At Wine New Zealand last week I was stunned by the excellence of many of the new vintage Pinot Gris wines that I tried.
"Pinot Gris," some of my drinking buddies would exclaim in a dismissive fashion. They are true blue Chardonnay, Shiraz and Pinot Noir drinkers but I reckon if I put a glass of one of my favourites, so far, from the vintage, that they would be quite surprised. The best have aromas, they have flavours, they have length and they don't have that hyped-up 'neutrality' that's just been a little too much of an excuse in the past.
Some of the new vintage Pinot Gris's are just delicious and that deliciousness has also come through in this week's Wine of the Week.
It's the Seifried Nelson Pinot Gris 2007, not tasted at Wine New Zealand this year because, like many familiar names, Seifried was missing. But in a little blind tasting of several Pinot Gris's in the weekend, using the Wine New Zealand glass, this wine come out as my joint favourite *.
Perhaps because, as I found out later, it was the only 2007 in the line-up. But there was more than just the taste to set it apart. There was also the colour.
Seifried Nelson Pinot Gris 2007 is clear and transparent with the most delicate pink of hues. It's a colour I can only compare to a gemstone, a rare Morganite (pale pink beryl) or a delicately hued rose quartz, perhaps. Apart from the fascination of the colour, the wine is creamy, and musky smelling with pear drop and hints of peach and it's quite oily and full-bodied in texture with ripe pear and peach fruit, hints of rose petal, orange blossom, underlying stewed apples, spice and a touch of honey. It's quite luscious in fact, but has an earthy savouriness to balance the sweetness and a nuance of cherry on the finish with a tangy crispness to the lingering aftertaste. It's almost like there has been some Pinot Noir added, but remember Pinot Gris is actually pink/grey skinned and is a derivate of Pinot Noir, so perhaps not.
I'd love to try this with salmon, I thought and so that's what we had for dinner, along with fresh prawns in a Thai Chilli and Lime sauce, and a piece of herb crusted chicken breast.
The salmon fillet was well seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked skin side down first, to crisp it up and render some of the oil. It was lightly seasoned on the other side too. The food match worked extremely well, especially when the crispy skin accompanied the salmon flesh in the mouth. The wine cut through those oils in a very good way while the seasonings added pizzazz to the earthy salmon flesh.
The herb crusted chicken with breadcrumbs, spring onions, fresh parsley and fresh coriander was okay (and would have been better if the chicken had not been overcooked!!) but I didn't like the wine with the chilli prawns at all - the wine seemed too floral and 'pretty'. It just didn't work.
Seifried Nelson Pinot Gris 2007 is sealed with a screwcap, it has 13.5% alcohol by volume and costs $21 a bottle. It should be reasonably available. Find out more from www.seifried.co.nz.
*Just to mention the joint top wine in the tasting, the Gibbston Valley Central Otago Pinot Gris 2006 ($27.50). This is rather a teasing wine with the aromatics exuding their fragrance from the glass from at least a foot away. Floral with lemon drop and pears and tropical fruit and peaches - it's a soft medley of fruit salad from a distance but a little more herbaceous, steely and mealy when the nose is right in the glass. The taste is clean, juicy, sherbetty and spritzy with a softness to the stone and pip fruit flavours (including melon) then the herbaceous florals detected on the nose emerge with a spicy, white pepper warmth. It garners some lusciousness without losing its crispness and the lasting aftertaste is rich, fruity and rounded. But the tease ended with a bit of a whammo punch when I saw the alcohol, as stated on the label, was 14.9% by volume. No wonder it's so seductively appealing. This is the wine to have with the Thai Chilli and Lime prawns.
Find out more from www.gvwines.co.nz
© Sue Courtney
10 Sep 2007