The wine has an almost disturbing bright yellow color (think Mellow-Yellow). The wine has an interesting nose that was reminiscent of grilled summer squash. There is crisp acidity up front with oak and light butter on the finish and aftertaste. The wine was decent but there seemed to be conflict between the fruit on the front and the barrel-aged malo-lactic finish. Rating: 80. The wine retails for $13

The Crossings Pinot Noir 2003: This wine is young and may mature nicely with a few more years in the bottle. Its greatest asset is the nose. Tasting notes read “nose=yum!”. Nose is fruity with aromatics of cherries and dark berries. There are also subtle hints of green pepper and cucumber. The palate showed that the wine is still young. Surprisingly crisp for a pinot with cherry flavors still present. It was an easy drinker. Rating: 87-88. Wine is priced at $21.

Spy Valley Pinot Noir 2002: The class of the tasting. Dark, brick red, earthy in color. The nose improves after opening up for a while with hints of smoke, BBQ, and coffee. The palate is complex and flavorful featuring coffee, black pepper, spices, and woody accents. This is a complex and mature wine. Rating: 91. Retails for $19. This wine sold out immediately after the tasting.

Villa Maria Cabernet-Merlot 2000: New Zealand is not generally known for its Cabernet or Merlot but this wine was produced in the warmer Hawke’s Bay region as a Bordeaux style blend. It was a dark brick colored wine featuring a smoky cabernet smell. Flavors included sweet oak, blackberry and plum aspects. Consistent with the blend, tannins were present but not overly strong. It was a drinkable wine but not too complex. Rating: 86. This wine sells for $16.

Our Mid-States Correspondent, Ms. Myers has been a student of wine for many years. She received her formal wine training at Cornell University and has also traveled the wine trails of New Zealand. Her other work can be found in the July, 2004 issue of Molecular Ecology.

Preview of Coming Attractions

Seven Terraces is a new label from Foxes Island Wines and winemaker John Belsham. The name is derived from the winery's terraced vineyards in Awatere Valley which is the primary source for this Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. It should be arriving in the US in November.

Price: around $14.

Tasting notes:

A very pleasing nose of grapefruit/lime citrus and a light grassy note. On the palate, there was clarity and balance to the citrus and grass flavors; a "purity of fruit" quality. The crisp acidity gave a well-defined clean, smooth finish. An exciting wine that will serve well alone or with food and a terrific value in its price range.

October is the season of frights and ghouls: Scary attack ads, serpent-tongued politicos, fiendish spin-doctors, and pundit zombies. It's enough to make you want a drink or dream of far-away places. Enough tricks. Treat yourself to a bottle of great wine.

And on November 2, go out sober and cast your vote. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Any comments, additions or deletions to the mailing list, please e-mail me.