January 15, 2019

Exploring New Zealand Through Wine

Cameron Douglas, MS

 

There is a lot more to New Zealand wine than Sauvignon Blanc. Nothing wrong with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, there is just a lot of it! The style can be homogenous, but there is some good juice coming out of New Zealand. I attended a fascinating luncheon and wine tasting in which Cameron Douglas, MS guided us through quite a flight of wines, paired expertly with a menu courtesy of Napa Valley Grille. This luncheon and tasting reminded me of the wide range of wines from New Zealand. Yes, there is plenty of basic and uninteresting Sauvignon Blanc, but there is also a wide selection of honest, regional wines available at many different price points.

Below is my journey through the wines of New Zealand as expertly paired with a delectable meal.

Aperitif

No 1 Family Estate: Cuvee Blanc de Blancs, NV, Marlborough

A lovely sparkling made by 12th generation Champenois, Daniel Le Brun. This 100% Chardonnay sparkler from all Marlborough vines gives all the lees and toast a girl could want! A fine starter.

 

No. 1 Family Estate

2017 The Darling Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

And we have firmly landed in Marlborough; specifically, the Wairau Valley. This wine delivers great acid and jumps out of the glass with its “Marlborough Lift”. Approximately 10% of the blend is barrel fermented with wild natural yeast to give texture and body.

 

The Darling Wines

 

First Course

Spinach Salad & Strawberry Shooter

Humboldt Fog, Roasted Almonds, Dragon Apples, Balsamic Drizzle. Strawberry Shooter (Cucumber, Serrano, Mint, Micro Peppercress)

 

Spinach Salad & Strawberry Shooter

 

2016 Brightwater Sophie’s Kiss Rosé of Pinot Noir, Nelson

This deep salmon color is darker than many rosés. A beautiful Pinot Noir rosé with a floral nose with red berries. On the palate, this wine has heft. Not all rosés have to be light and fluffy…..this one is not. Spicy, zesty, fresh, and fruity that really holds up to the shooter.

 

Brightwater Vineyards

 

2015 Ceres, Swansong Vineyard, Pinot Gris, Bannockburn, Central Otago

This Pinot Gris is from Central Otago, which is the southernmost wine region in the world. A faint aromatic intensity with green fruit (pear, green apple), tropical fruit, stone fruit (apricot), and white pepper on the palate. A textured wine with slight RS (residual sugar).

Second Course

Skuna Bay Salmon

“Farrotto”, Frisee and Mizuna Salad, White Wine Beurre Blanc

2015 Clearview Estate Reserve, Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay

A California style Chardonnay with texture and body. It almost has a chewiness to it. Lovely notes of toast, cream, and oak, as the wine is fermented and aged partially in new French oak. This wine has great structure which will aid in its ageability.

2016 Vidal Estate ”El Legado” Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay 

A Burgundian style Chardonnay. With oak (vanilla, toast), butter/cream, and smokiness on the nose. The palate is crisp and clean with citrus (lemon) and tart little green apples. This wine worked well with the salmon dish with the creaminess of the wine matching the fattiness of the fish. 2016 produced a beautiful Chardonnay here. The cooler than normal start to the season delayed ripening, which allowed the slow accumulation of flavor and retention of natural acidity in what was a relatively warm year. Vidal Estate is owned by Villa Maria Group.

 

Vidal Estate

 

Third Course

Duck Confit Pasta

Strozzapreti Pasta, Port Jus, Mirepoix, Baby Kale, Pecorino Romano

2014 Big Sky, Te Muna Road, Pinot Noir, Marlborough

This is definitely a Pinot Noir with classic bright red fruit (strawberry) on the nose plus forest floor, earth, and pepper. Lots and lots of pepper! Good acid on the palate, plus red fruit (Bing cherry, plum) and DIRT. I love me a dirt-y wine.

2015 Ceres Composition Pinot Noir, Bannockburn, Central Otago

A much more floral (rose) nose than the Big Sky. Plus dried herbs/thyme, which I am told is a Central Otago hallmark. A juicy and fruity palate with ripe red berry fruit (raspberry, plum, and cherry). Also, spice and mineral notes. Fine tannins and moderate acid on this wine. Youthful. I dig it.

Fourth Course

Lamb Two Ways

Braised Colorado Lamb (thyme and apricots) and New Zealand Lamb Rack (with Peppercorn Jus)

2013 Mills Reef, Elspeth, Syrah, Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay

A lovely fruit basket of red plus black fruit, including: blackberry, boysenberry, and bramble. Continuing on with black pepper and black licorice. A deeply concentrated, intense, and warming wine. Barrel aged in 46% new French oak for 17 months. Great structure and suitable for cellaring.

2013 SQM Squawking Magpie, Big Red, Hawkes Bay

Hello Cab Sauv! Pyrazines up the yin yang! All Gimblett Gravels fruit made up of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc. A complex wine showing: blueberry plus black fruit, black peppercorns, cedar, cigar box, and dried herbs.

Dessert Course

Apricot Tart

Frangipane, Honey Yogurt, Orange Tuile, Berry Coulis

2012 Ostler, Riesling, Lake Waitake

The requisite Riesling petrol nose plus citrus and floral notes. The palate serves: citrus, petrol, plus a briny saltiness. These vines are on alluvial greywacke soil in Central Otago.

 

Ostler

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you’re looking to Up Your Wine Game and Drink Better, consider booking a private in-person or virtual wine tasting experience or register to attend my public Virtual Vino here.
Brianne Cohen Wine Educator
Brianne Cohen is a certified sommelier, wine educator, consultant, and writer based out of Los Angeles.

Since March 2020, Brianne has educated and entertained over 5,000 people through her “Virtual Vino” online wine tastings.

Brianne holds the WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Diploma certificate, one of the most coveted wine certifications in the world. When she’s not helping others Up Their Wine Game, she can be found judging at international wine competitions.

Brianne aims to make wine approachable and conversational, to surprise and delight with unexpected, distinctive wine finds, and to give people knowledge (and confidence) about wine in their everyday lives.

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