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Wine of the Week for week ending 18 December 2011
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Tolaga Bay Muscat 2009
Gisborne, New Zealand

I say, "We drink our wines far too young!"

You may say, "Well the drinking age has been lowered," but that's not what I'm talking about here. It's the age of the wine that I mean. And I guess I'm repeating myself as last week I wrote about how the remaining wine in the bottle, from this year's vintage, turned into a swan over 24 hours. And my new favourite 'drinking' Pinot Gris of the moment, the Mud House South Island Pinot Gris 2010 has had 18 months in the bottle. It's lost that estery youthfulness and tastes just delicious.

Today I'm writing about a wine that was probably made to be consumed on release, a Muscat no less. And if you, my followers, and others, who stumble on to my ramblings, wonder why I would choose a New Zealand Muscat as my Wine of the Week, read on. It's not exactly a grape variety in top favour, but it's one of the oldet known grape varieties in th world and the fact that it's still popular in some countries, says a lot. Give a drinker a wine like the delightful Gustave Lorentz Reserve Muscat 2010 from Alsace, that we tasted at First Glass a couple of weeks ago, and you will see how refreshing and tasty well-made table wines from this grape can be.

I'm saying don't write any wine off until you've tasted it, and preferably taste without too much emphasis on the label to remove preconceptions. And let's face it many people drink wine without ever knowing what it is. The 'house white' in the restaurant, for example. If it comes from a cask, it's quite likely to have Muscat in it.

Tolaga Bay Single Vineyard Muscat 2009 was put into a line-up of alternative varieties, see this blog entry where Arneis, Gruner Veltliner and Chardonnay Musque were tasted. Oh, there was the high profile, expensive Dry River Viognier 2011 too. The wines were chilled for at least 30 minutes and in fact the Muscat was top of the tasting, ahead of Forrest Marlborough Gruner Veltliner 2010, a wine I believe had benefited from being in the bottle for over a year, with Dry River taking 3rd place.

The light gold-coloured Tolaga Bay Muscat 2009 has a full, rich, brightly aromatic, fruit spicy aroma and is richly textured in the palate with an intriguing infusion of sweet orange / grapefruit, exotic spices and flower nectar. A creamy nutty backbone produces the structure, but there's a delightful spritzy character too. It's perfectly posed, harmonious and long and with its exotic spiciness and floral nuances, it's almost like Gewurztraminer but not as powerful. It's a delightful aperitif style wine and would be at home with Asian flavours. Just 10% alcohol and closed with a screwcap. Be sure to serve chilled.

Tolaga Bay is north of Gisborne. The longest wharf in New Zealand is there. But wine from Tolaga Bay comes generally under the Gisborne banner. More Muscat is grown in Gisborne than anywhere else in New Zealand, but most goes into sparkling, sweet or fortified wines.

Where can you buy Tolaga Bay Muscat 2009? Sadly it's not popping up on any searches, but if you find a bottle, let me know. RRP on release was $14.95. Probably sold for a lot cheaper, though.

Sadly there's not much more info on Nice pictures though.

© Sue Courtney
13 December 2011

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