New Zealand is well known for its clean air, temperate climate, and dare I say, super natural environment? New Zealand’s wine industry goal is to be 100% sustainable, organic, or biodynamic by 2012. I read that over 95% of their vineyards are operating under an independently audited sustainability programme and over 90% of their wine production is also under an independently audited sustainability programme. The cooler climate of the area is ideal for aromatic varieties like Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer, but there are also warmer areas, such as Hawke’s Bay where red grapes like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Syrah can ripen. New Zealand is also very well known for growing Pinot Noir. Marlborough on the North Island and Central Otago on the South Island are the prime regions for Pinot Noir.
While Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are the “signature” grapes for New Zealand, the winemakers also want you to learn and try their other wines. In this tasting, the wineries brought together a flight each of:
- Pinot Gris
Let’s go through these wines and see what New Zealand has to offer.
New Zealand Riesling
Mt. Difficulty Target Riesling, Central Otago, 2011 ($27) – Light straw in colour. Flowers and orange aromas. Off-dry with nice acidity, soft citrus flavour and a hint of lime. Medium minus length. Nice.
- Forrest The Doctors’ Riesling, Marlborough, 2010 ($19.99) – Citrus, lime and lees on the nose. A little bit of flowers and petrol too. Off-dry plus, light acidity, with apple and citrus flavour. Light body and round mouthfeel. A bit sweeter than I prefer, but you may like a bit more residual sugar.
- Waimea Dry Riesling, Nelson, 2006 ($18.99) – Pronounced petrol, some waxiness and citrus aromas. Round with higher acidity. Dry with petrol and citrus flavour. Medium length.
Of these 3 wines, I think my favourite was the Mt. Difficult Target Riesling. This would be from Central Otago, which is the coolest climate region for these 3 wines.
New Zealand Pinot Gris
Waipara Hills Pinot Gris, Waipara, 2011 ($16) – Pale pear skin colour. Light stone fruit and some mushroom aromas. Light body with light acidity. Dry with light stone fruit flavour and a streak of minerality. Some spiciness on the finish.
- Hunter’s Pinot Gris, Marlborough, 2011 ($21.95) – Also pear skin colour. Light asparagus and herbal notes on the nose, but with a stone fruit undertone. Medium-plus acidity, quite fruity, peachy with a herbal edge. Nice.
- Sileni The Priestess Pinot Gris, Hawke’s Bay, 2010 ($17.99) – Mainly melon but also some citrus aromas. Light body soft mouthfeel with low acidity. Light stone fruit flavours.
In this flight of wines, my favourite would be the Hunter’s Pinot Gris. I really liked the more complex nose and the fruit / acidity on the palate.
New Zealand Gewurztraminer
Spy Valley Gewurztraminer, Marlborough, 2011 ($28.99) – Very aromatic with flower, lychee, and cinnamon spice. Light body round with lots of cinnamon and nutmeg spice and flowery flavour. Off-dry. Medium-plus length. Nice.
- Astrolabe Voyage Gewurztraminer, Marlborough, 2009 ($22.95) – Light lemon colour with a greenish tinge. Light sweet spice nose. Visible legs in the glass, so there would be higher alcohol content, but I did not get any hotness on the palate. Light body, round, and very viscous. Dry and soft on the palate. Light stone fruit and flowers with some herbal leaf edge on the finish.
- Coopers Creek Gewurztraminer, Gisborne, 2010 ($18.95) – Light sweet spice and stone fruit aromas. Medium body, round, low acidity with stone fruit flavours.
The Spy Valley was my favourite Gewurztraminer of the three wines. I really enjoyed the spice from this wine and the flower and lychee aromas. Try other wines from Spy Valley as they all tend to be very good.
New Zealand Syrah
Coopers Creek Reserve Syrah, Hawke’s Bay, 2010 ($28.95) – A medium vibrant ruby colour in the glass. Ripe purple fruit, vanilla and light sweet spice aromas. Dry, medium body with medium minus tannins. Round mouthfeel with ripe black fruit and cinnamon flavours. Medium length.
- Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah, Hawke’s Bay, 2009 ($34.95) – This wine also has that same vibrant ruby colour in the glass. Nice restrained nose with cassis and blueberry aromas. Medium minus body, soft and dry. Oak and blueberries with some cassis leaf. An elegant Syrah.
- Bilancia La Collina, Hawke’s Bay, 2008 (pricing not available) – Medium ruby with an earthy nose. Dry, with sweet spices and cherries. Medium body and medium minus tannins. Vanilla, cherries and pepper on the finish.
- Mission Estate Jewelstone Syrah, Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, 2009 ($41.99) – Opulent medium ruby colour. Light black fruit and vanilla nose. Medium pepperiness, vanilla and plum flavours. Quite dry. Medium length. I really enjoyed this wine.
- Trinity Hill Homage, Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, 2009 ($94.95) – Medium translucent ruby in the glass. Nice, interesting nose. Meaty, ripe fruit, vanilla, pencil leads and cassis aromas. Fully body, dry with medium minus soft tannins. Nice ripe black fruit, pepper, spice and vanilla flavours. Medium length.
- John Forrest Collection Syrah, Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, 2007 ($59.95) – Deep ruby colour. Ripe dark fruit with a hint of cedar on the nose. Dry, medium-plus body, with lots of cassis. Vanilla flavour builds as you aerate the wine in your mouth. Medium-firm tannins.
- Man O’ War Dreadnought Syrah, Waiheke, 2009 ($50) – Medium translucent ruby. Meaty, minty, smoky nose. Medium-plus body, medium minus tannins, dry and round in the mouth. Black fruit with smokiness on the mid-palate and ripe cherries on the finish.
The choice of favourite wine for this flight is more difficult as there were more to choose from. I think I have to pick two wines. The first being the Mission Estate Jewelstone Syrah and the second being the Trinity Hill Homage.
In Part 2 I will cover my favourite wines of the Fair. Enjoy!