FOOD + DRINK
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A WINE REGION IS BORN
Spence deserves some of the blame. He planted the
first commercial vines of the variety in New Zealand
in 1968, then released his first vintage six years later.
But he also gets credit. Matua currently grows 12
varieties, including outliers such as Malbec, Grüner
Veltliner and Albariño. “Americans look to us for
Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, even the Shiraz that we’re
producing out of the Gimblett Gravels,” Spence says.
“Europeans and Australians are into our Merlot. In
the Chinese market, it’s Pinot Noir. In the UK, our
Chardonnay is starting to sell.”
As consumers have started to try a wide array of
wines from New Zealand, conditions there have made
those wines better than ever before. “This is a very
long country that stretches from sub-tropical in the
north to almost a Scottish climate in the far south, and
we’ve got a huge range of soil types,” says Mike Allan,
whose Huia winery produces some of New Zealand’s
best Pinot Gris. Several decades of experimentation
have taught grape-growers to better match varieties
and sites. And the climate nationwide is unquestionably
warmer than before. “We’re not getting anywhere near
as many frosts as we used to,” said Spence. “That’s let-
ting us grow some varieties in places where they never
would have grown before.” p
Pegasus Bay Waipara Valley Riesling 2012
Not a sweet wine exactly, but a vibrantly fruity o;-dry
Riesling from Canterbury with just enough residual
sugar to make it irresistible. Perfect for spicy food.
Dog Point Vineyard Chardonnay Marlborough 2012
This fits somewhere between Napa Chardonnay
and white Burgundy. It’s creamy yet refreshing, a
suitable complement to fish, but also roast chicken.
The 14 percent alcohol, at just the high side of modest, leaves space for subtlety and evolution.
Rippon Mature Vine Riesling 2012
A remarkable wine from the Lake Wanaka-area of
Central Otago. There’s lime and lemon on the palate and that electric acidity common to all great
Riesling, but also a roundness in the mouth from the
juice’s extended contact with its skins. Fewer than
6,000 bottles are produced annually.
Matua Pinot Noir Marlborough 2013
Translucent, cherry-red color and an entry-level
price, but a depth of flavor comparable to a fine
Nuits-St.-Georges. Drink with salmon.
Nautilus Grüner Veltliner Marlborough 2013
Nautilus specializes in Pinot Noir, but the young
Grüner Veltliner vines of its Renwick Vineyard
have created a far more interesting alternative
to Sauvignon Blanc. Look for oregano on the
nose, some grassiness on the palate and a long,
Burn Cottage Pinot Noir Central Otago 2012
Ted Lemon of Sonoma’s Littorai is the winemaker
for this boutique project. The ripe fruit, French oak,
and measured alcohol come together in a complex
wine that needs time in the glass to show its charm.
Huia Estate Grown Marlborough Pinot Gris 2012
An easy-drinking white, but don’t let that description fool you. Its lemon-meringue notes linger in the
mouth, and the softness hides ample acidity. Hard
not to reach for a second glass.
Craggy Range Sophia Gimblett Gravels 2011
A Hawkes Bay blend of Merlot, augmented by
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a
splash of Petit Verdot. Inspired by Bordeaux, its
intensity and richness are purely New World,
but there’s a restraint that hints at evolution to
come. Buy some, then hide it in the basement.
EVEN IF YOU HAPPEN TO LOVE NEW ZEALAND’S SAUVIGNON BLANC, IT’S WORTH HUNTING DOWN
SOME OF THE COUNTRY’S OTHER ACCOMPLISHED WINES. HERE ARE EIGHT TO LOOK FOR: