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19 October 2007

Hey, NZ! Hold Everything.

New_zealand_map I've often wondered why New Zealand was anointed/anointed itself as the land of Sauvignon Blanc.  To be sure, NZ SB has been quite successful as an import to the US wine market (and certainly names like 'Monkey Bay' don't hurt its mass appeal to the garanimal-wine-loving crowd).  However, I think this success has come at a price.  Kiwi Blanc has overshadowed every other grape variety.  And this is a very sad thing.

Think about it.  When was the last time you sampled a New Zealand Riesling or Gewurztraminer?  These grapes have found a very cozy home on the Islands way down under.  In fact, while I find most New Zealand Sauvi Blanc, easy-to-enjoy, I also find it a tad bit uni-dimensional (see here for a great descriptor of NZ SB).  I have discovered extraordinarily sublime Riesling and intoxicating (in the figurative sense of the word) Gewurz.  Think I'm nuts.  Take this little NZ non-SB challenge:

Huia Gewurztraminer 2006 - A chewy, thick wine, which echos the Alsatian style but with a bit less earth

Villa Maria Riesling 2005 - A remarkable feat of a wine.  This Riesling stews together new world heft with teutonic crispness.

Am I alone in thinking the OenoKiwis might want to diversify their white wine portfolio?

01 November 2006

Good, Green Karma

Nz_sustain_1 From the annals of good, green karma:

The Grove Mill winery in Marlborough, NZ has taken environmental commitment to a new level with CarboNZero® certification. The winery has released the world’s first CarboNZero® wines, which are also among the world’s first carbon-neutral consumer products.

Grove Mill has challenged itself to address its impact on climate change from carbon dioxide emissions as a result of the growing, winemaking and shipping of its wines.

Actually, this is more than just good karma, it is an example to other wineries, and other producers of consumer products, that being green makes good business sense.  Put this way: the next time I'm in the market for New Zealand wine, I'll be hunting for Grove Mill (imported by Palm Bay Imports).

More on CarboNZero here.

04 January 2006

WBW17: "Kim"

WinebloggingWednesday #17, Red Kiwis, is hosted by the Cork Dork.  This morning I read Maggie's post, "Wne as Women," and was inspired to junk the initial tasting note, and go for something a bit more anthropomorphic.  Introducing....Kim (Kim Crawford Marlborough Pinot Noir 2003 [$16]):


Kim is an up and coming tap dancer.  She's new to it all, but many say she shows talent.  Some insist her style hearkens back to the classic fusion of African shuffle and English step dances.  Others, after seeing her perform, feel she has potential - yet believe a few more years of honing her craft may yield a masterpiece.  I saw Kim dance tonight.  Her style is compelling and immediately likable.  However, during her performance, I found my mind wandering, and longed for more complexity and variation in her dance.  I can't say that I wasn't at least partially engrossed by her performance.  In fact, the dance was over before I knew it.  Perhaps her style is best suited for a Wednesday evening?  For now, I'll hold on to my weekend reservation with the masters.   

30 November 2005

Brancott '03 > Brancott '04

Brancottpn03I really enjoyed Brancott’s 2003 Pinot Noir from New Zealand (the '02 Reserve was very, very good).  It was one of the few ‘entry level Pinots that I’ve found palatable.  It offered fresh, appealing flavors of cherry, along with just a hint of vanilla-oak-toastyness.  Recently I noticed Brancott’s 2004 vintage had replaced the ’03 stalwart, so I took it for a test-sip.  I was a bit disappointed by the change in style.  There is noticeably more toasted oak flavor.  This, by itself, isn’t too bad.  However, the wine is also a notch lower in the acid department (less zing in the mouth). The lack of balancing acidity coupled to heavier, sweeter vanilla-oak flavors, results in a wine that finishes heavy and perhaps a bit sweet.  The ’04 Pinot isn’t bad (2.5 stars out of 5), but it sure aint no ’03 (3.5 stars out of 5).

