This week saw the annual New Zealand wine tasting event in London aimed at the UK trade.
For a country that produces less than one per cent of all the world’s wine it certainly has had a huge impact on the wine shelves in this country.
Marlborough sauvignon blanc has been an amazing success story. It is without doubt New Zealand’s signature wine, but having tasted my way around so many producers at the tasting it is clear there is much, much more.
New Zealand is a cool-climate, island nation and the close proximity of the ocean to its vineyard regions helps produce wines that show pure varietal flavours as well as lovely aromatics.
Nautilus Grüner Veltliner 2014, Marlborough (thenewzealandcellar.co.uk £17.50) is a fantastic example of how this Austrian grape variety has found a new home in New Zealand.
There is pear, apple, citrus peel and cracked pepper on the nose, followed by a lovely textured palate which would be great with Asian-inspired dishes. If you look for just one wine from my recommendations this week make sure it’s this one.
Villa Maria Private Bin Riesling 2014, Marlborough (Majestic £10.49 but £7.86 if part of a mixed six; Waitrose £10.99) is so wonderfully fresh it almost smells of spring – think lime and apple blossom. It is just off dry with a refreshing finish and would be perfect with a local crab linguine.
When it comes to red wine we are just beginning to see some really interesting syrah and Bordeaux blends coming out of the Gimblett Gravels area of North Island, but more immediately there is no doubt New Zealand is capable of producing some serious pinot noir.
Two of these really caught my senses at the tasting, both from the same producer.
The Edge Pinot Noir 2014, Martinborough (Waitrose, Ocado £14.99) is a great introduction to Kiwi pinot noir with cherry and raspberry fruit. It’s actually a quite serious and full-bodied wine which would be great with a roast leg of lamb.
Stepping up a little and from the same producer, Larry McKenna, Escarpment Pinot Noir 2012, Martinborough (Majestic £22 but £19.80 if part of a mixed six), is very Burgundian in style with black and red fruits, spices and a little oak in the background followed by soft tannins. It’s elegant, complex and seriously good. Try this with any duck dish.
The last word however must go to a suvignon blanc, The Doctors’ Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Marlborough (Waitrose £8.99) comes in at only 9.5 per cent alcohol and unlike so many other attempts at a lower alcohol wine, loses very little because of it.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say this is the best lower-alcohol sauvignon blanc I’ve ever tasted – really fresh with some tropical fruit, lime and zesty acidity.
It’s great value and if you’re a big fan of Marlborough-style sauvignon this is a real result.