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Consumer Magazine’s Recommended White Wines

By December 13, 2013No Comments
Once or twice a year Consumer magazine conducts a wine tasting that complements the advice given to its subscribers and readers on other consumer goods. As with the testing on the likes of sunscreens, digital cameras and barbecues, their advice is independent and based on proper and accepted methodology. A theme for the tasting to suit the season is decided upon and the wine purchased from local supermarkets and bottle shops. The selection is essentially based on statistics on the popular brands and within a price level deemed accessible to the general public. I’ve noticed a gradual rise in budget…

L-R: Laura Saba, Sue Davies & Elissa Jordan

For the last few years, the judging panel has been led by Larry McKenna, director and winemaker at Escarpment Vineyard in Martinborough, who has had around three decades of judging experience at the highest level. The current panel members are Sue Davies (my partner), a wine distributor with over 20 years of industry experience, Gary Bowering, a “passionate wine drinker with an interest in French and ‘New World’ wines”, and Huw Kinch, winemaker at Escarpment with technical experience in Hawke’s Bay and Australia. Recently joining the team has been Laura Saba, a tourism, hospitality and wine specialist with several years judging behind her, and for the first time, Elissa Jordan, on the staff at Consumer N.Z., who is a wine enthusiast and popular blogger at www.wineylittlebitch.com

I’ve assisted Libby Manley, a features writer, over the years with the logistics in serving the wine. The conditions for judging are similar to those at most wine judging competitions, with only a few minor differences. The wines are served blind, in their peer groups, in Spiegelau ‘Festival’ Chianti stemware. The judges work on one large table, but independently, and there are five scoring tasters rather than three as at the major shows. The tasters score the wines to the 20-point scale, and come to a consensus as to the final rating, before the identities of the wines are revealed.

L-R: Larry McLenna, Huw Kinch & Gary Bowering

White Wine Tasting Results
For the December 2013 issue of ‘Consumer’, 60 ‘White Wines’ from New Zealand were tasted across the Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay varieties. The upper price limit was $30.00 per bottle. The results are very much on par with those of the other wine judgings, and the reader can take much pleasure in knowing that the wines are relatively easy to access.

In the Sauvignon Blanc class, there were no 5-stars or gold medal equivalence awarded, but there were three wines at 4-stars, which were the Esk Valley 2012, Wither Hills 2013 and Clearwater Cove 2013, all from Marlborough.

There were two wines awarded 5-stars in the Pinot Gris category: Mud House South Island 2012, and Brancott Estate 2012 from Hawke’s Bay fruit. There is some discussion on the rise in popularity of the variety.

Three wines came through with 5-star ratings in the Rieslings: Mission Hawke’s Bay 2012, Mount Riley Marlborough 2013 and Giesen 2013, noted as being of very different styles. This was a successful category with the wines being highly rated overall.

From the Chardonnays, the Esk Valley Hawke’s Bay and Shingle Peak Marlborough, both from the 2012 vintage were rated as 5-star.

This report offers some sound advice in buying and drinking and discusses the need for an indication of the sweetness level in Riesling. For the wine enthusiast, it’s all fairly basic stuff, but for those still learning, it’s very accessible and easy. The tasting report lists all the 5, 4 and 3-star wines, which are medal standard as found by the panel, and thus recommended.

Issue#542 has many other interesting and useful articles, from a survey on Kiwisaver, to home security and car insurance, chilly bins and double ovens, and much more. Consumer N.Z. is highly recommended in subscribing to. www.consumer.org.nz

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