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Wine of the Week for week ending 25 January 2004
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Borthwick Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Wairarapa, New Zealand

Masterton in the Wairarapa is one of the hottest places in the North Island, I'm sure. It certainly gets hotter than the temperatures I'm used to in Auckland, perhaps because the heat in Masterton is a dry, wind-assisted heat whereas the heat in Auckland has a maritime and humid influence.

So we're in Masterton at Queen Elizabeth Park on one of the hottest days of the year so far, for the Concours event of the MG Car Club's National Rally. The MG's make a spectacular display, parked in a semi circle on the edge of the cricket oval from the oldest, a 1931 'M' type, to the youngest and newest, my 2003 bright yellow MG TF120 and plenty of representations of the marque inbetween.

While the judges are doing their thing, checking interiors and exteriors, bodies, engines and boots, my mission is to find the coolest, most refreshing spot. And that would have to be Café Cecille that occupies the old Coronation Hall that was built in 1912 as a tearooms to commemorate the coronation of King George V. It's just one of the historic buildings at this beautiful park with the 1903 band rotunda, the 1935 grandstand, the bowling green, lake, gardens and aviary.

Café Cecille has a great wine list that proudly supports the Wairarapa region's wines with most available by the glass and I was delighted to see the Borthwick Sauvignon Blanc 2003 on the list. I lost no time in ordering the wine to see if it stood up to my 'Top 10' rating I had bestowed on the wine last year. It sure did. It was cool and refreshing exhibiting the weight and silken texture I was expecting with crisp apple, passionfruit and herbaceous flavours. I ordered a chilled cucumber, mint and yoghurt soup to accompany it and the match was very good.

One glass of wine is enough on a hot day when one has to get behind the wheel shortly after, however the one glass left me wanting more. Unfortunately the winery is not open to the public and with the car rally the foremost event of five days in the Wairarapa there was no time to make an appointment. So the closest I got to visiting was to drive past Dakins Road, just a little south of Masterton, where the grapes for this wine were grown.

However to cap off a great week, back at home this weekend I opened my one and only bottle that I acquired late last year so Neil could try the wine I’d been raving about all week.

Apples, passionfruit, feijoa, citrus, crisp and juicy, a little grassy, mouthfilling and pungent, an explosion of flavours in the mouth with the weight and texture that gives this wine the 'x' factor over many of its counterparts. Perhaps it's slightly asparagus on the nose, my husband said. Only ever so slightly, I replied.

A meal of roasted vegetables, including aspargus together with beans, eggplant, courgette, tomato, capsicum, mushrrom, onions, garlic and basil in a sweet tomato and red pepper sauce, was the perfect match for the wine.

The website says the grapes were handpicked early in the morning and quickly taken to the nearby winery for pressing and cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks, and the wine remained on fermentation lees for 5 months before filtering and bottling. The wine carries 13.5% alcohol by volume, 2.6g/L residual sugar and 6.10g/L acidity. The website also says the wine is sold out so look for it in restaurants and wine stores and I'm sure you'll find it. Regional Wines in Wellington has it in stock at the time of writing, where it is listed for $17.40 a bottle. The Borthwick wines are also available in the UK, the USA and Germany.

For further information on Borthwick and their other wines, including two other favourites of mine - a terrific Sangiovese and a smooth rich Merlot, click on

And how did we go in the Concours? We won our class, the post 1980 MG's and were the top pointed MG of the event, narrowly beating a beautiful, pale blue, classic 1961 MGA.

© Sue Courtney
18 January 2003

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