Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Summer of Riesling – Published 03.02.12

It started in New York and now it has reached New Zealand – the Summer of Riesling is a bold initiative to engage the consumer with the many delights the riesling variety has to offer.
This international movement was started in 2008 by Paul Grieco from Terroir Wine Bar in New York and to help local organisers Angela Clifford from Waipara and Duncan Forsyth from Mount EdwardWines in Central Otago kick start the first Summer of Riesling in New Zealand Paul, the self-styled Summer of Riesling Overlord, joined the celebrations being held around the country.

The object of the Summer of Riesling is to encourage the consumption, discussion and enjoyment of Riesling and New Zealand’s Summer of Riesling started on the 12th January and so far has included winemaker dinners, tastings and wine lists celebrating what is the single most versatile wine grape produced

In 2008 Paul decided that only Riesling would be offered by the glass as the white wine pour at Terroir and the concept has caught the imagination of producers, retailers, restaurantuers and consumers. What began as one man trying to convince customers to try this noble variety has resulted in about 500 restaurants and wine retailers in the US taking part as well as restaurants and retailers in Australia, Canada and now New Zealand.

Pauls attitude of ‘If you like chardonnay then there is a rich, succulent, barrel aged riesling to keep you happy; if you prefer crisp fruity sauvignon blanc then you will probably enjoy a dry, vibrant riesling’ and his belief that providing great service means making great recommendations to his customers (rather than just being a host and giving them what they ask for) was the beginning of the Riesling Revolution and earned him the Summer of Riesling Overlord crown. Last year Terrior Wine Bar had only Riesling on its wine list for the ‘94 days of summer’, 30 by the glass and over 90 by the bottle.

Last week I joined in with two parts of the Summer of Riesling celebration in New Zealand; firstly a national riesling tasting, featuring about 45 versions from different regions in New Zealand, that was attended by wine writers and restaurantuers from the US, UK, Australia and of course New Zealand. This was held at the stunning Tipapa luxury lodge and function venue at Greta Valley, just north of Waipara.

Part two was the CLIMAX celebration dinner at Pegasus Bay Winery where supporting Waipara wineries had a range of aged rieslings for us to sample and each person took along a bottle of riesling that best expressed what they love about the variety to share with their dinner companions. Not only did we experience some stunning wines from around the world but Pegasus Bay showed why Cuisine magazine judge them the best vineyard restaurant in the country year-after-year. Unbelievably good food, a fantastic environment and people who know how to celebrate!

This year more than 30 dining and retail establishments along with about 40 wineries from around New Zealand are celebrating the Summer of Riesling so as the website says “Become a foot soldier, choose Riesling. Viva la Revolution!” www.summerofriesling.co.nz

I have been drinking

Gladstone Vineyard 2011 Riesling – RRP $25
Produced in Gladstone in the Wairarapa this is made in a off-dry style the initial flavour is a burst of green apple that quickly evolves into zesty lime flavours with a backbone of river stone minerality. With a touch of honeyed sweetness in the finish to balance the mouthwatering acidity this would be perfect with pan seared white fish.

Julicher Estate 2011 Pinot Rose – RRP$19.95
This multi-award winning winery in Martinborough has produced another cracker here. Made from 100% pinot noir fruit the wine has a luscious texture in the mouth and is bursting with fresh summer berry flavours – strawberries and cream with a twist of spice and just enough sweetness to make it a delightful lunchtime wine.  

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