Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kaimira Wines - 10th vintage

The vast majority of wine is consumed within a few days of purchase and I must say this tends to be encouraged by many winemakers who tell us to enjoy the young, fresh and vibrant flavours of some wine varieties, sauvignon blanc for example.

Unlike 30 years ago when many wines were imported and because the better wines being sold needed to be cellared for a few years people who were even slightly interested in wine needed to have a cellar to age wines before they could enjoy a reasonable drink.

Today however wine styles have changed significantly, the New Zealand industry has grown beyond all recognition and the quality of readily available, easy to understand, affordable wines has increased exponentially.

All of this means we are now impulse consumers of wine; we buy what we want when we want to consume it. While this is fantastic in many ways we tend to miss out on some of the intriguing magic to be found in aged wines so I always take the opportunity to try older wines when I am offered the chance.

Last weekend I visited Kaimira Estate who are celebrating their tenth anniversary of producing wine. They decided to deal with a small problem they had at the same time. Having the last five or ten cases of a wine floating around a winery causes a few management hassles, the volume left is not really a commercial quantity and it is a nuisance keeping track of them in the store room. So Kaimira decided to sell their ‘bin ends’ at knockdown prices, some for as little as $8 a bottle.

For me however the real treat was that some of these wines were four or five years old and I had the chance to taste them alongside current releases, providing the perfect opportunity to get an insight into how wines made from grapes grown on the same vineyards would change over time.

I have been a fan of Kaimira’s Brightwater Vineyard Riesling from the first time I tasted it, I love the dry minerality with luscious citrus characters but most of all I love the fact it is a dry style wine that allows the aging characters to show in the flavours. They tend to develop a nice oily texture and waxy kerosene characters that can be quite intriguing.

Tasting their 2004 pinot noir was also an eye-opener for me. 2004 was a very wet vintage in the Nelson region and we have not seen many very good wines from it and we certainly have not seen many that stand the test of time, so the fantastic complexity showing in this wine was a real surprise. It is light in colour but has a lush palate weight, is packed with flavour and is perfect drinking right now. Buying it for about $10 a bottle was an opportunity I was not going to miss.

I have been drinking

Kaimira Estate Brightwater Vineyards 2009 Gewurztraminer (about $20 from the winery)

Another great comparison was the 2007 ($18) vs 2009 Kaimira Brightwater vineyards Gewurztraminer. The 2007 was made in a dry (or low residual sugar) style while the 2009 was produced retaining about 30gms/ltr of sugar. Even though it is technically a much sweeter wine juicy acidity provides exceptional balance. This is also a great example of a technically sweet wine that doesn’t taste sweet and is great with food. Try it with blue cheese or Thai food.

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