Seek wis­dom of wine mer­chant

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - WOOD ON WINE AND BEER

Some of you may re­mem­ber the col­umn Wood on Wine from a num­ber of Waikato pub­li­ca­tions. Orig­i­nally writ­ten by my late fa­ther, Hugh Wood, the ba­ton was then passed to my mother Bev, and fi­nally to me.

Much as I am­sure many of you would love to be able to break out the Pen­folds Grange or the Dom Perignon for any oc­ca­sion, un­for­tu­nately the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of us aren’t mul­ti­mil­lion­aires, which means we must all ex­er­cise a lit­tle fis­cal dis­cre­tion when it comes to choos­ing our favourite tip­ple.

I well re­mem­ber my late fa­ther, when he owned a wine shop in Hamil­ton some 25 years ago, declar­ing he could never in good con­science sell a bot­tle of Church Road for un­der $20, as the wine was ‘‘just too bloody good’’.

Luck­ily for the wine buyer th­ese days (but much to the dis­ap­point­ment of the re­tail­ers I would imag­ine), Church Road is now reg­u­larly ad­ver­tised at un­der $15 a bot­tle, which to me makes it one of the great wine buys in the coun­try. Church Road Chardon­nay does ex­actly as it prom­ises to do, dish­ing up great fat dol­lops of proper chardon­nay flavours, with­out scrimp­ing on the oak. While un­oaked (or ‘lightly oaked’) chardon­nay has its place – for ex­am­ple sit­ting out­side at the pic­nic ta­ble watch­ing some­one else burn the sausages – I must ad­mit I much pre­fer the old-fash­ioned big fat oaky beasts, and Church Road is liv­ing proof that you don’t have to spend $30+ to achieve that style. The Mer­lot/Caber­net (or Caber­net/Mer­lot, de­pend­ing on the vin­tage) is equally good value. A very good, hon­est, re­li­able red, with a bit more fi­nesse than some oth­ers on the mar­ket.

Another long-es­tab­lished NZ la­bel, Stoneleigh, also of­fers ex­cep­tional qual­ity and value. Their ‘‘stan­dard’’ range is any­thing but stan­dard – and of­fers out­stand­ing value. Their next tier up, Stoneleigh Wild Val­ley 2015 Pinot Noir and Stoneleigh Ra­paura Series Chardon­nay 2015 are both re­mark­able ex­pres­sions of their va­ri­eties. Beau­ti­ful, suc­cu­lent, bal­anced and ro­bust, at un­der $20 a bot­tle they are well worth seek­ing out. Speak­ing of wine shops, while the su­per­mar­ket is con­ve­nient, please don’t for­get your hum­ble lo­cal wine mer­chant or bot­tle store. Most of them will have more spe­cialised knowl­edge than your av­er­age su­per­mar­ket staffer, and they are also more likely to have some­thing a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. They do try to be com­pet­i­tive on price with the big guns, al­though the buy­ing power of your av­er­age su­per­mar­ket chain is such that they aren’t able to match them dol­lar for dol­lar.

While it is a com­plete myth that ‘su­per­mar­ket wine’ is in­fe­rior (it’s the same stuff, folks), there is some­thing nice about pop­ping in for a chat with your lo­cal wine guy or wine girl, pick­ing their brains, and wan­der­ing out with some­thing you may not have con­sid­ered try­ing pre­vi­ously.

- Si­mon Wood

Writer Si­mon Wood.

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