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 $19.99
Hailing from the Loire Valley and predominantly vinted from the lesser known grolleau noir variety, this is delicious French Rosé with lots of action going on in the glass. Fragrant and bright, with very attractive red summer berry fruits and watermelon notes on the nose, the palate opens with plush bursts of cranberry, pomegranate, watermelon and tangy citrus competing for your attention. A gentle kiss of fruit sweetness adds a luxe element to the conversation, but those retained sugars are adeptly balanced by a nice vein of tangy acidity on the finish. This is one seriously user-friendly wine. That gentle line of sweetness on the mid-palate makes it attractive with or without food, and at just 10% al/vol, it’s a perfect lunchtime option when the sun is out, and a glass of good, chilled rosé is the order of the day. Match with lawn sports or a poolside lounger – or a lightly spicy prawn salad if you need a bite.
Available from $34.99
Prophet’s Rock winemaker Paul Pujol is one of the gems of the Central Otago scene. He’s a man with an understated character that blossoms as you spend time with him, and the wines he produces all share a similar calling card. I have long been a fan of Prophet’s Rock Pinot Gris and it’s always an automatic starter in my list of the best New Zealand examples of this delicate varietal. As expected, the 2022 vintage is another excellent effort that operates in the just off-dry spectrum. The bouquet is classic nashi pear, apple and white flowers, while the palate builds on those pear characters - adding elements of sweet lemon / grapefruit and touches of spice into the mix. It’s a restrained and elegant style that nonetheless carries the swagger and charm to impress the most discerning palate – and every sip will taste better than the one before. Shout yourself a bottle. You won’t be disappointed.
Available from $26.99
Another small batch South Island aromatic white that impressed me over the last month was the Blank Canvas 2022 Anandale Farm Riesling 2022 – from powerhouse Marlborough winemaking couple Matt Thomson and Sophie Parker-Thomson MW. This is a luscious, juicy expression that very clearly takes its inspiration from the Kabinett Rieslings of Germany. The nose is a wonderful amalgam of sweet grapefruit and lemon, with some floral notes and honey-lime undertones. All those characters drive through to a medium-dry palate that’s alive and very lush – with that decadent fruit sweetness balanced with layers of tangy acidity. It’s a party in your mouth, but always manages to stay focussed - and that fresh citrus finish just goes on and on. Like every other wine writer in the world, I wonder why riesling as delicious as this is not front and centre in the minds of the wine buying public. Help me change that, will you?
Available from $16.99
Here’s this week’s bargain. Vinted from the traditional glera grape, this is bright and lively Prosecco from Tempus Two. Softly creamy in the mouth with rounded flavours in the stonefruit zone and subtle citrus characters bringing both freshness and gentle acidity, it’s a lovely take on the famous sparkling wine that is ever-present in Italy. Just a touch off-dry, this non-vintage release is a very solid option to open whenever the urge calls, and it’s a perfect ‘one size fits all’ bubbles for functions or summer parties. Prosecco’s beauty lies in its effortless charm, and that’s exactly what you get here. The mouthfeel is a little fuller and rounder than its Italian cousins but that easy going nature shines through loud and clear.
Available from $19.99
The Aussies call grenache, shiraz and mourvèdre / mataro ‘the Holy Trinity’ of red wine with good reason. It’s a magical combination with the grenache component bringing glossy weight and juiciness, while shiraz kicks in the mid-palate power and drive. Mataro brings structure and dryness - acting as the counterpoint to the generosity of those exuberant grenache fruits – and this excellent 2019 release from Yalumba’s Samuel’s Collection shows how well this varietal trio can work together. The nose is all sweet black fruits with layers of oak spice with some toasty barrel notes adding another layer of complexity. The palate is juicy and rich, with silky dark fruits taking centre stage, before some more serious mataro notes close things out. It’s delicious – and only now entering its ideal drinking window. Highly recommended.
Available from $39.99
Lowburn Ferry is now part of the Smith & Sheth and Pyramid Valley consortium of brands, with their wines made under the steady hand of Pyramid Valley’s, Huw Kinch. It’s always been a winery I have admired, so it was good to find that this 2021 pinot is another very strong offering. With fruit sourced from the sub-regions of Gibbston, Wanaka and Lowburn itself, it’s fragrant and very attractive on the nose with regional notes of black cherry and plum, accompanied by subtle hints of game, thyme and anise. The palate is supple and quite full, with softly expressed sweet fruits and nicely integrated tannins. This lovely wine is already looking harmonious and should mature gracefully over the coming 5+ years. Very good value.