Monday, April 04, 2005

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?


john bossy said...

Just discovered your blog. Excellent.

And to think it was just last night that I tasted one of the most intriguing wines of my limited experience. It was a Hermitage Blanc 1996 Nobles Rives. How can a white wine with such low acidity pair so well with food and age so well?

At first scent, I thought I was holding a glass of Brandy.An ammber swirl of clove, bitter orange, honey and smoke. We drank it with cognac risotto with mushrooms and veal. We remain hypnotized.

caveman said...

Hello John,
I have yet to try the Nobles Rives but I know what you are talking about with respect to low acid wines (100% rousanne with shrimp provencal was one shocker).

If you can get your hands on a Vieilles Vignes from Domaine will blow your mind (Viogner, grenache blanc muscat and chardonnay) Lots of oxidized flavors, a real killer. Thanks for the comments.

john bossy said...

I have a weakness. I never just sip wine. It must accompany food. Otherwise it's like a bottle of perfume with no woman to wear it. Having said that, when the meal is done, I can sip and dream for hours but that's another story.

What would you pair with the Vielles Vignes Domaine Gauby? Thanks for the tip.

caveman said...

Gauby drinks like Meursault...maybe a lobster in some sort of bisque based sauce. I drank one with a steak tartare over lunch... pretty radical but it wasn't out of place at all. You can get a sense of how big this wine can be.

john bossy said...

Thanks for the tip, Bill.