I once interviewed Jancis Robinson MW (the Financial Times' wine writer, considered like a goddess in the world of wine) and asked her what kept her going. She replied that it was the constant novelty that the world of wine was offering. “It is so exciting that there are still new places producing wine, new techniques, obviously new vintages… There is always something new. There is never a shortage of something to write about”, she said.
A few months ago, when I went to the New Zealand Wine Fair in Hong Kong, her words came back to me. Since I have had my first Cloudy Bay, I have always loved New Zealand wines. But, what impresses me the most is the Kiwis' ability to keep experimenting - planting new varietals, trying new terroirs, etc. - while continuously focusing on quality. In other words, New Zealand wines keep surprising me.
I wanted to share with you some of my favourite discoveries. Obviously, I tasted some great Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir at the Fair. But I also tasted some of the best Pinot Gris, Syrah, and Chardonnay that I have ever tasted. Here is a short selection of my new favourite New Zealand wines:
AKARUA – Central Otago
Pinot Noir Bannockburn, Central Otago, 2013***
Nose of black fruits and forest floor, with a touch of cedar and perfume. Perfect balance on the palate with a powerful structure and a long finish.
Akarua Brut NV Sparkling Bannockburn, Central Otago, 2012
Floral, delicate fruits with a touch of brioche on the nose. Yeastiness and minerality on the palate. Delicate, fresh and elegant. Perfect.
ARA – Marlborough
Ara Single Estate Pinot Gris, Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, 2014***
Perfume, fruit and spice provide a lovely nose with balance and high acidity on the palate. Fruity and spicy finish.
Ara Select Block Pinot Gris Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, 2013:
Extra dimension compared to the 2014, with spice and pear aromas. A lovely palate of complex sweet spice that linger forever. Superb. Would be perfect with Sichuan cuisine.
DOMAINE THOMSON – Central Otago
Surveyor Thomson Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Lowburn, Central Otago, 2011
Strawberry, raspberry and violet on the nose. Smooth, very well balanced with structure, black fruits and wood on the palate. Very long finish. The French way of making Pinot Noir and one of the finest in the Southern hemisphere. Biodynamic.
GREYSTONE WINES – Waipara Valley
Muddy Water Slowhand Pinot Noir Waipara Valley, 2010***
A complex nose of cherry, ripe wild strawberry, liquorice and earthy tones. Very smooth, very ripe and elegant with a beautiful long finish. Perfect.
Greystone Sauvignon Blanc Waipara Valley, 2014***
The only SB that I have kept for these tasting notes for its extra dimension. Stone fruits and minerality on the nose. Beautiful fresh palate with complexity. Long finish. A winner.
MURDOCH JAMES – Martinborough
Murdoch James Blue Rock Syrah Martinborough, 2013
Delicate but expressive forest fruits (wild strawberry) with pepper and fresh cedar. Smooth on the palate with a very long finish.
TE MOTU – Onetangi Valley (Waiheke)
Dunleavy – The grafter Syrah, Waihekle Island, 2013***
Very expressive peppery and floral nose. Smooth and balanced with a long finish. One of New Zealand most exciting wine growing region.
TRINITY HILL – Hawke’s Bay – my favourite !
Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay, 2012***
Very mineral with yeastiness and smokiness on the nose. Elegant and pure. A gorgeous cool climate Chardonnay with a long finish.
‘The Trinity’ Hawke’s Bay 2012**
Cabernet/Merlot blend. Very fragrant with black fruits and fresh mushroom. Exhuberant nose. Super smooth and yet structured and powerful. Full of black fruits on the palate and yet, very fresh.
Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah Hawke’s Bay, 2012***
Peppery nose with prune and blackberry. A beautifully structured Syrah. The 2011 is equally gorgeous with peppery and floral character on the nose and smooth and savoury elements on the palate.
Homage Syrah, 2009***
A stunning wine with a perfect mix of pepper and black fruits, mushroom and perfume. Perfectly done with structure, smoothness and long finish. 'Du grand art', as we say in French.