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 $24.99
Vinted from a blend of chardonnay, chenin blanc and pinot noir, and bottle-fermented using the trusted Méthode Traditionnelle process, this is a very good example of Crémant de Limoux Rosé from the foothills of the Pyrenees in the south of France. It’s all red summer fruits, peach and citrus on the nose with some yeasty characters adding a further quality note. The palate is very fresh and vibrant with those soft red fruits and fleshy strawberry flavours to the fore, while the finish is clean and long with layers of creamy acidity keeping things tight and in check. Crémant de Limoux comes with a reputation as a well-priced Champagne alternative, and this delightful rosé certainly lives up to that. Obvious value, and the quality presentation adds another layer of luxe appeal.
Available from $15.99
Durvillea is the popular ‘entry level’ brand of Astrolabe, one of Marlborough’s finest and most critically lauded producers. Interestingly, the quirky Durvillea name comes from a seaweed variety that winemaker Simon Waghorn, a seaweed geek(!), studied at university – but there’s nothing quirky about the value driven Durvillea range. They give you access to the skill and precision of the Astrolabe team at a very reasonable price, and this 2022 release is a classic interpretation of modern Marlborough Pinot Gris. Brimming with off-dry, juicy pear and semi-ripe stonefruit characters, it’s a lightly textural style with plenty of zip and zing on the palate. It’s a whisker off-dry, bringing subtle spice and ginger to the party, and finishes very clean with some wet stone / mineral notes adding extra complexity.
Available from $14.99
Here’s a bargain. Rosé doesn’t come much more crisp and refreshing that Codici, and this lovely wine is a textbook example of the dry Italian Rosés that are taking the world by storm. Vinted from negroamaro, this wine hails from the Puglia region in Italy’s south, and it shines with very attractive, light copper hues in the glass. On the nose you’ll find cherry, pomegranate, and raspberry notes that flow through to a dry, crunchy palate that opens up in the mouth to reveal some underlying juicier flavours. The finish is very long and zesty with plenty of acidity making this delightful wine a perfect partner to seafoods and salads or a charcuterie platter of salty, spicy meats. I urge you to give it a go. With New Zealand’s current obsession with the delicate flavours of southern French Rosé reaching overload, it’s time for Italian Rosato to have its time in the sun.
Tavernello Organico Sangiovese 2021 - Italy
Available from $16.99
Though a relative newcomer to our domestic market, Tavernello is the top selling wine brand within Italy and the #1 selling Italian wine brand in global markets. Given their consuming passion for wine, that’s a massive endorsement from the Italian wine buying public, and there have been some very impressive wines amongst the Tavernello range I have looked at to date. This is one of them. Vinted from handpicked, organic fruit, this 2021 sangiovese shows classic red fruits, dried herb and anise on the nose, and a savoury, well-weighted palate that shows real depth and balance for a wine in this price band. There is plenty of soft tannin on the finish with some lingering, savoury fruit notes. Given the tannic stricture, this wine is best served with food and, not surprisingly, is well suited to pizza, pasta and Mediterranean dishes.
Crimson Monster Shiraz 2022 – Australia
Available from $17.99
Crimson Monster is the latest label from the burgeoning Fourth Wave portfolio - a company who have certainly struck a chord with the New Zealand wine buying public. Snappy brand names and edgy labels may be the Fourth Wave hallmarks, but winemaking duties are overseen by Corey Ryan – a hugely experienced and respected vigneron who has always known how to put flavour and generosity into a glass of South Australian wine. Produced from McLaren Vale fruit, Crimson Monster is made in a fulsome, robust style that focusses on easy drinkability. It’s loaded with the classic flavours of good Aussie Shiraz but has been made to be sloshed into glasses and enjoyed with gusto – not pondered over and analyzed. It’s a charming mid-week option or a great red to open when friends gather for informal drinks. Match with loud conversation or a good Netflix binge session.
Radburnd Cellars Syrah 2020 – Hawke’s Bay
Available from $84.99
Taking things up several notches, is this wonderful Hawke’s Bay Syrah from celebrated winemaker, Kate Radburnd. Her eponymous brand has given Kate an outlet to release the very best wines she can produce, and each vintage sees chardonnay, syrah and merlot cabernet blends of the highest order offered for sale. Volumes are small. The wines are made without compromise, and have enjoyed considerable praise from the media and, perhaps more importantly, from Kate’s winemaking peers. This 2020 is my pick of the Radburnd Syrah’s I have tasted to date. Fragrant and loaded with black fruits, this wine bursts with notes of toasty oak, baking spice, violets, and anise on the nose. The palate is vibrant and alive with flowing layers of plum and cherry sitting over that heady mix of oak and spice, and the finish is deep and rewarding with enough tannin to calm the conversation and keep the palate focused and long. I loved it. If you are looking for a fine example of the modern Hawke’s Bay Syrah style, this excellent release offers world class quality – and is bargain priced by premium French Syrah standards.