Latest wines: January 2012

By Michael Cooper In Wine

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21st January, 2012

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About 10 new wines hit the shelves every day. The latest releases include something for everyone, from bargain-priced sauvignon blanc to benchmark chardonnay and a hard-to-resist Hawke’s Bay red.

Under $15
Tora Bay Reserve Single Vineyard Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011

A step up from the non-reserve bottling (, $9.95 on promotion at Countdown), this is a mouthfilling, buoyantly fruity wine with fresh, strong tropical fruit flavours and lots of youthful impact. Good value at $11.95.

Under $20
Maui New Zealand Pinot Gris 2011

Christchurch-based Royce and Sue McKean claim to own the largest area of “organically managed” vineyards in New Zealand – over 500ha in Marlborough, Waipara and Central Otago (where Sue’s father, former Cabinet minister Denis Marshall, produces wine under the Hawkshead label). Their top wines are marketed under the Tiki brand, while those sold as Maui aim to deliver “exceptional value”. From first-crop vines at Waipara, this is a dryish style, full-bodied and smooth, with very good depth of ripe peach, pear and spice flavours. $18

Forrest Marlborough Pinot Noir 2010

John Forrest is better known for white wines – notably riesling and sauvignon blanc – but the 2010 vintage is his best red yet under this mid-priced label. Past releases rested their case on charm, rather than power, but this deeply coloured wine is sturdy and savoury, with impressively concentrated fruit flavours, delicately seasoned with French oak, and the tannins to age well. Excellent value at $27.

Ohau Gravels Pinot Gris 2011
From Ohau, in Horowhenua, this wine is a rare beast – it was grown on the west coast, avoided by most growers due to relatively high rainfall. Mouthfilling, with a touch of barrel fermentation complexity, it is a finely balanced, medium-dry style with rich, peachy, spicy flavours. $24

Over $30
Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Marlborough’s largest family-owned wine producer has a bewildering array of sauvignon blancs – more than a dozen. This is not the region’s most complex savvy, but in terms of sheer pungency, it’s a star, having won countless gold medals and trophies since the first 2001 vintage. Grown in the cooler, lower end of the Wairau Valley and handled entirely in stainless steel tanks, it is typically super-charged, in an exuberantly fruity, very pure and zesty style. Mouthfilling and sweet-fruited, with bold melon, lime and passionfruit flavours, crisp and long, the 2011 vintage should be at its best from mid- 2012 onwards. $33

Shaw & Smith M3 Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2010
Here’s proof of Australia’s ability (little recognised here) to make great chardonnay. A “complete” wine, it is weighty, rounded and very harmonious, with deep stonefruit and spice flavours, vibrant, minerally and finely poised. Best drinking 2013 onwards. $40

Paritua Red 2008
Paritua was founded by Americans Brianne and Gary Fisher, who planted their first vines at Maraekakaho, in Hawke’s Bay, in 2003. After sliding into receivership in 2010, with creditors owed more than $20 million, it was bought by a Chinese consortium, which plans to expand the business. Delicious now, this is a fleshy, full-flavoured blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, with a splash of malbec. Dark, with a nutty bouquet, it is a bold style with generous blackcurrant, plum, coffee and spice flavours, strongly seasoned with French oak, and a rich, silky-smooth finish. $37

8 Ranges Barrel Selection Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
From a small vineyard planted by Mark Borrie and Trevor Deaker on a terrace above the Clutha River, between Alexandra and Clyde, this wine was made by French winemakers Anthony Worch (from Alsace) and Marian Vialade (from Montpellier.) Softly seductive, it has ripe cherry and plum flavours, a hint of thyme, good complexity and plenty of personality. $37

21st January, 2012

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