First cabs off the rank...

Dish - - The Business Of Dinner -

Rich, lus­cious caber­net-dom­i­nant reds were up for judg­ment from the Dish Tast­ing Panel’s dis­cern­ing palates – find out who came out on top, for some se­ri­ously de­li­cious win­ter sup­ping.

Fun facts you can take to your next pub quiz: 1) caber­net sau­vi­gnon has been grown in Bordeaux, France, since at least 1600AD and 2) caber­net sau­vi­gnon only ex­ists be­cause some­where in the mists of time, (red grape) caber­net franc and (white grape) sau­vi­gnon blanc did the wild thing in the woods some­where.

How­ever, if you’ve been strug­gling to get back into lo­cal caber­net af­ter some less-thanlus­cious ex­pe­ri­ences back in the 80s and 90s, then get the good glasses out of the china cabi­net folks, be­cause we’ve found some wines to rock you. For the long­est time, our grow­ers were stuck with some rather av­er­age clones that strug­gled to ripen reg­u­larly and could be a real pain in the clacker to get your taste­buds around. The wines were of­ten rather hard, green and overly grippy in the gob.

Yet thanks to hav­ing ac­cess to high-qual­ity, mod­ern plant ma­te­rial, bet­ter suited to New Zealand’s re­gional di­ver­sity, along­side in­creased wine­mak­ing skill and (dare we say it) a touch of global warm­ing in more re­cent years, we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a mas­sive el­e­va­tion in the qual­ity of Kiwi caber­net sau­vi­gnon and caber­net franc in the mar­ket­place.

And that’s ex­actly what we here at Dish

were look­ing for, the best of those caber­net­dom­i­nant styles avail­able right now.

Straight out of the start­ing gates it was clear 2015 had some­thing spe­cial where caber­net is con­cerned, as our top three wines hailed from this vin­tage. The 2014 vin­tage is also look­ing like a sexy slow-burn, boast­ing the largest per­cent­age of sil­ver medals, and a sur­pris­ing num­ber of shiny-new 2016 ex­am­ples showed well. The year 2013 was hailed as New Zealand’s “vin­tage of the cen­tury” for red wines, hence fewer en­tries from that year as most good ex­am­ples have since sold out. Hawke’s Bay clearly leads the caber­net charge, boast­ing 90 per cent of our Top 10 wines.

“Those grow­ing caber­nets now, should only have the best sites and the best prac­tices in hand,” says wine­maker and panel judge James Rowan. “With these wines, big­ger isn’t al­ways bet­ter and grace, re­fine­ment and pu­rity should pre­vail. Why do some pro­duc­ers still try to ex­tract ev­ery­thing by leav­ing fruit on the vines too long or the wine in bar­rel too long? Do they not taste their wines? On a pos­i­tive note though, some peo­ple are clearly blessed with some win­ning hands, lucky them and us!”

For as­so­ciate judge, wine­maker Renée Dale, caber­net franc is about flo­ral­ity and caber­net sau­vi­gnon is about pres­ence.

“There was def­i­nitely pres­ence in this tast­ing, but to me the more out­stand­ing wines were the del­i­cate caber­net francs,” she says. “When I taste caber­nets I want to be en­thralled and mys­ti­fied.

“There were out­stand­ing wines that took me by the hand and danced me through a sto­ry­line of cas­sis, Mediter­ranean black olives and spice, but there were also some wines which fell short and dropped me on the floor. There were wines with ob­vi­ous Bret­tanomyces* in­flu­ence and you do be­gin to won­der, is this in­vited into the wine to hide its sins? Bret­tanomyces and caber­net can be an ac­cept­able part­ner­ship but with the del­i­cate New Zealand styles, not so much”.

* Bret­tanomyces is a strain of yeast which, when present in a wine, can im­part barn­yardy, cow patty, horsey, mousy or Band-aid aro­mas. At lower con­cen­tra­tions, ‘brett’ can add com­plex­ity to a wine, yet peo­ple’s thresh­olds of per­cep­tion and tol­er­ance of brett vary. Some don’t no­tice it, while oth­ers are re­pulsed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.