- Discovering the Joys of New Zealand Wine

Newsletter for March, 2007

It has been a while since the last newsletter and some of you have been wondering what happened. A lot has been going on around here, some of it good and some of it not. And while those things may have been a distraction, they did not lessen the enthusiasm for New Zealand wine. To get things rolling in 2007, we will feature a joyous occasion from 2006 - a wedding reception featuring New Zealand wines. We are also announcing a major addition to the Kiwi Wineries website. Plus, a couple of wines you may like to try.

Annoucing the New Kiwi Wineries Forum

KiwiWineries is pleased to announce that a major addition has been made to the website,

The Kiwi Wineries Forum.

The forum is a discussion board that will allow everyone to participate. Post a review, ask a question, discuss your favorite wineries, or just read what others have to say. The board is open to everyone so you can make friends from all over the globe. It's brand new and quite sparse at the moment but that's where you come in. Post a comment, introduce yourself, start a discussion.

Click here to check it out: The Kiwi Wineries Forum

A Kiwi Wine Wedding Reception

In 2006, our intrepid Mid-States Correspondent was soaring off into the blue skies of matrimony. High amongst the myriad decisions to be made for this grand occasion was the selection of appropriate wines for the reception. Several constraints framed the decision process:

  1. New Zealand wines available in America
  2. The reception site, an old mansion, does not permit red wine.
  3. Cost effective wines to stay within budget for a large gathering
  4. Wines appealing to both novices and afficianados.

After the venue had been picked, we selected a top-flight caterer that focuses on food and wine pairings, Chef's Expressions in Baltimore, Maryland. The wine needs were identified as:

  • A wine for cocktail hour to go with hors d'oeuvres
  • A sparking wine for the toasts and first course
  • A wine for an optional second course
  • A chardonnay to to go with chicken as the entreé
Here's how the selections went:

Entreé - Foxes Island Chardonnay 2001

Good fortune made this an early and easy choice. A distributor's sale to close out stock for this vintage combined with a sharp-eyed merchant who likes to attract customers with bargain opportunities. A well-structured chardonnay like Foxes Island was just in its prime at that point so I bought all they had at a fantastically low price. Enough for the reception and an extra case or so for the cellar. The caterer revised the entreé to match the wine. The wine was marvelously subtle and balanced, no excesses in any direction. Citrus and stonefruit notes, along with a light creamy vanilla texture and clean finish.

Summer Chicken Roulard with Roasted Red Peppers, Silver King Corn, Buffalo Mozzarella, and Fresh Basil; served with a Lemon Demi Glace

Toasts - Lindauer Brut NV sparkling

Not many NZ sparkling wines are available around here and we auditioned those that we could find. Fortunately, the Lindauer Brut is widely available and was the preferred choice of the wines we tasted. It is a friendly, flavorful wine with a touch of residual sweetness that will appeal to the novices and experienced wine drinkers at a reception. In addition, it sells for a ridiculously low price which made the budget office very happy.

First Course - Fresh Melon Salad With Raspberry Poppy Seed Honey Lime Dressing

Second Course - Shepherds Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2005

Our caterer enticed us to add a second entreé with a delicious herb-crusted fish. We opted to add a second sauvignon blanc to the one we were planning for the hors d'oeuvres. We wanted go with a classic Marlborough SB to go with this course but that still left scores of choices. It all fell into place for one wine. The 2005 vintage of Shepherds Ridge came onto the market and scored 91 points from the Spectator. We were able to find a bottle In DC to try and it fit the bill. A stumbling block came up with the obfuscated distribution system in the US and Maryland in particular. Fortunately, we located a store in Albany, New York, a few miles from the groom's parents, that had the wine in stock and on sale. Slam dunk. It fit all the criteria as a terrific wine on its own, a great pairing with the dish, and it was a great value, especially with the sale price. On top of that, it was a sentimental choice since it was one of the wines that started my New Zealand wine odessey.

Second Course - Seared Herb Crusted Wolffish atop poached Baby Spinach infused with toasted Fennel and finished with a Japanese Basil Beurre Blanc

Cocktail Hour - Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2004

The two sauvignon blancs were considered together between the hors d'oeuvres and the fish course. We considered it a natural choice to pair the Marlborough SB with the seafood and the Pegasus Bay would be a great match for the variety of hors d'oeuvres with its added depth that comes with the 20 percent Semillon. While the usual choice for a cocktail hour is probabably Chardonnay, this is a New Zealand thing and the flagship wine is SB. To introduce the guests to the grace and style of NZ wines, we wanted something with elegance and finesse to stand on it's own and still have the strength and depth to hold up with diverse hors d'oeuvres. With all of the other good values, we could afford to splurge for this one from one of New Zealand's grand wine houses.

Hors d'oeuvres - Honey Pepper Shrimp, Forest Mushroom Bruschetta, Miniature Chicken Wellington, Mini Lump Crab Cake, Ginas, Confetti Mushrooms

Here's how it turned out: The Menu .

Here are two other wines of note that we encountered recently:

White Wine Highlight

Spy Valley Gewürztraminer 2005

In the span of just a few years, Spy Valley has become one of the most consistent producers of high quailty wines in Marlborough. The quality extends across their range of wines and from year to year. The 2005 Gewürztraminer is another charming example. The varietal character comes through unmistakably in the bouquet, intense and inviting with lots of floral and spice. On the palate, it is steady all the way through, delivering a lot of flavor with a crisp, clean finish.

Rating: 90 Price: US $20

Red Wine Highlight

Gibbston Valley Gold River Pinot Noir 2003

Gibbston Valley is one of the pioneers in Central Otago and their Pinot Noir can be a force to be reckoned with, the Reserve captured top honors at the 2001 Wine International Challenge in London. Gold River is their lighter style offering. It features a lot of bright fruit, berry and red cherry, with crisp acidity and muted tannins. A pleasant, outgoing wine for a casual occasion.

Rating: 87 Price: US$25

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