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Wine of the Week for week ending 31 Oct 2010
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Locharburn Pinot Gris 2009
Central Otago, New Zealand

The beautiful weather we had here in Auckland over Labour Weekend has signalled the summer is not too far away while early adornment of Christmas decorations signals the silly season is already here. Even the supermarkets are in on the act with Christmas cakes and puddings the first eye-catching discounted item on entry to the store.

I avoided the malls and the temptation to spend money this weekend, instead taking in the scents of spring at the Parnell Rose Gardens. The Festival of Roses is not until the 6th and 7th November, but plenty of roses were blooming for our visit, especially in the Nancy Steen Garden where a collection of heritage roses was in exquisite form.

So often my wine tasting notes refer to the scent of roses, but do roses have the scent of wine? Heady scents and imagination say to me they do.

I've always likened the sweetheart rose, Cecile Brunner (1881) to the rose petal scent and taste in Gewurztraminer. This repeat flowering rose grows beside my front gate and I often pick a tiny bloom when I'm going out for the day, crushing the petals between my fingers to release their oils. When the traffic gets frustrating, I just smell my fingers to put my head in a different space.

Dublin Bay, the floribunda rose that climbs outside my bedroom window, is my Syrah rose. The scent is subtle but when you rub your fingers on the stem, the oils that are released are spicy and peppery.

Walking around the Nancy Steen Garden, smelling the roses and getting heady on the perfume, filled my imagination with endless possibilities.

A beautiful noisette rose, named Celine Forester, had an oily scent, like Viognier.

Many of the old-fashioned tea roses smelt strongly of tannins and many also had a leafy, herbaceous smell. They reminded me of a scent I'd find in Sangiovese or Cabernet Sauvignon.

The hybrid teas in the main part of the rose garden were so not tannic. For example the delightfully named Heart Throb (1983), was sweet and fruity with a musky richness to the scent.

But the roses that emitted scents that were something altogether new, were the China roses. They had distinctive apple scents. The oldest China rose in the Nancy Steen Garden, Old Blush, dated back to pre-1750. China roses are now my Pinot Gris roses, although one or two were so strongly apple, they brought back memories of Chenin Blanc.

But it was a modern rose that invoked the similes for Pinot Gris descriptions, in particular the Tropical Skies, a hybrid tea rose with a rich fruity scent of apples and pears and a delicate hint of rose musk coming through. It was exciting.

A Pinot Gris is this week's Wine of the Week. It hails from Central Otago, which is a long way away from Parnell. But no matter where I am, I could smell this wine and be reminded of the Tropical Skies rose scent.

Locharburn Central Otago Pinot Gris 2009 has a wonderful rich fruity perfume reminiscent of the Tropical Skies hybrid tea rose and the full fruity flavours suggest peach and pear with hints of apple, spice and vanilla. This is a dry Pinot Gris with a creamy texture, warmth to the nutty finish and an underlying mealy savouriness adding complexity. It's so mouthfilling and appealing - perhaps the twenty percent oak ferment is the reason for the extra degree of complexity this wine has.

The wine has a recommended retail of $25.95 a bottle, or cheaper if you buy a dozen through the Locharburn website.

Locharburn also share the Lazy Dog Restaurant and Cellar Door in nearby Queensberry.

The new label has the artwork of mixed media artist and co-owner of Locharburn, Jenny Hill. The painting, 'Textures of Locharburn' is inspired by the autumn colours of nature.

The label may represent autumn colours, but this is a wine to be enjoyed anytime, especially in the spring when the roses that smell like the wine are in bloom.

© Sue Courtney
26 Oct 2010

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