Do you prefer your pinot noir dark, big and gutsy, or fine-boned, delicate and ethereal? Or somewhere between? Or perhaps you enjoy all styles. It’s a subject of endless debate among pinophiles.
I have an undeserved reputation for not liking Pinot Gris. What I don’t like is Pinot Gris that lacks flavour or is cloyingly sweet, as well as wines with grippy, drying tannins. A few years ago a good percentage of local Pinot Gris suffered from those faults. Now, I’m pleased to say, the overall standard of the latest release wines has risen considerably.
November and December are when wine sales peak and prices hit rock bottom. There’s a saying in the wine trade “If you don’t make it in the festive season, you don’t make it.” Sparkling wine price wars mean an absolute bonanza for the bubbly buyer. Don’t be too impulsive, a little planning will help you get the best wines at the lowest prices during the festive feeding frenzy.
Sauvignon Blanc lovers beware! The 2014 vintage was a game of two halves: wines made from grapes picked before the rain (at best brilliant) and wines made from grapes picked after the rain (variable and at best average). This was a “before the rain” wine. I rated it as one of the best when I tasted an extensive collection of 2014 Sauvignon Blanc samples. Fantastic with seafood garnished with a squeeze of lemon.
The first signs of summer in my house are the increasing number of wine bottles in the top shelf of my fridge. When summer finally arrives in all its sweltering glory the shelf will be jam-packed with white, rosé and sparkling wine.
My vinous diet changes with the seasons to match richer foods and cooler weather. When winter strikes it’s also time to change glasses, dust off the decanter and alter serving temperatures if you want to get more pleasure from every mouthful.
Champagne must surely rank as one of France’s greatest inventions. It took a stroke of genius to produce one of the world’s most glamorous wines from one of the world’s most marginal wine regions. The cool and often fickle climate in the Champagne region makes it hard to produce decent drinkable wine on a regular basis. If a Kiwi winemaker tried to make wine in those conditions they’d soon shut up shop and start a brewery.
Quartz Reef is hard, austere country. The land is poor, gold-bearing and rocky, with scrubby vegetation: one-rabbit-to-the-acre country. You don’t expect it to make light, soft, easy-quaffing pinot noir. And it doesn’t. If ever the adage ‘struggling vines make the best wine’ is true, it’s
Pinot noir winemakers are either the most sophisticated and intellectual winemakers on Earth, or the most confused. After attending the two recent celebrations of pinot noir, a four-day event in Wellington and a two-day event on the Mornington Peninsula, and several associated events such as a couple of days in Martinborough and the Wairarapa, and a side-tasting of Ted Lemon’s Littorai wines from California, your correspondent is still in shock.
Visitors to Mission Estate in Hawke’s Bay step over a bottle of 1974 Fontanella sparkling wine embedded in the floor of the front entrance. That wine launched the production of serious fizz in this country. Mission pioneered bottle-fermented bubbly in 1963 although it was a solo performance until Selaks (now part of the Constellation Group) and then Montana (now Brancott Estate) followed suit in the 70s and 80s.