A Conversation for New Zealand Red Wine - A Celebration of 1998

NZ years of underachievement

Post 1

Jherek Carnelian

The rise of NZ reds will have to peak because of the persistence od growers to swap the UK ( and other ) markets with sauvignon blanc which somehow the market seems to swallow ! take for example the entry of the Tohu winery onto the UK scene like many a huge amountof wine to sell and the wines are OK , no better no worse just ok , although we ( Noel Young Wines ) were looking for an agency listing from NZ we rejected there kind offer lo and behold 3 months later First Quench proudly display Tohu as a major coup , personally i think the combo fitting .
In discussion with Jane Hunter 2 weeks ago she ducked questions from me relating to the poor quality of NZ chardonnay and reds ( plenty of exceptions ) and the obsession with sauvignon blanc . Until the UK gets bored of Sauvignon like it did of oaked chardonnay we can look forward to plenty more ok wines from NZ from a proliferation of labels probably all consulted on by Kim Crawford ! Come on New Zealand look to the future lets see more reisling , gewurztraminer , Cab merlot blends and world class pinot ! also i concurr with you about Te Mata all their wines are excellent tried the regular estate wines for the first time and was impressed with their quality .

Report card

Post 2

Lonnytunes - Winter Is Here

Jherek Carnelian, much has been written in the press recently about the quality of New Zealand wine relative to international standards, most of it poorly informed and completely irrelevant to the real business of wine trading. Whatever local drinkers' attitude to the quality of wine they see as theirs, the fact is that New Zealand makes more wine than it can drink, and so the balance must be sold overseas.

As that balance moves rapidly towards the point where it will be greater than the local share, so the pressure mounts to secure foreign markets with wine of sufficient quality to command a reasonable return for New Zealand producers. In this situation it is imperative that the Americans, Europeans and Australians who value premium wine believe that our standards are high enough for them. And us shouting the odds about being better than the French is hardly persuasive opinion-making.

The evidence, as always, is in the bottle, and particularly in bottles of wine made from the classic grape varieties that international wine markets consider are the basis of the fine wine business. Of these varieties, New Zealand has a track record with only four; cabernet sauvignon being the oldest, followed by riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir in historical order.

Looking at a report card of these does not make brilliant reading, but it does offer confidence for the future.

Cabernet sauvignon: has worked erratically, and with limited success. Often lacks understanding of the subject, but one or two outstanding examples suggest there is a future here -C.

Riesling: not paying enough attention, and performing well only in fits and starts. needs to concentrate more -C.

Chardonnay: the best subject so far with a band of consistently high-quality performances, some very good back-up results, as well as depth and variety. Competition is fierce, but the signs are very good for future success - B+

Pinot Noir: a precocious performer in a difficult subject that has attracted a lot of attention, but needs to spend more time and effort on substance rather than showing off the clever tricks learnt so far - B-.

A pass, which is a fair representation of the way the international markets are reacting to the appearance of a new bushy-tailed performer on the fine wine stage.

However, future success will depend on more (and more consistent) high-quality red wine performances, as well as the development of a greater range of premium varieties.

Syrah and merlot are looking like strong new possibilities, and both cabernet sauvignon and riesling show that with attention they can be winners.

We've made a good start.


Dont get me wrong

Post 3

Jherek Carnelian

I think the future is very bright for NZ wine and I am inclined to agree with most of your points although I think you give chardonnay too high a score as a rapid judgement made on a Sunday morning shaking off another hangover I can only think of a couple I have enjoyed with repeat succes Te-Mata and Martinborough Vineyards and a one off hit from a winery in Otago called Omakha huge wine at about 15 % alc . The future looks bright for pinot i think as with other varietals the right clones and just as importantly the right areas are now coming on stream and you have a real chance to dominate the Pinot market in terms of drinking wines within the next decade . Totally agree with you on riesling ( the most noble of grapes ) and Syrah well I think that those that do it right will do well ( Matariki , Stonecroft ) a real minefield for other producers . Nice to hear your thoughts , J

Try this great Kiwi

Post 4

Lonnytunes - Winter Is Here

TRINITY HILL CHARDONNAY 1999 Fine, intense chardonnay that should impress the hell out of drinkers in Europe where a good chunk of it is destined to be drunk. It has fragrance and complexity, a fresh, pure fruit clarity and structure enough to suit architects and ascetics alike, although the latter may have some difficulty with its long, fine, flavour-faced finish. Thrilling stuff and if you can wait just a few more years, say, to 2005, it will be stunning.

Try this great Kiwi

Post 5

Jherek Carnelian

Thanks i will look out for it . All the Best smiley - biggrin

The 2000 vintage

Post 6

Lonnytunes - Winter Is Here

JC, for your edification and future drinking pleasure, here's a few words about the 2000 vintage.

Pinot noir had taken a quality leap in New Zealand, wine judge John Hancock said in Napier (September 1, 2001). Mr Hancock, chief judge at the Bragato Wine Awards, said the high standard of the pinot noir from the 2000 vintage had surprised him. "It was an exciting class. Finally we're seeing a group of pinot noir matching up to the hype being scattered around the world about New Zealand pinot noir. "They were absolutely outstanding. The best of them had terrific concentration, complexity and the ability to age. It's a big step for the variety."

Of the 40 wines in the category, five won gold medals and six won silver.

However, he had some harsh words for the white wines.

Only one gold was awarded for the New Zealand flagship sauvignon blanc – "an extremely disappointing class" – and none for riesling. The sauvignon blancs were thin and many of the rieslings seemed to have been picked too ripe, Mr Hancock said.

The competition was run by the Grape Growers Council and is for single-vineyard wines, mainly from smaller producers.

Gold medal awards:

Pinot Noir: William Hill 2000, Mt Difficulty Pipeclay Terrace 2000, Koura Bay Blue Duck 2000, Longburn 2000, Walnut Ridge 2000, Olssen's of Bannockburn Slapjack Creek 1999.

Cabernet sauvignon-predominant: Woodlands Squawking Magpie Cabernet Merlot 1999, Villa Maria Waikahu Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Malbec 1998, Babich The Patriarch Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, Kingsley Estate Gimblett Road Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, Newton Forrest Estate Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon 1998.

Merlot predominant: Alpha Domus Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, Vidal Estate Reserve Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, Prospect Vineyard Merlot 1998, Cardmember Wines Reserve Lyons Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc 1998.

Chardonnay: Clearview Reserve 2000, Omaka Springs Reserve 2000, Riverside Stirling 1998.

Sauvignon blanc: Wither Hills 2000.

Other whites: Johnson Estate Spy Valley Gewurztraminer 2000, Peregrine Pinot Gris 2000.

Dessert wines: Saint Clair Doctors Creek Noble Botrytis 1999

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