Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Don't Confuse the Competition

I’m wrote this column whilst holed-up in a hotel on Auckland’s north shore; at least I think it was called the north shore. This whole Super-City 're-zoning' business is a tad confusing and the last thing I need after two days of tasting close to three hundred wines is to be confused. There was still one more day to go in judging at the New Zealand International Wine Show, which at over 2000 wines our nations largest wine competition. “Here’s an idea for your column Yvonne” said Kingsley Wood, owner of First Glass Wines in Takapuna and organiser of the event, “you can tell everyone that an unprecedented amount of gold medals have just been awarded for the new 2010 Marlborough sauvignon blancs – which is fantastic news”. “But my readers already know that I’m loving the 2010 Marlborough sauvignon blancs because I’ve been reviewing them for weeks” I retorted. “Tell them anyway” he snapped. He’s in retail. They’re all pretty grumpy at the moment.
Speaking of wine awards, the good folk at Seifried Estate in Nelson had only just cleaned up the mess from the party they threw after winning the trophy for New Zealand’s best Gewurztraminer at the Romeo Bragato Awards in Marlborough a fortnight ago, when the call came to string the coloured lightbulbs back up, crack open the chips and dip, plug in the jukebox and get jiggy with it once again because they’d scored a world-first trifecta. For the third time, this family-run company was awarded the Decanter International Sweet Wine Trophy over £10, last week for its Seifried Winemakers Collection Sweet Agnes Riesling 2009. Decanter Magazine is based in London and runs “the most prestigious wine competition on the planet” according to winemaker Heidi Seifried, and with 10,983 entries this year, it’s also the world’s largest. “Every year that Seifried has entered the Sweet Agnes Riesling in the Decanter competition it has been awarded a trophy” says Heidi.

Chris Seifried, Heidi’s brother and fellow winemaker, likens winning a Decanter trophy to being awarded a Michelin star. “This is a wine we work tirelessly on” he says. Using 100% Riesling fruit, the grapes were hand selected at the peak of ripeness with a large portion of the fruit shrivelled and raisined, due to natural dehydration. The fruit is then pressed, giving a rich syrup-like juice. Finally, the juice is fermented and a golden dessert wine is produced. Decanter’s judges described the 2009 Sweet Agnes (named after their mother, Agnes Seifried) as, “very honeyed and waxy on the nose with loads of floral character. It is aromatic, luscious, juicy and intense with a racy but balanced acidity and has excellent length.”

“Needless to say we are all absolutely over the moon here at the winery” says winemaker Heidi Seifried. “The performance of the Sweet Agnes really is quite unbelievable – this is the fourth year it has achieved at least one Decanter Trophy..... We are absolutely thrilled with our little star wine! And it has an impressive list of GOLD medals every vintage to support it too!”  http://www.seifried.co.nz/

Rule Britannia!

What’s not to love about the English? After all, they gave us chip butties, the Two Ronnie’s, Devonshire teas and David Attenborough (and where we’d be without him doesn’t bear thinking about) But one thing kiwis and Brits continually have in common is our never-ending pursuit of putting one over the French. When it comes to making wine it’s no secret that in recent years the quality coming out of New Zealand has given the French pause for thought. Now it’s the Brits turn. While the words ‘English Wine’ were once about as appealing as the words ‘well-done steak’, a huge victory at the Decanter World Wine Awards for a stunning English sparkling have well and truly got the French beaten at their own game. The winemakers at Sussex-based Ridgeview Wine Estate put English sparkling wines on the map by taking the Top Sparkling Wine Trophy. The International Sparkling Wine Trophy was awarded to their Ridgeview Grosvenor 2006, which beat stiff competition from at least five famous French Champagne houses including the likes of Taittinger, Charles Heidsieck and Thienot.

According to Decanter.com, Mardi Roberts, Sales & Marketing Manager reported that the family run company had absolutely no idea they were in the running to win. "It took us completely by surprise to firstly hear our names on the shortlist for the trophy, then to actually have our wine announced as the winner," she said. Proprietor Michael Roberts and his son, winemaker Simon went up to accept the trophy to rapturous applause.

"The whole family is just so pleased at this great accolade," added Mardi. "It's great for Ridgeview and fantastic for English sparkling wines."

Decanter's Tastings Director, Christelle Guibert, said this was an incredible home-grown success. 'What a result,' she said. 'As if further proof was ever needed, this unequivocally rubberstamps England's membership to that exclusive club of truly world class, sparkling wine producers. Up against a clutch of Champagne's finest, Ridgeview has produced a stupendous wine that defeated them all. It's a truly remarkable win.'

Disney gets savvy

Disneyland isn't just about spinning teacups, castles and life-size cartoon characters; the happiest place on earth also happens to be quite wine savvy as Kiwi winemaker Steve Bird recently found out.

The winemaker's 2008 Bird Sauvignon Blanc and 2008 Bird Big Barrel Pinot Noir has just been
selected by WALT DISNEY WORLD for their 2011 core wine list. “It's fantastic news because millions of tourists from around the world visit the theme parks every year, so the exposure for Bird Wines will be phenomenal,'' says Bird.  According to Steve, the Bird Big Barrel Pinot Noir stands out from others in its class because it's produced through Vernou Roll Fermentation, a process Bird pioneered for Pinot Noir.
This unique winemaking method uses 900 litre oak barrels which are gently rolled by hand during the fermentation process to ensure the most delicate flavours and aromas are preserved.
Maturing for almost a year, the wine never spends more than a day outside the barrel from crushing to bottling. http://www.birdwines.com/

Register as a Consumer Judge for the NZ Week People's Choice Wine Awards 2010 now!


Turanga Creek Lone Oak Blend 2008 $26 (four stars)

Merlot, malbec and cabernet franc grapes are used to create a wine scented with blackcurrant, toasty oak and soft, earthy spices. To drink it is supple, slippery and elegant in the mouth, it oozes plump fruit and has a supple, clingy texture on the finish. A good drink indeed. Available from La Barrique stores or email Juliet@epicureanwines.co.nz for stockists near you.

Cellar 9 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 $10 (2.5 stars)

This cheap and cheerful quaffer ticks all the boxes. Capsicum, lime and preserved lemon aromas lead to a pleasant, passionfruity, refreshingly tangy taste sensation for only ten bucks. Bargain. Exclusive to http://www.winesale.co.nz/ and http://www.vineonline.co.nz/

Pierre André Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes-De-Nuits Beauversant 2008 $37 (4 stars)

Good French chardonnay is always a treat especially when it has lifted peach, mandarin and deliciously sweet and toasty oak aromas. Underpinned with a vein of grapefruit acidity and intense, multi-layered textural characters in the mouth, it is lovely and vibrant on the finish. Imported by Paul Treacher at Ballande New Zealand Limited ph. 09 638 9921 p.treacher@ballande.co.nz

Jacobs Creek Sparkling Moscato Rosé $14 (3 stars)

Good Moscato is springtime in a bottle and this snappy example from Jacobs Creek has lifted stonefruit, creaming soda and strawberry aromas followed by a refreshingly sweet, spritzy, tropical finish. Widely available.