As another winter settles in, here at Scenic Cellars we continue catering to people heading to the slopes of Mt Ruapehu. Over the 25 years we’ve been assisting skiers and boarders with their après ski we’ve seen New Zealand wine tastes develop due to the vast improvement in wine production, and the improved availability and quality of imported wines. The days of heading for the slopes with a cask or three of dubious ‘plonk’ and some mulling spices, has been replaced with a mixture of benchmark Central Otago Pinot Noir, Hawkes Bay Syrah, South Australian Shiraz, and maybe a few tasty Tuscan or Spanish wines thrown in. Ok, and perhaps a few mulling spices for old times sake. .
After a long day on the slopes, priority number one is getting warm and comfortable, and although a Rosé or Riesling is great on a warm summers evening, it’s not going to cut it by the fire with aching muscles. Think ripe and fuller bodied, whether the wine is white or red, and don’t forget some of those more ‘contemplative’ tipples for later in the night like fortified wines, whisky and brandy.
Despite the popular A.B.C. (Anything But Chardonnay) phrase, winter sees many white wine drinkers put aside their glasses of Riesling or Pinot Gris to return to the satisfying, fuller fruited and oakier Chardonnays. Approximately 50% of our New Zealand white wine sales are Chardonnay over the winter months, take the Cape Campbell Reserve Chardonnay 2005 for example, released at the end of summer this beauty has already scooped up several awards including Gold at the International Wine Challenge in London. It’s worth keeping in mind though, that chilling white wine will make the wine seem more refreshing, but it does also make the wine seem leaner and less fruity. The simple answer for white wine drinking in winter, is drink them closer to room temperature to get the most out of the wine’s fruit characters and texture. Those low acid, oily textured Pinot Gris or Gewurztraminer could still be perfect on a winters evening, try one from Caves de Ribeauville, a highly regarded producer in Alsace.
Winter is often a time red wine lovers enjoy and as testament to this Pinot Noir is now easily our biggest selling red wine style. While many are light and elegant enough to enjoy in summer, Pinot Noir is also a wine that can be drunk casually, by its self or paired with a wide range of foods. Winter weather and heavier foods suit this red wine perfectly. Heavier, tannic red wine styles such as premium Hawkes Bay Merlot, Australian Shiraz, French Bourgogne, Italian Barolo and Spanish Tempranillo, come to the fore when enjoyed with heartier meals. Bleasdale’s Bremerview Shiraz from South Australia or Valle de Salinas from Yecla, Southern Spain become a perfect match to the flavour intensity, fat and protein of red meat dishes served on a snowy night.
So next time you’re passing through Taupo, heading to cut some powder on the slopes or returning back home after a weekend of mountain madness, drop by and see us at Scenic Cellars on the Lake front, our staff can help you expand your drinking horizons with some great winter warmers, stock up for those blizzard-bound evenings by the fire or help pick your party tipples to celebrate your best run of the season!