Archive for December, 2008

Parker Discovers New Zealand Wine

December 19, 2008

In his recent book wine critic Robert Parker cobw-logo2mments positively on 5 New Zealand wineries. Good on him to recognize what the rest of the world has been commenting on for some time.

Almost a year ago Oz Clarke said “New Zealand is making some of the most thrilling wines in the world”

Matt Kramer from Wine Spectator recently suggested that Pinot Noir from Central Otago and Canterbury are excellent choices, as the great wines from Burgundy are no longer available, due to collectors in SE Asia snapping them up.

These are just two that pop into my head.

New Zealand wine is truly special and has a group of small producers that will delight every time, finding them is the challenge or maybe even a treasure hunt. This is one good reason to be on first name basis with your favorite wine shop or restaurant sommelier. These people are tasting a lot of wine on a regular basis and can guide you to some very special producers.

I am confident your efforts to experience more New Zealand wine will lead to many pleasurable evenings with friends and food.

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Wine Additives

December 11, 2008

I came across this post by Nick Stephens  the other day and naturally the comment about New Zealand wine caught my attention. I suspect the wine served with dinner at Nick’s would be pretty special.

The comment was:

“I also met 2 charming Antipodeans from New Zealand who were working in Bristol to whom I apologised beforehand about part of my talk re the additives in cheap New Zealand wines.

Their reply was “Please don’t apologise. It’s a well known fact back at home that the cheaper wines are produced for the masses and the locals won’t buy it – so we send it over to you!”

The additive comment reminded me of an article some months ago in the LA Times about exactly this subject. It is a pretty lengthy article and very informative to read thru. These methods are most likely used in all wine producing regions and not exclusive to New Zealand.

It is a good reminder that some wines begin in the vineyard and are finished in the lab.

Good effort by Bonny Doon to lead the way in telling us what goes in the bottle.

The  two Kiwi’s did get it right when they replied they keep the good stuff at home. Finding these New Zealand gems really is a treasure hunt. When you find them, you will know you are in a good wine shop or restaurant.

New Growing Season at Torlesse Wines

December 9, 2008
61447 Torlesse 08 Sets PRF

Now Available in USA

I just received this new vintage update from Kym Rayner winemaker at Torlesse Wines in the Waipara Valley.

Torlesse Wines is typical of many artisan handcrafted wineries in New Zealand. If you visit the winery you will be hosted by Kym, his wife Maggie or Paul Hewitt the assistant wine maker. This is pretty cool.

One of the special characteristics of Kym’s wine is the ability to improve over time in the bottle. New Zealand has yet to achieve this recognition and Kym will be one of the many winemakers who is able to show the extra effort in the vineyard pays rewards for us consumers down the road.

Kym Rayner’s Comments  on the 2009  Growing  Season

“The winter of 2008 was normal to bordering on cold with a snow fall in June that settled on the ground at the winery

Late winter rains were very heavy in July and about 3 weeks later in August resulting in flooding around the winery.

Since August, rainfall has been slight torlesse-mapand while we are happy with low rainfall, the farming community around Waipara and in fact much of the East coast of NZ is very dry. We planted some Pinot Gris in late October and have been watering since then

The other significant fact is Waipara had no frost events or no visible damage on our vineyards at least. This coupled with warm dry conditions has meant early flowering and pretty good set.

The only negative is these conditions are also ideal for powdery mildew so there are plenty of sulphur sprays going on. This is an acceptable spray from an organic/sustainable approach.

Our vineyard has been quite untidy this year as we are spraying less herbicide and leaving a wider range of ground cover to bring in more insect diversity, hopefully beneficially,  like lady birds, spiders and bees and the predator wasps.

Things are shaping up for an excellent vintage.”

Thanks Kym, for sharing and letting us know there are some good things to look forward to.

 

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Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration

December 9, 2008

Press Release from Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration

10 December 2008 

Exemplary 2001 Grand Cru Burgundy Pinot Noirs Land on NZ Soil 

Wines from some of the world’s most elite wine estates have arrived in New Zealand. 

The five 2001 Grand Cru Burgundies, including wines from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Domaine Comtes Georges de Vogüé – are the highlight of the 2009 Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration Formal Tasting.  The Celebration will be held in Queenstown, New Zealand on 30th and 31st January 2009. 

