Imbibe’s top picks from New Zealand Wine's new releases

14 November 2018

From Chardonnay to Syrah, the crème de la crème of this year’s New Zealand wine releases demonstrates that there is great elegance and balance even beyond the classic Sauvignon Blanc

The Doctors’ Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2018

This is a textbook Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc.  Rich in those gorgeous thiols giving it classic gooseberry, passionfruit, boxwood flavours, racy acidity, but less than eight alcohol units in the whole bottle.

The low level of alcohol is the result of winemaker Dr John Forrest’s own canopy management experiments. Dr Forrest trims large amounts of leaves off the vine mid-season; as a result the plant achieves reduced sugar concentration, which in turn translates in less alcohol in the wine without affecting the intensity of its aromas

£11.50, Seckford Agencies, 01206 231188


Astrolabe Vineyards Wrekin Chenin Blanc, Marlborough 2016

Chenin has a slightly longer history in New Zealand than many people realise, but it has never really come to the fore.  In the hands of winemakers like Astrolabe’s Simon Waghorn, it really does shine, so hopefully we will see more of it coming through.

On the nose this reminds immediately of orange jelly, with wafts of honeysuckle and jasmine.  It’s got a crisp acidity that gives it a lift, with some sweet apple and honey notes that add to the overall complexity.

£18.35, Armit Wines, 02079080600


Felton Road Block 2 Chardonnay, Central Otago 2017

Kiwi Chardonnay was put in the news a couple of years back by fine wine merchant Farr Vintners, when they organised a blind tasting of Kumeu River versus some top Burgundies.  The Kumeu River came out top.  Felton Road is no less of a celebrated producer and this is a delicious example with the same potential to outshine its French rivals if tasted blind.

Despite the absence of new oak, but this is still an incredibly complex wine.  Aromas of crisp apples, tea leaves, and an almost spicy, fresh tobacco quality meet you from the glass.  It’s got a wonderful structure and texture, with a rich, long and evolving length.

£26.50, Berry Bros & Rudd, 08002802440


Akarua, Rua Pinot Noir, Central Otago  2017

Akarua is one of New Zealand’s best sparkling wine makers and has consistently won trophies for its products for the past decade.  The Rua is their ‘entry-level’ Pinot, designed to be accessible with no bottle age.

Accessible it most certainly is, with a real purity of fruit and some sweet spice on the nose.  Tasting it actively feels like crunching fresh red fruits in your mouth, with a good level of acidity, some nicely integrated tannins and, despite its youth, a good amount of complexity.

£19.99, Liberty Wines, 02077206158


Craggy Range ‘Le Sol’ Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Syrah, Hawke’s Bay 2016

It’s very easy to claim a £60 wine is delicious - and to some extent it bloody should be; but seriously, this is the absolute tits.  Although Craggy Range is known more for its Sauvignon Blanc and Bordeaux blend, ‘Le Sol’ has managed to become a sort of icon wine, as it’s a testament to how beautiful cool climate Syrah can be.

It’s a ‘wow’ the tasting experience. Every sniff reveals something new, from deep, juicy black fruit, perfume and freshly cracked black pepper.  It’s got an almost perfect mouthfeel, rich, creamy, with enveloping tannins and a finish that seems to go on for ever.

£60.00, Bibendum, 0845 263 6924

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