Thursday, May 04, 2006

Anticipating things to come

Im starting to get excited about some of the wines that are coming onto the wine-list. Its a combination of springtime turning into summer, and now that our audit and year end is out of the way, the pursestrings are relaxed a bit and I get to go wine shopping. Today we placed an order for about a grands worth of new wines, the majority of which are from New Zealand.
New Zealand is a country I'm getting quite excited about now. They've been producing some cracking wines there since the 80's when they turned their focus from really quite naff hybrid varieties like Muller-Thurgau to more noble varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewurztraminer. It was the seminal Cloudy Bay which brought New Zealand kicking and screaming to the forefront of our wine marketplace with their bright fruity Sauvignon blanc back in 1986. Since then Cloudy Bay has remained a firm icon, and it retains an air of cultishness with its allocated sales and the sheer difficulty that most people have getting any. But there are new kids on the block whose wines are set to eclipse those of Cloudy Bay. In some cases the teams behind them have been through the ranks and Cloudy Bay and learnt their craft from the master. Wines like Dogpoint Vineyards, which started life as a kind of afterwork project for James Healy and Ivan Sutherland when they both worked at Cloudy Bay. Their straight Sauvignon blanc is stainless steel fermented to give it that crisp fruity style we've come to expect of a NZ savvy, but for me their best wine is the sublime Section 94 Sauvignon. This wines undergoes partial fermentation under oak, with the grapes often being crushed in the barrels. James uses natural yeasts to ferment the wines which usually takes longer to ferment, resulting in a more powerful flavour, with autolytic characters, and the most amazing elderflower and jasmine aromas underpinned by the herbal citrus and tropical fruit flavours we often find in NZ savvy.
Anyway a good friend of mine Neil Taylor is working over in New Zealand at a wine shop in Otago, and he's putting together a parcel of rare and exclusive New Zealand wines - pinots, savvy's, some rieslings, some gewurzt and some pinot gris too. All of these wines are going to be from quality producers, some will be single vineyard offerings, others will be rare and most of them will be exclusive to us. Once I know whats coming I'll post it on here. But in the meantime Ive got some great Pinot coming from a winery called Mt Difficulty in Central Otago. Matt Dicey the winemaker, makes some great single vineyard Pinots (which I should be getting in about eight weeks) but his straight Pinot and Sauvignon are fantastic. Central Otago is the most southerly commercial wine region in the world, and it really only turned to viticulture in 1981 when Alan Brady established vineyards for Gibbston Valley Winery. Now it's regarded as one of the trendiest regions, an area perfect for cooler climate varieties like Pinot Noir and Riesling. With its cold winters and long dry summers, it presents climactic conditions similar to Europe. Now Brady owns Mt Edward which just makes Pinot Noir, and although it is expensive (all NZ wines are expensive, but Mt Eddie is nearly double the cost of Cloudy Bay!!) it is worth every penny and more.
Check out the following websites for more information about the wines:

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