I just love the subtleness and creaminess of good bubbles. I would drink Champagne all the time if my disposition and budget allowed it. But there are Champagnes, and then there are champagnes. I know what I like. Fortunately for my budget New Zealand produces some excellent methode traditionelles, ie sparkling wines made by the Champagne method.
Like the Nautilus Estate Cuvee Marlborough Methode Traditionelle Brut NV, which I have enjoyed several times recently. And after tasting again today I'm still savouring the savoury, bready and ever so slightly salty tangy flavour that is lingering in my mouth – two hours later!. On yeast lees for 36 months after the secondary fermentation in the bottle, this is not overpoweringly yeasty, not overpoweringly marmite-y and not overly acidic. It's just deliciously harmonious with a full-bodied creamy savouriness and a long lingering finish with the slightest hint of strawberry. And not forgetting the all-important bubbles that make this what it is – they are tiny, tiny bubbles that contribute to the overall look and harmonious mouthfeel. And the packaging is so classy too.
A recent opportunity to taste with a number of nibbles was a revelation as to the diversity of this bubbles with food. In particular 'fish and chips', served in little cones – a bite of fish and about three chips with an aioli-like dressing. The saltiness of the chips that were crisp on the outside and soft inside together with the creaminess of the aioli was perfect for washing down with the bubbles. Another tasty morsel was a marinated seared tuna, the creaminess of the bubbles tempering the spiciness of the marinade. And if there had been oysters and I had asked someone who ate them what the combo was like, the oysters would have got the thumbs up too.
Not surprisingly Nautilus Estate has been doing well on the show circuit with this cuvee. A blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay with reserve wines from previous vintages that have been held in oak contributing to the blend, this, in my opinion, adds that extra special je ne sais quoi.
It's won gold medals in open competition amongst Champagnes at the 2010 New Zealand International Wine Show and the Sydney International Wine Show and in Sydney it also won a Trophy. It was also awarded Best Sparkling at the Royal Easter Show earlier this year.
Reasonably available around town, both in restaurants and in retail, expect to pay $30 to $40 a bottle, depending where you buy. And if you go to The Twelve Bar in Sky City - it's there for the duration of the Rugby World Cup - you'll pay $9 for a 100ml glass, $12 for a 150ml glass, or $60 a bottle.
To find about more about this delicous bubbles, check out www.nautilusestate.com.
© Sue Courtney
31 August 2011