25 November 2005

Tohu Pinot Noir

Tohupn2004 Tohu Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand ($24)

Clear, light ruby color fading to a pale, watery rim. Vivacious aromas spring from the glass: red cherries, raspberries, toasted pecans, some vanilla, even some forest floor. You might guess young Burgundy, but definitely not California. Palate is dry with bright, attractive flavors like the nose. But the star of the show here is the mouth-watering acidity – enough to make your spine tingle (think fresh lemonade) and keep you begging for more. Low tannin, medium alcohol and a silky texture give way to a long fruity finish, with a slight phenolic kick at the end (my least favorite part). Overall, a delicious and refreshing wine to waken the senses. You will not fall asleep drinking this one. Gotta love it.


05 October 2005

WBW#14: How You Like Me Now?

Exnumber1_5yoyoyo b.juice in the house back for a little old school rhymin on wizzle blizzle wendizzle
what? you don't think i can?  Blam!  Pow!
how you like me now?

we gonna break off a little kiwi Pinot - and it goes a little somethin like this.....hit it!

Amisfield Pinot - straight out the C.O.
for those who don't know, yo - that's Central Otago
US importer? It be Pasternak Wine Co.

dusty ruby color, thick light pink rim
let me swirl it; stick my nose down in

groovy, dude - not to be rude, but this s**t's funky, capiche?
It's got some berry fruit see, just minus the tutti

Amisfield wafts up the 'shroom & tomato
hold up, wait a sec; don't say, "uh-oh"
cause here come the cherry and the cocoa
that's a pungent vino - it's aint gonna lay low

has Big Parks rated it? 
ah what do he know? he need to check his ego
oops shouldda not said that
he'll break out his posse with the rat-a-tat, clack-clack

but let's get back to my N.Z. Pinot
take a sip, mighty fine flavor, no?
starts out crisp - then in comes the velvet slip
goes down easy as pi, which is 3.14
one more sip and this glass is done for

three-point-five stars - solid like Dinah Shore
one and a-half more - we'd see a perfect score
line up 3 Hamies then head to the store

save it for a winter's starry night
plug in some Barry White
cuddle up to your man or wife
Yeah, now sure you're right

Amisfeldpn_4The Details:
Amisfield Pinot Noir, 2003 ($~30)
From Central Otago
Get it here or here

04 October 2005

Kiwi PG, Alligator Pears, and Gigondas

Gigondas_2I've become a Perrin family blog addict.  In my opinion, this is the perfect implementation of a blog for a winery.  The blog is updated frequently (in both French and English) and the family provides interesting insight into their harvest strategy (along with great photos).  And most importantly, this blog has piqued my interest in Perrin wine - I'll definitely buying some in the near future.  This weekend the Perrins finished their Gigondas harvest and have now moved onto Syrah in Vinsobres.  Become a vineyard voyeur - visit the Perrin's blog

Alligator Pears
Avocado_1My favorite Panamanian chef always comes up with interesting and creative posts.  Normally Chef Melissa gives us tasty recipes.  Today she's come up with an avocado-based pre-shampoo for healthy hair.  Save some avocado and make a spot of guac after indulging your hair health!

Kiwi PG
MargrainlabelOne of my favorite wine bloggers, Andrew the prolific Brit, reminded me today how much I enjoy New Zealand Pinot Gris.  The last one I tasted was Huia Pinot Gris, 2002 (from Marlborough).  His tasting note of Margrain Pinot Gris, 2004 (from Martinborough): Orange, peach, apple peel, and smoke.  What's not to like?

Continue reading "Kiwi PG, Alligator Pears, and Gigondas" »

23 September 2005

Stoneleigh Riesling: 1 Wine/2 Reviews

Our recent discussion on Bob Parker's adjective orgy got me thinking.  Catherine's comment (referencing a Decanter article penned by Hugh Johnson) in particular, made me wonder if assigning multiple fruit adjectives to a wine is the best way to describe/review wine.

For example, which statement is more helpful?

