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EuroVintage Roadshow 2011 – Too Much of a Good Thing!

By June 8, 2011No Comments

The combining of the portfolios of Eurowine and Vintage Wines & Spirits distribution companies has resulted in an incredible and incredibly large range of wines. One can only look in admiration at the number of high profile star wineries and depth of commercially successful labels that are carried by the now EuroVintage named operation. The worrying aspect is of course, how can full support be given to all of the lines in a very domestic crowded market place seriously oppressed by the effects of the GFC? The ‘glass half full’ perspective is that there is something for everyone, and this was the case at the EuroVintage Roadshow conducted in Wellington at the St James Theatre.

With around 460 wines to taste, the allotted time of five and a half hours was not enough to do justice to all of the wines offered. Palate fatigue would also be a consideration. I tasted as many wines as I could, but in this report, I have featured only one wine from each exhibitor that appealed to me. The wines are not necessarily the most expensive or ‘flagships’, but had interest and individuality or an appeal that would make them satisfying to drink at the dinner table with wine interested friends.
New Zealand Wines
Starting with the letter ‘A’ must be a boon for Ata Rangi, as their wines are usually tasted first! The Ata Rangi ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Chardonnay 2009 was particularly intense, refined and complex with mealy, nuttiness. It was a treat to see the yet-to-be released Babich Family Estate ‘Headwaters’ Organic Marlborough Gruner Veltliner 2011, still unformed, but I could see the aromatic beauty. A classic, un-interfered-with wine was the CJ Pask Gimblett Gravels Viognier 2010, exotic, but with a steely firmness and cut. Riesling has become a special variety for Carrick, and I was taken by the Carrick Central Otago Riesling 2010, with its super balance of sweetness, florals, acidity and depth. If I had to choose one ‘wine of the day’, it might be the Clayridge ‘Excaliber’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007, pushed to the limits of complexity, and with stupendous mouthfeel. Two excellent Pinot Gris demonstrated the Awatere Valley minerality, cut and power. Similar, but different were the Clifford Bay Marlborough Pinot Gris 2010 and Vavasour Marlborough Pinot Gris 2010, you could do no wrong with either. On the same stand was the Goldwater Marlborough Pinot Noir 2010, the clay soils giving the fruit a lovely rich and rounded depth and supple texture.

I love the distinctive labelling (or is it art?) on the Frizzell bottles. The Frizzell Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2008 showed the benefits of some bottle age in providing harmony and integration. Bottle age also contributed to the fine toasty complexities in the elegant and beautiful Hunters Marlborough Riesling 2009. Pinot Gris reared its exotic head with two more decadent styles tasted together, one the Man O’ War ‘Exiled’ Waiheke Island Pinot Gris 2010, showing exciting, balanced richness, and the Main Divide ‘Pokiri’ Late Picked Waipara Pinot Gris 2009, made from mainly raisined fruit that gave real unctuousness. Possibly the most adventurous wine on show was the Maude ‘Family Vineyard’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007, made with a scarily high 85% whole bunch. Very complex and with wonderful structure. A thought provoking wine worth thinking about!

Just released was the Neudorf Nelson Chardonnay 2010, showing power on bouquet and a brooding palate that will no doubt be as sensational as the 2009. Quite on another tack was the Pegasus Bay ‘Maestro’ Waipara Merlot/Malbec 2007, a wine of stylishness and exceptional restraint. This also, is just about to be released. A unique wine is the Seresin ‘Chiaroscuro’ Marlborough 2009, an ethereal blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Gris. So intriguing and interesting that a bottle just may not be enough to get its measure. Te Mata Estate’s range always offers top quality, and the approachability, balance and clear-cut style of the Te Mata ‘Woodthorpe’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet 2008 shows how it should be done. Drinkability plus! It would also be easy to drink the Wairau River ‘Reserve’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010, a wine with real presence allied to restraint, where the usual brashness of varietal herbaceousness is well tamed.

Australian Wines

Australian wines are represented with depth in the portfolio. One of the venerable producers, Angove’s ‘Vineyard Select’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009 was warm, smooth and elegant, quite silky in texture. More serious and deeper was the Browns of Padthaway ‘Myra’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2004. The Cumulus/Climbing/Rolling group from the Orange region had a very smart, spicy and intense Rolling Cabernet/Merlot 2008. Love their pastel, pastoral stylised labels too. And the heavyweight names from the Barossa Valley never fail to please. The Thorn-Clarke ‘Shotfire’ Shiraz 2008 shows great depth of ripeness and richness while never seeming over the top. The Elderton ‘Ashmead’ Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 is a wine of majestic proportions and a king hitter – or is that a wine fit for a king? And don’t forget the fortifieds – Grant Burge 10 y.o. Tawny Port, with sophisticated rancio wood-nutty flavours and a palate length that is sensational.

McLaren Vale fruit seems to be matching Barossa in quality and market presence. The variation in styles is a highlight. The super-premium status of the Serafino ‘Sharkstooth’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008 is well-deserved. Great concentration and density, as is in the Shingleback ‘D Block’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006, still so young in its outlook, but already mouthfilling. A little more elegant, but just as nuanced was the Wirra Wirra ‘Woodhenge’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009, proving that size isn’t everything.

Trucking fruit is commonplace, and relying only on assumed provenance can mean missing out on some excellent wines. Kingston Estate has the Baritone ‘Maxim 1000′ Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 in 1 Litre bottles. A cheapie for sure, but it just slides down, with good flavour. On a more serious note is the Tempus Two ‘Vine Vale’ Shiraz 2008, Barossa fruit for this Hunter Valley winery. And similarly, McGuigan ‘Handmade’ Shiraz 2007 uses Langhorne Creek fruit for this Hunter Valley based winery in this top offering.

Other Imported Wines

Walking in the door, one was met with a glass of Louis Roederer ‘Brut Premier’ Champagne NV. How good is that? Seemingly tighter and drier, yet still as complex and rich as ever. At the other end of the sparkling continuum was the J.C. LeRoux ‘Le Domaine’ NV sparkling wine from Devon Valley, South Africa. Light, frothy, with some lovely gentle sweetness. A wonderful daytime sipper and one to share with the family. A steely, crisp and intense Salomon Undhoff ‘Pfaffenberg’ Riesling 2009 from Kremstal in Austria showed how much fruit extract can be found in the variety! A favourite label looked good again, the elegant and suave, fine-fruited and medium-bodied Torres ‘Celeste’ Ribera del Duero 2007, made from Tempranillo. I left the roadshow finishing with firstly the ripe red fruited, succulent Graham’s ‘Six Grapes’ Port, a benchmark vintage character style, followed by the Lustau ‘San Emilio’ Pedro Ximinez Sherry. Lingering liquid Christmas cake flavours…..

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