Vino

Joelle Thomson's online wine guide

Category: Pinot Gris

Wines of the week: Top drops for $20

What’s your wine budget looking like this week?
If it’s anything like mine, a new range of $17 to $20 wines from Mud House in Marlborough may appeal – all five wines are widely available in New Zealand supermarkets and at Glengarry’s stores.

The launch this week of the new Mud House Sub Region Series wines is also timely for another reason – the affordable prices fit right into the new Top drops for $20 section on this website, which will appeal to those who periodically write in to lament the loss of  “Joelle Thomson’s Under $15  Wine Guide (yes, it was later called Joelle Thomson’s Under $20 Wine Guide), which was published every year in New Zealand from 1999 to 2007.

Books can provide great memories but, with publishing in a state of highly contentious change right now, the most logical place to write about all the great wine bargains that winemakers send me happens to be right here – online.

So, the new Mud House Sub Region wines are made with grapes grown in five different areas, hence, the brand name. They are Rapaura Sauvignon Blanc, Grovetown Pinot Gris, The Narrows Pinot Noir, Burleigh Rose (made from Pinot Noir) and Omaka Chardonnay.

The Mud House Sub Region wines

2016 Mud House Sub Region Sauvignon Blanc  $16 to $20

Take a bunch of Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Rapaura in Marlborough, ferment them into a dry wine in a stainless steel tank at cool temperatures to preserve their fruity aromas of lime, green apple and passionfruit, and here you have it – a wine that’s like a white dove because it’s so clean and pure, says its maker, Cleighten Cornelius.

2016 Mud House Sub Region Burleigh Rose  $16 to $20

“It’s now respectable for blokes to drink pink wine too,” says Jack Glover, of Mud House wines, when launching this pale pink, light bodied, dry wine, which is made 100% from Pinot Noir grapes that were grown specifically for a rose rather than a red. The result is a wine with refreshing high acidity that’s nicely balanced by red fruit flavours, without notes of sweetness. It’s a tasty light bodied pink wine, which makes it a crisp, refreshing lead-in to a fuller bodied wine.

Speaking of which…

2015 Mud House Sub Region Omaka Chardonnay $16 to $20

Silt, gravel and clay soils were home to the grapes used to make this   crisp Chardonnay, which puts its freshest, most citrusy foot forward in a  Chablis-like style (think: high acid, super refreshing, light to medium bodied and you’re spot on).

2016 Mud House Sub Region Grovetown Pinot Gris $16 to $20

Grovetown is the closest area to the coast in this new range of wines, so the Pinot Gris grapes in this wine have a zingy touch of acidity, thanks to the slightly cooler site that they were grown on. The wine was fermented at slightly warmer temperatures than the other whites in the range to encourage savoury flavours to develop. It was also regularly lees stirred to develop flavour (the lees are the left over yeast cells, after fermentation).

2015 Mud House Sub Region The Narrows Pinot Noir  $16 to $20

This Pinot Noir comes from grapes grown on a vineyard in the narrowing upper Wairau Valley on a north facing slope, sheltered by large, established pine trees. It’s pale ruby in colour, smooth and tastes of red and dried fruit; raspberries, cherries and cranberries all provide the signature flavours in this lovely fresh young South Island Pinot. (Just 20% new oak was used in the winemaking here, so fruit comes first while savoury, cedar notes are in the background.)

Winemaker Cleighten Cornelius on these wines…

“They are made from grapes grown on vineyards that we have liked for some time and we wanted to divert these grapes into specific wine styles that play to their biggest strengths. The Pinot Noir grapes for the pink wine have higher acidity than many other Pinot grapes we have access to, so it made sense to turn them to good use in a wine style that needs that acidity for freshness while the Pinot Gris comes from a mixture of heavy clay and dark soils, which provides the grapes with more intense flavours and enabled us to make a spicy wine. Each wine is made solely from grapes grown in that sub region of Marlborough, which also gives them a real story of origin.”

Speaking of origins… The New Zealand Geographic Indications Act is expected to be passed by Parliament and able to be used within the next six months, says New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan.

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

 

 

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