Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recent Releases

When to release wines to the marketplace can be a vexed decision for winemakers but is primarily driven by two things – when is it ready and how much of the previous vintage do we have left? Some varieties need to be aged a little before you and I get to taste them, chardonnay and most red wines in particular. Many of these wines produced in 2010 are being released now while some premium wines from earlier vintages are just starting to hit the shelves.
At the other end of the scale the first wines from the 2011 vintage have been released. It is a few weeks since the last fruit was harvested and only around two months since vintage started. The most surprising thing for me is the first release I have heard about this year isn’t sauvignon blanc but gewurztraminer.
Seifried Estate had sold out of the previous vintage and the market wanted some so they have created an early release blend to satisfy market demand. The rest of the 2011 gewurztraminer won’t be blended and bottled for a few weeks yet and it will be a really interesting exercise to try both blends in a few months time to see how the bright, fresh floral and tempting Turkish delight characters have behaved.
Until I get my hands on a bottle of each of these blends I have had to satisfy my curiosity by tasting quite a few new releases from last year, and there have been plenty of them. Some of the highlights have been:

Blackenbrook Wines 2010 Pinot Gris (RRP$26)
This is a five star wine that dances on your tongue but packs a punch. Bright, fresh, pure flavours are bound up in a lush texture and touched with a dash of spice and fresh acidity in the finish. The elegance of this wine hides the 15% alcohol punch. This is one of the best pinot gris’ I have tried in a long time.

Blackenbrook Wines 2009 Nelson Reserve Chardonnay (RRP$32)
Twelve months gentle aging in 500ltr oak barrels (normal size is 225ltr) this wine has a opulent texture and oozes classic butter, toasted nut and tropical fruit characters. A few bottles of this will find their way into our cellar to age for another few years, if we can keep our hands off it!

Sacred Hill 2010 Wine Thief Chardonnay (RRP$29.99)
There is absolutely no doubt this is a serious chardonnay, big, rich and very drinkable if you love chardonnay. Dry in style this has been through a secondary malo fermentation adding a lush texture to the big and ripe peach flavours. A touch of marmalade juiciness balances the richness. A well balanced chardonnay from a very good vintage.

Neudorf Vineyards 2010 Maggies Block Pinot Gris ($24.90 at the cellar door)
As you would expect from one of New Zealand’s best wine producers this is another wine that is simply delightful. Purity of flavour and texture are hallmarks of all Neudorf wines and this is no exception. I like the fact this is off-dry in style without too much residual sugar. This lets the flavours shine rather than being dominated by sweetness. Softly spiced poached pear flavours hang from a full, rounded mouthfeel.

Rimu Grove 2010 Pinot Gris (RRP$29)
This is the wine that ensured the Rimu Grove name is near the top of quality producers in New Zealand. The stunningly good fruit that was harvested last year meant the winemaker could make the wine a little drier than the previous couple of years and still retain incredible flavour depth with an elegant structure. Simply bursting with lush fruit flavours and with a firm mineral backbone this is a cracker.
Phil Gully tasting wine in Blackenbrook Vineyards winery

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