Archive for the 'NZ Wine' Category

2005 Staete Landt Pinot Noir, Marlborough

I was driven to try this wine by Gary Vaynerchuk choosing its 2006 version as #88 in his 101 Wines Guaranteed to Inspire, Delight, and Bring Thunder to Your World. You know I’m a big fan of the Pinot and am always on the lookout for a new one to love… especially if it’s a good one in the under-$40 range.

So when I did some research and found that the Wine Dictator rated the 2005 as an even better wine (they gave it 92 points vs. 91 for the 2006), I set out to find it. Well, I came across a bottle of the 2005 tonight at the main LDB store here in Vancouver.

So, this wine really kinda’ rocks. It’s delicious. What it reminded me of were some of the better Pinots I’ve had from Oregon. It had more strawberry/red twizzler kind of flavours than ones I’ve had from New Zealand’s more celebrated Central Otago region, which are more mineral-herbal-tea focused.

This wine’s nose is a mix of pepper, tea and black cherry mixed with strawberry. A big ‘ol sip gives up a hit of juicy ripe strawberry with a swirl of cherry and a splash of black tea. It finishes with a nice bunch of sweet red fruit and stone – like you’ve poured some fancy-schmantzy organic strawberry-cherry juice poured over a clean wet rock.

This is  “Wow” wine… and one that I’ll definitely be buying again. Damn good stuff.

$39.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

No comments

2007 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

OK, I like me some good Sauvignon Blanc (SB) when it comes to summer and food. Years ago when I worked at Dundarave Wine Cellars, I discovered the Kim Crawford SB and fell in love with it (and sold a tonne because of that).

Year after year, this is one of the SB’s out there, especially for the money… and when it comes to food (or patios) there’s almost nothing out there that’s as much of a crowd-pleaser than this grape. It’s got lots of tropical and citrus fruit, with a crisp backbone of acidity that gives it that food-friendly edge.

The nose is all zingy grapefruit, grass and stone… The flavours are a juicy mix of the grapefruit, lemon and a fine edge of minerality. I don’t know what the vineyards are like at Kim Crawford, but they sure seem to come through in the wine. It’s all capped off by a crisp finish that lasts until the next sip.

As always, this is a fantastic wine for the money. It’s definitely one of my favourite whites.

$21.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars


2006 Wild Rock Cupids Arrow Pinot Noir, Central Otago

12272007.jpgI picked this up at Kitsilano Wine Cellars during my December buying frenzy. Rachel and I cracked it open while watching a movie last night.

In the glass it’s quite a light red, which is pretty typical of a Pinot. A big sniff showed bright red berry fruit with a nice herbal edge. The flavours were all that and more… green tea and some vanilla from the oak rounded it out, with a finish that went on until my next sip.

I really liked it. I’ve had much more expensive wines from New Zealand’s Central Otago that I’ve enjoyed less, so for the moolah this is a tidy little bargain.

~$35 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars

1 comment

Wine – 2006 Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

09202007.jpgHoly crap, this is a great bottle of wine for the money. I’ve had this many times over the last few months and have been meaning to write it up. Well, here it is… finally.

The regular Babich SB is a great bottle of wine for the money. This one is like that reduced by an extremely talented chef. All the flavours are turned up a notch. The nose is a big bunch of lemon zest, passion fruit and grass. The flavours literally explode when sipped. There’s grass, lemon, gooseberry and a zesty white pepper and mineral-laced finish. It’s intense and concentrated. Fantastic stuff.

I had this tonight with a tuna, capers, grilled pepper and zucchini pasta with lemon zest and olive oil… and sweet Jesus, it was a perfect match. Wow. So good.

Believe me, I’ve bought it many times and I’ll be buying this again. There aren’t many wines out there that are a better value for the money. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, go buy a bottle of this, sit back and savour.

$20.90 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

No comments

Wine – New Zealand Wine Fair – Vancouver

A couple of weeks ago, Sean and I attended the New Zealand Wine Fair that has been making the circuit around North America. It turned out to be one of those intimate tastings that you could cover the room comfortably and then follow up for a second taste later. Good stuff – if a bit small.

As expected, there was a nice range of Sauvignon Blanc in both regular and reserve bottles, however the diversity of some of the other grapes was perhaps the most pleasantly surprising part of day.

Some of our favorite whites included:

  • Mount Riley Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, Savee Marlborough 2006 – A sparkling Marlborough! How cool is that, all the gooseberry, and grassy flavours with some honey and bubbles to boot.
  • Matua “Judd Estate” Chardonnay, Gisborne 2004– Beautiful toasty orange rind on the nose with some nice honey notes, a little “Oak Monster” but what a food wine.
  • Gibbiston Valley Pinot Gris, Central Otago 2006 – A really tasty Pinot Gris with lots of peach and pear with soft toasty finish.
  • Vinoptima Gerwurztraminer, Gisborne 2004 – Thick and tasty, with loads of lychee, rose and peach. Long on the palate.
  • Mud House Swan Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2006 – Another tasty food wine, this one had loads of gooseberry and grapefruit with hint of jalapeno/ green pepper.
  • Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2005 – a tonne of gooseberry, grass and citrus… the nose was so strong it was pungent, but in a fantastic way. We hope to review this wine fully in the near future.

