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Brian Elliott: There's more to the wines of New Zealand

There's more to the wines of New Zealand then pinot noir and sauvignon blanc, writes wine columnist Brian Elliott

Published: March 10, 2016
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Last month’s annual New Zealand tasting underlined how many terrific wines are queuing up behind the current favourites from the islands, pinot noir and sauvignon blanc. Here are a few of them.

An obvious start point is pinot gris. Typifying the difference between these versions and Southern European pinot grigio is the fresh but rounded 2015 The Crossings Pinot Gris (£9.99 at Fountainhall Wines, Aberdeen) with its soft, red apple and pear-centred texture balanced by lemon zestiness.

The slightly sweeter 2015 Waimea Estate Pinot Gris (£9.99 at Majestic) still has appreciable lime and green apple acidity but mellows it alluringly with floral, apricot and honey substance with hints of clove.

Tropical fruit components surface in 2015 Saint Clair Viognier Hawkes Bay (£12.99 at Luvians in Cupar and St Andrews). Here, peach and mango centred depth acquires honeysuckle, vanilla and nutty touches yet preserves firm lemon-based acidity. The same producer’s radical alternative is the citrus and herbal influenced 2014 Saint Clair Gruner Veltliner (£12.99 at Luvians), where green apple and yellow plum fruit vie with minty, pea shoot flavours and a restrained mineral edge.

Sauvignon blanc is not completely ignored courtesy of the Bordeaux style blend in the zesty 2012 Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Semillon (£16.50 at Must Wines in Dumfriesshire) with ginger influenced texture, grassy, tangerine flavours and vibrant lime acidity.

In another variation, about a third of 2014 Yealands Estate Winemaker’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough (£15 at Fine Wine Company, Portobello and Musselburgh) has been fermented and aged in oak. This adds smoothness and butteriness to concentrated gooseberry fruit and tangerine acidity.

The final sauvignon variation is a classy dessert wine, 2014 Sticky End Noble Sauvignon Blanc (£12.74 at Majestic), which delivers marmalade-based texture with ripe apricot elements and hints of honeycomb.


2014 Coca i Fito Tocat de L'Ala Garnatxa Sirà Emporda, Spain, 14.5 per cent
This skilfully assembled blend of carignan, grenache and syrah from (just) the Spanish side of the Pyrenees – remarkably for its latitude – contains lively acidity but only gentle tannin. Behind its bright, bold raspberry, plum and cherry fruit there emerge appealing pepper, coffee and star anise influences.
£9.95 at The Wine Society

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2014 Forte Alto Pinot Grigio Vigneti delle Dolomiti
Trentino, Italy, 12 per cent
Complaints about much Italian pinot grigio usually concern its lack of acidity but the higher altitude in the north can overcome that. Certainly here there is vibrant lime-based acidity that nicely counterbalances the wine’s nutty, mango and white peach fruit.
£5.99 – instead of £8.99 until 15 March – at Waitrose

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