jamie goode's wine blog: What's hot at the New Zealand annual tasting?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

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.



At 1:21 AM, Blogger Donald Edwards said...

Most annoyed, as this week looks set to have me missing almost everything of interest - first year in a few I've missed NZ. Did you get a look at the Prophets Rock wines as they were stand out for me last year (with funnily enough Bilancia)?

At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Martin Ellory said...

I did a very sloppy bit of research into root/fruit etc. days once - just looking at the average score given to wines on Cellartracker each day against the biodynamic calendar over the past couple of months. There really didn't seem to be any correlation - perhaps no surprise there. (Of course there are all sorts of variables, and I didn't do any analysis, but there didn't seem to be anything interesting to analyse.)

At 11:57 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Donald, sadly not. Sorry you missed it - it's always a good event.

Martin, thanks for that - sloppy, but a useful survey - it's probably a large enough sample that the variables average themselves out a bit. I guess you could factor out outliers such as holidays, but otherwise I'd rely on sample size to clean up the noise a bit.


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