Vino

Top drops under $20 (and over) and wine news from Joelle Thomson

Top drops… 5 wines with the X factor

I was once invited to post 5 positive things that happen to me every day on a private Facebook page. It’s a nice idea, but every day? Needless to say, posting 5 top wines once a week can be also be challenging but for different reasons…

There are simply so many tasty wines made in and imported to New Zealand today. This weekly blog is about the creme de la creme of them. The following wines are the absolute bests that I’ve tried over the past seven days in my work as a wine writer and as Wine Programme Director (tastings, writing) at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington and also as a wine lover.

So here we go… it’s the silly season but here are some very un-silly sparkling wines and lovely whites.

Big flavour, small name Champagne

Champagne Gatinois Aÿ Grand Cru Brut Tradition NV France $67.99 

19/20

Gatinois is based in the village of Aÿ in the Champagne region and is run by the father son team Pierre and Louis Cheval-Gatinois, who own 7.5 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards and sell half their grapes to Bollinger and other top champagne producers. They also make their own wines. This  blend of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay spends at least three years on lees (decomposing yeast cells) after secondary fermentation in bottle and this is where its rich toasty flavours come from. It’s full bodied, nutty, dry and complex with a slightly oxidative style which provides balancing softness to the refreshing acidity and long finish. Amazing wine.

Another similarly beautiful, Pinot Noir dominant bubbly is Andre Clouet about $54 – toasty and delicious.

Blanc de Blancs

Champagne Larmandier-Bernier Latitude $95.99

18.5/20

  • On special for $88.99 next Wednesday at Regional Wines & Spirits

Biodynamic, blanc de blancs (champagne speak for 100% Chardonnay) which is made from hand harvested grapes fermented in a combo of wood and stainless steel tanks with wild yeasts. Reserve (older) wines make up about a third of the blend and this is aged in the bottle on lees (decomposing yeast cells) for 2 years – 6 months longer than the legal minimum waging time for non vintage champagnes. The dosage is low at 4 grams per litre, which means this wine tastes drier than most champagnes but not austere, thanks to the richness supplied by the long lees aging and full body from the softening creamy effects of aging Chardonnay in wood.

 

Method in Marlborough

Nautilus Brut NV $41.99

18.5/20

Modelled on Bollinger, this Pinot Noir dominant Marlborough bubbly is made in the traditional method, which is another way of saying like champagne – second fermentation in the bottle. It’s then ages on lees (decomposing cells after fermentation) for an extended period of time, which provides big rich toasty flavours; the hallmark of Bollly and Pinot Noir dominant sparkling wine styles. A stunner.

 

Italian fizz

Vezzoli Franciacorta Brut $32.99

18.5/20

Italian top end fizz made 100% from Chardonnay grown in the Franciacorta DOCG in Lombardia; northern Italy. This is also made in the traditional method – the same way as champagne – and it tastes fresh, dry, full bodied and creamy – a dead giveaway this is Chardonnay.

 

Great name, great wine 

2014 Tongue in Groove Riesling $ , % ABV

19/20

I’m a sucker for a great name and this is one of the best because the wine lives up to its moniker, filling every groove in the mouth with its full bodied ripe peachiness. The refreshing citrusy flavours add an amazingly long, zesty, complex finish and every sip is hard to forget. This is a wine of beauty, thanks to Riesling devotee Lynnette Hudson and Angela Clifford; the front face duo behind this wine (which includes other silent team members too).

Help at hand for food and drinks businesses…

Here’s a question for you: what do dreamers, hospitality students and restaurateurs all have in common?

The answer: all of them need a little help when it comes to maximising their business potential, which is where Celia Hay’s new book, How to Grow Your Hospitality Business, may  come in handy.

 This book could come in very handy, thanks to the practical nature of its writing and diagrams, particularly the advice dispensed on page 25 of the Hospitality Business Life Cycle, which explains the ebbs and flows of how hospitality businesses work.

“The easy part is setting up a restaurant, café or bar; the hard part is sticking at it when customers come and go because floods of customers can sometimes turn into a trickle for no obvious reason,” says Hay, explaining the rationale of her business life cycle diagram, which she refined for this book.

It’s her third edition of How to Grow Your Hospitality Business and it was launched in Auckland a fortnight ago at the New Zealand School of Food & Wine, which Hay relocated from Christchurch after the 2011 earthquake devastated her school there.

