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Sue Courtney's blog of Vinous Ramblings

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Welcome to Sue Courtney's web log (blog) of vinous ramblings.  It's my on line journal and an adjunct to my website which is for more formal tasting notes and articles.

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Archive: February 2012
Feb 29th: Romantic Tiki Rosé on Leap Year Day
Feb 28th: Eureka - A New Star is born
Feb 27th: Gold Medal update - Sydney International and Royal Easter Show
Feb 26th: Cuisine Aromatics - Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris
Feb 23rd: Sensational Japanese food and wine matches
Feb 22nd: Wedding Wine on a Budget
Feb 16th: Tips for a New Zealand wine lover's vinous survival in Australia
Feb 14th: Top Valentine's Day tipple
Feb 13th: Biodynamic winemaking taking off
Feb 7th: Wine of the Week: Passage Rock Waiheke island Pinot Gris 2011
Feb 1st: Keeping cold on a hot summer's day
Older Entries

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Feb 29th 2012

Romantic Tiki Rosé on Leap Year Day

Back at Radio Live studios this week, I took in a wine I think is just perfect for the 29th February, the day when tradition says the girl can ask the boy to marry her, never mind that most of us don't follow tradition any more. But as a wine lover who loves a good drop of Rosé, I'd want to know that the boy I was about to ask to marry me would share the same taste in wine.

I'm not a great fan of Rosé but I do love Tiki Estate Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé 2011, which is just perfect when chilled to about 12 degrees C and enjoyed as summer draws to an end.

Tiki Rose and Sue McKeanIt's is the colour of a brilliant red gemstone such as a spinel or a tourmaline. It smells fresh, exuberant and vibrant with fruit flavours of peach, yellow-red cherries, a little bit of spice and a juicy lingering zesty finish where after a minute of so, strawberries come into play. It's a lovely weighty Rosé, fairly dry in style and a good food match too. In December I enjoyed this wine with strawberries, cream cheese and black pepper, the pepper counteracting the sweetness in the fruit and harmonising with the spiciness of the wine. But it's also a good match with a tuna or salmon salad, or a cheese like Kikorangi blue with nuts and some syruppy, almost candied pears. lists lots of stockists around the country and you can buy Tiki wine online too. The Rosé costs $19.99 a bottle.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet Tiki's owners, Royce and Sue McKean, and find out the story about the brand name. After all, the tiki is such a totally New Zealand icon. Well, Royce's great-great grandfather was named Tiki Tere Mihi so it is actually a family name.

Royce and Sue asked their extended family what they thought about them using the name. They agreed and so they took it to the Mari Council and to their surprise and delight, they also agreed.

I've mentioned the Tiki Vineyards, west of Blenheim way up State Highway 63, before. We discovered them on our South Island trip in 2010. Rewa Vineyard, where the fruit for this wine was sourced, is the most westerly and possibly, at 250 metres above sea level, the highest altitude vineyard in Marlborough as well.

Sue McKean is the face behind the wine in the photo above right.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Feb 28th 2012

Eureka - A New Star is born

Have you heard of Eureka Wines in Marlborough? Probably not. They are a brand new company but one I think is going to be more than a mere blip on the radar. Formed by ex-pat Brits, Hugh Girling and Stephen Rae, the first vintage is 2011. And what's going to set them apart from others is some of their quite radical techniques. Like using Acacia barrels rather than traditional oak, or storing grapes on straw to intensify sugar after harvest and before making into wine.

The debut wines impressed me.

Eureka Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2011 ($25) is classically varietal, fairly dry, a little bit of Acacia barrel and wild yeast adding complexity, and a long lasting finish.

Eureka Straw Wine Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($35) emulates a late harvest style, even though the grapes were picked at normal ripeness. Time resting on a bed of straw before fermentation has result in a sweet, luscious, harmonious mouthful of delectable passionfruit, peach, nectar and citrus flavours.

I rate both these wines 5 stars and they are my Wines of the Week. Click here to read the back-story and my gushing reviews.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Feb 27th 2012

Gold Medal Update - Sydney International and Royal Easter Show

Seventy-nine New Zealand wines received Blue-Gold medals at the 2012 Sydney International, judged late last year but with the awards presented only last Saturday night, for most of us it's a new event. It seems the cool climate Syrah of Hawkes Bay has seduced the judges once again as, for the second year in a row, Hawkes Bay Syrah was right on top.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2010 was a triple trophy winner winning not only its Lighter Bodied Red class, but also Best Dry Red of the Competition and overall Wine of the Show. Last year it was Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 that ran away with the same awards.

