Karen and I attended a structured wine tasting event at Global wine tour hosted by Steven Thurlow from Wineaccess magazine. The event was held at the Fine Wine Reserve which is a wine storage facility for individuals.
The event was very well done with a group of 14 (a full house for this venue). They provided a few foods to show how certain foods can complement and soften certain wines. I would definitely recommend these guys and will go again.
These guys are holding different country events as the year goes on. There next event is on Argentina. We were told they plan to do a BC wine event in the future. That would be awesome!
One of the things they did in this event was to taste items that are available (to some extent) at the LCBO. This is great! Means you can run right out and grab some!
I often get asked how did I find out about this event. Well I have a lot of different places I am subscribed to. But one of them is a newsletter called the The Juice.
Onto the wines. They tasted 4 whites and 4 reds. Steven guided us through a 3 hour long tour of New Zealand. His knowledge is extensive. I was in awe of how much detail he had about the country, the wines and vineyards. He had a formal power point presentation to guide us through the tasting. It was a sit down event. I was left wondering how many countries can this fellow possibly know in this much detail? Astonishing …
See the bottom for a complete list of everything you might ever want to know about New Zealand but were afraid to ask …
From a white wine point of view, right now, there are no single vineyard white wines coming out of New Zealand. They tend to blend grapes from many different vineyards to get the recipe they are looking for. Each area creating a distinctive flavor in the wines based on the terroir.
– Steven intentionally did not choose the Kim Crawford Sauv Blanc which is considered the benchmark to show there are other (cheaper) Sauv Blancs from New Zealand
– I found this wine quite crisp. Lots of classic NZ Sauv Blanc on the nose. Typical green apple flavors, some grassiness (which I often refer to as greenness) and some lemony flavors. This is quite a sharp wine with a long finish. Quite good for the price. I would probably give it an 88-89 and I would say was one of the best wines of the evening. This wine was not oaked at all. This wine is a vintages Essential. I will definitely buy this one.
– Steven showed us using simple cheddar cheese how this wine would go well with anything fatty. The cheese improved the wine, softening it, and the wine improved the inexpensive cheese. He also told us he thought it would work well with something with a vinaigrette on it.
– This wine is from Marlborough one of the largest growing areas in NZ. Steven informed us that Hawkes Bay make some of the best (in his opinion) Sauv Blancs.
– I found little bouquet to this wine. It was very light in color and taste. 20% of the wine was oaked and it imparted some subtle flavors to the wine. It also had a slight creamyness to it, likely also from the oak. It had a slight bit of acidity but all in all I found this to be a very light wine. I suspect part of the reason for this is the strong flavors from the Sauv Blanc above. Personally I think I might have appreciated this wine better if it had been served first. But then you can also pick away at an event and think of how it could have been better! For me this wine was missing the peachy flavors I look for in a good Pinot Gris. Overall I would not buy this wine. I would give it an 86-87 For me the benchmark in the Pinot Gris that had the peach in dominance was the Omaka also from NZ featured in the May 10th release.
– I have got into the habit of reading the label on wines, and in this case it was a bad idea. This wine has sulphites added (something I avoid like the plague) and was fined using milk products. I find the milk products can leave an unpleasant odor on the wine. This wine is from Waipara. I found this wine very mild in bouquet, color and flavors with a slight effervescent tingle on the tongue. This is a very mild Reisling and for my money I would far rather buy a Canadian Reisling. So for me this one was a pass …
– This was truly the highlight of the evening. Steven shared with us a 1996 Chard that he has been aging for a long time. He told us that when he opened it the cork disintegrated so this wine likely got a lot of access to air that it shouldn’t have. Interestingly enough Steven is a propend in abandoning the cork. He also shared with us that this wine is likely already past it’s peak. That said, I quite enjoyed it. He says the wine originally is a big bruiser. On par with a Californian Chard. It received lots of Oak aging and went through Malolactic fermentation. The wine had a more rich honey yellow color to it. It was very smooth and well integrated. You could really taste the subtle flavors that are there in spades in a good Californian style Chard and likely were there when it was young. Everything was there but very subtly and well balanced. Slighlty buttery, slightly Oaky, slight bit of fruit and a long finish. I was thrilled to taste a well aged Californian style chard! Steven informed us that some of the best chards in NZ come from Gisborne.
Kim Crawford Pinot Noir 2007 $19.95
– NZ is starting to get known secondly for their Pinot Noirs. This one is quite good and reminded me of some of the good Canadian Pinot Noirs like the Gravity Pinot from Flat Rock which is one of my favorites. This wine had a bit of oak, nice varietal flavors and a medium finish. I did not find this wine overly complex, but then again I don’t find Pinot’s complex. I found it had a slightly bitter (acidic) finish that would ease with some decanting. I would give this one an 87-88. I will likely buy one of these to give it a more thorough tasting.
– This had a deep ruby color in keeping with a Merlot. The bouquet was quite mild. This wine has some nice tannins but for me this wine is more indicative of a Cab than a Merlot. I enjoyed the flavors but this was not varietal to my taste. Missing was the strong plum flavors that ought to be there dominant in a good Merlot. Don’t get me wrong, this was not a bad wine, just not a merlot. I would give this a 87-88. This is another one I will likely buy to do a more detailed tasting.
– While the Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape the difference is in the style of wine making. The Shiraz being the peppery in spades finish while the Syrah is a smoother more integrated wine. This one is a Syrah for sure. There is some pepperyness, with a nice finish. Slight oakyness. A nice wine, but this one for me is really creaping up there in price. I (like a lot of people) have this magic $20 figure. And to be honest, once I get into this price range I prefer to experience more complexity which this wine did not have. So all in all I would give tis one an 88 but won’t be rushing out to buy it.
Matua Valley Matheson Vineyard Cabernet/Merlot 2002 (the only wine not available at the LCBO tasted)
– This one had a deep color and slight bouquet. I tasted a very slight hint of dill which I have experience in spades (my word for the day it seems) at Peninsula Ridge. I did not really care for this one and would give it an 86-87
So all in all I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. There were a few other foods they gave us like a honey ham, and a salami but my notes failed me, might have had something to do with the imbibing. That and maybe having some fun distracting my note taking J
Here are some facts about NZ and their wines:
– 2008 was a good year for NZ
– As mentioned above almost all of the whites and some of the reds are blends from vineyards from different parts of NZ. This lets them create exactly the flavors they are looking for and insures consistency. Each area of NZ has very particular flavors coming from the terroir
– There are over 500 wineries in NZ today. They too went through a prohibition period but it was much longer than NA.
– NZ has one of the highest average bottle price of any country (seem hard to believe when you consider some of the wines of France’s stratospherical prices!!). Either way their wines are not cheap. It is not an inexpensive place to grow wines. They have to irrigate otherwise nothing other than scrub would grow!
– There is little to no local consumption of wine and most of it is exported. This is very different than most places which end up having some of the best stuff consumed locally!
– From a white point of view 53% are Sauv Blanc and 15% are Chards
– From a red point of view 12% Pinot Noir, 6% Merlot, 1.5% Cab Sauv
– Did you know Pinot Noirs turn from green to red in about 3 days! And the grape is very vulnerable to bad conditions. This is often called the bad boy of grapes and is very temperamental.
– Gewurztraminer is a difficult grape to grow and some years will yield little to no grapes at all!