New Zealand new releases

Thanks to an initiative from New Zealand Wine Growers called New Zealand Wine Week, I recently had a nice opportunity to taste a snapshot of wines new to the market, with samples of 20 wines covering several of main wine regions.

New Zealand is a country that seems to be continually diversifying and discovering both newer regions and exciting matches of variety to place, so it is always good to keep up with what’s on, or coming to, the UK market. This selection included lots of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Undoubtedly these are two of the country’s most prominent varieties (New Zealand is responsible for 17% of the entire world production of Sauvignon), but of course the country has so much more to offer and I will have further reports specifically on Kiwi Chardonnay and Syrah for example.

Sauvignon Blanc

(2021) Another example of the currently trending breed of lower alocohol wines from Marlborough, with 9% abv, the canopy managed so that fruit could be picked early, at lower potential alcohol. Less overtly herbaceous than the Villa Maria version also tasted, more elderflower and fruity. In the mouth obvious sweetness again and a sense of some dilution, but I do think the finish merges the fruit, sugar and acid a little more successfully.
(2021) Another 'light' wine from Marlborough with only 9.5% abv, the aromas are very much in the green spectrum, grassy and asparagus notes dominating, a little touch of elderflower and talcum. In the mouth pretty dry to begin with, but there's a sweetness that creeps in towards the finish and butts heads with the acidity rather clumsily, and is not to my taste.
(2021) From vineyards on the northern side of the Wairau valley planted on deep, infertile gravel beds. Classic Marlborough SB aromas, lots of passionfruit and elderflower, touching on that slightly 'sweaty' character but thankfully stopping short. The palate has very good fruit and is basically dry, a touch of sweetness to the fruit profile, plenty of nectarine and a tangerine brightness to the acidity. No current stockists, it is new to the UK.
(2021) The majority of the fruit comes from Estate vineyards, a proportion from growers in ohter sub-regions which Nautilus believes gives them a diversity of flavour profiles. Just 2% was barrel fermented. Fair bit of straw to the colour here, green capsicum, gooseberry and peach on the nose, then a dry palate - the driest tasting of the Sauvignon's so far - lots of sour lemon and grapefruit, that is the driving force though there is rosy apple juciness too. Good length and a grown-up style.
(2021) Pale green/straw colour, and quite a reserved nose for a Marlborough Sauvignon, there is a touch of elderflower and grassiness, but a gravelly note too. Sweet and ripe on the palate, abundant ripe fruit here, some tangy citrus but a peachier mid-palate, though the sweetness of fruit maintains into the finish. Quite vibrant, just a touch of that sweet 'n sour character, but nice. No UK stockist listed at time of review.
(2021) Organic, this is given a painstaking vinification: different portions fermented in a concrete egg, amphorae, and neutral old French oak barrels, all with wild yeast. Little bit of a deeper colour here, and a very different nose from those made with commercial yeasts. It's a tiny bit reductive/flinty, salt and apple rather than anything green or tropical. In the mouth the texture is an obvious difference too, more creaminess, some oatmeal and nutty apple. There is sweetness here (almost 7g/l of sugar) which frankly I could do without, but it has a tangy, sour lemon finish and that does work quite well so the final impression is the citrus character in a more complex take on Marlborough SB. A point or two off for being just too sweet.
(2021) An organic wine, but unusually, Loveblock use the antioxidant properties of green tea to protect this wine rather than sulphur: every time the juice / wine was exposed to oxygen 5 mg/L of green tea powder was added before the wine was racked to barrels. 6.10g/l of residual sugar. Very unusual on the nose. I guess it is the green tea giving this unusual, herbal, chamomile and, yes, gree tea notes. On the palate a substantial weight and loads of flavour. Again I can detect that unusual tea character, and again too much residual sugar for my palate. In the finish the dry tannin-like and umami quality of the tea against the sweet stone fruits, sugar and sour acid makes for a very unusual wine. Interesting, but personally I wouldn't rush for a second glass.
(2021) From Villa Maria's vineyards in the slightly warmer sub-region of the Wairau Valley, there's a lightly candied, toffeed note on the nose here and a nice depth of lightly smoky mango and lychee fruit. Some oily green bean and leafy green herb character in the background. On the palate a full, generous wine, abundant fruitin a ripe tropical spectrum, and cleansing lime and lemon acidity into the reasonably long finish.

