Wine of the Week: A Taste of New Zealand

“Wine, to us, is all about geography, history, sociology, discovery, and adventure – as well as good flavors. Don’t be embarrassed about what you don’t know; consider it a gift that you have so many new wines to explore.” ~ Robert Mondavi

Well here we are, a brand new wine of the week and for good measure, those pesky tasting notes will accompany this article, not by way of pontification, just a mere suggestion, that if you want to drink well and I know you do, then you'll want to stay tuned.

I've had more than a few New Zealand (NZ) Pinot Noir (PN) come across my desk, samples, tastings, etc. I've come away, wanting more, but was left with what is basically dreck. Thus, the limited coverage of wines from the region. I know, for you sod sucking souls who enjoy any wine bereft of all fruit flavor, you may possibly be rolling your eyes and shaking your heads, thinking "this guy knows nothing of what is good" perhaps from that perspective, they're correct. But what I do know is, what sells and why it sells, and we're not just talking about the cheap commodity plonk lining the bottom shelves of the average chain store. Those wines are an easy sell and really require minimal effort to produce, which is done in mass quantities so enormous, you could have a pool party in the vat tanks.
This sample which arrived recently, like almost all NZ wine bottles is secured with a screw or stelvin cap. This is not the place for that debate, but do carry on if you wish in the comments section below. Central Otago is known as the prime region for Pinot Noir, in fact, just over 74% of the planted vineyards are Pinot Noir, followed closely by Pinot Gris. Which made me pause, thinking, "say what, PG, huh, who knew?" Opposite of what you'd find in Burgundy, for example, Central Otago benefits from a semi-continental climate, with blazing summers, chilly winters, and extended dry autumns. Conditions a bit more similar to some of California's PN growing regions. 

When I initially opened this bottle, recalling the screw cap closure, I paired this wine with a cheddar cheeseburger and onion rings, yes, partially seen in the picture above, and not a work of art, but a delicious after work meal, that's easy on the eyes and the wallet. I'm not fancy, I'm however frugal, and you'll not read about any of my amazing culinary skills, as I'm a firm believer in the "kiss" philosophy of meal prep. Not an unusual pairing, as this wine offered quite a bit fruit on the top layer, so it's not the despised Pinot and Pizza because of alliteration pairing, which I think is gawd awful. On the third day, tho, this wine really did shine through, when it met one of the far more favorite pairings in my rotation, Pork Chops, and Pinot. Not because of ridiculous alliteration, instead, it's because it works, and wonderfully so. A combination I don't get to enjoy as often as I'd like, as the 'wife' is not a fan of the humble bone-in pork chop. In case you think me a total barbarian, there were some greens, in the clever guise of a kale salad, besieged with cheese and dressing, oh-my. See the picture below for proof of such things.

Now for the tasting note part of the article, I know, I know just hold onto your horses here it's. But again remember Mr. Asimov's dire warning, you don't need me or anyone else telling you what to drink. So without telling you, I'm telling you to drink this, you won't be disappointed. That's of course if you have reasonable expectations.

Now that said, once I got the bottle opened via a quick flick-of-the-wrist, poured a few ounces, I immediately noticed the bright [but very lightly colored] cherry, raspberry core. On the nose, a light perfume of crisp summer fruits, strawberries, cherries and cranberries dancing around, black-tea and fertile earth. Taking out my deluxe tasting straw from a recent boxed-wine, I sampled this delightful Pinot Noir so as not to stain my perfect insta-model toothy grin, just being snarky of course.

Again a gentle, a light current of fresh summer fruit washed over my palate, inviting the next slurp. The baskets of ripe strawberries, raspberries, cherries and a note of cola delighted me again and again. The right tannin and acid balance played nicely with the vivid fruit, making for a fun Tuesday evening wine experience, once more, the 'pairing' was sublime. My score for this wine is 92 points. 
For anyone thinking about this year's coming harvest in New Zealand; there's quite a bit of "buzz" how amazing it potentially will be or may possibly fall short, but such is the stuffing of the content found on bloated heavily ad-strewn glossies. The only problem as they see it; is that the continued consumer demand for New Zealand wines continues to outpace supply. Something which could possibly raise the cost of acquiring the 2015 vintage and it has. This bottle used to be sold, well under an American Jackson, now, it's well on its way to a Jackson and a Hamilton, selling most places for $24

Rock on New Zealand, who says great things don't come in small packages? Just knowing that one small factoid, at least in my book, makes me appreciate NZ all the more. There are so many different wine/vine growing regions found around the world, and this is one I can't wait to visit for myself someday, it's definitely a destination which on my bucket list. Perhaps I'll even find a Sauvignon Blanc to my liking until then folks remember life is short, compromise is for relationships, not wine. So as always, sip long and prosper cheers!

Full Disclosure: Reviewed wines are (typically) from media samples provided solely (not for sale) for the review process.

All original content: Including text and photographs remain the copyright of the author, (W.R. Eyer) except where otherwise noted or absent the watermark.


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