New Zealand Gris and Noir
Mention New Zealand to the majority of wine lovers and Sauvignon Blanc immediately comes to mind. While I find it’s exuberant odors and flavors can be sometimes a bit over the top, and often too much for more delicate foods, they understand the basics of good Sauvignon: Acidity, NO Wood and of course, Acidity.
Aside from Sauvignon, us Quebecers aren’t privy to a plethora of examples of what the kiwis can do with other cépages. So when my man Gerald passed by with a couple of high octane pinots, and with an appetite for a Friday evening of excess, Manon and I sampled another side of New Zealand’s wine production.
Pinot Gris 2002, Station Bush Vineyard, Martinborough, Escarpment ($36…importation)
Pinot Gris can take on a variety of personalities, from a light and fruity aperitif wine to a rich and complex food wine. This bottle was definitely the latter, infused with smokey oak and ripe pears, and a staggering 14.5% alc level that was the definition of ‘hot after taste.’ I would have preferred they left a touch of sugar instead of cranking up the alc volume so high, but all in all, an interesting and complex effort that would best befit a mid to strong cheese.
Pinot Noir 2001, Marlborough, Foxes Island ($48… importation)
I have this bottle on L’eau’s winelist, and while I have tasted it on a number of occasions, this was my first opportunity to drink the bottle and see how well it worked with food. Like their Sauvignon Blancs, the Pinot Noir’s of New Zealand have their own unique character, and a style which any European wine lover can appreciate. This bottle is full of dark, almost cooked fruit with just a hint of oak. Much richer than a classic Burgundy but with more acidity than your average American, it had a sweet and spicey bouquet that I have never encountered with a Pinot Noir. It worked nicely with my Sea Bass ‘en papillote,’ which was cooked with beets, sweet potato and carrots.
Good news for fans of New Zealand Sauvignon as my moles have told me that Kim Crawford's will be available province wide this fall. The screwcap Kim is a classic, well balanced Sauvignon that doesn't veer too far into that exotic fruit twang. And at under $20, a true bargain. Anybody have any ideas as to why they smell the way they do? Is it the yeasts, the kiwi trees, the lamb dung?