Neil Hodgson's wine column
Each year about this time the Nelson winegrowers organisation, Nelson Wineart, organise a tasting of the new release wines.
These may be from the current vintage (2012) or just released wines from previous vintages that have been gently nurtured before you and I can get our hands on them.
With 21 vineyards represented and about 125 wines listed for tasting, as well as a few treats winemakers brought along from their cellars, this event is a fantastic opportunity to taste a wide range of wines from the region.
While the public could attend a function in the early evening the afternoon session is restricted to the trade; that is operators of restaurants and various liquor outlets who are likely to buy the wine for wine lists or to stock retail shelves and me!
This event is a chance for me to taste a range of wines in a comparative environment.
I don't set out to make serious tasting notes about every wine because time doesn't allow that, but I do try and get a snapshot of the quality of wines being produced across the region.
I normally focus on one or two varieties so I can assess the overall quality and one or two wines always stand up and say "look at me, I am just a wee bit special".
This year I restricted my tasting focus to 2012 sauvignon blanc, riesling, pinot gris and rose but, of course, I couldn't resist tasting a few treats from older vintages - I love this job!
My overarching impression of the 2012 Nelson region wine vintage is of wonderful fruit concentration; this concentration makes sure the wines not only have plenty of varietal flavour but they also have a richly textured mouthfeel.
While the white varieties released are designed for early drinking they hint at the quality we can expect from varieties like chardonnay and pinot noir when we get to taste them later on.
Of course you will be expecting me to point you in the direction of a few wines I thought were a bit special, so I will.
However, while these caught my attention for various reasons of the 50 plus wines I tried on Tuesday I didn't taste one wine I would be unhappy to drink if I was offered a glass and I regretted not being able to taste all 125 wines on offer.
So for no reason other than I liked them, here are a few to look for: Woollaston Estates 2012 Riesling. With 30gms of residual sugar (RS) and only 9 per cent alcohol you would expect this to be a sweet wine but the 9gms of ripe acidity balance the residual sugar beautifully making is luscious and complex with a dry finish. With only 9 per cent alcohol this is the perfect summer lunchtime wine.
In the same ilk is Greenhough Vineyards 2012 Apple Valley Riesling. With 50gms RS and superbly balanced acidity this is another wine that is refreshingly drier than the residual sugar suggests.
Richmond Plains 2012 Sauvignon Blanc has crisp, bright flavours bursting with gooseberry flavours and a hint of white pepper. A small portion was fermented on old oak puncheons (big barrels) and this has added a super textural element to the crisp acidity and fruit intensity.
I HAVE BEEN DRINKING
Saint Clair Family Estate 2011 Omaka Reserve Chardonnay RRP$33.50 While I could never understand why it was out of favour, Chardonnay is finding popularity among consumers again and this is made in a well-balanced full style. 100 per cent barrel fermented, malolactic fermentation and 10-month barrel age ensure this has a full, rich mouthfeel with delightful white peach and soft hazelnut characters. Perfect with chicken pie this autumn.
12,000 Miles 2012 Sauvignon Blanc RRP$19 From Gladstone Vineyard in the Wairarapa, this is a delicious wine, bursting with crisp apple, pineapple with and a hint of lemon all balanced with nice fresh acidity. A very good wine that exhibits everything we love about sauvignon blanc at a delightful price.