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Proven Champagne Labels Dominate and N.Z. Pinot Noirs Consolidate in Cuisine’s Tastings

By November 1, 2010No Comments

The latest issue of Cuisine magazine, Issue 143, November 2010 reflects what is becoming recognised in the categories of Champagne and N.Z. Pinot Noir of late. The trends have been consistent with both styles of wines, and it is pleasing the see the Cuisine panels reinforce them.

Champagne and Sparkling

The experienced Cuisine panel of Ralph Kyte-Powell, Sam Kim and Jane Boyle, led by John Belsham looked at Champagnes above and below the $100.00 mark. Their top wines in each group confirmed the ultra-high quality of almost all Champagne of late. Labels that were seen as ‘second tier’ are now footing it with the big names, which have come under extraordinary pressures of insufficient stock to recessionary marketing. To attain and maintain top quality in such conditions is remarkable.

In the Top Ten $100.00 and Under, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin ‘Yellow Label’ was first. This will be a popular choice over Christmas. Pommery ‘Springtime’ Rosé and Delamotte NV filled in the next spots, less seen in the market, but obviously, this will change. Then the well-known brands, Pol Roger NV, Mumm with their Rosé NV, followed by Perrier-Jouet ‘Grand Brut’ NV and Louis Roederer ‘Brut Premier’ NV. Completing the top ten were the specialist Gosset ‘Brut Excellence’ and the Ayala pair of ‘Brut Nature Zero Dosage’ NV and ‘Brut Majeur’ NV. The Over $100.00 wines were headed by Taittinger ‘Comtes de Champagne’ Blanc de Blancs 1999 and the Perrier-Jouet ‘Belle Epoque’ 2002. Also featured in the top five was Mumm Cramant NV. All of these Champagnes will be very enjoyable.

The sale of the Lindauer brand by Pernod-Ricard to Lion was no doubt determined well before the results of Cuisine were revealed. No matter who owns it, the wines are all excellent, due to the continued refinement over the years. A lovely result for the Lindauer Rosé NV topping the Sparkling category. It’s a bargain at around $16.00 a bottle. Then the more serious wines, Brown Brothers ‘Patricia’ Pinot/Chardonnay 2005, Hunters ‘Miru Miru’ NV and Nautilus ‘Cuvee Marlborough’ NV. Again, no argument.

N.Z. Pinot Noir

John Belsham headed the panel consisting of Jeff Clarke, Australian critic Nick Stock and Andrew Parkinson in assessing 242 Pinot Noirs. The results support the growing strength and quality across an increasing number of different producers and regions. 11 of the wines were awarded 5 star, the first five all 2009 vintage, affirming the quality of that harvest. In first place was the Soho ‘McQueen’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009, this producer also garnering fourth spot with the up-market ‘Couture’ release of the same wine. In second spot was the Gibbston Valley 2009 and Spy Valley 2009 captured third. Akarua 2009 in fifth represents a bit of a come-back for this label. The only Wairarapa wine in the 5 star group was Martinborough Vineyards ‘Te Tera’ Pinot Noir 2009 in tenth place.

The Cuisine panel saw the results as not as outstanding as the 2007s, but were “starry-eyed” reports writer John Saker, and over half of the four star and more awards went to Central Otago wines. This begs the question: Are N.Z. Pinot makers heeding the advice to ensure the variety does not become a commodity as Sauvignon Blanc has seen to become?

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