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Wine of the Week for week ending 6 February 2005
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Selaks Premium Selection Merlot Rosť 2004
Gisborne/Marlborough, New Zealand

I wrote about Rosť in October (see Wine of the Week w/e 24th Oct 2004) and since that first flush, just like roses on a repeating rose bush, another crop of beautifully scented and gorgeously hued beauties have appeared.

And now the sun has finally come out and we can enjoy a New Zealand summer as it was meant to be, we can drink these wines as they were made to be drunk - thoroughly chilled, straight from the fridge, on a balmy, blue sky day. A nibble of cheese if you want, preferably a piece of brie, with a slice of peach or nectarine, or better still, strawberries.

In October I wrote about the resurgence of this style of wine and mentioned the 32 entries in the Liquorland Top 100. But that was outdone with 51 entries in the Air New Zealand Wine Awards at the end of that month and an awe-inspiring 70-odd entries in the Cuisine Magazine Rosť tasting.

The Cuisine magazine tasting endorsed some of my views with their rankings of the Sacred Hill White Cabernet and Sacred Hill Whitecliffs Merlot Rosť, while the Air New Zealand judges actually awarded a rare Rosť gold medal. This was for the Hunters Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosť 2004, a wine I haven't seen in the market place, nor tasted. At the Air New Zealand four silver medals were also awarded and another fifteen received bronze. That means over 60% of the entries received no award, which is far too many.

Apart from one or two exceptions, I really think the best Rosťs this year have been made from Merlot. 2004 was such a great year for Merlot, especially in the North Island and the wines based on this grape are the ones that have been my favourites.

Top wine from the latest flush is the Selaks Premium Selection Merlot Rosť 2004 , a bronze medal winner at the Air New Zealand wine awards when tasted late October but nudging a gold in my tasting.

I love the colour of fresh young Rosť wines and this one has a deep translucent pinky red rose colour, gem-like, almost a ruby. Raspberries, rose petals and a hint of citrus zest on the nose prepare the palate for the fruity taste that surges with strawberry, sweet cherry and raspberry. There's some liquorice adding a spicy twist to the finish and a nuance of just picked blueberry (verified by eating one straight off my plant on the deck) adding a fruity tartness. Full-bodied and ripe with mouthfilling flavour, it is almost a light red with its smooth tannin structure and weight but of course there is no oak as you would expect in a lighter styled red. It is simply a delicious summer berry style with great mouthfeel, structure, depth and a very fulfilling lingering aftertaste.

The wine is a blend of Merlot grapes from Gisborne and Marlborough. After two days on skins it was fermented to dryness and 14% alcohol by volume. It retails at a maximum of about $14.95 and is sealed with a screwcap.

The screwcap is wonderfully convenient for a wine of this style and it also keeps the wine well if you canít drink the whole bottle in one sitting.

One in particular that kept well in the bottle was the Harrier Rise Merlot 2004, from Auckland grown grapes. This bone dry Rosť didnít really perform in my initial tasting but it opened up beautifully with the air trapped in the bottle and I gave it a rave review when I revisited the wines a couple of days later.

But Rosť has to be drunk when first opened and in most situations you don't have a glass then leave the rest for another day.

This 'closed' problem is happening with too many early drinking wine styles and not just with screwcaps either. It is an issue that needs to be addressed. Rosť has to be ready to drink when opened, it must taste delicious when chilled, it must taste delicious when it has warmed up a little in the sun, and it must taste delicious on the first, second and third sips and all the way to the end of the bottle.

Rosť is also a wine to be drunk the summer after it was made. Do not cellar Rosť. Just like a rose on a rose bush, there'll be a new crop to pick next year.

Other good performers in this tastings were Crossroads Home Block Rosť 2004, Riverside Hawkes Bay Rosť 2004 and Matua Valley Innovator Bullrush Rosť 2004.

Check out all my Rosť reviews on my Other Reds page.

Last time I used left over Rosť to make a delicious Rosť and Pomegranate vinaigrette. You can also make Rosť Jelly with summer berry fruits and this time I brasied some pork chops in left over Rosť wine.

© Sue Courtney
30 January 2005

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