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Wine expert takes a new look at New Zealand

Fri 03 Sep 2010 13:08

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New Zealand tends to be famed for its Sauvignon Blanc, but this small country actually produces wines of almost every single style you can possibly think of.

New Zealand is also looking to broaden its range, and more and more good quality red wines are emerging. Look out for Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, but for now, Pinot Noir really is the most high profile Kiwi red.

It’s always great fun to drink a 2010 vintage wine when 2010 grapes in vineyards all across Europe and North America are still hanging on the vine. The secret is that the wine must come from the southern hemisphere of course, where the grapes are harvested in March (their autumn) whilst in Europe and the rest of the northern hemisphere, the harvest does not take place until our autumn – round about September-time. Our 2010 example today comes from New Zealand and is a Sauvignon Blanc.

The climate in the beautiful country is also particularly suited to making sparkling wines, and New Zealand fizz tends to offer very good value for refined bubbles.

Here are Tom Cannavan’s favourite picks from the country – he’s opted for one white wine, one red and one brut.

1. Villa Maria, Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2010, New Zealand, priced at £8.99 from Sainsbury's (on offer at £5.99 until September 14)
The ever-reliable Private Bin Sauvignon has terrific pea-shoot and tropical punch, with an exotic lift of lychee fruit. On the palate it has that mouth-watering precision act down to a T, with shimmering acidity and a big mouthful of juicy grapefruit and lime streaking across the palate.

With tasting cues of limes, grapefruits and pea pods, this particular wine matches up well with Caesar salad, chicken or fish recipes using coriander or fennel.

2. Asda Extra Special Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008, New Zealand, priced at £9.20 from Asda
Produced for Asda by the excellent Wither Hills winery, this is an open, sweet-fruited example of the Pinot Noir grape from Marlborough, the stronghold of Sauvignon Blanc.

There's something  rather beetrooty and smoky on the nose, but there is also tastes of sweet, full plum fruit which come  through to flood across the palate, with lots of deep, smoky depth and that charmingly spicy finish.

Tasting cues of fresh beetroot and plum make this wine a great match for duck or pork dishes, seared tuna steaks, and wild mushrooms.

3. Lindauer, Brut Sparkling Brut NV, New Zealand, priced at £9.99 from Majestic (on offer at £7.99 until September 27)
There's a lot of sparkling wine made in New Zealand, and big Champagne houses like Deutz have set up facilities there, but this ever-reliable fizz comes from the New Zealand company Montana.

It is a blend of the Champagne grapes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and made in the painstaking Champagne method with a long fermentation inside each individual bottle.

Flavours of apples, lemons and hints of toast, make this a really good match for most fish and seafood, gougère and spicier Chinese dishes.

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