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New Zealand Wines (was Vienna recommendations)

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New Zealand Wines (was Vienna recommendations)

Melanie Wong | Oct 5, 2000 05:55 PM

"Melanie,thanks for the tip. I like Riesling but my favorite white
is New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. I enjoy Goldwater, Cloudy Bay and
Nautilus -basically anything from Marlborough. Love those tropical
flavors."

Howard, on Tuesday I had the chance to try nearly 50 new releases, red, white and sticky, from NZ. This was my first taste of any Y2K wines! I can’t think of any wine region that’s making such consistently high quality wines as NZ. In the last decade the number of wineries has increased from 131 to 358, and the new players have the benefit of advances in viticulture and vinification to create terrific wines right of the box.

The 2000 Goldwater "Dog Point" Marlborough SB was the best of the Sauvignon Blancs – very floral nose with intense aromas of pear drops, melon and gooseberry, ripe tropical fruit and citrus on the palate with attractive herbal undertones, zippy finish. My own tastes tend more toward the grassy styles but there was no denying the exceptional quality of this one.

Neither Nautilus nor Cloudy Bay were represented at the tasting. I liked the early Cloudy Bays when they were still raging with jalapeño peppers and cat pee. They’re too tame now and toned down, not nearly as unique, and the oak quotient seems to have increased in recent vintages. Nautilus makes a very nice SB too. I tried all three of the Villa Maria SBs and they’re as steady as ever, the Private Bin 2000 is still a best buy.

As much as I enjoy Kiwi SBs, I think the Rieslings (when they’re not too sweet) are even better, although we don’t see them as much in the US. I hope they won’t tear out the vines in favor of SB and Pinot Noir, which are the most fashionable in NZ these days. The wine I liked the best was the 1999 Felton Road Central Otago Dry Riesling – More austere and minerally nose with green apple, mouth-coating and almost oily mouthfeel with impressive weight and density, powerful finish. The Pinot from this producer was very nice too – they’re really hitting on all cylinders here.

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