Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Mike Pollard » Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:06 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Matt Richman wrote:The only .co.nz sites I can find mentioning "down under" are sites aimed at tourists out of country.

I believe they're trying to sweep up some of the tourists going to Australia or googling "down under vacation".

Very interesting! You may be on to something there ...


Not to belabor the point but from the first page of a ".co.nz, down under" Google search

Downunder Pilot Shop - Everything Aviation - http://www.downunderpilotshop.co.nz/ - Napier, New Zealand

Stainless DownUnder - http://www.stainlessdownunder.com/ - Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

Montessori Downunder - http://www.montessoridownunder.co.nz/ - Dunedin, New Zealand

Skulls Downunder Ltd. - http://www.skullsdownunder.co.nz/ - Wellington, New Zealand

Computers Downunder - http://cdu.co.nz/ - Whangarei, New Zealand

Oddly enough businesses close to wine regions, probably owned by Aussies!

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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Matt Richman » Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:23 am

  • 2009 Ata Rangi Célèbre - New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa, Martinborough (8/18/2012)
    Juicy dark fruit with black coffee, dry herb, blackberry, leather and menthol. Toasty oak and deep acid on finish. Green pepper. Not sweet but lush. Seems similar to a South African Cabernet in that there is lush new world styled fruit but also a herbal green veggie streak and a lot of dark French oak to keep a foot in the old world style. I recently had a Craggy Range Sophia that had many of the same characteristics. A pretty big wine with a lot of class. A strong and serious wine. Could use a couple of years of bottle age.
    B


Ata Rangi is considered one of the top houses in NZ for Pinot Noir. This is their Syrah/Merlot/Cab blend.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Bill Hooper » Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:51 am

Matt Richman wrote:... So here is what I've learned in the last year drinking New Zealand wine. ...


This was a fantastic read!

Thank you, Matt.

I keep hearing that Grüner Veltliner is making great strides in NZ. Is there anything to these claims?

Cheers,
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby michael dietrich » Sat Aug 18, 2012 12:57 pm

As I mentioned before I absolutely love New Zealand Sauv Blanc. I am also a big fan of the more agressive style. These certainly do not fit many people's taste. One of my favorites right now is Vavasour SB 2010 Awatere Valley. This has nice gooseberry and grapefruit in the nose that follows through on the palate. It shows a really nice racy acidity. This is the type of SB that at a trade tasting, especially a New Zealand tasting, I can go back and taste this style and it seems to clear the tannins from the red wines. I brought home a bottle of Urlar SB 2010 Wairarapa. I will add it to my next batch of wines to taste. Wairarapa is the larger area at the bottom of the north island which includes Martinborough.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Mark Lipton » Sat Aug 18, 2012 1:38 pm

Matt Richman wrote:Ata Rangi is considered one of the top houses in NZ for Pinot Noir.


I've heard that opinion repeatedly, but in two visits there (spaced 10 years apart) I have yet to be convinced of that thesis. For my money, there are quite a few producers making more interesting Pinot Noirs in NZ than Ata Rangi. I also was underwhelmed with the attitude of the staff there (infamously, in my '01 visit, the server tried to convince me that the corked wine she was serving us tasted "just like it's supposed to"). I find the Pinots of Martinborough Vyds, Escarpment, Pegasus Bay, Mud House, Felton Road, Amisfield and Rippon all more appealing to my sensibilities than Ata Rangi's have been, though I hardly have conducted an exhaustive survey.

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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Matt Richman » Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:31 pm

I have a bottle of Ata Rangi Pinot Noir at home. I'll give it a go next week and report back.

