Christmas is here at last. For the little ones it probably seems to take forever to arrive but for me it seems like we have just got over Christmas 2010.A lot has happened in New Zealand in 2011 with everything from natural disasters to the Rugby World Cup and almost everything in between. Fortunately for the vast majority of New Zealanders they fit into the ‘everything in between’ category. No one has been left untouched by the tragic reports emanating from the Christchurch earthquake and closer to home the recent floods will have a long term effect, not only on the region, but particularly on those left without homes and livelihoods at what is supposed to be a celebratory time of the year.
Among the highlights this year has been the outstanding quality of Nelson and New Zealand wine from the 2011 vintage. Local wines have received many accolades and, personally, I have found some new favourites and rediscovered some old ones. Among my new favourite producers is Sea Level Wines. With vineyards on the coast at Mariri and having the wines made at Whitehaven in Marlborough by co-owner and winemaker Sam Smail the first couple of vintages have been outstanding.
Spending a bit of time with Dave Glover reminded me that he produces some great wines under the Glover’s label and having sampled some pinot noir treasures resting in barrels I can’t wait until he bottles and releases them later in 2012.
One of the things I love doing at this time of the year is browsing through our cellar to select some treats to enjoy over the holiday season. We have some fantastic wines in the cellar but we also have what I call our trial corner, the place we put the last bottle or so out of a case and forget about them for several years. We don’t expect anything great from these wines because they are there to learn about how wines age and sometimes when we open them we just pour them down the drain but other times we are very pleasantly surprised.
Ten year old sauvignon blancs may not be fresh, lively and vibrant like they are in their youth but they can develop into really complex, interesting wines if they are well made in the first place and we have a lot of fun trying them with fellow wine lovers.
Of course there is nothing better than dipping into the cellar to find a bottle of premium wine that has been aged well to enjoy with friends. This year we will be at Herzog’s in Marlborough for Christmas lunch but by the time we get home in the late afternoon we will be ready to chill down a bottle of Neudorf 2006 Moutere Chardonnay to enjoy with the crayfish friends have promised us. Then it will probably be time to bring out the Stilton and open a bottle of vintage port - a little luxury at Christmas time.
However you are celebrating Christmas and New Year this year take a few minutes to think about those who have had a very tough year and if you are having a few wines please make sure you don’t drive, we don’t need any more sadness in our community.
I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas, a prosperous New Year and a safe holiday season.
I have been drinking
Parr & Simpson 2010 Barrique Fermented Limestone Bay Chardonnay – RRP$23
From a tiny vineyard high on the hillside above Port Tarakohe in Golden Bay comes this delight. Dry in style, elegant in structure and oozing soft stonefruit, lemon and delicate nut flavours bound together with firm mineral characters and a streak of fresh acidity this is a five star wine and outstanding value in my books.
GreenhoughVineyards 2010 Hope Vineyard Pinot Blanc – RRP$32.00
Made in an off-dry style off-dry but full bodied with a lush, rounded mouthfeel and white peach notes with a touch of soft spice this is a wine lovers wine. It is all about structure and complexity rather than just ripe fruit characters and will be perfect with that left over ham and turkey on Boxing Day. A super wine from one of Nelson’s best producers.