Tag Archives: New Zealand wine

Wine of the week: Matua Pinot Noir 2016

matua pinot noir

Believe it or not, the Matua pinot noir is quality and value from Big Wine. Maybe there’s hope for the wine business after all

It’s understandable if any you reading this are convinced the Wine Curmudgeon has moved on to legal weed. Frankly, I’m as surprised as you are. How could Treasury Wine Estates, the No. 4 wine producer in the world, make the Matua pinot noir, which is varietally correct, shows a bit of terroir, and doesn’t cost $18? The wine world just doesn’t work that way these days.

But all of that is true. Somehow, the same multi-national that has given us zombie labels and the “we’ll make it just a little bit sweeter” 19 Crimes red blend has also given us the New Zealand Matua pinot noir ($13, sample, 12.5%). Maybe there’s hope for the wine business after all.

This wine is a stunner. It’s pinot noir in the New World style, so not earthy or funky. But it doesn’t have the overripe fruit, too much oak, or harsh, cheap, cabernet-like tannins of many so-called New World pinots. In this, it tastes like pinot noir from New Zealand, with zingy berry fruit, an almost silky mouth feel, and a clean and refreshing finish.

Highly recommended — plus, it should be in a lot of grocery stores. Drink this on its own or with burgers, takeout pizza, and even roast chicken.

Imported by TWE Imports

Labor Day wine 2018

labor day wine 2018Four value and quality-oriented bottles to enjoy for Labor Day wine 2018

What’s a Labor Day wine? Wine that takes the edge of the heat (it will be mid-90s in Dallas, fairly normal), suitable for porch sitting, picnics, and barbecues. In other words, light wines for warm weather.

These four bottles are fine start as part of Labor Day wine 2018:

La Fiera Pinot Grigio 2017 ($10, purchased, 12%): This Italian white wine is almost always worth drinking, a step up from grocery store pinot grigio (a little lemon fruit to go with the tonic water). This vintage is certainly that, and almost Hall of Fame quality. Imported by Winesellers Ltd.

Matua Pinot Noir Rose 2017  ($12, sample, 13%): Big Wine at its best — Fresh and tart berry fruit, plus a crispness I didn’t expect from a company that is one of the largest in the world. If not a little choppy in the back, it’s a candidate for the Hall of Fame. Imported by TWE Imports

Moulin de Canhaut 2014 ($10, purchased, 13%): This French red Bordeaux is everything cheap French wine should be — simple but not stupid, earthy, and just enough tart black fruit. It’s also an example of how screwed up the wine business is, that someone would send me a sample of a wine that may not be available in the U.S.

Naveran Brut Rosado 2016 ($15, sample, 12%): This Spanish bubbly is one of the world’s great sparkling wines, a cava that compares favorablly to wines costing two and three times as much. Clean and bright, with more citrus than berry flavors.  Highly recommended.

For more about Labor Day wine:
Labor Day wine 2017
Labor Day wine 2016
Labor Day wine 2015

Wine of the week: Spy Valley Rose 2017

spy valley roseThe Spy Valley rose shows once again that the New Zealand winery is dedicated to quality and value

The Wine Curmudgeon has long praised New Zealand’s Spy Valley, a producer that combines quality with value. Its wines don’t pant and sniff for scores, and almost all of them are interesting and varietally correct. So imagine my excitement when I found the Spy Valley rose on a Dallas store shelf.

I was not disappointed. The Spy Valley rose ($13, purchased, 13%) was everything I hoped it would be. This is a top-notch rose at a more than fair price. Dare I say it’s my new favorite pink?

In this, it has the body and style that’s missing from many more expensive roses – a complexity and roundness that is a hallmark of Spy Valley wines. But it’s also fresh and crisp, with wonderful point noir berry aroma and flavor (plus a little tropical something or other lurking in the background). This wine shows how rose should be made – not as a way to use up leftover grapes to stuff in a fancy bottle, but to make delicious rose.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2018 Cheap Wine of the Year. Drink this chilled with any sort of Labor Day activity, be it sitting on the porch, burgers at a barbecue, or visiting with friends.

