Wine tast­ings pro­vide de­li­cious op­tions

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page -

One of the great ways to chal­lenge your palate is to go to wine tast­ings where you are guar­an­teed to try some­thing you may not usu­ally try.

I was re­cently in­vited to a trade tast­ing by The Wine Seller In­ter­na­tional – a Hamil­ton ne­go­tiant whose port­fo­lio runs from top-flight Otago Pinot Noir to cheap and cheer­ful Chilean reds, and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

The tast­ing was at the ex­cel­lent Dough Broth­ers restau­rant in Hamil­ton, whose piz­zas are rapidly tak­ing on le­gendary sta­tus.

I was, nat­u­rally enough, keen to get amongst the big-beasty chardon­nays and the rich per­fumed pinot noirs, and they didn’t let me down. Tiki KORO Chardon­nay 2014 from Hawke’s Bay was a lovely, toasty, savoury ex­am­ple with dol­lops of vanilla oak flavours from its fer­men­ta­tion in bar­riques.

At around $33 a bot­tle it holds up very well against most other chardon­nays in that range. (Con­tact Chris Telford, chris@tiki­ for stock­ists).

Beso, mean­ing ‘‘kiss’’ in Span­ish, make a nice range of well-priced Chilean red wines, and are avail­able at some New World su­per­mar­kets in the Waikato.

Their 2015 Gran Re­serve Carmenere is a rich, pow­er­ful red with some hints of black pep­per and currants and a long fin­ish. At around $25 a bot­tle it is a good ex­am­ple of a ris­ing star. (Con­tact info@be­ )

My wine of the night came from an old school, un­der-rated va­ri­ety, and from a coun­try whose wines are of­ten un­fairly ma­ligned. Grape Grinder Pino­tage 2014, from the South East Cape of South Africa, was an ab­so­lute rev­e­la­tion.

It is a wine that sits up and de­mands at­ten­tion. At a re­tail of the low $20 mark it is in­cred­i­ble, and worth seek­ing out at Primo Vino or St An­drews Liquor Cen­tre in Hamil­ton.

Run­ning a close sec­ond to the Pino­tage, was a spe­cial Ries­ling from Cen­tral Otago. Un­til this tast­ing, I had never heard of Two Sis­ters, from the Low­burn Valley. Their 2008 Ries­ling changed all of that. At nine years old, this wine is still youth­ful and en­er­getic, but show­ing some beau­ti­ful back­palate notes of age such as hints of beeswax. One of the best New Zealand Ries­lings I have tried of late. New Zealand Sau­vi­gnon Blanc is, to me, usu­ally fairly pre­dictable. While I cer­tainly don’t dis­like it, it isn’t usu­ally a wine I con­sider buy­ing very of­ten. Ev­ery now and then, one comes along to chal­lenge that.

Spencer Hill from Nel­son had two ex­am­ples at this tast­ing, and nei­ther were the ‘‘usual sus­pects’’.

Their 2014 Fume was cold fer­mented and went through a par­tial mal­o­lac­tic fer­men­ta­tion to pro­duce a lovely, bal­anced white wine that tastes of nei­ther wet card­board or el­derly as­para­gus that a bit of age can of­ten do to this va­ri­ety.

Un­usu­ally for a Sau­vi­gnon Blanc, it was re­leased after a cou­ple of years of ag­ing, and is rich and creamy with nice almond notes. At around $24 it rep­re­sents good value. Spencer Hill also pro­duce the ‘‘Lat­i­tude 41’’ range, which in­cluded a beau­ti­ful ‘‘Sur Lie’’ Sau­vi­gnon Blanc. Sur Lie is the French style of let­ting the wine sit on the lees (the dead yeasts and other bits and bobs) for some time to ex­tract max­i­mum flavour. This wine is then aged in French oak, which has pro­duced a full bod­ied, fruit driven wine with con­sid­er­able depth.

As a life-long pro­po­nent of the lit­tle guy and the un­der­dog, it was a plea­sure to be able to try wines from smaller pro­duc­ers and from dif­fer­ent parts of the wine world. Based on the ex­am­ples I tried, it is well worth seek­ing out any wines you can find from Spencer Hill/ Lat­i­tude 41 in Nel­son, Two Sis­ters from Cen­tral Otago, Beso from Chile, Tiki wines, and Grape Grinder from South Africa.

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