Cellar it or drink it?

Five top wines to cellar

For more on cellaring wine, go to www.whiterefrigeration.co.nz/wine-cellars/

The man behind Jacob’s Creek has retired after 40 years of turning one of the world’s biggest wine brands into a household name. And in his wake, Bernard Hickin has made a wine that he hopes will last  another 40 years.

Wine 1

The 2010 Jacob’s Creek Limited Edition Shiraz Cabernet costs  $75 and with fewer than 900 bottles made, it’s in short supply. Does the wine live up to the words?

Here’s my review on a wine I think is worth cellaring.

The 2010 Jacob’s Creek Limited Edition Shiraz Cabernet is an unconventional blend of two deeply coloured black grapes, unless you’re in Australia where Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon regularly rub shoulders in full bodied wines, such as this big, bold red. For every powerful aspect to this full bodied, high tannin, high acid red, there is a balancing smooth (soft tannins), velvety (mellow nature due to oak aging) and and juicy character (vibrant acidity), all of which suggest that this wine will stand the test of time and age for up to 20 years, potentially longer.

I was one of 12 New Zealanders to receive a bottle of this wine to taste. The limited bottles of 2010 Jacob’s Creek Limited Edition Shiraz Cabernet are available for purchase solely at the Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre in the Barossa Valley.

Footnote

Bernard Hickin studied grape growing and winemaking at a degree at the Roseworthy Agricultural College in Adelaide in the mid 1970s and began work for Pernod Ricard Winemakers (then G Gramp & Sons) in 1976 – the same year Jacob’s Creek was officially launched. He was appointed chief winemaker of Pernod Ricard Winemakers’ Australia in 2006 and was succeeded this year by winemaker Ben Bryant, who began making wine in the small Australian town of Mudgee in New South Wales.

Wine 2

2015 Vidal’s Legacy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay $59.99

In many wine drinkers minds, Chardonnay is a white to drink now, as in, right now, but that is to forget the great aging potential of top Chablis and other cool climate wines, such as this one from Hawke’s Bay. It was released this month in Wellington and its full body, noticeable zesty acidity and intense stone fruit flavours all give it the power and backbone (the acidity) to last and improve in the bottle for 8-9 years, in a cool, dark cellar.

Wine 3

2014 Vidal’s Legacy Hawkes Bay Syrah $79.99

Now we’re talking about a wine that seems to say ‘cellar me rather than drink me right now’ because its deep purple colour, dry, full body, powerful but smooth tannins and intense black fruit flavours all bode well for a wine which will gain in complexity with time in the bottle. How long is ideal to age this wine? I suggest a decade. It’s high priced but also high quality.

Wine 4

2014 Vidal’s Legacy Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon $69.99

Cabernet Sauvignon has shrunk in New Zealand to less than 300 hectares today, despite being more than double that as recent as 11 years ago. This may seem a sad state of affairs for fans of powerful French reds from Bordeaux (the home of the Cab’ Sauv’ grape), but it means that the few New Zealand wines made from this grape are better than ever before. It’s one of the world’s latest ripening grapes and even with climate change now apparent, Cabernet Sauvignon usually demands more warmth than New Zealand can deliver, with a few recent exceptions – such as the 2013 and 2014 vintages. This is my pick of the new Vidal’s Legacy trio for its powerful style and firm, youthful, dry flavours, which will, I believe, transform into complex dried herb and black olive flavours with up to a decade and beyond in the bottle.

Wine 5

2015 Sileni Estate Selection Springstone Pinot Noir 14.5% ABV

Hawke’s Bay has more than one white wine string to its bow, so why not allow it the leeway with red wine too, provided it is made from grapes grown (as this Pinot Noir is) from suitable climate zones. While you’re pondering that question, pour yourself a glass of this outstanding new Sileni Pinot Noir, made from grapes grown on a vineyard on elevated river terraces, 150 metres above sea level at Mangatahi. This is inland Hawke’s Bay so the climate is significantly cooler than many other areas in the region. The grapes were divided when picked into two different portions, 30% were fermented as whole bunches while 70% were completely destemmed. The wine stayed on skins four weeks to maximise colour from a relatively light coloured grape and the wine was then matured for nine months in 225 litre French oak barriques; in the final blend only 5% of the wine has had new oak. This refreshing, silky smooth, medium bodied red drinks well now and can further improve for up to 5 years in the bottle.

September tastings…

How did that happen? September is looming which means the year is nearly three quarters of the way through and that our second Wellington Wine 101 gig is about to kick off on Wednesday 14 September from 6pm to 8pm. Places are selling but there is still room for these outstanding three-night tastings, which cost $40 per night; a total of $120 to taste well over $1000 worth of wine. Now that’s what I call good value.

