60 New Zealand wines, including top 2000 Sauvignons

The New Zealand Wine Institute is a marketing organisation for many of New Zealand’s best wineries. They brought their wine trade “roadshow” to Scotland with around 25 different producers and agencies showing around 150 wines. The notes are quite brief and I approached this massive event with quite a specific mission: to taste the Pinots Noirs and Rieslings that were on show as these are some of the hottest properties on the New Zealand scene. I tasted some of the 2000 Sauvignons Blanc too (this is generally agreed to be an excellent Sauvignon vintage) as well as a number of other varietals.

Retail prices are given where known in pounds sterling. The tasting was not blind.


Allan Scott Wines Marlborough Riesling 1999 – £7.25
Very pale colour. Fresh, confected, cool-ferment nose of floral and herbal scented fruit. The palate shows a sparky element of lemon and tropical fruit. Quite alcoholic in the finish with crisp acidity and good purity, if a little indistinct in the end. Quite good. UK Agent: Lay and Wheeler 01206 764446

Hunter’s Wines Marlborough Riesling 1997 – £8.99
Much more pungent lime, mineral and toasty nose. Some delicious waxiness. Lots of limpid, pure, limey fruit on the palate with little touches of tropicality. Quite rich, just off-dry. Very nice and finishes with good length. UK Agent: A.H. Wines 01935 850116

Coopers Creek Hawkes Bay Riesling 1997 – £7.49
This has a pleasant nose with some biscuity richness and wax. Plenty of lime fruit aromas too, but there are maturing toasty notes developing. The palate is citrussy with plenty of acidity to give a sharp profile, but it has a nice, chewy, savoury style. Good. UK Agent: Ehrmanns Group 0207 359 7466

Kim Crawford Marlborough Riesling 2000 – £8.99
This has bright, clean, youthful aromatic and floral aromas and lots of clean apple and pear fruit. Crunchy, with zippy fruit this has a nice core of minerality and plenty of punch. Young, vibrant and very good. UK Agent: Liberty Wines 0207 720 5350

Kim Crawford Marlborough Pinot Gris 2000 – £8.99
Pale lemon yellow colour. Nose of smoke, peaches and a nutty mellowness. Plenty of rich fruit on the palate: succulent ripe pear. A nice sour check of acidity suggesting plum and greengage. Delightful stuff.

Saint Clair Marlborough Riesling 1999 – £6.99
This has a crisp, sherbetty nose and a well-balanced, just off-dry palate of fresh fruit with nuances of nettles and wax. Decent length, plenty of fruit. Good value. UK Agent: Averys 01371 873 383

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2000 – £12.00
Very attractive nose striking a balance between pungent, leafy aromatics and plenty of bursting lychee and tropical mango fruit. Just a little green bean edge. Palate is zippy and as always very ripe, quite concentrated and showing a lovely quality of fruit and fine defining acidity. Seems like a very good Cloudy Bay at this early stage. UK Agent: Cloudy Bay 0207 235 8020

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Chardonnay 1998 – £13.00
Layered with toasty new oak, brioche and peach fruit on the nose with a sheen of sweet, syrupy tropical fruit. On the palate there’s a fine steely core of mineral acidity that really gives character but still powered by ripe apple and peach fruit. Has balance and length. Very good.

Montana Marlborough Riesling Reserve 1999 – £7.99
Very rich and tropical nose. Quite unctuous and limey – like lime jelly. Palate is dry, clean and very pure. Good fruit and balance, would have liked more complexity. UK Agent: Montana Wines 0208 250 1325

Montana Gisborne Gewurztraminer Reserve 1997 – £7.99
Lovely nose. Developed with exotic, dark aromas of ginger and seville orange marmalade. A little lychee note. The palate is soft and juicy with a dark fig and honey undertone. Very impressive and distictive wine and very well priced.

Corbans North Island Muller-Thurgau/Sauvignon Blanc 2000 – £3.99
This is juicy, light and aromatic with a bright confectionery perfume, hints of flowers and white fruits. Palate is quite dry and rather neutral, but well-made. UK Agent: Caxton Wines 0208 538 4500 and Montana Wines as above.

Corbans Stoneleigh Marlborough Riesling 1999 – £4.99
Lots of candlewax and oiliness impresses, along with light and citrussy fruit. Palate is nicely fruited too, but just a little overpowered by lemon acidity. Lots of flavour and good character for the money.