It was a fabulous show for Trinity Hill with five other Blue-Gold awards as well. But it was Saint Clair Estate, with eight Blue-Gold awards and two highly commended awards, that took out the Trophy for Most Successful Entrant of Competition.

The Sydney Intentional is unique in that after the initial round of judging, all of the wines that advance are judged alongside food, a concept I really like as this is so often how we enjoy wines. The food match for Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2010 in the Lighter Bodied Red category was Roast Pork Chop, Jardiniere of Peas, Carrots and Mashed Potatoes.

Other New Zealand Trophy winners were:

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 5 Bull Block Gruner Veltliner 2011 for Best Wine made from a Lesser Recognised Grape Variety

Lawson's Dry Hills Riesling 2008 for Best Value Dry White Table Wine and Best Aromatic

Nautilus Estate Marlborough Brut Cuvée NV for Best Sparkling Wine

Richmond Plains Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2011 for Best Sauvignon Blanc

Lawson’s Dry Hills Pinot Rosé 2011 for Best Rosé

Bald Hills Central Otago Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 for Best Pinot Noir

The Sydney International doesn't release a list of blue-gold medal winners prior to the awards evening, rather it tells each entrants their results and lets them handle this information as they like. Some send out press releases, add news items to their website, shout their success from their front pages, Facebook or Twitter and consequently their   success is echoed around the world. But others don't even update their websites with news of their winning wines. This has me scratching my head, or maybe keeping a website updated is in the 'too hard' category. But that's another issue.

I've managed to filter out the Blue-Gold medal winners from the Sydney International and they have been added to my summary of wine show golds awarded to New Zealand wines in wine shows judged in New Zealand and wine shows overseas with a strong New Zealand presence.

I've also added 111 gold medal winners from the Royal Easter Wine Show, judged in Auckland on the 17th to19th February 2012. The Trophies are announced on Saturday 17th March.

The tally of wines winning gold medals in the 2011-2012 season has now increased from 358 to 490 with the addition of 'virgin' gold medal winning wines from these two shows. About 43 wines had won gold medals before, proving their first gold medal was no fluke. In fact there are a number of wines that have won more.

Squealing Pig Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Mud House South Island Pinot Gris 2010 and Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Chardonnay 2010 have increased their gold medal tally to four while Lawson's Dry Hills Riesling 2008 and Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010 now have five gold medals each.

Click here for the latest list.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Feb 26th 2012

Cuisine Aromatics - Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris

The tasting of some of Cuisine magazine's top aromatics - Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris - rated highly on my must do list and the opportunity arose at a First Glass Wednesday tasting. And it turned out to be a night as advertised – no Chardonnay, Spanish red or Aussie Shiraz sneaked in, just pure aromatic heaven. These were some of my favourites.</P>

I tasted Te Whare Ra Marlborough Riesling 'D' 2011 at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards gold medal tasting in November, and loved this 12.5% alcohol wine that I described in my notes as honeyed and rich, quite luscious and juicy with textural intensity. The serving temperature was different at Wednesday's tasting and it showed linearity and focus with haunting purity of fruit. The 'D', by the way, is for dry.

At the other end of the scale, the Saint Clair Block 9 Big John Riesling 2011, at 9% a lower alcohol style but so bright and fresh with the naturally high acidity keeping the delicious juicy sweetness in check. I could guzzle on something like this all night.

In the Pinot Gris category again a drier style and a sweet style pushed my buttons. Greystone Waipara Pinot Gris 2011, heading along the path of the triple gold medal winning 2009, oozes ripe juicy fruit sweetness balanced by zest acidity and has a long rich finish.

But the late harvest-styled Main Divide Pokiri Pinot Gris 2009, that we tasted a few weeks before, is such a star. Penetrating and memorable, a delicious wine.

I just love Gewurztraminer and so exciting to know some of the industry's top names featured in Cuisine's line-up. We tasted Spy Valley, Framingham, Te Whare Ra and Johanneshof. All from Marlborough. I was in heaven.

All of my notes and prices on the night are on my Wednesday Roundup page click here. You can also scroll down that page to check out my notes from the previous week's tasting, which did include Chardonnay including the incredible Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay Margaret River Chardonnay 2009 – my standout white from that week's tasting, and Man O War 'Ironclad' 2009, an ultra-impressive blend of of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon from Waiheke Island and my standout red.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Feb 23rd 2012

Sensational Japanese food and wine matches

Food matching is not a science. It's an art and the art comes in one's own personal appreciation of the marriage and synergy of flavour and textures. One definition of synergy, by the way, is two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable.