Bill - Thanks for the kind words. I've not heard much of Gruner here in NZ. I think I've had one or two. Perhaps it is making strides here without my knowledge, but nothing like the way it swept through NYC a few years ago.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Matt Richman » Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:29 am

  • 2011 Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Te Tera - New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa, Martinborough (8/20/2012)
    Really nice flavors but a little light in the pants. Good clear bright fruit with some clove, cherry, clean acidic tannins. A bit of bitter tea on the finish. It just lacks weight and the feel is a little light. Nice drinking and good for the price. I think this could be mistaken for a nice Oregon Pinot.
    B/B-

This is Martinborough Vineyard's entry level Pinot Noir. It cost me NZ$25 which is about US$20
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Mark Lipton » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:16 am

Matt Richman wrote:
  • 2011 Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Te Tera - New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa, Martinborough (8/20/2012)
    Really nice flavors but a little light in the pants. Good clear bright fruit with some clove, cherry, clean acidic tannins. A bit of bitter tea on the finish. It just lacks weight and the feel is a little light. Nice drinking and good for the price. I think this could be mistaken for a nice Oregon Pinot.
    B/B-

This is Martinborough Vineyard's entry level Pinot Noir. It cost me NZ$25 which is about US$20


Nice note, Matt. I don't recall if we had this bottle or the '10 (purchased at our local Countdown) but had a similar impression. Going up the ladder on their offerings, you get more structure in the wines and (at the highest end) more extract, too.

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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Tim York » Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:29 pm

Matt Richman wrote: Nice drinking and good for the price. I think this could be mistaken for a nice Oregon Pinot.
B/B-[/list]



This observation brings out a nagging feeling about NZ wine. I can't recall ever having had one which I could not have mistaken for a European wine. In one sense this is good. I think that NZ has a climate which is very suitable for the major European grape varieties; far more so, IMO, than most Australian wine regions; and the quality is usually fairly consistent. However, I do miss a sense of local character. Even NZ's big success story, Sauvignon blanc, doesn't seem to offer anything particularly distinctive which is not found elsewhere.

My experience is probably, however, a lot more limited than that of a lot of people here. But it is likely to stay that way while I think that I can get the "real thing" more readily than the NZ version and more often than not at more competitive prices.

Perhaps someone can give examples showing how wrong I am and point me in the direction of some real discoveries.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Matt Richman » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:57 pm

Tim-

I'd say that very few (if any) NZ wines will be mistaken for European. No Pinot Noir IMO. I think there are a few Bordeaux blends and perhaps a Syrah that might remind one of France. One or two Chardonnay. Winemakers here rarely aim at French style. Alluviale is one off the top of my head. Beach House Chardonnay. (Please note that I am a novice in the area of Red Burgundy).

I believe that it is incorrect to say NZ wine has no sense of local character. I can frequently pick out a Marlborough vs. Martinborough vs. Otago Pinot Noir blind. Hawke's Bay Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah all show some local consistency.

I'd say for Pinot Noir the comparison to Oregon is a lot closer than to France.

NZ is still in its wine infancy. It has latched on to Sauvignon Blanc for its international marketing foot-in-the-door, which I believe sucks all the air out of the room for exposure to other NZ wine. But I believe in 10-20 years things will look a lot different for NZ wine on the international scene.

I've purchased a few bottles this past week here in NZ that I've seen are available in the USA. I've done that with the express purpose of trying to taste things this month that might be useful reference points for folks back in the states. So stay tuned!

For the moment I'd say look for Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere, which I believe is available stateside.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby michael dietrich » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:24 pm

I would agree with the comment that many of the New Zealand wines do show some place. Much of the wine out there is from fairly young vines as is the case with Oregon. I try to go to all of our AVA trade tastings here in Oregon. I am always looking for that common thread for each AVA. Sometimes those lines are blurred. I would say the same thing about New Zealand, especially Pinot Noirs. I think that it is usually easy to pick Sauvignon Blancs from the different areas. I find it harder for Pinot Noir as I feel that vine age can have a definite impact.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Matt Richman » Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:50 am

  • 2010 Escarpment Pinot Noir - New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa, Martinborough (8/21/2012)
    Silky, lush feel with dark cherry and a long light coffee acidic finish. This wine shows very good depth but is not heavy. Good bright acidic tannic structure gives me the feeling that it will benefit from a few years of bottle age. Pure smooth fruit with a hint of minty herbs. I think this shows the Martinborough region style very well, although it lacks the intense concentration of some of the more pricey releases. Suave, balanced and full of class, I think this wine is a very good buy.
    B


