Travelling round New Zealand
I had decided to go into the wine trade after University and was lucky enough to get the chance to travel before starting work. I wanted to see the world but also obtain an intensive insight into a wine area. New Zealand seemed to fit the bill, being as far away as possible and showcasing some fantastic wines and wineries. I lined up a job in the legendary Annie’s Wine Bar (sadly a venue that, like many others, was lost in the devastating earthquakes) and started my wine education properly.
The first thing you learn from living in wine country is that some of the best wine doesn’t leave the country and that it’s very hard to get wine from other countries. After 6 months I craved a Rhone valley. (Here in the UK we are lucky to live in the most diverse wine drinking country in the world.)
Cloudy bay, the most famous of wines from New Zealand, is great! It is great because it is clearly distinctive as being Cloudy Bay on the palate. New Zealand’s wines are consistently good, they become great when they achieve distinction.
Here are my two favourite wines from the trip – what they have in common is that they are unique.
Fromm Clayvine Pinot Noir
My time in Marlborough has great memories. I would get on my rented push bike and explore the valley around Renwick. All the iconic wines are there but it was this wine that I found at a little shack, so new was the winery. Grown on clay soil, the wine takes on a very un-Kiwi style, so much so that I have been fooled when tasting this wine blind into believing it to be a fine Burgundy. A long, luxurious, light flavour but none of the tartness you get with South Island Pinots. Still as good as I remember it.
Lawsons Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc
I didn’t visit this winery but became very familiar with it through serving it at Annie’s. As you can imagine, I tasted a lot of Sauvignons during my time in the country but this was the best. New Zealand Sauvignon is almost a brand in itself – still today it is my most asked for type of white wine after Pinot Grigio. Considering they are not the cheapest wines on most restaurant lists, they are a safe bet, you know what you are going to get. Although it is clearly a grassy, powerhouse example of Marlborough white, it is its differences which lift it above others. Maybe it’s the 6% aged in wood, maybe it’s the wild yeast they use ? All I know is that it has the passionfruit and gooseberry complexity that I have yet to find elsewhere.