John Saker: A wish to drink less, but better in 2017
A new year is upon us, and I have high hopes for it. Here is my wine wishlist for 2017.
- I want the first big event of the year, Pinot Noir NZ 2017 (Wellington, January 31-February 1) to be more than a stimulating talk and taste fest. May it enable the world to latch on to the fact that our best pinot is reaching remarkable levels of sophistication and yet sells for a song. I want Pinot Noir NZ 2017 to be a "ka-ching" moment that detonates a Kiwi pinot noir sales boom. Here's to healthier bottom lines.
- I want to find a way of getting my hands on at least part of my daughter's impressive wine collection, currently installed in the cellar of a 14th century chateau in France. This is not an unfair request … she's out here every year ravaging my humble cache of bottles.
- Talking of cellars, I want this to be the year more New Zealanders who love wine decide to cellar it. Drinking older wine not only introduces you to new tastes, it changes the way you approach and enjoy wine. (Last night I pulled out a bottle of La Collina Syrah 2004 and what a superlative drink it was … fresh, unhurried, soulful).
- Similarly, I want people to stop reaching for the cheapest bottle they can lay their hands on. The old "drink less, but better" mantra has a lot going for it. One is an overall raising of the quality bar. When consumers care about price more than anything, quality is an early casualty.
- I want winery people who devote themselves to making quality wine that is not sauvignon blanc to stop saying "we should be grateful for the success New Zealand has had with sauvignon blanc. It's made things possible for us." An argument could be made that they are where they are despite the success of "savvy b".
- I want to see the push to have 20 per cent of New Zealand's vineyard area certified organic or biodynamic by 2020 grow in momentum and profile.
- I want the Hawke's Bay-centred style revolution with chardonnay to continue apace. There have been a few missteps with the smoky, flinty wines that are coming out of the Bay, but you can't fault the desire to create chardonnays with more complexity, both in flavour and structure.
- A few years ago, I received an email from Nigeria telling me I'd won a case of La Tache (a Burgundy of some renown) in a lottery. Perhaps this will be the year that case turns up?
Judge Rock Pinot Noir 2014 $40: This gently scented and textured pinot is the product of a favoured, sloping site in Alexandra. Red fruit and spice notes flow with ease, the finish is long and fine.
Mahi Ward Farm Pinot Gris 2015 $29.90: This is a very attractive, off-dry pinot gris – rich and full, but not at the expense of juiciness and vivacity. Baked apple, creme caramel, and herbal freshness are set against a lovely resistant texture.