Tim - I recommend you find a bottle of Escarpment Pinot Noir and give that a try. They are one of my favorite NZ Pinot Noir producers. This entry level bottle costs about US$25 and I think is well priced for the international Pinot Noir market. It is available at several US retailers. This is not "The Edge", which is their second label--also a good buy at US$13 but obviously a step down. Escarpment's single vineyard offerings are also very good. I would rank them as follows: Kupe, Pahi, Kiwa, Te Rehua. They'll be US$50-60.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Mark Lipton » Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:01 pm

Matt Richman wrote:
  • 2010 Escarpment Pinot Noir - New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa, Martinborough (8/21/2012)
    Silky, lush feel with dark cherry and a long light coffee acidic finish. This wine shows very good depth but is not heavy. Good bright acidic tannic structure gives me the feeling that it will benefit from a few years of bottle age. Pure smooth fruit with a hint of minty herbs. I think this shows the Martinborough region style very well, although it lacks the intense concentration of some of the more pricey releases. Suave, balanced and full of class, I think this wine is a very good buy.
    B


Tim - I recommend you find a bottle of Escarpment Pinot Noir and give that a try. They are one of my favorite NZ Pinot Noir producers. This entry level bottle costs about US$25 and I think is well priced for the international Pinot Noir market. It is available at several US retailers. This is not "The Edge", which is their second label--also a good buy at US$13 but obviously a step down. Escarpment's single vineyard offerings are also very good. I would rank them as follows: Kupe, Pahi, Kiwa, Te Rehua. They'll be US$50-60.


Yes, Escarpment does an excellent job of catching Martinborough character, which to my palate is more rounded and full than the better examples from Central Otago. Central Otago, though, is the hardest for me to pin down because of the variability in styles down there. The better examples for me show a cool climate character that is more akin to what one gets in Burgundy (though still fairly clearly New World) whereas others show a heavier, more extracted style that would not be out of place in California.

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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Matt Richman » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:24 pm

Mark - I think you are correct. However in my experience Otago is consistent in its higher acidic profile. So whether the style is lighter or heavier, I can still frequently recognize the Otago acid.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Mike Pollard » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:38 pm

Just as an FYI. I know I have posted this on the forum a few years ago but its worth repeating. For those who want more info on New Zealand wines look no further than Geoff Kelly’s site. He has a wealth of knowledge having worked in viticulture and oenology research programs in New Zealand and tasted and written extensively for decades. He is an avowed Francophile and so looks at NZ wines from that benchmark. He’s also apparently amazingly sensitive to Brett, which he does not like!

There is also Sue Courtney's site which is less technical.

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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby michael dietrich » Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:12 pm

First off I would say that those 2 sites are a wealth of information. Also on the Sue Courtney site she has numerous other links to explore. I would definitely recommend the Escarpment second label Over the Edge Pinot Noir 2010 Martinborough. I personally like it better than the Te Tera from Martinborough Vineyards. Here the Over the Edge sells for $14 and is a great value in Pinot Noir. It has some darker fruits but a definite Martinborough savory character that adds nice complexity. The next is Barrel Fence Pinot Noir 2008 Central Otago and sells for $24. Here they first made 2 Pinot Noirs, one from Central Otago and one from the Dundee Hills in Oregon. His fruit in Central Otago is sourced from Gibbston Valley. This is more plummy fruit but with some very nice spice component that really brings up the aromatics. He made 176 cases.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Matt Richman » Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:32 am

Wow thanks Mike! Those sites look great.

Wanted to note that JJ Buckley in Oakland has a really good NZ selection, including some things I don't think you can find elsewhere in the US.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Matt Richman » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:53 am

  • 2010 Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir - New Zealand, South Island, Otago, Bannockburn (8/22/2012)
    High acid, clean, bracing with deep, dark fruit. Earthy, dry, tar tannins. Neither lean nor sweet, but has a nice fullness of fruit behind the acid. Brisk with a good grip. Opened up well after a few minutes in the glass.
    B


Tried this one tonight because I think it is one of the more widely available NZ wines worldwide.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Jenise » Fri Aug 24, 2012 6:03 pm

Matt Richman wrote:
  • 2010 Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir - New Zealand, South Island, Otago, Bannockburn (8/22/2012)
    High acid, clean, bracing with deep, dark fruit. Earthy, dry, tar tannins. Neither lean nor sweet, but has a nice fullness of fruit behind the acid. Brisk with a good grip. Opened up well after a few minutes in the glass.
    B

Tried this one tonight because I think it is one of the more widely available NZ wines worldwide.



