Last year I attended The New Zealand Wine Fair (see http://thewinepopulist.com/?p=143). When invited to go again this year I was happy to. Once again I was impressed with the high quality of all the wines offered. While I tasted wines from some of the same vineyards as last year, I made an effort to taste as many new ones as possible.
One vineyard, te Pa, really stood out. Their Marlboro Sauvignon, 2012 was one of the best at the tasting with a very nice balance of fruit and acidity but with the added pleasure an almost briny mineral finish. I wanted a dozen oysters to go with it. The Pinot Gris 2012 was also at the top of the flock. Pinot Gris is a grape from Alsace, in France. There it makes perfumed and fruity wines with a lot of acid to balance the fruit. Some are made with a touch of residual sugar. I usually like Alsatian Pinot Gris. The same grape under the name Pinot Grigio is a popular Italian white wine. There it is most often made in a much more restrained style that frequently is rather boring. te Pa’s Pinot Gris reminded me of the Alsatian ones but with a fresh tasting cleanness that is typical of New Zealand Whites.
Making characterful red wines is one place that New Zealand has a ways to go. Most that I have tasted are well made but not very exciting. The Marlboro Pinot Noir, 2011 from te Pa showed that this did not have to be the case. It had much of the complexity of a good Burgundy while keeping the freshness that the whites have. So here is the bad news, if you are in the US, te Pa does not yet have an importer. I do hope one picks them up so that I can enjoy these wines more than once a year.
Some of the other wines that I liked, and fortunately are available here were the Jules Taylor Pinot Gris, Marlboro, 2012 which had real character; The Sauvignon Blanc from Saint Clair Family Estate, and a bit of a surprise, Sleni Estate’s Cellar Selection Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay 2012 which at a suggested retail price of $12.99 US was one of the least expensive wines on offer.
Just a quick note: The importer for Jules Taylor wines reminded me that the wine I tasted was from 2010, not 2012, as it said in the catalog. They had some shipping problems and ended up with different wines. I look forward to tasting the 2012 as well.