"This wine offers up scents of lime, apricot, and honey"
"The wine offers typical Riesling scents"

We frequent wine sippers likely understand right away what is meant by 'typical Riesling scents.' However, what about those relatively new to wine?  Perhaps it won't mean much.  In fact, it just might confuse them, or make them feel inadequate about wine (everyone must know how a typical Riesling smells).

Let's try approaching my take on Stoneleigh Riesling with a tasting note written from the standard point of view and one written in a strict, descriptive style.

StoneleighrieslingMore Qualifying/More Adjectives

Stoneleigh Marlborough Riesling, '04 ($13) [get it here]

  • From the Marlborough region of New Zealand
  • White gold in color with a subtle green undertone & thin, watery rim
  • Youthful, fresh scents of peach, ripe pear, and honey
  • In the mouth this wine is medium-bodied and off-dry with balancing acidity.  Citrus and peach flavors give way to a simple honeyed finish

*** (3 stars out of 5)

Less Adjectives/More Descriptive

Stoneleigh Marlborough Riesling, '04 ($13)

  • From New Zealand's Marlborough region
  • Pale gold in color with a narrow rim
  • Typical, straightforward Riesling scents
  • This medium-bodied Riesling is made in an off-dry style.  It is balanced by acidity, offers simple flavors, and a finish of moderate length

*** (3 stars out of 5)

I'm curious.  Which review do you prefer?  Which would be more helpful in understanding how the wine will smell & taste?  I'm all for writing tasting notes/reviews that are more helpful and less poetic (although I enjoy being poetic with wine once in a while).

14 July 2005

Nobilo Ignominio

I’m a big fan of NZ Pinot Noir.  With all due respect to our California friends, NZ Pinot offers the best bang-for-the-buck.  I’ve enjoyed twelve-buck Pinot from Brancott.  I’ve also happily slurped Brancott’s reserve P.N.  So of course when I noticed a new Kiwi Pinot in my wine shop the other day, I eagerly took it home.

Sadly, this New Zealander just isn’t up to snuff.

The Skinny
NobiloiconNobilo Icon Pinot Noir, ’03 ($17)

  • From New Zealand’s Marlborough region
  • Dayglo cherry-red with a watery rim
  • Fairly strong scents of strawberry, cherry, and vanilla
  • Light-bodied, with subtle, simple fruit flavors.  Not much in the way of tannins.  A brief, fleeting finish

** (2 stars out of 5)

On the bright side, I was able to taste that this wine is indeed a Pinot Noir (and that’s sayin something - some budget Pinots don’t taste like much of anything).  On the down side, for close to $20, there wasn’t much to it.  I'll stick with the Brancott Reserve Pinot Noir for a fine Pinot in the twenty dollar price range.

19 May 2005

Underage Riesling?

Question:  What do you think about drinking a wine from the 2004 harvest?  Too soon?  Will it taste overly 'simple?'

Lakechaliceriesling_1I'm starting to see southern hemisphere (harvest is 6 months ahead of northern hemi) wines appearing on store shelves.  My first impression, call it bias, is that 2004 wine isn't quite serious enough yet to drink.  However, my guess is that most people buying a
$10-$20 2004 wine are going to open it up today or tomorrow.  So I took the plunge and un-capped (un-screwed?) a $16 bottle of 2004 Lake Chalice Riesling from New Zealand.  It's just a baby in terms of age; yet it's a grown-up in terms of flavor.  And if you want to age it for a couple of years, I'm sure you'll be rewarded.  But hey, why wait?  Drink it now.

The Skinny
Lake Chalice Riesling, '04 ($16)

  • From Marlborough, New Zealand
  • Pale white gold in color
  • Straightforward, yummy scents:  apricot, honey, blossom, and very light citrus
  • In the mouth, this wine shines.  It' s got light citrus acidity, luscious fruit flavor, and a mineral finish.  It is much bigger than German Riesling in terms of body - however, not quite as big as an Alsatian Riesling

**** (4 stars out of 5)

A well-made wine that is ready to drink right now.  Try it with Asian veggie stir fry, grilled scallops, chicken breast sandwich, or potato salad.

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