First of all, we have a big smooth red tasting…

Shiraz Matazz with Joelle Thomson

Thursday, September 1, 2016 from 06:00 PM to 08:00 PM
Venue: Upstairs Tasting Room, Regional Wines & Spirits. Bookings online or call, details here: Regional Wines & Spirits.

Wine 101 with Joelle Thomson

One booking gets you three tastings on Wednesday 14, 21 & 28 September. 

Bookings online or call, details here: Regional Wines & Spirits.

 

Wines of the week… 17 August

Let’s just say it’s already been a surrounded-by-new-bottles kind of week because it’s only Wednesday and here we are with a best of the bunch blog. It’s no wonder, really. Not only is New Zealand wine one of the first things we see at the supermarket, it’s the sixth biggest export earner for this country – a significant rise from ninth biggest this time last year.

The following wines were tasted alongside a range of other comparable wines, which were all from New Zealand and all relatively new, with some very recently bottled, as the two 2016 wines show.

Chardonnay of the week

2014 Domaine Rewa Central Otago Chardonnay 14% ABV 

Domaine Rewa Chardonnay is made from grapes grown on a 5.5 hectare vineyard at Pisa, a short drive north of Cromwell in one of Central Otago’s most sun drenched grape growing sub-regions. This Chardonnay highlights what I believe is the strong potential in Otago for high quality whites, due to this wine’s rich flavours, full body, fresh vibrant (high) acidity and balanced creamy softness. Lingering flavours of ripe citrus, nectarines and white peach add to its appeal. www.domainerewa.com

Biodynamics is a philosophy of growing plants sustainably, which includes, among other things, planting, pruning and harvesting according to the phases of the moon. It also includes no systemic sprays, such as herbicides, fungicides, insecticides or pesticides. 

Top Pinot Gris

2016 Jules Taylor Marlborough Pinot Gris 13.5% ABV $23.99

There’s a reason Jules Taylor Pinot Gris keeps appearing on the wine lists at the Gypsy Tea Rooms and The Elbow Room – two small but busy neighbourhood wine bars in Auckland. This Pinot Gris consistently rates highly (with me) for its intensely fresh flavours of subtle white fleshed fruit, such as white pears, white peach and lychees. It’s dry with refreshing crispness and a medium body, all giving it a strong lead on many of its competitors. This is a very good wine with 3 to 4 years time up its sleeve, but why wait? It tastes great now. www.julestaylor.com

Disclaimer: I select the wines for both the Gypsy Tea Rooms and The Elbow Room wine bars in Auckland.

Sensational Sauvignon 

2015 Alluviale Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Hawke’s Bay 13% ABV $23.99

Hawke’s Bay winemaker Ant McKenzie bought the highly revered Alluviale brand earlier this year (2016) and has launched this wine recently, which brings his love of Bordeaux’ best to bear in this dry, fleshy, crisp white wine, which is pale in colour with intense aromas of lemon grass, lime juice, green apple and brie, thanks to the 14% portion of barrel fermented Semillon, which is nicely balanced by the crisp 81% Sauvignon Blanc and the 5% Muscat Blanc, which adds an aromatic je ne said quo. Not only stunning wine but outstanding value for money. www.alluviale.com

Best orange wine

2015 Aurum Organic Amber Wine Central Otago 13.5% ABV 

Lucie Lawrence is a French winemaker who married a Kiwi viticulturist and settled in Central Otago where she makes a trickle of the region’s best Pinot Noirs – and dabbles with 60 cases of this orange Pinot Gris. It was fermented with wild yeasts on skins (hence the orange hue) and bottled unfined and unfiltered. The wine is bone dry, with high (but balanced) acidity, and a light creamy influence adding softness. If rose is your thing, try this adventurous organic amber wine. aurumwines.co.nz

Best newcomer 2016

2016 Jules Taylor Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc $ 23.99 13% ABV

Juicy, fresh and brand spanking new, this intensely tropical tasting Sauvignon Blanc shines the spotlight on the freshest wines on the market in this country right now – 2016 whites. It’s a super fresh sunshine-in-a-glass style of wine with tropical fruit – pineapples, papayas – a medium body and long finish. What’s not to like. www.julestaylor.com

Top Central Pinot Noir

2013 Domaine Rewa Central Otago Pinot Noir 13% ABV

Pinot Noir is the grape that occupies 80% of Central Otago’s vineyards, and this one is made from a single vineyard at Lowburn, just north of Cromwell. All the grapes in this wine were hand harvested and destemmed prior to fermentation, which keeps the dark fruit flavours to the fore while 8.5 months in French oak softens its youthful vibrancy so that each sip is a silky experience. A delicious newcomer made in small quantities, which puts the country’s southernmost wine region’s best foot forward. www.domainerewa.com