In an era when the wine business is full to bursting with more marketing guff than you can shake a screwcap at, I'd like to share with you one of the best pieces of communication I've seen in eons. It came in an email from Judy Finn at Neudorf vineyards in Nelson. It was to explain that she had three new wines in the post for me to try. I've expanded on her abbreviations but essentially this is it verbatim.
"Dear Yvonne ... Neudorf vintage due to start March 17th so we are heads down and bums up getting ready. 3 new wines - SB 12 (sauvignon blanc 2012) - pretty good year typical Neudorf restraint although I think this vintage is more in your face than normal. Bit of oak work but hope it isn't too obvious.
"MoPG 12 (Moutere Pinot Gris 2012) Technical notes attached. MoPN 11 (Moutere Pinot Noir 2011) Same.
"Veraison (Ripening) well under way and netting all done now just mending holes in the nets and chasing birds out of the rows when they have snuck in - bloody waxeyes.
"Todd (Stevens, their winemaker) is itching to get his vintage underway - he is so like Tim (Finn, Judy's husband) and brings a sense of calm purpose with him.
"Cheers and please contact me for any information, comment, etc." Judy"
A great letter which tells me everything I need to know yet it also conjures fantastic imagery of what's going on at their place. There's excitement, pride, anticipation, frustration, appreciation and love - all in just a few lines.
I've tasted some great wines this week, so let's crack straight into them, shall we?
Neudorf Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2012 $23
I served this wine to a bunch of chardonnay lovers over takeaway Thai food and a unanimous "Yum!" erupted. With aromas of elderflower, citrus blossom and fresh fennel, followed by juicy lime, herbaceous hints and interesting texture and richness in the mouth and on the finish - it was a winner with pretty much everything on the table - it even lifted the spring rolls to new heights. Delicious! www.neudorf.co.nz
Rockburn Tigermoth Central Otago Riesling 2012 $33
If you can tear your nose away from the gorgeous green apple, Rose's Lime Juice, mandarin and waxy honeycomb for a second to take a sip you'll be rewarded with an explosion of ultra-clean, tangy citrus and luscious, crunchy sweetness on the palate. The finish, though, is more restrained, poised and elegant. An absolute stunner. www.rockburn.co.nz
Forrest Estate Marlborough Chenin Blanc 2010 $21
That there's not more chenin blanc coming out of Marlborough is a tragedy because it's such an exciting style. I'm a huge fan of the classic apple skin, fruit wax and wet stone aromatics, that juicy, white peach character and its hint of moist hay on the finish. It's a great match for cockles, chopped bacon and capers tossed with creamy, lemony pasta. www.forrest.co.nz
Deep Creek Brewing Co. 309 NZ Pale Ale 500ml $7.50
Easily the best beer I've tasted all week, and it is a winner with barbecued chicken slathered in lemon and oregano. While the chicken sizzles, you'll just love the way the fresh, crunchy, cut-grass hoppy characters in the beer size up to the oregano aromas from the pan. Named after highway 309 from Coromandel to Coroglen, this hero of a drink is the last of summer in a bottle basically. www.glengarrywines.co.nz
Millton Riverpoint Gisborne Viognier 2011 $26
If you've never tried viognier before then this is a super-tasty example and also one of the best value-for-money viogniers on the market.
Subtle apricot stone, jasmine, orange oil and a hint of white pepper on the nose then on the palate, there's a seam of buoyant acidity which holds the luxuriously rich, tangy citrus and spicy flavours together and carries them to a long, satisfying finish.
Amazing with apricot, chicken and brie sizzling on a pizza. www.millton.co.nz
Duca Di Saragnano Chianti DOCG 2011 $17
There's a huge amount going on in this wine, with things like black olive, salted chocolate, cocoa, liquorice, black fruit and cedar all jostling for attention in the mouth. It has a lovely, earthy undertone and a long, spicy finish. Great value and delicious with slow-cooked pork ribs. www.kahurangiwine.com
Te Mania Koha Nelson Ice Wine 2011 $21 (375ml)
This is an intensely lime-laden sweet treat with apple strudel flavours bursting through and rubbing shoulders with yellow plums, honey and kumquat characters.
I really like the natural acidity in this wine, too - it keeps the sweetness at a refreshing rather than a cloying, level. Try a small glass with fresh-baked gingerbread and icecream - dangerously good. www.temaniawines.co.nz
Brancott Estate Terraces 'T' Marlborough Pinot Noir 2011 $43
This is a young, but very classy, pinot noir which oozes chocolate, pomegranate, rosehip and spice on the nose and palate. It has a silky-smooth mouthfeel and all sorts of plump, juicy, berry flavours on the palate.
The texture is the thing that wowed me; I'm a sucker for a velvety finish. Lovely now, but a couple of years in the cellar will do wonders for this wine. www.brancottestate.com