A close brush with her life has made my mum sit up and take notice of a favourite book of mine: 1001 Wines You Must Try Before You Die – “You should be getting me better acquainted with wines like these,” she said last weekend, in her characteristically dry witted way.

It’s hard to laugh when someone is ill the way Mum has been, but thanks to incredible advances in science and health care, she has taken a remarkable turn for the better. It’s good to see her enjoying life, food and wine again, as well as having her sense of humour intact. Something that anyone needs when reading 1001 Wines You Must Try Before You Die. It’s not only hard to find most of these wines. It’s almost impossible.

Still, it’s an enviable list, even if most of us mere mortals will never get the chance to try treasures like the 1976 Hugel Riesling Selection de Grains Nobles or the 2010 A A Badenhorst Family Wines Dry White (Chenin Blanc, Roussanne and 10 other grapes), let alone Veuve Clicquot’s rare NV Extra Brut Extra Old (47% Pinot Noir, 27% Chardonnay, 26% Meunier, doubled aged; three years on lees with a little oak followed by three years in bottle).

If you’re still with me, the 1001 list was curated by people who did actually try the wines, namely, editor Neil Beckett and his team of highly experienced professionals in the global wine industry. The specific wines on the 1001 list change with each new volume of 1001 Wines You Must Try Before You Die. And rare as it is to find these wines anywhere but in the quirkiest of wine cellars, the book’s long list led me to create a new, short list of my own; a list of wines we can all find, all award winners in the latest bunch of wine competitions held in this country last month, two of which I judged (the Marlborough Wine Show and the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Show). Winning wines from other wine shows have been sent to yours truly to evaluate, in the hope I might write about them. I am writing about the best of them, including the following trio (and those in last week’s column).

The good news is: these wines are affordable. Better still, they are all widely available. As in, it is possible to find them on shop shelves. As it should be.

 

Award winning wines of the week

2018 Saint Clair Pioneer Block 9 Big John Riesling $25-$26

This year’s Marlborough Wine Show Trophy for Champion Riesling went to this succulent, tasty little number which is named after vineyard owner, John Walsh, who is six foot ten-inches tall and affectionately known in viticultural circles as Big John. It’s a stony vineyard at 40 metres above sea level on Marlborough’s Wairau Plains, a sun drenched site with warm days and cool nights that let Riesling slowly ripen, gaining intensely citrus flavours, which shine in this outstanding wine from a very good vintage.

Find out more at www.saintclair.co.nz/

2017 Tohu Single Vineyard Riesling $29.99

Take a 2.8 hectare vineyard in the windy Awatere Valley in Marlborough, add the cool climate loving Riesling grape and here’s one of the four wines to score 95 out of 100 in the aromatic wine class at this year’s New World Wine Awards. It’s made by the first Māori owned wine company in the country, Tohu. The wine is made from hand picked grapes from 16 year old vines in the vineyard’s Puketapu block, 230 metres above sea level. The wine tastes dry, light bodied, intensely flavoursome – think, fresh green apples, bright lemon zest and a long finish.

Find out more at www.tohuwines.co.nz

 

2018 Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Chardonnay $20-$23

This is the sort of wine that has gold medal winner written all over it as judges at this year’s New World Wine Awards discovered, thanks to its creamy, full bodied style,  refreshing crisp citrusy flavours and its long, savoury finish. It’s priced extremely modestly for a wine of this quality, thanks to winemaker Jamie Marfell’s talents and those of his winemaking team. Best of all, like all winners in the New World Wine Awards, it’s not hard to find this drop of golden goodness.

Find out more at www.stoneleigh.com/en-nz