My own experience of the art of food and wine appreciation hit new levels at cocoro in Ponsonby's Brown Street. Advertising their food as 'new style Japanese cuisine', I really had no expectations. But prior to yesterday's lunch, if someone had asked me what wine to match with Japanese, I would have suggested a fairly soft, neutral Pinot Gris. However it is not the all-encompassing 'Japanese', it's each individual dish that matters.

It was a lunch of many courses and wine was placed on the table to try at one's leisure, rather than as a regimented match for each dish.

Palliser Martinborough Riesling 2010 (see this Wine of the Week review) with Tom yum inspired organic miso soup with snapper, clam, Kaffir lime, a hint of ‘Yuzu-kosho’ (Japanese Yuzu citrus) & green pepper was oh so divine!

Then the tall man sitting beside me cracked the top off a bottle of Sauv. "I think they will be serving sashimi next," he whispered. He was right but when the platter appeared my attention was firmly focussed on the crayfish centrepiece.

"I love Chardonnay with crayfish," I sighed. But this crayfish was raw and the taste and texture was so different to cooked crayfish and something I never would have thought of doing, that is accompanying crayfish with Sauvignon Blanc, turned into one of the most remarkable taste experiences. Raw flesh from the crayfish tail smeared with fresh South Island wasabi, dipped into a rich dark soy sauce, popped into my mouth and washed down with Nautilus Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 was near orgasmic.

What the tall man called the 'dolls house' was a box of secrets that opened to reveal three dishes: whitebait in a custard, octopus ceviche and snapper steamed in Ponzu (a citrus and soy sauce) - the snapper morsel so divine with Palliser Martinborough Chardonnay 2009 and Nautilus Marlborough Chardonnay 2010.

Have you tasted Pinot Noir with radish or onions? Probably not, I'm thinking. Hey, it's not a combination that pops into my mind and one I hadn't tried until yesterday. But when it's on the plate, give it a go. A side dish to the 'lamb shank' cut of tuna (a wing, actually), the combination of grated daikon, red onion and chive with Palliser Pinot Noir 2009 was quite intriguing and pleasing.

I reverted back to my glass of Chardonnay to accompany Crayfish Gratin with a courgette flower tempura and that lovely Yuzu infusion to the flavour. Citrus grows well at my place so I'm going to source a tree.

Then Nautilus Pinot Noir 2009, so delicious with a melt-in the-mouth fillet of perfectly charcoal-finished Wagyu beef. If this was the only dish I tried today, I would have been more than pleased.

And finally the top Pinot Noirs were passed around to taste and savour before desert.

The Burgundy coloured Nautilus Four Barrels Pinot Noir 2009 seemed a little more 'ready' on the day. The savoury bouquet infused with sweet earth and rose petal is followed with great concentration of flavour in the palate with purity of cherry coming through. Juicy and succulent with velvety smooth tannins, a hint of chocolate and a grainy flourish to the finish - so much potential.

Palliser The Great Marco Pinot Noir 2009, a deeper, richer, more violet-hued wine, more savoury, more structured - and that's just the sight and smell impression. A beefy, earthy savoury Pinot with brambly fruit, bright underlying acidity and loads of tarry savouriness, the oak a little dominant at this stage and needing more time - but this is from Martinborough, the region in New Zealand that has given us our longest-lived Pinots.

The finishing touch, a desert plate with Oriental pannacotta (with lemon grass, Kaffir lime, yuzu and sudachi citrus), chocolate fondue, rhubarb and plum wine granita and fresh fruit.

Inspired dishes from chef Makoto Tokuyama. Beautiful wines from Palliser and Nautilus.

Sue Courtney was a guest of Negociants New Zealand at the cocoro degustation lunch.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Feb 22nd 2012

Wedding Wine on a Budget

I tasted a pretty darn nice Pinot Gris at my nephew's wedding last weekend. What do I know about it? Very little. All the label said was Pinot Gris, Beth and David's Wedding, February 18 2012. I wish I had taken a picture of the label, but I didn't.

Beth and David 18 Feb 2012There was a good selection of wine in the Beth and David Wedding range with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Cabernet supporting the delicious Pinot Gris.