She began working on the new book in 2010, prior to the biggest Christchurch earthquake,  and it has been a work in progress since the relocation to Auckland.

I have worked for Hay at her school in Auckland for the past seven years as a wine tutor and while I no longer teach regularly for her, we remain in contact.

We had a chat this week about her new book.

What do you think of hospitality as an industry to work in?

Celia Hay: It’s much better entertainment than sitting on a couch and watching TV.

What’s the most rewarding part of working in hospitality?

Celia Hay: It’s very addictive creating food and sharing it with people and setting up for special events. I find it very rewarding and greatly enjoy doing events. It’s about being curious about your guests and sharing food, wine and laughter. It’s all very human and that’s the most rewarding part of it.

What is your biggest hope for the book and those who read it? 

Celia Hay: It’s a book to help people succeed in the hospitality business but also for those people who dream to own their own place one day. I want to help people on the pathway to success.

When did the first edition of your book come out?

Celia Hay: In 2000…

What inspired you to write your first edition?

Celia Hay: This book was to provide a text book for the Certificate in Restaurant and Cafe Management that we launched in 1998 at our school in Christchurch.

What’s the biggest change over the years in the books?

Celia Hay: The compliance side of the hospitality industry has become incredibly complicated. Even the Sale of Alcohol Licence and the Food Control Plan are both very detailed from a compliance point of view. And then there is the new Health & Safety at Work Act and the Food Act and all the challenges of employment law.

Who is the target market?

Celia Hay: The dreamer, the student of hospitality management and the restaurateur or café owner who wants to do some professional development.

What’s next at the NZ School of Food & Wine?

Celia Hay: We are just going through NZQA approval for the Diploma of Cookery (Level 5) and Diploma of Hospitality Management at Level 6. We also have a new professional wine diploma to be launched at the school in the middle of 2018.

Where can people buy the book?

Celia Hay: Online at foodandwine.co.nz and also at Unity Books in Auckland and Scorpio Books at Christchurch.

Top 5 drops… top wines, tough choices

This is the eighth year running that the Gimblett Gravels 2015 Annual Vintage Selection has been put together as a case of the best 12 wines. Read on for my top five.

Arid, dry, stony ‘soils’ (if you could call them that) are the story of the 800 hectares of Gimblett Gravels (GG) vineyard area, which was first planted in grapes in 1981. Red grapes dominate  90% of the GG area…

 

The wines in the Gimblett Gravels 2015 Annual Vintage Selection were all selected from submissions made by wineries to the Australian based Master of Wine, Andrew Caillard.

He ranked and rated the wines to come up with the top 12 and then I ranked and rated them to come up with following five – my distillation of his favourites.

I hope you enjoy the line up and the read.

PS: Below the wine reviews (scroll down) you can read a snapshot that explains what The Gimblett Gravels 2015 Annual Vintage Selection is all about.

PPS: One complaint; I wish the producers would use screw caps on these wines, which would undoubtedly preserve them in more consistent condition and minimise the risk of possible wine faults.


You can buy the 2015 Gimblett Gravels Annual Vintage Selection from www.advintage.co.nz

 

Top Syrah – Le Sol

Craggy Range Syrah vines on the Gimblett Gravels in Hawke’s Bay at dusk…

2015 Craggy Range Le Sol Gimblett Gravels $136, 13.5% ABV

19/20

A top drop at a top price from the Gimblett Gravels; the name Le Sol refers to the Heritage Syrah clone, which winemaker Matt Stafford uses to make this bone dry, dark purple hued Syrah. The grapes were 100% hand harvested at 23.9 prix and fermented in open top French oak then aged in 30% new French barriques for 17 months. It’s unfined (so, technically, it could quality as vegan) and it was coarsely filtered. Now the technical stuff is out of the way, what does it taste like?
Incredibly dry, youthful and super powerful on the dark fruit flavoured front – it drinks well now, if you decant it at least three hours prior to drinking and serve in large glassware. Otherwise, stash it in a dark cool spot for at least 5 years. It will age superbly.

Cork closure.

