What's hot at the New Zealand annual tasting?
Some days I find I can taste really well. Others, it's a bit tougher - I just don't get the wines as quickly, or else things that should be really good are just so-so. Today was a bit like that. I don't know why this is - is it me, or atmospheric conditions, or - as the biodynamic guys claim - to do with the phases of the moon? But it's good to remember that the taster is an important factor in the 'taste' of the wine.
Today was the New Zealand annual tasting, held at Lords, and very well attended. Disappointingly, while many tastings now provide us punters with decent glasses, we were on ISOs today - the inadequately small glasses that don't show wines very well (especially not Pinot Noir). It's a false economy. You've flown everyone there, spent loads, and then balked at spending a bit more on hiring proper glasses.
I spent a lot of time chatting, but still did quite a bit of tasting. Some highlights:
1. The Framingham range: really nice aromatics here from Marlborough. Winemaker Dr Andrew Hedley is doing a brilliant job, and his wonderfully pure Noble Riesling 2008 was one of the wines of the tasting for me. Great value for money, these wines.
2. John Forrest took me through his burgeoning range. Really liked The Forrest Collection The White 07 and 08, and his two Gimblett Gravels wines - the Collection Syrah 06 and Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 06. He told me that he bought 70 acres of Gimblett Gravels when it was $400/acre. Now the price is more like $25K/acre, and $50K/acre developed!
3. Matt Thomson showed his Saint Clair wines, and they are really impressive across the board. Yes, the Sauvignons are in a thiol-rich style, but there's minerality, too. I really like his Pinots, too.
4. Chatted to Tamra Washington, winemaker at Yealands, a remarkable and enormous new venture in the Awatere Valley, Marlborough. Making some really nice wines. I met Tamra back in Sicily when she worked for Calatrasi, but I hadn't seen her since. She left for KWV, but had an absolutely dreadful experience there and only stayed for three weeks!
5. The Jackson Estate wines are really, really good.
6. Wine of the tasting, for me, was Bilancia's 2007 Syrah, Hawkes Bay. So fresh, bright, peppery and expressive. Bilancia's La Collina Syrah is also remarkable and profound.
Labels: New Zealand