My brother-in-law, who used to be a white wine drinker, has a fancy for red these days. "Which one will I like?" he asks me. Gosh, Graham, How would I know!

"The only way to find out is to taste both and see which one you like the best," I replied, so there, at the bar at the garden wedding on one of the few rain-free day this year, Graham learnt how to pour a tiny portion and to swirl, sniff, sip and savour. The Cabernet Sauvignon was too tannic for him, and it was for me too, but the Merlot Cabernet, which I thought a bit thin, pleased him immensely. Soft and smooth without any lasting tannic grip.

"Now you know which one you like," and clinked my glass of white against his glass of red with satisfaction.

"What do you think of the wines," my nephew David asked later.

I told him I had only been drinking white, loved the Pinot Gris, could take or leave the Chardonnay and didn't taste the Sauvignon Blanc. And then I found out the story behind the label. 'Cancelled export order' cleanskin wines, at a ridiculous clearance price at their local supermarket, with just a sticker for grape variety (and probably year). They bought one of each, tried them, liked them and printed off their own labels. And that's not too different to what really happens with cancelled export orders and 'pop-up' wine brands.

We'll never know whose cancelled export order it was, the vintage or the region, but the Pinot Gris was definitely five star wine.

But there's a trap with labels printed on an inkjet printer. The ink starts to run when the bottles get wet, and sitting in buckets full of melting ice, the names became a blur. The one word blur was Chardonnay, the two very short word blurs were the Pinot Gris and the long blur followed by a short blur was Sauvignon Blanc. Better to keep your inkjet labelled wines in the fridge, if you have one near, but not also possible at an outdoors do.

But lots of fun and the happy couple are still very happy. And that's all that matters.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Feb 16th 2012

Tips for a New Zealand wine lover's vinous survival in Australia

Yesterday was my last Wine Me Up Wednesday with Paul Henry on Radio Live's drive time show because Paul is leaving New Zealand for Australia to start his new breakfast television show with Channel 10 on Monday 27th February.

I wanted to make the show special for Paul so selected a Hawkes Bay Pinot Noir. Hawkes Bay Pinot Noir? Well, yes. I had my reasons. Pinot Noir is Paul's favourite red wine tipple and Hawkes Bay also has a very special spot in Paul's heart. And I could combine the best in one bottle with the rather lovely Sileni The Plateau Hawkes Bay Pinot Noir 2009, which also happens to be this week's Wine of the Week - click here to read the review. With 12.5% alcohol, it's a wine you can enjoy on its own but also delicious with the right food.

I thought it would be good to let Paul know he didn't need to get withdrawal symptoms from New Zealand wine when he is in Australia because according to AC Neilsen's 2011 Australian Market Report, one in three pinot noirs and over 50% of all white wine sold in Australia is imported from New Zealand. And 66.75% of all Sauvignon Blanc sold in Australia is from New Zealand. Quite remarkable.

Other tips for Paul

  • If you are served an Australian Sauvignon Blanc, don't expect it to taste like Marlborough - unless it actually is from Marlborough, which it could well be! Look at the small print.
  • Be prepared for searingly dry, mouth puckery, Australian Rieslings especially if you drink them when young. Best to get them a few years of age, then they can be glorious.
  • If you find a wine labelled Pinot Grigio, it's what we call Pinot Gris, but it's probably drier and steelier in style than many of the wines we have here.
  • Be sure be sure to try a Tasmanian Pinot Noir . Also seek out the Mornington Peninsula and the Adelaide Hills Pinot - a bit like inland Hawkes Bay
  • Cabernet and Cabernet blends fall just behind Shiraz in terms of Australian red wine popularity, so seek out a Margaret River Cabernet – it's move akin to Hawkes Bay than anywhere else in Australia
  • Shiraz is the most popular red in Australia so you are going to have to learn to like Aussie Shiraz, in fact learn to LOVE Aussie Shiraz
  • If you can't do that, buy only the most expensive Aussie Shiraz so it looks good on the table.
  • And if all else fails, come back to New Zealand

I thoroughly enjoyed my Wine Me Up Wednesday sessions with Paul. A brilliant broadcaster, quick witted, wicked sense of humour, passionate about wine. I wish him well in his new venture.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Feb 14th 2012

Top Valentine's Day tipple

Not sure what to get your valentine for this sentimental romantic day, then I've got the all-in-one answer for you. Chocolate, strawberries, wine and bubbles wrapped up into one seductive package, something that's delicious and something you can share.

