The wines of Little Beauty, Marlborough

little beauty bottle Little Beauty is an interesting new name from Marlborough on New Zealand’s South Island, their first releases being the wines featured here from the 2008 vintage. In Scotland the wines are being distributed via Edinburgh merchant L’Art du Vin, who have the wines for sale via, but Little Beauty is also selling direct via its dedicated retail website at where the 2009 vintage is now on sale, and where prices include UK delivery.

Little Beauty (a common term of approval amongst Kiwis) has vineyards in the Waihopai Valley, part of Marlborough that has slightly warmer average temperatures and enjoys a maritime climate of cool summer nights and long autumns. Soils are typical of the area, with light, stony, silt loams and fine, sandy loam top soils with alluvial gravels. Yield management is practised from bud-burst to harvest to ensure good fruit concentration from the sustainably accredited vineyard. All white wines are cool-fermented in stainless steel, whilst the Pinot Noir is aged in French oak, though only a small percentage of it new.

The wines

Little Beauty, Sauvignon Blanc 2008, New Zealand
Obvious ripeness here in this 13.5% Sauvignon, with lush hints of pineapple and mango as well as a nicely punchy streak of herbaceous character. There’s a lovely lime and blossom freshness too, in a wine that has more complexity and sophistication than some. The palate has lots of vivid fruit: more of that mango and lychee juiciness and ripeness, but more too of that lime and pithy lemon freshness, even a hint of minerality. There’s an entherial lightness yet crowd-pleasing flavour in a nicely realised wine. 89/100. £65.94 for six, including delivery.

Little Beauty, Dry Riesling 2008, New Zealand
With 2.7% alcohol, this Riesling has for me a touch of sweetness that makes it more just off-dry than bone dry, but then there’s a scinillating acidity and pristine fruit quality that makes it very fresh and indeed leaves the mouth with a clean, dry impression. The nose has little floral and waxy notes, as well as plenty of lime and crunchy apple fruit, and overall this wine is brightly focused and layered stuff of excellent quality. 89/100. £77.94 for six, including delivery.

Little Beauty, Pinot Gris 2008, New Zealand
This wine comes in an Alsace-style ‘flute’ bottle, and weighs in with only 12.9% alcohol, both clues to it being made in a rich but slightly off-dry style perhaps. On the nose there is a delightfully honeyed and nutty character, with lots of spicy aromas and a tropical fruit quality. The palate is medium-bodied, and although that creamy, sweet tropical fruit is there, reminiscent of guava and sweet mango, a fresh, much drier element like crisp apple and pear comes through, along with acidity to balance that residual sugar. This is a nicely styled wine, with a citrussy freshness in the finish that makes it quaffable and food-friendly. 88/100. £77.94 for six, including delivery.

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