Have you ever wondered about the proliferation of new labels that keep popping up in wine shops and fill the shelves of the supermarket wine aisles? It's not surprising that there are so many newcomers, given the number of new producers that are getting into the wine producing game. But next time you see a new product look closely at the label. It could, in fact, be just a new brand for one of the several mega-sized wine companies that are out there now. Allied Domecq*, for example. Sometimes you can tell from the address but other times you can't tell at all.
The brands that these mega-companies introduce are surely for more clout in the market place. Take the example of Allied Domecq, once again. The fact that their New Zealand brands - Montana, Saints, Corbans, Huntaway, Timara, Cottage Block, Robard and Butler, Longridge, Jackman Ridge, Copperfields, Riverlands and a whole range of cask wines - are owned by the same company, is totally transparent to the general wine buying public. The public think there is a lot of choice, especially in the lower-priced supermarket line - but is there really?
And now Allied Domecq has added four more brands to their bulging list of New Zealand wines.
The Bensen Block wines (about $17) were added late last year. A fresh bright range, each wine has been created by a special parcel of fruit by one of the young winemakers in the company. I rather liked the Rosť for summer drinking and the Sauvignon Blanc had all the zingy hallmarks that Marlborough is known for.
Boundary Vineyard ($18-19) is a new brand that I didn't even know existed until I checked out the brand list on the Allied Domecq website. All the wines are 2004 vintage, each from a specific vineyard and each carry the name of the road that borders the vineyard site.**
The Five Flax range ($12) utilises grapes from the key wine growing regions. The Sauvignon Blanc, a blend of Marlborough and Gisborne fruit, is an off-dry quaffable style.
And just released is the Triplebank range ($20-23), with wines made from grapes exclusively grown in the company's Awatere Valley vineyards in Marlborough.
Most impressive of all these wines, for my palate anyway, is the Triplebank Riesling 2004. It sang best of the contenders in the Riesling Idol stakes when a batch of wines were lined up for evaluation the other day. It had absolutely no problem crooning its way to Number One.
It's a rich, ripe, flavoursome Riesling with delicious fruit concentration. Straw gold in colour and richly aromatic with a lime marmalade aroma, it is off-dry to the taste with excellent balance of acidity to the 14 grams of residual sugar. Mouthfilling and satisfying with bright tropical fruit with hints of yellow guavas, citrus and marmalade build in the palate and linger on the quenching finish. Apples and limes emerge on the spicy aftertaste and there's a hint of botrytis as well.
Of all the wines, this is the one I wanted to drink - and that I did - later, when it accompanied a Thai chicken salad.
The second placed wine in the line-up was the Five Flax Waipara Riesling 2004. It tantalised the nose with its fresh lime and honeysuckle aromas and it caressed the palate with its delicate overlay of honey to the pure citrussy flavours. Crisp and fresh with body and style, the acidity hides balances the sweetness (16 grams) well and the finish is zesty and juicy. At a top price of about $12 (check your supermarket brochures for deals), this has to be the best value-for-money riesling on the market today.
Both these wines should be widely available in the New Zealand market. Check out your favourite store or supermarket now.
Technical details, etc., on the company website at www.adwnz.co.nz.
* Allied Domecq is the company that bought Montana Wines in 2001. They, Montana, just happened to have purchased Corbans Wines the year before. Mind you the company might not be called Allied Domecq for much longer considering they have agreed to support a purchase offer from Pernod-Ricard (the owners of the Jacobs Creek brand). Meanwhile Constellation Brands, currently the world's largest wine company and the owners of Australia Hardy's and New Zealand's Nobilo Group, is also in discussions with AD.
** Since writing this column I've learnt that the Boundary Vineyard wines are to be officially released in early June.
© Sue Courtney
22 May 2005