It's Chocolate Box Sparkling Shiraz 2009, Australian of course because Australia is the best bubbly shiraz-making country in the world. And at around $28 a bottle in New Zealand it's a cheap alternative when the newspapers are reporting that purveyors of single red rose stems are fleecing young romantics' pockets. That's if you can find one because there's a red rose shortage this year. A wise romantic would grow red roses. But Chocolate Box Sparkling Shiraz is something you can share. It's sub-titled 'Strawberry Chocolate' and you can really taste the strawberries (be imaginative now) if you put your mind to it, even thought I thought it a bit like raspberry ripple.

The colour of the foamy pink bubbles when this chilled rich red wine is poured is evocative, the aroma seduces with its deep fruit-infused, cake spice and chocolate scent and the sweet-edged flavours are reminiscent of black forest chocolate and strawberry raspberry ripple ice cream. With just enough spice and savouriness to balance the sweetness, it's perfect for a lover's celebration.

Made from 100% Barossa Valley Shiraz, matured in French and yummy American oak, it has a heady 14% alcohol and a cutesy 'Zork' closure that goes back into the bottle to preserve the bubbles in the bottle between glassfuls. This is one of the most yummiest red bubbles I've tasted in a long time - an easy 5 star bubbly red wine.

Made by Rocland Estate,, there also make a sumptuous range of chocolate reds namely Dark Chocolate Shiraz, Truffle Chocolate Cabernet Sauvignon and Cherry Chocolate GSM.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Feb 13th 2012

Biodynamic winemaking taking off

Quartz Reef Vineyard has just announced it is the sixth vineyard in New Zealand to receive full biodynamic certification by Demeter, a worldwide biodynamic farming organisation. So who are the others? Well, if you mention biodynamics and New Zealand wine, it is James Millton of Millton Vineyard in Gisborne that immediately springs to mind. All of Millton’s vineyards have been farmed biodynamically since before the label was established in 1984. James Millton is the first recognised biodynamic winegrower in New Zealand and one of the first in the Southern Hemisphere. Furthermore they were the first in New Zealand to attain the Bio-Gro organic certification. They qualified for Demeter certification in November 2009. But surprisingly they were not the first to gain the Demeter certificate. That honour goes to Richmond Plains,, who received their certificate on the 27th May 2008. The Nelson vineyard has been following organic practices since their inception in 1991. "Moving to biodynamics was a natural progression," says Richmond Plain’s Lars Jensen.

So two of the five gaining their certificates prior to Quartz Reef have been established but the question remains, who are the other three? I asked the question on the popular social media network, Twitter, and replies were mixed. As many winegrowers know, it takes years of conversion and following of principles to gain the certificate. But the consensus was that the six are Richmond Plains (Nelson), Millton (Gisborne), Vynfields (Martinborough), Seresin (Marlborough), Felton Road and Quartz Reef (Central Otago). If this is incorrect, please email me to let me know.

There are many organic wineries in New Zealand, see below. Some also practice biodynamics and are actively working towards Demeter certification, others are not.

Here are some of the other biodynamic practitioners that I know of -

Matakana: Saltings Estate
Auckland: Turanga Creek
Gisborne: Wrights
Hawkes Bay: Stonecroft, Hawkhurst
Wairarapa: Murdoch James, Urlar, Gladstone
Marlborough: Churton, Te Whare Ra, Huia, Fromm, Hans Herzog
Nelson: Te Mania
Waipara: Black Estate, Dancing Water, Pyramid Valley
Central Otago: Rippon, Burn Cottage, Pisa Range Estate, Northburn Station, Desert Heart

Recently I interviewed Terry Baines at Saltings Estate,,in Matakana for an article in my local paper, the Rodney Times. Mr Baines, who is on the executive committee of Organic Winegrowers of New Zealand and has visited biodynamic vineyards in France, Italy and California, as well as in Gisborne and Central Otago, said he consciously decided not to use chemicals when he planted his vineyard. His readings about organics led to biodynamics and the more he read about it, the more he started to understand the principles. He says that organic viticulture is all about the soil and what goes into it.

"The main driver of organic viticulture is the biology of the soil and creating a healthy environment making the vines more resistant to diseases," he says. He explains that biodynamics uses natural methods applied at certain phases of the moon with special preparations to enhance soil quality and stimulate plant life. Quality compost is central and all the wastage from the vineyard and winery contributes to the pile. He said that the commercial availability of special preparations makes it so much easier now for organic growers to progress to biodynamics.

