Thursday, December 9, 2010

Nelson WineArt regional tasting

It has been a few weeks since I added posts to this blog - let's blame it on the holiday and then the workload after the holiday that makes it seem like months since we spent some time in the sun in the Cook Islands - so here is a bit of a catch-up.

In October Nelson Wineart held their annual new release tasting at the Boathouse on Wakefield Quay. With well over 100 wines available for tasting I was never going to be able to sample them all in the couple of hours I had, however I did manage to get through a fair few of them.

With a tasting of this size it is impossible to taste and rate each wine on offer in a serious manner so I treat this annual event as an opportunity to get an overall snapshot of what is happening in this delightful wine region.

The overall impression I got this year, particularly of the 2010 vintage wines available for tasting, was great depth of varietal flavour and beautifully clean characters. By ‘clean’ I mean wines that have been made from ripe fruit harvested in pristine condition so there are no extraneous characters that can appear after a wet or difficult vintage.

The summer of 2009/10 was very kind to winemakers in Nelson and the long days of sunshine are reflected in the wines.

There were a number of highlights at the tasting and a few wines had winemakers making a bee-line to other stands to find out what everyone was talking about.

Waimea Estates have just won a gold medal and trophy for Commercial White Wine at the New Zealand International Show following up on the gold medal and trophy for Champion Other White Variety at the Bragato Wine Competition – both awards for their 2009 Viognier ($21.90 and available at good wine stores). The all female winemaking team of Trudy and Wietske are bursting with pride about this wine as they are with the seductively drinkable 2010 Pinot Rose ($18.50).

Milcrest Estate 2010 sauvignon blanc is a bright flavoursome delight. Packed with big ripe fruit flavours and balanced beautifully with juicy acidity this wine from label that has only been around for a couple of years really caught my attention as did the lovely ripe, fresh flavours delivered by the Kina Cliffs Vineyard 2010 sauvignon blanc.

While on the subject of Kina Cliffs they have a stunning premium 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir ($45). Again lovely full fruit flavours with a savoury twist and silky tannins make this one stand out from the crowd.

Some old favourites continue to deliver great wines. Greenhough Vineyards must be the producer most under-rated by the public. Fellow winemakers and critics hold them in high regard and they deliver wines that are exceptional value for money. Hand crafted wines like their 2009 Greenhough Hope Pinot Blanc ($30), the delicate yet highly aromatic 2009 Gewurztraminer and refreshing 2010 Greenhough Apple Valley Riesling reinforce the reliable quality of their chardonnay and pinot noirs.

Kaimira Estate Brightwater 2009 Pinot Gris has a luscious mouthfeel and is bursting with spiced pear and ginger characters.

Nelson winemakers have continued to develop their craft and that means you and I can buy Nelson wines with a huge amount of confidence when we see them on the shelf.

I have been drinking

Seifried Estate 2010 Gruner Veltiner - $21 at Casa del Vino and the cellar door

Gruner Veltliner is a European aromatic variety being trialled in Nelson by a couple of growers and this version is not only the first to hit the market it is the first with the new look Seifried label. Made in very limited quantities and fermented to dry with powdery minerality and soft acidity to round out the floral flavours this will make delightful summer drinking.

Brancott Reserve Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc - RRP$23.95
In with the new - Brancott Estate – and out with the old – Montana. And to launch the new name they have a bright new label as well. Furthermore it is what the label says it is, sparkling sauvignon blanc with bright, fresh, round and satisfying capsicum based flavours. This is an easy drinking wine that has enough acidity to cleanse the palate before you tuck into something serious.

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