A stimulation presentation on the Burgundian Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system will be lead by world-renowned wine experts Jasper Morris MW, Neal Martin and Jancis Robinson MW.  A formal tasting of the five wines will follow:  Domaine Trapet Père & Fils, Domaine Dujac, Domaine Comtes Georges de Vogüé, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Bouchard Père et Fils.  

This will be a special opportunity to examine the social and political environment at the time of the AOC’s creation and the AOC’s contemporary applications to present-day Pinot Noir producers.   

In addition to the Formal Tasting and the excellent line-up of world-renowned wine experts, the Celebration also includes a Grand Tasting of over 40 Central Otago Pinot Noirs.  The tasting will be divided alphabetically by winery into morning and afternoon sessions and each company will present their current vintage as well as one previous vintage.  

World-class wines demand world-class cuisine, and Queenstown’s top chefs will deliver just that over two gourmet-filled days.  We are privileged to have celebrated chef Martin Bosley from Martin Bosley’s Yacht Club Restaurant, Wellington (Supreme Winner – Restaurant of the Year, Cuisine magazine 2007) will prepare the Grand Dinner in one of the most stunning dining locations you are ever likely to experience.   

Two hundred delegates from around the world descent on Queenstown for the event, in its 7th year.  Past media and VIP attendees have included premier Burgundy critic, Allen Meadows; acclaimed wine author, judge and founder of Coldstream Hills winery in Victoria, James Halliday; Singapore-based publisher, lawyer, writer and tasting panel judge, CH’NG Poh Tiong; and Executive Director of the San Francisco International Wine Competition, Anthony Dias Blue.   

For registration information, please visit www.pinotcelebration.co.nz or contact:  

Catherine Badrak

Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration committee – Marketing & Media

Email: catherine@rockburn.co.nz

Phone: +64 (0)21 752 434

Central Otago Pinot Noir

December 5, 2008

A very special place for Pinot noir

Here is some information that was prepared by Central Otago Pinot Noir Limited.

Central Otago is the southern-most grape-growing where-is-new-zealandregion in the world located at latitude 45º south (similar to both Oregon’s Willamette Valley, U.S.A., and Bordeaux in France). The first wine-grapes were planted in Central Otago in 1864. Despite the district’s potential as a wine growing area being recognised by French and Australian viticulturists from the 1860’s onwards, wine-grapes were not commercially grown again in Central Otago for more than a century. Modern day wine growing began in 1972 and shortly followed in 1975 with experimental plantings at Rippon Vineyard, Lake Wanaka. The first commercial release of a Pinot Noir from Central Otago, the regions flagship variety, was the 1987 vintage from pioneer Alan Brady at the Gibbston Valley winery.

OUR RECIPE FOR GREAT PINOT NOIR

This could be a pretty long debate, but it seems to us that there are a small number of key requirements for keeping Pinot Noir happy:

A narrow range of heat summation 

GDD’s (Growing Degree Days) are bannock-brae-estate-mapmeasured in a few different ways so numbers are hard to compare, but the way we do it, 850 – 1100 in the growing season seems to be the sweet spot for Pinot Noir. In latitude, that generally means being at about 45-47º North or 44-45º South, (the Antarctic mass makes the Southern Hemisphere a touch cooler, so the band is a little farther North there).

Large diurnal shifts

A significant variation between maximum and minimum temperatures each day. Hot days, (but not too far above 30ºC), and cool nights, develop flavour complexity. That means being a continental rather than a maritime climate, but not so far from the sea that the frosts become untenable.

A long, cool, dry autumn

Hang time seems to really improve Pinot Noir. A micro climate that gets the fruit nearly ripe, then cools off and lets it hang for a while seems to add depth to the wine. But Pinot Noir is very susceptible to Botrytis, so low humidity and low rainfall in the autumn is a big plus. 

A heavy but draining soil 

In Burgundy, the combinations of Clay and Limestone achieve this. We have heavy Loess soils interspersed with gravels. Either way, the roots have heavy soil with good minerality and low organic matter, but don’t get waterlogged.

It might seem surprising that given such a short list, there aren’t a lot more places which fit this recipe for Pinot Noir viticulture. But a quick look at the world map shows why.

