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.
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This is one of the first of a series of new wines that have been released by Sir George Fistonich, the founder of the Villa Maria vinous juggernaut. Clearly not ready to retire after Villa Maria was dismantled and sold off in a bitterly fought receivership, Sir George has re-entered the market with a new family of brands including the Forest Flower Collection. The 2022 Forest Flower Rosé is vinted from a blend of Hawke’s Bay Malbec (55%) and Syrah. It’s a very balanced release with a bouquet that blossoms with red berry fruits, watermelon, and red apple aromas. The palate is just off-dry with juicy characters that reflect the nose, with some ripe peach / apricot flavours adding extra texture and weight. The finish is fresh and tangy and carries the acidity needed to keep things crisp and refreshing. Match with a ham sandwich on a summer’s day and life will be good.
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It’s always a pleasure tasting a new vintage of Stolen Kiss, and this important wine continues to be one of the most sought-after rosés released in New Zealand each season. After a few years where the winery was experimenting with residual sugar levels, the team now seem to be working in the 9-12g/l zone – and in my mind, that’s the sweetness level that works best for this ‘luxe’ wine style. Vinted from pinot noir, this is plush and decadent rosé that brims with candy apple and strawberry flavours. It’s exuberant, creamy and those glossy pinot noir fruits fill every corner of the mouth with flavour – before layers of soft acidity kick in to balance out those sweeter notes. With the proliferation of just off-dry roses in our domestic market, it’s so refreshing to see Rockburn refine the unapologetically frivolous style that has put Stolen Kiss on the New Zealand Rosé map – and the 2023 will go down as one of the best vintages to date.
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The Small Parcels range allows the Kim Crawford winemaking team to stretch their legs and produce wines with more interest and depth than their well-known, commercial range. There have been some lovely wines released under the Small Parcels banner, and fans of premium barrel-fermented chardonnay will certainly find a lot to like here. Robustly framed and loaded with stonefruits, lemon brulee, cashew and oak spice, this 2021 release reflects the riches provided by an excellent Hawke’s Bay growing season. A subtle reductive / struck note on the nose adds a modern touch before those powerhouse chardonnay flavours kick in - and the finish is a very satisfying amalgam of toasty oak and rounded, creamy acidity. This wine is already looking very well balanced. Cellar over the coming 5+ years to further develop those delicious lemon brulee flavours.
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With the price of Hawke’s Bay Syrah seemingly always on the rise, this is a very good value offering from Marlborough vintner, Tim Adams. Using fruit sourced from the wonderful Ohiti Road sub-region, Little X is relatively complex for syrah in this price band, and the excellent 2020 vintage has brought plenty of depth and texture to the table. Look for those spicy plum and black fruit characters that Hawke’s Bay Syrah is known for, wrapped in a medium-bodied palate that shows hints of anise, pepper and barrel toast. A generous, juicy mid-palate adds a very friendly aspect, and the finish is long and clean with soft acidity and further spicy notes. It would be a great match with smoky meats and summer BBQs. Enjoy over the coming 4 years.
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My admiration for the Yalumba wine group is well known, and I continue to be dazzled by the quality of wine that this family-owned empire produces under its various brand tiers. From the excellent Samuel’s Garden Collection, this 2021 shiraz is a shining example of the value that the bigger South Australian producers can offer when the stars align, and this delicious shiraz should be on the radar of any Aussie red fan. Fragrant and ripe on the nose, this is classic Barossa all the way. Notes of black and blue fruits mingle with anise, vanilla and mocha, while the palate is full-bodied and generous - with spicy plum and blackcurrant flavours taking centre stage. In my book, this wine could be twice this price and still be considered obvious value. It’s already drinking well but cellar over the coming decade to further to soften down the acid / tannin components and see those lush Barossa fruits command the stage.
Available from $21.99
This is a lovely example of modern Sicilian winemaking using nero d’avola and the lesser known nerello mascalese to form the blend. Fulsome and plush on the palate, the powerful flavours from the darkly fruited nero d’avola component are ably supported by the softer, juicier nerello mascalese fruits – and it’s a special combination when those two varietal worlds collide. Look for lots of succulent blackberry flavours with tobacco / herbal nuances and spicy highlights of liquorice, lavender and cola. It’s a perfect wine to match with a gutsy ragu or perhaps a pepperoni pizza, but it’s generosity and soft tannin structure make it a great option to settle into with a good Netflix session. It comes highly recommended.