Sparkling wines, Champagne and NZ sweet wines
IN ALMOST EVERY country where good wine is made, a part of that production is given over to sparkling wine. All of these producers who grow their grapes outside the limits of the Champagne region must call their wines something else, of course, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make wines of outstanding quality. There are sparkling winemakers around the world who are every bit as committed to perfectionism as the renowned “chefs de caves” of Reims and Epernay. Our sparkling wine category is always a broad church, containing wines of different styles from a number of countries. Most of the entries are naturally from New Zealand, but that’s not the only reason our top 10 is dominated by Kiwi wines. We’re very good at making bubbles, and we’re getting better at it all the time. BEST BUYS Those wines offering an outstanding mix of quality and price are awarded Best Buy status. Price points differ, depending on the varietal, but if you see the Best Buy sticker you can rest assured you’re getting a great wine at an excellent price. Look out for the sticker on wine bottles at all good wine retailers.
For this sparkling wine tasting, John Belsham, an international wine judge and owner of Foxes Island Wines in Marlborough, was joined by ownerdirector of Oenotec Pty Ltd, Australian Dr Tony Jordan. Tony has enjoyed an illustrious career at the top of the sparkling wine world with various roles at Moët Hennessy, Domaine Chandon, Cape Mentelle and Cloudy Bay. Rounding out the tasting panel was John Saker, author and Cuisine wine writer. See page 131 for John Saker’s interview with Dr Tony Jordan.
1 TOP SPARKLING WINE Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut NV (California, USA)
combines with northern Californian terroir to deliver this complex, accomplished wine, where chardonnay narrowly shades pinot noir in the blend. It’s a rich, Vegemite-infused style, quite developed and yeasty, yet has freshness, great energy and drive. “It would not be out of place in a Champagne line-up,” noted John Belsham. The perfect partner for smoked salmon blinis. (A) CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ It was back in 1981 that respected Champagne house Louis Roederer established its foothold in America. A 580acre site in northern California’s Mendocino County was selected by then Roederer president, Jean-Claude Rouzaud, after a long search throughout the state. Ever since, this Californian annexe has adhered to the same principles that have made 200-year-old Louis Roederer one of Champagne’s greatest houses. Only chardonnay and pinot noir are used to make the California sparkling wines, and only fruit that is grown on the estate itself. The vineyards are all farmed
2 / Hunter’s MiruMiru™ Rosé NV (Marlborough, NZ) ★★★★★ $50
Kiwi sparkling rosés don’t come much better than this, a personal favourite of Hunter’s own grande dame, Jane Hunter. Bouquet garni, berryfruit scents lure you in; the palate is weighty and complex, rich with fresh baking characters and enlivened by a persistent mousse.
3 / Daniel Le Brun Methode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blancs 2011 (Marlborough, NZ) ★★★★★ $40
Daniel Le Brun may no longer be in this particular building, but the fine tradition he established continues. The nose offers fresh linen, lemon meringue and orange zest notes. In the mouth there is weight, structure and plenty of textural interest. “Wonderful balance,” noted John Belsham.
“The top NZ sparklings have attractive and quite sophisticated aromas and in the mouth are complex, long and wellbalanced.” TONY JORDAN
4 / Hunter’s MiruMiru™ Reserve 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)
MiruMiru is Māori for bubbles and also stands for “consistent excellence” among the country’s wine judges. Three years on lees has imbued this wine with seductive honeyed, caramelly, toasted qualities. The flavours carry to a long fine finish. A classy, wellcrafted bubbly from a top vintage.
5 / Nautilus Estate Cuvée Marlborough Brut NV
Nautilus is another star in the Marlborough sparkling galaxy. Lemon characters, laced with bready complexity, come through on the dry, refreshing palate. There is a lightness and elegance to this wine, which carries to a lengthy finish. Serve it alongside salty hors d’oeuvres.