The picks for the reds include:

  • Carrick Pinot Noir, Central Otago 2004 – Lovely cracked pepper with ripe red fruit and excellent length. Had to make a couple of visits here.
  • Quartz Reef Pinot Noir, Central Otago 2004 – Another beauty from Central Otago, this one again had nice cherry and raspberry with a nice earthy finish.
  • CJ Pask Gimblett Road Syrah, Hawkes Bay 2005 – A great value ($25) with tonnes of toasty pepper, dark plum and a nice spicy finish.
  • Te Awa Syrah, Hawkes Bay 2005 – This was a total pepper bomb, loads of fresh cracked pepper on the nose right through to the finish. My barbeque awaits!
  • Te Awa “Boundary” Cabernet Merlot, Hawkes Bay 2002 – Nice full dark blackberry on the nose with a nicely balanced earthy flavor through the finish. Grilled lamb…. mmmm….

Overall, it was a nice, casual tasting. It would have been nice to see a few more Otago Pinots, but there were some really nice surprises.


Wine – 2005 Oyster Bay Merlot, Hawkes Bay

04132007.jpgI have a thing about red wines under $20 (CDN). There just aren’t many out there that I really enjoy… some… not many. Toss Merlot in there and the grand total is usually pretty close to a big fat “0”.

With that in mind, this wine came as a bit of a surprise. I hadn’t expected to like it at all. It’s nice to be proved wrong.

Don’t get me wrong. It won’t exactly tear me away from a big, bad, deep and dark Merlot, but it did the trick tonight (and does it for a hell of a lot less money).

In the glass, it’s a nice deep red. On the nose, there’s dark cherry, mocha, tea and smoke. The flavours are all that the nose suggests… and more. I got black tea, dark chocolate and lots of nice syrupy dark cherry that lengthens the mineral-laced finish… and it’s all tied together with a nice bit of tannin that would make it a great match for some braised short ribs. Mmmmm… short ribs.

This bottle is really a very good value for the moolah.

$18.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

No comments

Wine – 2006 Oyster Bay Chardonnay, Marlborough

04112007.jpgNow we’re on to the second wine we had at Graham’s on Saturday. This was the concensus favourite of the 2.

This isn’t one of those milky-creamy, slather-you-with-butter, pineapple-juicing, whack-you-over-the-head-with-oak rich Chardonnays. It’s crisp, refreshing and plays well with others… and by others, I mean food.

The nose showed light vanilla, citrus, orange and a nice mineral edge. Paired with the salmon, it was fantastic. This is a great-value food wine. Its crisp acidity, pear fruit and mineral edge made out like a Chablis, heightening the flavours of the food.

Good stuff… very good for the money. I’d definitely have it again, especially with food.

$18.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

No comments

Wine – 2004 Carrick “Unravelled” Central Otago Pinot Noir

02282007.jpgI’ve been hearing a tonne about wines from the Central Otago area of New Zealand… and with the Pinot kick I’ve been on for a while, I figured it was high time to give one a try.

The two factors that had been standing in my way of going to town on a few of them are:

  1. They’re tough to find – I’ve only seen a few in town. C’mon wine buyers, get on the wine trend wagon.
  2. When I have found them, they tend to be pricey. The cheapest ones run ~$45.

So, after a phenomenally odd career day – another story entirely – I figured tonight was as good a time as any to track down a Central Otago Pinot Noir to try. This was the one I chose.

OK, I’ll get right into it. It’s medium red in colour, has got 14% booze, a nose that is a bit oaky and shows a lot of dark cherry along with some leather and tar (with some fumes from the booze)… and you know what? It has a twist-top. After all the corked bottles I’ve had in the past year, I like that. Traditionalists be damned.

What does it taste like? Well, it is tasty… there’s strawberry, dark cherry, and edge of that tar I already mentioned with some lightly tongue-gripping tannins holding it all together.

It’s a good wine…. just not a blow-me-away wine. Would I buy it again? Probably not, but I’m glad I tried it. This is a great food-friendly sipper – it’s just a bit expensive for what you get in the glass. There are much better wines for less money.

~$40 in private wine shops here in BC.

4 stars

No comments

Wine – 2006 Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

01142007b.jpgOK, I’ll say right off the bat that I have a history of loving this wine. Back in 1998 when I was working at the wine store in West Vancouver, I bought a bottle of this and loved it so much that I swear I was behind its increase in sales in Vancouver.

After having the Babich, I was pretty happy with that. This takes all the positives in that wine and builds on them… it adds layers of flavours and aromas. I would actually go so far as to say that this is the best under-$25 bottle of wine currently available here in BC.

The nose is all grass, white pepper and herbs, with a hint of the fruit to come… a sip literally explodes with passionfruit, citrus, honey and a mineral edge, followed up by a lip-smacking acidity.

This is the wine I’ll be drinking at home with fish, shellfish, chicken and air over the next while – it’s just that good.

$21.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

No comments

Wine – 2006 Babich Sauvignon Blanc

01142007a.jpgMan, this is tasty stuff! As far as a white under $20, it really doesn’t get any better than this. It has a big mouthful of fruit as well as crisp acidity that makes it a wine that pairs incredibly well with food.

I love a good Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, especially the area this comes from – the Marlborough Valley. 2006 was apparently a fantastic vintage there and it shows in this wine.

The winery describes it as having, “A pungent nose of ripe tropical fruits overlaying zesty lemon and lime.” Absolutely! The nose is lush with grass, gooseberry fruit and a whack of citrus fruit.

The flavours literally reach out of the glass, smack you and then give you a warm Kiwi hug. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this with a simple dish of grilled chicken, potato and green beans. OK, I guess in reality I can. I LIKED it a lot.

Buy this wine and try it.

$18 here in BC.

4 1/2 stars


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