New Zealand, a land with maritime and mountain plateau climates nearby, each producing wines from the same grapes with different styles, flavours, and aromas. Unique terroir. For such a small island, they produce a significant amount of wine. The vineyards cover 34,270 hectares in 2012; growing at least 25 different varieties of grapes (more than Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc); and producing 194 million litres of wine in 2012. I checked up on some BC stats, and read that in 2011 we produced 14.8 million litres of wine, so NZ produces more than a factor of 10 more wine than us. Wow!
This week was the 2013 New Zealand Wine Fair here in Vancouver, held at the Roundhouse in Yaletown. There were 24 wineries present, each pouring around 4 wines. I tried valiantly to sample each wine, but there is just not enough time to really sample the wine, write notes, talk to the winery principals, etc. So below are my recommended wines from this event. If you attended the New Zealand Wine Fair, please chime in with a comment. Did you like the same wines as me, or did you find a gem that I missed? Let me know!
My Wine Picks
Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, 2012 ($23.99) – Astrolabe is one of the wineries I recommend yearly. This wine has a very gooseberry / herbal nose. Dry, high acidity yet is quite mouth filling. Lots of herbal flavours leading to jalapeno peppers.
- Babich Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, 2012 ($19.99 SPEC) – Light gooseberry aroma. Light body, high acidity, dry on the palate. Light gooseberry flavour.
- Forrest The Doctors’ Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($19.99 SPEC) – This one was quite interesting. I was told that the winery owners wanted a lower alcohol wine that still had Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc character. To me, I call this Sauvignon Blanc the one that Sauv Blanc haters would even like. It had a light stone fruit nose. Light body, soft with lower acidity on the palate. Stone fruit flavours.
- Elephant Island Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay, 2010 (29.99 SPEC) – Light vanilla, sweet spices, and tropical fruit aromas in the glass. Medium body, round, with light spice, smoke and tropical fruit flavours. A very balanced wine.
Elephant Hill Hieronymus, Hawke’s Bay, 2011 ($34.99 SPEC) – This was a real tasty wine; a blend of Merlot, Malbec, and Syrah. Light blueberry and red fruit aromas. Medium minus body, soft and light in the mouth. Cloves, cherries, tea leaves, and white pepper on the palate.
- Matua Squealing Pig Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, 2012 ($23.99 SPEC) – I didn’t ask why this wine was called Squealing Pig, but should have. Light gooseberry and green pea aromas. Dry with high acidity. Herbal, green fruit, and jalapeno pepper flavours. A very nice quality wine.
- Seresin Estate MOMO Pinot Noir, Marlborough, 2011 ($22.95) – MOMO I was told is Maori for “offspring”. I didn’t ask, but with this, it could mean this is the 2nd line from Seresin, or something about their family and passing along wine heritage. This wine had a bright, ripe cherry nose. Light body with cherry and bright fruit flavours. It also had a nice mineral streak running through it. Dry with soft tannins. I quite enjoyed this wine.
Waimea Estates Sauvignon Blanc, Nelson, 2012 ($23.99 SPEC) – My favourite wine of the NZ Wine Fest, this wine had asparagus aromas in the glass. The first thing that hit me when I took a sip was so much minerality. Wonderful. Dry, medium body with asparagus and herbal flavours.
- Waimea Estates Pinot Noir, Nelson, 2009 ($32.99 SPEC) – Light aromas of cherry, oak and cloves. Lighter bodied, dry with soft tannins. Smoky cherries and strawberry flavours. Tasty.
- Whitehaven Pinot Noir, Marlborough, 2010 ($23.99) – Nice aromas of violets, red cherries and cloves. Light body, dry with red cherries and smoke, with a hint of strawberries and sweet spice on the mid palate.
- Yealands Estate Single Block Series S1 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, 2012 ($23.95 SPEC) – Very aromatic, with a herbal and gooseberry nose. Dry, light body, with gooseberry and herbal flavours, and a streak of minerality. An elegant wine.
While many of these wines a SPEC, specialty, listings, it doesn’t mean you cannot get them. Try private wine shops, such as Everything Wine, Liberty, or Legacy.