Christmas: It is time for a round-up of wines that would be ideal with barbecues, days out in the boat, at the bach or on the beach.
There are some very special reds in today's line-up, too.
And speaking of Christmas, a couple of weeks ago we reviewed Vinacular: A wine lover's illustrated A-Z and since that time we've been told that the illustrator, Scott Kennedy, was in fact the initiator of this book project. Vinacular is a clever blend of art and writing, and will make a great gift - alongside a good bottle of wine!
Two such wines get the ball rolling - starting with the first release under Ballochdale's own label. A while back Garry Neill hosted Peter at the vineyard, which is truly spectacular; high up in the Awatere Valley with a winding access road that Peter says, "gives you a view of the vineyard as you approach, but it's further away than you realise as you head up into the hills".
Grapes from Ballochdale are sold to several different wineries, owing to the unique nature of the vineyard site and the quality of the fruit the site produces. Ballochdale Estate Awatere Valley Pinot Noir 2010 ($39.95)
Looks attractive in the glass.
The aroma is reminiscent of spicy berry fruit compote with a dash of nutmeg, drinking chocolate and some gentle oak added to the mix. For all the generosity in the aroma, this is no fruit bomb - it is nicely poised.
The palate is soft, rich and with plenty of depth. Crisp acids, firm tannins and spicy coffee notes, plums, cherries, oaky spice and drying fruit cake notes.
That dryness is more marked at the finish - the woody notes and plum flavour combine with a lick of coffee on the aftertaste. Excellent drinking now, but put some away for a few years and be well rewarded. Produced in small quantities so be quick.
To buy go to Wino's or www.ballochdaleestate.co.nz
Bannock Brae Central Otago Barrel Selection Pinot Noir 2010 ($54)
Opaque, deep red with flashes of purple - dark and beautiful.
The aroma is a blend of spicy oak, earth and ripe plums.
Big spicy notes and the ripe, rich plum flavour are balanced by spiky acidity on the palate. Tannic weight and overarching style are hallmarks of this delightful wine.
Chocolate and thyme flavours add extra depth and complexity, and are all perfectly integrated. Words like seamless, luscious, moreish and lengthy all spring to mind.
Worth seeking out. www.bannockbrae.co.nz
Lanvin & Fils Brut NV Champagne ($40)
The pale straw colour sparkles with a very fine and particularly persistent bead.
The aroma is classic; rich citrus and chalk with yeasty, bready notes and some overarching freshness.
The palate is crisp and refreshing with a finely textured mousse. Light yet satisfyingly rich tropical fruit flavour sits alongside classic yeasty bread and mineral flavours French champagne is famous for. Quite dry but not austere, this wine proves the quality and affordability of second tier champagne.
Buy at Liquorland, New World, or google it for more options
Tohu Marlborough Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($20)
An enticing rich citrus, floral and melon aroma with some greenhouse tomato notes and the merest whiff of tinned peas - exciting.
Tingly acids support this juicy, fleshy palate with its melon, citrus and apple flavours - a real fresh fruit salad blend complemented by weight and length of palate.
Finishes crisply with some fleshy citrus in the aftertaste.
Gladstone Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($25)
Quite an intensely mineral aroma backed up by capsicum and grassy notes; soft and warm.
The generous palate delivers mineral, floral and gentle herbaceous flavours, underpinned by some serious fruit weight.
There is a slightly sweet finish rounded out by some white nectarine fleshiness and quite a crisp acidity.
An interesting wine, that is appealing and worth hunting out.
- The Marlborough Express