I’m sure most of us drink New Zealand wine. And I bet most of us love it for its bright, fresh, clear snappy flavours – usually from the Sauvignon Blanc grape grown in the Marlborough region of the South Island.
Well, Marlborough is the most important wine area in New Zealand. But the North and South Islands have numerous different wine regions, all coming up with enticingly individual flavours. And Sauvignon is the most important grape. But there are dozens of others making their mark in those distant Southern Seas.
I’ve chosen a few crackers that I have recently tasted to whet your appetite for some wines which show the diversity of this great winemaking nation.
Seifried Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Ah, what a joy! A Sauvignon Blanc unashamedly beating its breast about how snappy and zesty and mouthwatering its flavours are. This bubbles with green flavours – green apple, lime zest, citrus leaves, citrus flowers, the crunch of green peppercorns and barely roasted coffee beans. And it’s only 12.5%. Thirst-quenching white? Look no further.
Blank Canvas Grüner Veltliner 2013
What a fascinating wine. Grüner Veltliner is normally drunk fresh and lively at about a year old. This is 8 years old and oak-aged! It’s a scintillating green-gold colour, and reeks of lime zest splashed with petrol and rock rubbed with honey. Powerful, pithy, acid yet rich, fruity yet stoney dry. Fascinating stuff.
Esk Valley Pinot Gris 2020
What an utterly irresistible glass of white wine delight! Or rather – almost-white wine delight. There’s just the merest hint of shy blush about this wine – as there should be, but so rarely is, with Pinot Gris. And the flavour of ripe Jazz apples and Comice pears so juicy they drip down your chin creates a hurdy-gurdy of pleasure rolling around your mouth.
Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2017
Well, this is definitely not your average bright and breezy Pinot. It’s serious, almost solemn, meaty, scented with back shelf of the pantry kitchen spice, rich with dark dried fruits far removed from the brightness of day, savoury, dashed with raspberry vinegar, rubbed with wax.
Pegasus Bay Bel Canto Dry Riesling 2019
It’s a real thrill when you find a memorable Riesling. There aren’t that many of them worldwide, but Pegasus Bay shows a genius with Riesling that is rare. This mouthwatering marriage of orange and lemon zests, beeswax honey and a hint of old-fashioned petrol is spot on.
AOTEA by the Seifried Family Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Fabulous classy wine, magically blending a lees richness of nuts and bread crust with probing, mouthwatering green apple and lemon pith acidity. Great balance between zesty acid and ripeness.
Leftfield Rosé 2020
Wow. Summer’s coming. Suddenly everyone’s drinking pink – and I can see why. France leads the way, but often puts the colour as more important than the taste. This kiwi wine has an almost Provencal Rosé colour, but a lovely apple and cranberry fruit flavour that says – colour isn’t enough in a Kiwi wine.
Villa Maria Reserve Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Round, full, very much a Wairau style, with passionfruit and peach beautifully balanced in this stellar vintage by an acidity that’s somewhere between blood orange and greengage plums.
Yealands Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Lively, zesty, zingy, but also full of ripe fruit and even a little blossom scent. This shows how 2020 is a top vintage for Sauvignon – loads of green apple peel, peppercorn and coffee bean, but also a subtle richness of peach and honey and the sweet savoury cream of brazil nut flesh.
Te Whare Ra Single Vineyard Toru (field blend) 2020
Brilliant idea – take three pretty lively grape varieties and ferment them all together. This is a lovely wine – scented, but only just so. Refreshingly acid, but only just so. I went back to it after 4 days open, and it had blossomed!!
Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Another really tasty example of the smashing 2020 vintage. Scented with white flower freshness, dripping with green apple and grapefruit juiciness, yet with a hint of popcorn and pale chocolate softness on the tongue.
Yealands Reserve Gruner Veltliner 2020
Really appetising Awatere white, dry but full of flavour, peach skins and golden plums happily balanced by apple core acid and a touch of saline sea breeze.
Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2018
I know this Dillons Point vineyard, and it can make some of the most snappy, zesty wines in Marlborough. 2018 was a difficult vintage, but this still is a happy blend of passionfruit, coffee bean and grapefruit, without quite its usual brilliance. Needs opening to show its best.
Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir 2019
Full, dry, deep, but not lush, this is a serious, chewy Pinot with good dark red fruit depth and a savoury scent. Good now, it will age well.
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2019
Earthy, savoury Pinot, not a lush, easy-drinking style; a full, serious, chewy, challenging wine which is much better with some air.
Te Pa Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Gentle, mellow, tranquil style of Sauvignon. Reasonable acid and attractive lemon and green apple flesh fruit, but a calm, soft character.
Brancott Estate Flight
Great idea – Sauvignon Blanc with most of the snappy fresh flavours and almost a third less alcohol. This is a very nice fresh drink at 9%. Bring on the 2020.
Oz Clarke – April 2020