Felton Road Central Otago Dry Riesling 1999 – £9.99
This has a very juicy character. A good deal of crunchy, vivid green apple fruit, some keen, zesty lime. Palate has plenty of ripe fruit too and a real burst of tangy, rapier-like acidity. Long, pure, not especially dry despite the name, and very good. UK Agents: Cornish Point Wines 01252 705 102

Felton Road Central Otago Riesling 1999 – £9.99
Note the subtle difference of no ‘dry’ in the title. Still a similar character of green apple and citrus on the nose. The palate has a little more residual sugar, but it’s definitely just off-dry and much of the sweetness is from super-ripe fruit though still fresh and summery through crisp, clean lime acidity. Very good.

Felton Road Central Otago Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 1999 – £13.99
Gently toasted nutty, oaky character. Some peach kernal/Amaretto nuttiness. This has fine fruit on the palate: apple and and a really steely core of lemon with plenty of spice and power into the finish. Very good.

Jackson Estate Marlborough Dry Riesling 1999 – £7.49
This has a sherbetty character. Very zippy with nice apple and lime freshness to the fruit. Very dry on the palate, almost salty minerality. Good length too, Serious stuff with length. Very good. UK Agent: HWCG Wines 01279 506 512

Jackson Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 1999 – £8.99
Pungent, very powerful and explosive nose of crunching, herbal-edged gooseberry: quintessence of Marlborough Sauvignon. Vivacious and leafy tropical fruit floods the palate. Power, length and mighty impressive.

Seifried Nelson Gewurztraminer 1999 – £7.99
This has a fairly reserved nose. There’s a sweet, soft fleshiness and the palate continues in that soft, lush, apricot and orange fruited vein. Pleasant if a tiny bit flabby. UK Agent: Cheviot Wine 01884 291 080

Selaks Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2000 – £7.49
This has a lovely, vivid fruitiness on the nose. Very pure and powerful quality of fruit. A little disjointed on the palate at present. Might need a little time to mesh. UK Agent: Stevens Garnier 01865 263 300

Selaks Drylands Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 1999 – £9.99
Lovely savoury style. Good, rich, powerful and pungent fruit though not at all flamboyant, just fresh and juicy. Lovely on the palate too with balance and enough grapefruity acidity to balance the fruit. Fine.

Olssen’s Garden Central Otago Riesling 1998 – £12.99
Pale gold. Nice nose, quite subdued but classy. Tiny nettle nuances before creamy, ripe fruit. A rich mouthfeel with silky texture and a weight of fruit. Touches of lime marmalade and grapefruit acidity. Very long and very good. UK Agent: Bonhote Foster 01440 730 779

Babich Hawkes Bay Winemakers Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2000 – £8.25
Pungent, with plenty of crunch from crisp, bright citrussy fruit. Really ripe sweetness on the palate with plenty of buttered lime fruit, some gentle herbaceous notes and fine length. Very good. UK Agent: Percy Fox 01279 626801

Isabel Estate Marlborough Riesling 2000 – £9.50
Lovely lime-fresh Riesling nose. Plenty of juicy, sweet, oily but crisp fruit. Exceptional purity on the palate with a searing acidity that is well matched by juicy, ripe, crunchy green apple and asian pear fruit. Fine length and balance. Very good indeed. UK Agent: Morris & Verdin 020 7357 8866

Isabel Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2000 – £9.50
Terrific nose again. Typical Marlborough nose of crunchy, vibrant leafy gooseberry fruit, grapefruit and hints of lychee. The palate follows through, delivering smooth, rich, pure flavours that are lipsmackingly fresh, yet edged with tropical sweetness. Very bold, with a huge stripe of grapefruit acidity into the finish, this is excellent.

Isabel Estate Marlborough Chardonnay 1999 – £11.00
Quite flashy toast on the nose; big charry French oak layered over focused citrus fruit. The palate is quite crisp and lemony with an almost Puligny-like freshness and limpid pear and apple fruit around a core of minerality. Nice and long, the nutty, creamy oak rounds out the finish. Very good indeed/excellent.

Sacred Hill Whitecliff Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay 2000 – £6.99
Really plenty of bold, crunchy fruit here. Green apples dominate, with nuances of much sweeter, full tropical fruit. Quite savoury on the palate though, with good acidity and a nicely balanced drinking style. Very good. UK Agent: Philips Newman 01332 627 497

Sacred Hill Whitecliff Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2000 – £7.00
The profile here is very aromatic and fresh with crisp green apple and just a buttery suggestion of lees or minimal oak. Lots of zippy citrus and pear fruit that is very succulent with good acidity and quite long. Very good.

Sacred Hill Barrel Fermented Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 1998 – £8.50
A toasty style, with lots of buttery richness and juicy peach and apricot fruit. Creamy texture on the palate before grapefruity, slightly pithy acidity braces the finish, but good length. Very good.