A year or so we drank a lot of Mt. Difficulty pinot while staying with friends on Oahu--it being one of two pinots available at the Costco there, the other being La Crema IIRC, and by FAR the better of those two wines. Would have been an earlier vintage but it drank just like your '10 did, and was especially good with the Chinese-leaning island food we were making.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Matt Richman » Fri Aug 24, 2012 6:28 pm

I wasn't that impressed with the wine when I visited Mt. Difficulty, although I took no formal notes. However I did like this bottle and I think it's fairly priced for the global pinot noir market.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Mark Lipton » Sat Aug 25, 2012 12:10 am

Matt Richman wrote:I wasn't that impressed with the wine when I visited Mt. Difficulty, although I took no formal notes. However I did like this bottle and I think it's fairly priced for the global pinot noir market.


As I think I noted in my transcribed notes above, my visit to Mt. Difficulty was the low point of my two days in Central Otago. Their tasting room was overtly commercial, their server was distinctly ignorant about the wines she was pouring and the overall impression was of a winery selling "lifestyle" more than wine. I did get a Mt. Difficulty pen from that visit, though. :D

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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Matt Richman » Sat Aug 25, 2012 5:32 am

Heads up! Don't know if this is available in the USA, but tonight's pinot noir was very good. Cost me NZ$38, which is about US$31 and I'd say well worth it if you like modern styled pinot noir.

  • 2009 Wooing Tree Pinot Noir - New Zealand, South Island, Otago, Central Otago (8/25/2012)
    This is very rich, full bodied, lush, extracted and concentrated without being overly sweet. Dark fruit and sappy coffee with a lot of very nice acid to keep it in line. Silky smooth. Pure, clean. Fine dry tannins. Big but not out of balance. New world style. I like this a lot. Could use a little more time in bottle. Would not have pegged this for Otago, it has the richness of Martinborough. Delicious. One of the best NZ pinot nors I've had.
    B+/A-
  • 2011 Old Coach Road Gewürztraminer - New Zealand, South Island, Nelson (8/25/2012)
    A nice basic Gewurztraminer. Floral, broad, a hint of honeysuckle, good tight acid. Not too flabby or sweet. Good long bracing finish. Nice.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby John S » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:12 am

I had a kiwi wine last night, and a very nice Martinborough pinot it was.

2006 Escarpment Pinot Noir

Medium ruby in colour, with an attractive raspberry and herb nose. Medium bodied on the palate, with more complexity than on the nose. Raspberry, cherry, lovely earthy notes, spice, herbs, and healthy acidity are the main components. Good food wine. Nicely done for the basic Escarpment offering, this should last several years yet (B+/A-).
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Re: Wine Focus for August: The Wines of New Zealand

Postby Tim York » Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:56 pm

Marlborough Pinot Noir 2010 - Little Beauty - Alc.13.5% - (€25 - overpriced here! available for about £16=€20 in the UK), barrique aged for 12 months.

At last I managed to get into Brussels as far as top gourmet store, Rob, but road works discouraged me from penetrating further towards the centre where two shops offer a reasonable selection of NZ wines. Rob's range of French wines is superb and of Italian and Spanish wines reasonable. However for the New World there are mainly hackneyed labels like Wolf Blass and for NZ, apart from some inevitable SBs, only this and a Villa Maria in the way of Pinot Noir.

Colour was an attractive ruby but quite light and transparent. As often with NZ wines, the bouquet seemed larger than life but attractive nevertheless marked by quite strong cherry notes with some liqueur. The palate was medium/light, daintily structured and quite elegant showing lively fruit and acidity with again some liqueur and at first an exaggeratedly fat and sweetly perfumed touch which I managed to slim down and bring into focus by cooling to about 15-16° (c.60°F). The barrique ageing was tactfully managed with just a hint of caramel towards the finish. An attractively aromatic and easy drinking Pinot which might be a good buy if priced €10+ less; 15.5/20+.
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