Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.
Available from $16.99
Approximately 100 million bottles of Cordon Negro are opened every year. That’s around 3 every second – an astounding number that makes Freixenet (pron. Fresh- annette) the number one selling Spanish Cava and one of the world’s most loved sparkling wines. Cava is simply Spanish sparkling wine that is made in the same way that Champagne is produced, but with different grapes – in Freixenet’s case macabeo, parellada and xarel·lo. It comes to you with zingy flavours of apple, pear and citrus and is famously bone dry. Skillful work in the winery manages that dryness by softening out the acidity, while 10-14 months bottle-aging during the second fermentation brings roundness and body to the palate. Having not tasted it for many years I was immediately impressed by the quality on offer for such a well-priced wine. With the festive social season now in full effect, it’s a perfect option for parties and functions, and the matt black bottles remain eternally cool.
Available from $96.99
Roederer will always be included in any conversation of the most admired Champagne houses and their latest disgorgement of Brut Premier is looking especially sharp. Established in 1776, Louis Roederer remains one of the very few remaining family-owned Grand Marques with 7th generation Frederic Rouzaud at the helm. Pinot noir dominant, this is powerfully built, textural Champagne with lots going on in the glass. Fresh, fleshy white fruits kick off the palate before bready, yeasty notes take centre stage. The finish is long and vibrant with softly expressed acidity supporting layers of creamy citrus. I love it. It’s long been a personal favourite and anyone who puts a bottle of Roederer on the table will always have my attention.
Available from $34.99
The quirkily named Orca Corca is the latest Chateau Garage release from Ollie Powrie - former head viticulturist for the Villa Maria group. It’s been vinted from whole bunch pressed organic sangiovese from the Osawa vineyard in Maraekakaho, that has been wild-fermented in seasoned French oak. Four months ageing on its yeast lees has brought a fine texture to this delightful rosé, which bursts with bright flavours of stone fruit, red berries and almond. In the style of the classic Italian Sangiovese Rosés, it has some underlying savoury / tannic structure, and that added dimension makes it an obvious partner for alfresco foods. It's a lovely glass of wine that is calling out for an antipasto platter, a sunny afternoon and some great company.
Available from $14.99
Though Kiwis have been a bit slow on the uptake, lighter-bodied chilled red wines are becoming mainstream in global markets, as buyers discover the simple joys of this deliciously satisfying wine style. Wine Gringo is produced from South Australian Grenache that, in many ways, has been treated like a white wine in the winery. The soft plum and cherry flavours synonymous with grenache remain front and centre, but the tannin and grippy mouthfeel associated with red wine is nowhere to be seen. What you get is a crunchy, full-bodied rosé style that comes alive after half an hour in the fridge, but still carries the distinct flavours of those glossy grenache fruits. If you want to be the first in your book club to bust out a chilled red this summer, Wine Gringo Grenache Nouveau would be a very friendly place to start. Go on. You know you want to.
Available from $28.99
This was one of the wines of the vintage for me; a spectacular expression of Central Otago Riesling that was wonderful to taste. Opulent fruit weight and a good dollop of residual sugar frame a palate that’s redolent with green apple, sweet citrus, lemon and lime. Those lush, juicy fruits are perfectly countered by layers of creamy acidity and the interplay between those two key components could not be more harmonious. Everything is in balance and the overall impression far exceeds the sum of its parts. The finish goes on forever. Do yourself a favour and get your hands on a bottle of this special release. Ideally serve lightly chilled as an aperitif so you can see it in its entirety – or match with lightly spicy Asian dishes.
Available from $24.99
This is a very satisfying example of Crianza level Rioja that has been vinted from tempranillo with splashes of garnacha and mazuelo adding further interest to the blend. Barrel-aging in a mix of French and American oak has brought depth and complexity to the core tempranillo fruits but those ripe, spicy raspberry / cherry flavours carry the conversation through to a long finish that’s complexed with some tobacco herbal and anise notes. It’s textbook mid-tier Rioja; ripe, accessible and loaded with flavour but not too extracted or over-developed. Enjoy with a charcuterie platter or a slow cooked, rosemary spiked lamb shoulder.