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In This Issue
 The lure of New Zealand
 Kim Crawford 2003 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($15.29)

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New Zealand's Marlborough region seen from the vineyards at Seresin Estate (November 2000 photo)

The lure of New Zealand

Mountains that would do justice to the Alps ... fiords that would pop eyes in Norway ... brilliant blue skies, soft mists, long white clouds, and a distinct aspect of the Pacific Islands. New Zealand surely ranks as one of the most scenic places on Earth, and its English-speaking people are among the world's friendliest. It's no coincidence that the producers of The Lord of the Rings chose New Zealand as their setting to represent the exotic beauty of Middle-earth.

It is also one of my favorite world wine regions. Although certainly best-known for its ripe and fruity Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand also produces serious Chardonnay, delicious crisp and limey Rieslings, good Pinot Gris ... and although long seen by most wine lovers as a white-wine producer, it's starting to gain note for impressive reds: Pinot Noir for certain, but also - as I learned on an all-too-quick visit to the Auckland area's pretty Waiheke Island last month - full yet balanced and often "Rhone-style" Syrah.

With seasons reversed in its Southern Hemisphere location, New Zealand's grapevines bud in October and November and come to harvest in our springtime, so its wines, like those of Australia, South Africa and South America, are always the first of the new year's vintage. The 2003s are reaching markets around the world now, and I'll report on my first sighting of the new vintage below.

First, though, I'd like to take a moment to remind you that I'll be leading a nine-day tour of New Zealand's wine country in just a few short months. Between Feb. 3 and 12 we'll hit the highlights of the classic Kiwi wine trail, visiting the three top wine regions that produce 70 percent of New Zealand's wine: Hawkes Bay, Martinborough and Marlborough.

With arrangements made by the respected California wine-travel firm Food & Wine Trails, we'll enjoy winery tours and tastings, along with visits to cultural attractions, cooking classes and demonstrations, plus luxury accommodations every night and upscale dinners at the regions' top restaurants.

If you have ever dreamed of a close-up and personal visit to New Zealand but put it off because you felt it's too far or that you wouldn't have the contacts needed to get VIP treatment at the best wineries and places to dine, here's your chance to join me and a group of fellow wine enthusiasts on this memorable tour at the peak of the Kiwi summer. As the holiday season nears, I hope you'll consider treating yourself to this exceptional wine lover's experience.

For complete itinerary details, and to make your reservations, visit the New Zealand tours page on the Food & Wine Trails Website,
send E-mail to, or call 1-800-367-5348.

Not long after the New Zealand tour, I'll join our friends at French Wine Explorers for our annual group wine tour in France - this year focusing on Champagne and Burgundy from May 24-30. I'll report on this tour in more detail next week, but if you'd like to check it out, visit the Champagne and Burgundy tour page on the French Wine Explorers Website,

If you would prefer to talk to me directly with comments or questions about either of these tours (or anything else wine- related), please feel free to contact me by E-mail at

Now, following up on Monday's report on Jackson Estate 2002 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, here is my tasting note on the first 2003 I've found, the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from Kim Crawford:

Kim Crawford Kim Crawford 2003 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($15.29)

This wine is clear and almost watery pale, a light straw color with a slight golden hue. Its aroma is loaded with that familiar Marlborough green-chile-pepper character along with ripe red grapefruit. Flavors are consistent with the nose, juicy capsicum and tart mixed-citrus fruit. A bright and snappy wine, appealing on its own and a natural companion with seafood. As is increasingly commonplace with New Zealand whites (and even a few reds) it's packaged not with traditional cork but a long-sleeved, heavy metal screw cap. U.S. importer: R. H. Phillips Inc., Esparto, Calif. (Oct. 28, 2003)

FOOD MATCH: Perfect with a seafood dish crafted to match, fresh yellowfin tuna steak seared, then pan-roasted with the center left sushi-cool, marinated and quickly sauced with light teriyaki flavors of soy, lime, garlic and ginger.

VALUE: Fairly priced against the competition.

WHEN TO DRINK: Meant for early drinking while its fruit is fresh, but it should keep under the screw cap for at least a year or two.

WEB LINK: You'll find Kim Crawford's Website here:


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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Copyright 2003 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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