Organic Wine Producers of New Zealand aim to have 20 percent of New Zealand's vineyards farmed organically by 2020 and already have 140 members, the number tripling in the last three years. Currently 4.5 percent (1500 hectares) of New Zealand's vineyards are farmed organically, far too many to list. Many of the members are in the process of organic conversion and can't state on the bottle that their wine is organic, yet. I imagine many of the producers are also making the progression to biodynamics.   richplains-rose.jpg (30012 bytes)

Certified Wine
Richmond Plains Monarch Nelson Rose 2011
Served chilled, this is a lovely summer sipper. It's a clear pink sapphire colour with a cherry/strawberry aroma. It tastes crisp and dry with concentration and vinosity. Cherry and earthy nuances of Pinot Noir combine beautifully, and there's a lingering hint of Black Boy peach. 13.5% alc. Screwcap closure. RRP $19.99. My rating: 3.5 stars.

Named after the Monarch Butterfly, which is most beneficial in the environment, it's not only certified, it comes in a more environment friendly light-weight bottle. See

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Feb 7th 2012

Wine of the Week: Passage Rock Waiheke island Pinot Gris 2011

You know, the more I get of it, the more I like it. I'm talking about New Zealand Pinot Gris and I'm joining the masses of Kiwi wine drinkers who simply love this varietal. And the more I drink of it, the more I know what I like. For me it has to have a touch of residual sweetness and lush ripe fruit flavours. None of the steely, neutral styles for me. Not too sweet either unless the acid balance is there. I want something that for my palate is 'just right'. And I found the perfect wine in a recent tasting. Passage Rock Waiheke Island Pinot Gris 2011 is simply outstanding ...

Read more on my Wine of the Week page.  Enjoy!

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Feb 1st 2012

Mills Reef, Maui and Heron's Flight on Wine Me Up Wednesday

Wine Me Up Wednesday on Radio Live ( started again on the 18th January and I was back in the Ponsonby studio talking about wine I love and rate the best. 

For the first show of the year I chose Heron's Flight Unplugged Dolcetto 2011 from Matakana. Drive host James Coleman, filling in for Paul Henry, said he loved it and I'm not surprised because it is soft juicy and so darn drinkable.  I've written extensively about this as I selected it as last week's Wine of the Week. Click on the link to read more about it there.  

  • We spoke about wine goals for the year - twelve goals that can be spread over twelve months and James achieved goal number one right there and then by tasting a new grape variety for him. I'll be covering the rest of the goal throughout the year.

The following week, January 25th, I was back talking to James, this time with a fresh, tangy savvy-B. It was the New Zealand International Wine Show trophy winner, Maui Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011. I love how this wine can be chilled to the bones and still pack a punch. It's crisp, fresh, grassy, herbaceous  and there is even a touch of tomato in there. Perfect to accompany salads and tomatoes with feta and basil.
This is a new label from Tiki Wines, which is a relatively new label itself. Their Marlborough vineyards are some of the most inland vineyards in the Wairau Valley, way up SH63, west of Wairau valley township. They call it the Alpine Valley. Needless to say, there are plenty of frost fans there.

Today, the 1st of February,  Duncan Garner, TV3's Political Reporter was in the hot seat. Knowing nothing about Duncan, I hoped to attenuate him with one of my favourites reds, Mills Reef Hawkes Bay Merlot Malbec 2009. I rate this gold medal quality, as I have similarly rated the 2008 and 2007 vintages. Made from a blend of 79% Merlot and 21% Malbec, this deep purple red coloured glassful of deliciousness has a lovely smoky oak scent with savoury nuances, spices, red fruit and hints of violets. The savoury notes follow through to the creamy palate where rich fruit cake tones come through. The velvety texture imparts a warm cosy mouthfeel and the finish is succulent and long. I love this with lamb but Duncan, who's an ace at making meatballs, took the bottle home to try with his creation.

  • We talked about the forgotten father of New Zealand wine, James Busby, better known for his role in the formation of New Zealand as a British Colony. Busby's job as 'British Resident', which he took on when he arrived in Waitangi in 1833,  became redundant on February 6th 1840, the day the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. Busby built New Zealand's most famous historical house, The Treaty House. It was his home and grapevines, planted from cuttings he brought with him to New Zealand, went on to produce the grapes for New Zealand's first recorded wine. Read more about James Busby here.  

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