The articles and descriptions of the top wines, as well as a list of the 3 star wines (as well as food, restaurant and travel articles) can be seen on Cuisine’s newly updated and very good website www.cuisine.co.nz
The title of the wine section, referring to the findings of the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc tasting ‘sipping comfortably?’ fairly well summarises the results of all three themed tastings in Cuisine Issue 130, January 2012.
Of 236 Sauvignon Blanc wines tasted, 8 were awarded 5-star, 3 awarded 4 ½ stars and 25 wines receiving 4 stars. John Saker reports “the Cuisine panel was heartened by the overall quality of the vintage with panel leader John Belsham concluding “It was clearly a very good year.” Panellist Michael Brajkovich MW added “The high-quality wines from the very good 2011 vintage will be at their peak over the summer months”. Saker continues “The tasting results showed relatively few peaks”, and Belsham added “There’s too much safe winemaking, following a recipe” suggesting winemakers here should explore different styles.
The numbers actually speak for themselves, with just over 15% of the wines receiving a silver medal (4 star) award or better, which indicates a moderately successful vintage for the variety. Certainly most of the industry agrees that 2010 was a superlative vintage, with many outstanding wines, many of which are entering their plateau on their second summer. So maybe the report from Cuisine could have been a little firmer in its conclusions. The 2011 vintage has produced lighter, softer and less concentrated Sauvignon Blancs in Marlborough; they are attractively aromatic and very true to type, but this does not make it “clearly a very good year”. In my books they are ‘good wines’ only.
For the record, the eight 5 star wines were, in order: Te Pa 2011, Sileni ‘The Straits’ 2011, Tuatara Bay 2011, Whitehaven ‘Greg’ 2011, The Ned 2011, Mt Olympus 2011, Saint Clair ‘Premium’ 2011 and Lawson’s Dry Hills 2011. No argument there.
The Cuisine panel sought rosé wines that “regardless of style, showed balance, charm and freshness”. Of 65 wines tasted none were judged 5 stars, but 3 were awarded 4 ½ stars and 4 wines received 4 star ratings. This is a typically low faring for the class, with around 10% being rated silver and above, with no gold standard. Acknowledging the increased popularity of the style both here and overseas, one wonders why our industry just doesn’t step up to the mark? It can’t be harder making a good rosé, than say a good Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. It still seems rosé wines are generally by-products of serious red winemaking. My own tasting of rosés has similar results…
The top three rosés in Cuisine, all rated 4 ½ star were: Lil Rippa Waipara Glasnevin Gravels 2011, Martinborough Vineyard 2011 and Trinty Hill Hawke’s Bay 2011.
Interestingly, the dessert wine tasting came through with a very high proportion of winners. Of 40 entries, 7 were awarded 5 stars with 3 reaching 4 star level. The dessert wine category is a notoriously difficult one to do well in, with so many variables that affect the quality and balance. As Cuisine reports “winemakers in New Zealand are becoming increasingly adept at producing sweet wines”, this statement I wholeheartedly agree with. Winegrowers are definitely being more selective with botrytis, ensuring ‘noble’ rot is used, and they are taking greater care to prevent any spoilage in vinification, and having wines that “sip comfortably” as the Cuisine head title says.
First equal in Cuisine’s results were Cloudy Bay Late Harvest Riesling 2006 and Framingham Noble Riesling 2011. The other 5 star wines were Brancott Estate ‘B’ Brancott Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Bladen Botrytised Riesling 2011, Seifried ‘Winemakers Collection’ ‘Sweet Agnes’ Riesling 2011, Saint Clair ‘Godfrey’s Creek Reserve’ Noble Riesling 2009 and Selaks ‘Heritage Reserve’ Gewurztraminer/Riesling 2011. If winemakers can do this with a category of wines that isn’t growing, then rosé should be next on the agenda!