Buy from Craggy Range

 

Sensational Syrah

2015 Ka Tahi Wines Rangatira Gimblett Gravels Reserve Syrah 13.4% ABV

19/20

This wine is a surprise, in so many ways. To start off with, it’s an unusual bottle because the traditional Bordeaux shape suggests Cabernet and Merlot rather than Syrah. And this may seem like a moot point (bottle shape doesn’t alter the taste, right?) but this wine is surprising in other ways too – its flavours verge on smooth soft caramel and far far nicer in terms of its riper flavours – dark fruit and dark plums and very smooth flavours and long finish… This is the wine of the five that I would opt to drink now, but there is no doubt it can age – for at least 5-6 years. A stunner.

Buy from Ka Tahi

 

Babich beauty

2015 Babich The Patriarch $79.99, 13.5% ABV

18.5/20

This wine lives up to its name; it’s an interesting blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 51%, Merlot 27%, and Malbec 22% (of which there’s precious little in New Zealand). The colour is deep ruby, opaque and stylistically this is an open wine right now with forward fruit flavours that intermingle with notes of spice (cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg…) and a full bodied, long smooth finish. It’s a lovely drink now and also needs to be decanted. It will age for at least 5-6 years.

Cork closure.

Buy from Babich Wines

 

Sacred Syrah

2015 Sacred Hill Deerstalkers Syrah $59.99, 13% ABV

18.5/20

Excellent complex Syrah with dark ruby colour, bone dry style and a full body with rich dark fruit. It could age well but is open to drinking and enjoying now too; thanks to its smooth, soft, velvety mouthfeel and powerful dark fruit flavours, which intermingle beautifully with notes of spice, cedar and a hint of pepper. It’s one of my top three wines of the 2015 Gimblett Gravels line up.

Cork closure.

Buy from https://sacredhill.com

 

The top value red – Vidal

2015 Vidal Reserve Syrah $24.99

18.5/20

Tasty. And a bargain to boot. This Syrah has to take the top prize when it comes to value for money, but don’t let that dissuade you from enjoying its massively complex, rich, dark, powerful and intense fruit flavours and complexity. It’s full bodied, youthfully complex, fruit forward but has great ageing potential for at least 5-6 years. It is best served in a large glass after it has been decanted for at least three hours.

Sealed with a screw cap.

Buy from Vidal Estate

 

Wine fact file

The Gimblett Gravels 2015 Annual Vintage Selection

The 2015 selection is the eighth consecutive one following the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages; its aim is to provide:

  • a perspective on the style of Gimblett Gravels wines from one year
  • to show the evolution and progression of the wines

The 2015 Annual Vintage Selection includes seven blended reds and five Syrahs, all independently selected from submissions made independently by wineries to Master of Wine Andrew Caillard.

The full line up of wines

Blended reds

2015 Babich Irongate, $39.95

2015 Babich The Patriarch, $79.95

2015 Mission Estate Reserve Cabernet Merlot $29

2015 Sacred Hill Brokenstone $49.99

2015 Stonecroft Cabernet Sauvignon $47

2015 Te Awa Single Estate Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon $29

2015 Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot $49.99

Syrahs

2015 Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah $135

2015 Ka Tahi Rangatira Syrah $29.99

2015 Sacred Hill Deerstalkers Syrah $59.99

2015 Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah $35

2015 Vidal Reserve Syrah $24.99

Prices quoted are recommended retail and do vary.

 

Breaking news… Craggy Range opens new cellar door

The cellar door of one of Hawke’s Bay’s largest wineries reopened last week after six weeks of refurbishment, which saw the space completely gutted to make way for a relaxed tasting experience.

Craggy Range general manager Aaron Drummond says the new cellar door, which opened this week, was modelled on its Northern Hemisphere counterparts in the Californian wine regions of the Sonoma and Napa valleys.

“The United States wine industry is much further advanced in delivering a great customer experience. Our visitors can still enjoy the more traditional tasting at the bench/bar, but for those that are interested in learning more about the wines, sitting down in a relaxed environment and tasting with the staff is a much more interesting and enjoyable experience.”

With the reopening of the cellar door, a new bites and platter menu has been designed for  Terroir restaurant by head chef Casey McDonald, who began this year. i

The Cellar Door is at the Giants Winery on Waimarama Road and is open seven days from 10am to 6pm.

The project is the first stage of a two part redesign for the cellar door and will be followed by the Terroir by Craggy Range restaurant in winter 2018. Design on both has been led by Paul Izzard from Izzard Design.

« Older posts

© 2017 Vino

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