The latest issue of Cuisine magazine, Number 157 for March 2013 features the results of tastings of New Zealand Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. This issue is 180 pages from outside front cover to outside back cover, and the dedicated wine section is from pages 129 to 141, the content losing one whole page and some part pages to advertisements. Sure, this edition deals with the results of the Artisan Awards, but I’m a little worried that Cuisine’s moniker of “food, wine and good living” doesn’t do justice to wine being listed second. It’s a disappointing trend over the last couple of years where the subject of wine is losing ground. I’ve found the depth and sophistication of the wine material has waxed and waned, but recent issues have been far more interesting. I hear that there may be some revamping of how Cuisine deals with wine in the near future, and I look forward to some positive changes. www.cuisine.co.nz
For these three leading aromatic varieties, the Cuisine tasting panel was headed by John Belsham with Anna Flowerday of Te Whare Ra and Cameron Douglas MS as senior judges, with writer John Saker as associate judge.
The panel found the Rieslings a highlight with “attention to detail and dedication evident in the top Rieslings”. Of 103 tasted, 8 were awarded 5-Stars, 9 awarded 4 ½-Stars and 5 wines gaining a 4-Star rating. This is very much in line with the results in recent wine show competitions, indicating excellent handling, but the perennial problem of consumer interest was raised. Of the 8 5-Star wines, all but one were labelled as ‘Dry’, belying the variety of styles that can and are regularly made. John Belsham noted that excellent wines were seen across 6 vintages.
The 5-Star wines were, in order, Drylands Dry 2012, Grower’s Mark Bone Dry 2009, Maud ‘Mt Maude’ ‘East Block’ 2012, Framingham Dry 2005, Vidal ‘White Series’ Marlborough Dry 2011, Villa Maria ‘Private Bin’ Marlborough Dry 2012, Amisfield Dry 2011 and Maude ‘Mt Maude’ Dry 2010.
It was an entirely different situation with Pinot Gris. From 150 wines judged, there was just one 5-Star wine, the Weaver Estate Central Otago Pinot Gris 2012 and two wines rated 4 ½-Stars, these being the Giesen Marlborough 2012 and Moncellier 2011. John Belsham surmised that there wasn’t enough heat in the summer for last year. Anna Flowerday noted that the variety “demands more effort in the vineyard if it is to fulfil its potential”. In recent wine shows, Pinot Gris has seen a rise in success and status, with more top medal awards being given, rewarding both favourable vintages and a better understanding of the variety by growers, winemakers and condumers. Let’s hope this is a glitch in the variety’s progress.
Although a specialist variety in that the personality and expression is voluptuous and exotic, Gewurztraminer seems to be gaining ground in terms of quality wine being produced, and consumer interest. The making of better wine outstrips the interest, but hopefully it will catch up. The quality of Gewurztraminer is generally very high; it has been seen as a particularly suitable variety to grow in this country; and it is pleasing to see that being the case. The latest Cuisine results add weight to this.
Of 43 wins in the category tasted, there were 4 wines rated 5-Star, 1 earning a 4 ½-Star award and 4 wines at 4-Star. The top wine was West Brook Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2011, followed by Te Whare Ra 2011, Alan McCorkindale Waipara Valley 2010 and Te Whare Ra ‘Toru’ 2011 which is a Gewurztraminer co-fermented blend with Riesling and Pinot Gris, all these wines at 5-Stars. The 4 ½-Star wine was the Lawson’s Dry Hills 2010.