To get the diurnal shifts you need to be inland from the coast, (though the Californians get them through coastal fogs) but if you are too far in from the windward coast, the shifts get too great and frosts in Spring and Autumn get too dangerous. In the Northern Hemisphere there are only 2 continental masses: go inland on each, following the prevailing winds, from 45-47 degrees, moving eastward until the climate gets continental and you arrive at The Williamette Valley in the USA and Burgundy in Europe.

Try the same exercise in the Southern hemisphere and there are similarly only 2 land masses, one is Patagonia, where it is too windy to grow grapes. The other is Central Otago.

A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT

“If I were a grape, this is where I’d want to grow up”

photo credit ©Allan Johnston 2008

photo credit ©Allan Johnston 2008

45 North and 45 South are very different worlds. In the temperate zones, global winds flow West to East round the planet. In the North that journey takes them through heavily populated and industrialised regions. In the South, there is only Central Otago and Patagonia. While well over 100 million people live between 44º and 46º North, there are less than 400,000 living in the Southern strip. This reflects in a lack of pollution and disease pressure – there is no vineyard in Central Otago within 200 kms of a traffic light!

We believe the natural health of our vines is a reflection of our isolation. It may be a bit quiet in the evening, but the grapes don’t mind that!

My Thoughts

The word is out and many now know the one word to describe wines from Central Otago is “Stunning”. In the not distant future, followers of Central Otago will come to know a wine from Bannock Burn is different from Lowburn is different from Gibbston Valley is different from Bendigo. Just as other great wine regions of the world, Central Otago is small but the wines from the sub-appellations all carry their own story. This is also true for the wines crafted from single vineyard sites to those that show the winemakers blending skills.

Finding these wines can be a treasure hunt. When you do  you can rest assured that you have a great bottle of wine in your hand. Just take a few bottles home and share some with friends. Stash a few for future enjoyment. You will be delighted for many years. How long is still to be discovered, only by putting a few away now, will you be able to participate in the future of this great region.

Read the back label – see who the importer is  – they will mostly likely have other gems from New Zealand’s diverse wine regions. The wine shops and restaurants that have these wines available should be high on your list for enjoying wines from around the world. They are gems too.

There is a great book called Vineyards on the Edge the story of Central Otago Wine. Google it and share it with a friend. Dave Cull the author will appreciate it.

PS: Don’t forget to check out the white wines too. Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc are all equally impressive.

“Sommeliers report that diners are asking for something untried and untested.”

December 2, 2008

The most exceptional wines are crafted by artisan winemakers. A journey of exciting discovery awaits those who explore the world of New Zealand’s artisan winemakers!

It’s called the Golden Mile for a reason. Birthplace of Marlborough’s famed Sauvignon Blanc, this region consistently produces delightful wines with the fresh and lively fruit personality that so many of you request.

dgmskypic016postcardGeorges Michel and his family are exceptionally passionate about the Golden Mile of New Zealand. For 10 years they’ve dedicated themselves to developing the 84 acres and have completely retrofitted the estate winery. Rows of French oak barrels, new tanks, winemaking daughter Swan and French viticulturalist Daniel LeBrun are all part of the modernized Domaine. 

The Michels’ dedication shows in their superb bottlings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Mouth-filling and beautifully balanced. Luscious fruit and gentle waves that build and linger. Just like Georges Michel himself, these wines show bright New Zealand spirit with a touch of European elegance. 

dgm-cream-marlborough-labelAt last a refined Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand! It offers the zingy citrus and herbaceous flavors that make this varietal so refreshing. This one is for those special evenings with friends when the magic of food and wine come together It has the elegance and depth of a classic Sauvignon Blanc, the kind of wine that fits in beautifully at the dinner table.

A slow fermentation brings out lustrous tropical fruit notes. The owner’s daughter, winemaker Swan Michel, adds smoothness to the blend with a deft touch of Semillon. This wine is a delicious and rare fusion of New World vitality and Old World grace!

This is a wine that is worth the effort to find. Let the Christmas treasure hunt begin. 

Headline quote from Wine & Spirits Magazine, 19th Annual Exclusive Restaurant Poll, April 2008