Seresin Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 1999 – £13.50
This has a very distintive lime-fresh nose with floral hints and orchard fruits. The palate is quite cool and classy, not quite the fruit of the Isabel, but a serious, dry wine with plenty of mineral acidity that should develop well. UK Agent: John Armit 0207 908 0623.

Sherwood Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 1999 – £9.50
Quite herbaceous on the nose, with asparagus, greengage and gooseberry fruit. Much more herbal aromatics and flavours, with nettle and crunchy green fruit, and decent balance into a long finish. Good/very good.

I looked almost exclusively at Pinots Noir at this event. In particular I looked for the Pinots from Central Otago, hotly tipped by many to promise Pinot Noir wines of truly world class. On this evidence I was very, very impressed by these wines finding bags of character and terrific expressions of this tricky grape across the board. Highly recommended drinking.

Mount Difficulty Central Otago Pinot Noir 1999 – £16.99
Nice weight of fruit on the nose, very smoky with berries and still some slightly raw oak. On the palate bags of spice and rich, earthy fruit in a fleshy format. Quite a full-on style, but not at all jammy and finishing with great style. Good. UK Agent: Bonhote Foster 01440 730 779

Mount Edward Winery Central Otago Pinot Noir 1999 – £19.50
Powerful, concentrated nose with lovely sweetness to the fruit. A touch of caramel, plenty of raspberry and a slick of vanillin oak. Juicy and firm on the palate, the tannins are silky but quite firm giving lots of structure to the wine. Full-textured and long, this is very good. UK Agent: Bonhote Foster

Olssen’s Garden Central Otago Pinot Noir 1999 – £16.99
This is quite light and cherryish with succulent red berry fruit and a strawberry-fruited palate. A silk-textured wine, this is soft and quite delicious though simpler than previous wines and a little too expensive perhaps. UK Agent: Bonhote Foster

Walnut Ridge Martinborough Pinot Noir 1999 – £17.99
Smoke, earth and gravel on the nose. Much richer and more complex in a Burgundian style. Lots of firm cherry and briary wood, a touch of vegetal quality. Complex. Big tannins coat the palate, this is a serious style with plenty of acidity, lovely meaty fruit and real structure. Excellent. UK Agent: Bonhote Foster

Walnut Ridge Martinborough Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 – £13.25
Schist and minerals and a lovely blue-black quality of fruit. Firm blackberry and black cherry. On the palate there’s a bittersweet plum skin edge to juicy, pure fruit and ripe tannins. Quite high acidity, but has the sweetness and quality of fruit to balance. Excellent.

Felton Road Cornish Point Central Otago Pinot Noir 1999 – £14.99
This has a fine nose. Smoke, briar and chocolate dominate over ripe Pinot fruit. Brightly-fruited on the palate, this has freshness and balance in a medium-bodied format. Finishes elegantly with good length. Good.

Felton Road Central Otago Pinot Noir 1999 – £15.99
This is more dense and sweetly rich. There’s a really chocolaty depth still, and on the palate it shows firmer tannins and quite a deep, fleshy palate. Quite Burgundian, there are earthy layers to the fruit. Very good. UK Agents: Cornish Point Wines 01252 705 102

Sacred Hill Whitecliff Merlot Hawkes Bay 1998 – £8.50
Lovely gravelly depth to ripe, sweet berry fruit. A serious nose, with briar wood, cedar and plum. Little notes of smoke and tobacco. Very ripe, lush fruit on the palate but balanced by sweet, fine tannins and a gorgeous savoury acidity. This is superb at the price. Excellent.

Sacred Hill Helmsman Cabernet Sauvignon Hawkes Bay 1998 – £13.50
Big, sweet, creamy black fruit on the nose. Hints of black olive and earth, with some punchy cherry notes. On the palate it stays very succulent, the luscious fruit overlaid with fine tannins and juicy acidity. The finish displays sweet vanillin oaky flavours. Good weight and length. Very good indeed.

Isabel Estate Marlborough Pinot Noir 1999 – £13.50
The nose is suffused with full, soft, earthy strawberry fruit and a little note of sweet, jammy raspberry. The palate is sweet and rich, but well-balanced with medium body and enough bright, focused red fruit matched to mellow, smooth tannins. Very good indeed.


Cloudy Bay Pelorus Sparkling Wine Vintage 1996 – £15.00
Very nutty, rich, toasty. Sesame seeds and baked fruit with a rolling mousse and long, creamy palate. Good acidity, finishes elegantly. Very good.