High fives for New Zealand’s latest crop of wines

December 2nd 2016

If you want a spectacular view to accompany your glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, head to New Zealand house in London. Sitting between Trafalgar Square and Pall Mall, the building is a bit of an architectural eyesore but jump in the lift to the 17th floor, walk up a narrow set of stairs and the panorama is as good as it gets. Even on a grey day in November.

It wasn’t just the view that impressed at the country’s annual release tasting. I awarded a whopping 19 of the 70 wines I tasted more than 90 points.

Sauvignon Blanc drinkers are going to be pretty happy when it comes to the wines from the most recent harvest with 34 percent more fruit picked in 2016 than the previous year – even after lots of crop thinning, there’s plenty of it to go around. The warm, dry summer across New Zealand meant there was plenty of ripeness to be had and the acidity is lovely – mouthwatering but not eyewatering.

Feel free to explore my latest New Zealand tasting notes but here are my top five latest releases:

Felton Road Block 6 Chardonnay 2015, Central Otago

You might know them better for Pinot Noir but Felton Road makes mighty fine Chardonnay (and Riesling). This example is mouthfilling yet maintains it purity and definition with a bright, linear finish. Impressive concentration and focus with a dry, mineral finish/94 points

Pegasus Bay Riesling 2014, Waipara 

Riesling magicians Pegasus Bay get their botrytis on in this complex and savoury white. It’s creamy and honeyed with mandarin fruit flavours; the touch of noble rot in there adds spice and marmalade. Exotic yet dry on the finish/93 points

Rod Macdonald Marsanne Viognier 2015, Gisborne

The biggest surprise of the tasting came from Rod Macdonald with his white Rhone blend from Gizzy. It is rich but not flabby with a nice dry finish. Very pure peachy fruit with lovely honeysuckle notes, and a touch nutty on the finish. Impressive stuff/93 points

Vidal Legacy Chardonnay 2015, Hawkes Bay

Faulty or fantastic? It’s a matter of opinion but I’ll go with the latter having tasted older vintages and seen what this incredibly reductive style becomes: it currently tastes like a glass full of struck matches but give it some air and look beneath that and there’s a powerful, citrussy white wine built for the long haul/93 points

Escarpment Pinot Noir 2014, Martinborough

I can’t wait to taste Escarpment’s single vineyard Pinot Noirs from 2014 because its straight estate wine is incredibly good. Broody, savoury, lifted and complex on the nose and in the mouth. Spicy and textural with fine, long length. Good job as usual, winemaker Larry McKenna/93 points

Posted in - Central Otago & Hawkes Bay & Marlborough & Martinborough & New Zealand & Uncategorized on December 2nd 2016 0 Comments

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