6 / Daniel Le Brun Methode Traditionnelle Rosé NV (Marlborough, NZ) ★★★★★ $25
Pale copper in colour, this rosé is delightful. Don’t be fooled by the sotto voce aromatics. In the mouth it opens up to reveal attractive berryfruit notes, a subtle layer of toast and a herbal twist. A touch of sweetness adds an attractive dimension. “An ideal aperitif rosé,” noted Tony Jordan.
7 / Lindauer Special Reserve Blanc de Blancs NV (Gisborne, NZ) ★★★★★ $17
No show without Lindauer, the perennial overachiever on the local bubbles scene. This Blanc de Blancs (100 per cent chardonnay) delivers a remarkable degree of richness and complexity for the price. It is a yeasty, creamy delight, with a generous core of fruit in the engine room.
8 / Akarua Methode Traditionelle Vintage Brut 2011 (Central Otago, NZ) ★★★★★ $48
Central Otago has a place at the top table thanks to this finely crafted specimen. Fine, toasty scents lead through to a palate offering red apple and lemon flavours. “A wonderful juxtaposition of flavour, poise and finesse,” opined John Belsham.
9 / Deutz Marlborough Cuvée NV ★★★★★ $26.60
This is a lively, fascinating wine. A seam of flintiness gives it drive, added complexity and textural interest. A core of toasty fruit has weight and carries to a long finish. This is a confident expression from one of the country’s most experienced and respected sparkling wine producers.
10 / Rock Ferry Marlborough Blanc de Blancs 2011 ★★★★ $45
One of a trifecta of 2011s in our top 10, this wine is organically grown in the Wairau Valley. It’s a ripe style, with expressive yellow plum and chamomile aromatics. In the mouth it is concentrated yet poised, gently textured and bursting with life. It would be a fine partner for smoked salmon.
“The continuing progress we’re seeing from a number of New Zealand sparkling wine producers is exciting. This tasting has reconfirmed that the best at their trade consistently produce some truly outstanding local méthode traditionnelle wines.” JOHN BELSHAM
Akarua Methode Traditionelle Brut NV (Central Otago, NZ)
★★★★ $34 Bannockburn-grown and chardonnaydominant, the Akarua NV style is all about crispness and vivacity. An overture of toasty aromas is backed up by a creamy palate where yeasty complexity is balanced by lively, fresh acidity. Partner it with an anchovy-rich tapenade. Hunter’s MiruMiru™ NV (Marlborough, NZ)
★★★★ $30 This year marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of Hunter’s MiruMiru™, now firmly established as a New Zealand classic. This NV release offers biscuity, apple aromas and a weighty, balanced, complex mouthful. It flows with tightness and discipline through to a crisp, lifted finish. Akarua Methode Traditionelle Rosé Brut NV (Central Otago, NZ)
★★★★ $37 Canti Prosecco D.O.C. Millesimato 2016 (Treviso, Italy)
★★★★ $17 (B) Clos Henri La Chapelle Blanc de Noir 2014 (Marlborough, NZ)
★★★★ $39 Cloudy Bay Pelorus NV (Marlborough, NZ) ★★★★ $35.90 Deutz Marlborough Cuvée Rosé NV ★★★★ $26.60 Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut NV (Spain)
★★★★ $16 (B) Hãhã Brut Cuvée NV (Marlborough, NZ )
★★★★ $22 Louis Bouillot Perle de Vigne Crémant de Bourgogne NV (Burgundy, France)
★★★★ (C) $31 Quartz Reef Methode Traditionnelle Brut NV (Central Otago, NZ)
★★★★ $32 The Sounds Marlborough Méthode Traditionnelle 2014
★★★★ (D) $36 Vic Williams’ Selection Marlborough Méthode Traditionnelle 2014
★★★★ (D) $36 DISTRIBUTORS To source wines listed, contact the distributor, indexed by letter. (A) EuroVintage: 0800 338 766 (B) Glengarry: 0800 733 505 (C) Negociants NZ: 0800 634 624 (D) NZ Wine Society: 0800 809 463
biodynamically. Currently overseeing the winemaking at the estate is the talented Arnaud Weyrich, who began his career at Roederer as an intern back in 1993.
Dr Tony Jordan
Akarua Pisa Vineyard