Other Whites

(2021) Approximately 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon, fermented separately, the Semillon in oak puncheons, and both components aged on the yeast lees for 10 months. Light gold in colour, there's a distinct sulphur character here, moving beyhond struck match for me and possibly a bit too much which is hard to see past, even with a minute of swirling in the glass. The palate has plenty of fruit, a full, ripe stone fruit and pear character, then a rush of pithy lemon, lots of vivaciousness, and a reasonably long finish. I'm a bit non-plussed by that sulphurous nose which I think must detract from an otherwise lovely wine for me.
(2021) From the Waipara Valley in Canterbury on the South Island, vines are over 30 years old with a large proportion planted on their own roots. It's a Riesling in an off-dry style with 24g/l of residual sugar. The colour is pale green/straw and the nose quite exotic, lychee and tropical fruits, a candied fruit quality. In the mouth delightful bon-bon sweetness, depth of nectarine and mango fruit, and a lovely lime-fresh acidity. A gorgeous drink this, with noteable sweetness.
(2021) Organically certified, this is Kim Crawford's estate, and the wine is given a 'hands-off' treatment, fermentation stopped at 12.5% abv when the wine was in balance, leaving 5.2g/l or residual sugar. There's a touch of pinky-bronze to the colour here, and a confectionary nose, all icing sugar and raspbery ripple. In the mouth the sweetness pushes through, with a sense of coolness to this, Asian pear and lemon, though for me it lacks the charm of the Pegasus Bay Riesling.
(2021) Made with a proportion of barrel fermentation, this is an aromatic Albariño which, tasted blind, I might have guessed as Sauvignon Blanc I confess, punchy and vicacious aromas with a touch of elderflower and tropical fruit. On the palate a cool, salty character helps subdue that, but it remains a particularly bright and vivacious take on Albariño with more punch and verve than a typical Galician example, which you will like more or less depending on your taste I guess.

Pinot Noir

(2021) Indigenous yeast fermentation followed by ageing in French oak barriques for around 10 months. Mid-density crimson in colour, there's lots of vanilla and custardy oak character here, set against deep and ripe berry fruit. A little floral highlight does emerge. In the mouth the barrel does slightly dominate, custardy and creamy, but its a charming enough Pinot, pulpy strawberry fruit adding to the easy-drinking appeal.
(2021) Primarily from Nautilus's Clay Hills vineyard, 18% whole bunch grapes were fermented with indigenous yeast in open-top fermenters and aged in a mix of new and older French oak Barriques for 11 months. Saturated crimson, the nose has a sheen of polished wood, cool cherry scents and Pinot truffle and floral nuance. Much less dominated by the oak than the Opawa, but still slick and smooth, the ripe blackcurrant and cherry fruit given a bit of spice and bite from the more obvious tannins and perky acid presence, finishng dry and juicy if just a tad short.
(2021) Vibrant, quite deep crimson, there's an earthiness here, hints of briar and beetroot as well as deep cherry and plum fruit, a little lighter, more floral character flitting around the edges. In the mouth it is quite substantial and deep-fruited, but there's a keen edge through tight tannins and a fine minerally acidity, the oak adding spice and a hint of bitter charriness to add complexity to the finish.
(2021) From 30-year-old vines in the Waipara Valley, part whole bunch fermented in open-top vessels then matured in oak barriques (40% new) from Burgundian coopers. A little paler and more ruby than crimson, sweet, soft and quite mature aromas, a truffle and damp woodland charm and and lots of soft, pulp strawberry and raspberry fruit. In the mouth a lovely wine, medium-weight and filled with juicy but supple red fruit. The oak adds a coffee and cream touch, the acidity is pert and fresh, and the finish spicy, fruity and long.
(2021) Fruit was run over a sorting table straight to the tank, without crushing, and fermentation commenced on its own yeast. Approximately 50% of this wine was aged in oak. Medium-pale garnet colour, not giving a lot on the nose, some plummy fruit comes through, a little briar, quite earthy, maybe just a hint of rose perfume. On the palate quite full, dark-fruited and a touch meaty, the tannin and acid profile here combine to give this a fresh edge, but sweet fruit and fleshy density persist. Medium finish.
(2021) A blend of fruit from Gibbston Valley and Lowburn, this is a darker, more dense crimson with a fairly subdued nose, again a little meatiness, charriness and deep-set fruit, hints of more lifted fruit and florals way in the background, but they are there. On teh palate really juicy and vibrant fruit, a real twist of endive bittersweetness that sits very nicely against the fleshy cherry and red plum fruit. Tannins are fine, that acid is keen and elongates the finish very nicely. Well balanced and long.

Other Rosé and Red

(2021) Logically enough perhaps, a pink wine made from Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir and made in stainless steel. No UK stockists at time of review. A confectionary, cherry-lips nose, all bright fruit and icing sugar, a little creaminess in the background. In the mouth it is sweet, but that's mostly fruit rather than residual sugar, a smooth strawberry shortcake charm, with only moderate acidity so it finishes smooth, easy and relatively broad.
(2021) A Cabernet-dominated blend from the Gimblett Gravels, that always gives my database a challenge to fit in the full label details. If only they'd rename it 'Bordeaux blend'. Vibrant, dark, saturated crimosn, then bright, almost pastille aromas of blackcurrant and violet, there is a nice gravelly touch to the background, along with some polished oak. In the mouth this has a barrow-load of black fruits, a nicely sour orange tang to the acidity that fits in well, and a roughening edge to the tannins that just grips towards the lip-smacking, juicy but tart and mouth-watering finish.

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