Imported by Broadbent Selections

Wine of the week: Fire Road Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Fire Road sauvignon blancNew Zealand’s Fire Road sauvignon blanc is more than a one-note, grapefruit flavored white wine

The problem with most inexpensive sauvignon blanc is that only has one flavor – overwhelming citrus. This is particularly true of New Zealand sauvignon blanc, which pioneered the style. Pick up a bottle in the grocery store, be it Monkey Bay, Oyster Bay, Starborough, or whatever, and there is usually only one flavor – grapefruit. And that’s where Fire Road sauvignon blanc comes in.

The Fire Road sauvignon blanc ($12, sample, 13%) is more than a typical citrusy New Zealand sauvignon blanc. The citrus is noticeable, but it’s not just grapefruit — maybe a little lime, too. Plus there’s a bit of sweet tropical fruit in the middle to balance the citrus, and even a note of herbs to add more oomph than one expects at this price.

In this, it demonstrates that sauvignon blanc can be complex and interesting, and especially for around $10. This is something that many in the Winestream Media don’t want to believe; in their view, sauvignon blanc has always taken a back seat to chardonnay. Nuts to that.

Drink this chilled with seafood – shrimp marinated in olive oil, parsley, and garlic would be terrific.
Imported by Winesellers Ltd.

Mini-reviews 101: Marchesi di Grésy, Tangent, Tommasi, Satellite

Marchesi di GresyReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month.

Marchesi di Grésy Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($18, purchased, 14.5%): Impeccably made white wine with top quality fruit and citrus and white pepper flavors. But this doesn’t answer the question why anyone would want to buy a heavy Italian sauvignon blanc made to taste like California chardonnay. Imported by Marchesi de Gresy USA.

Tangent Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($8/375-ml can, sample, 13.5%): The question is not whether this is a well-made California white wine, because it is, with lemongrass and some citrus in a fresh and crisp style. The question? Why would I want to pay the equivalent of $16 a bottle for canned wine?

Tommasi Poggio al Tufo Sangiovese Cabernet 2013 ($15, purchased, 13%): A professionally made, if boring, Italian red blend that aims at the so called American palate: More ripe and with less acidity, plus softer tannins than typical Italian sangiovese. A fine example of the International style if you like that sort of thing. Imported by Vintus LLC.

Satellite Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($12, purchased, 12.5%): Surprisingly ordinary New Zealand white, given that it’s a second label from Spy Valley, one of the best sauvignon blanc producers in the world. It’s not bad or off, just very grocery store in approach – mostly fruit forward grapefruit and a little minerality and not much else. Imported by Broadbent Selections.

Wine of the week: Matua Valley Sauvingon Blanc 2016

Matua Valley sauvignon blancThe Matua Valley sauvingon blanc is grocery store wine with a decided difference — quality and value

One of the most frustrating things about the grocery store Great Wall of Wine is that there isn’t any way to tell quality – almost never an employee to ask and little information other than the foolishness on the back label.

This matters because all of us have to buy wine in a grocery store at one time or another, and some of us do it even more often than that. Which is where the Matua Valley sauvignon blanc comes in.

The Matua Valley sauvignon blanc ($11, sample, 13%) is a Big Wine product that shows what can be done when more effort is put into making the wine than into forming a focus group. At first, it seems like a typical supermarket New Zealand sauvingon blanc with lots of grapefruit in the front. But take another sip, and you can taste the difference – a flash of of tropical fruit in the middle, which is a hallmark of quality sauvignon blancs, plus some minerality in the back. There’s even a hint of structure, something missing from most grocery store wine .

That’s why it’s more interesting than the Monkey Bays of the world, even though the cost is about the same. Pair this with almost any grilled or roast chicken dinner, as well as shrimp marinated in garlic, olive oil, and parsley.

Imported by TWE Imports

Wine review: Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Spy Valley Sauvignon BlancThe Spy Valley is annually one of the world’s best sauvignon blancs

The most important thing to know about this vintage of the Spy Valley sauvignon blanc? It cost $16, and I’m writing an entire post about it. How often does that happen on the blog?

But the Spy Valley ($16, purchased, 13%) is no ordinary sauvignon blanc. It’s always among the best in the world, not just in quality and value, but in taking the New Zealand style and adding depth and complexity. This is much, much more than grapefruit first, last, and only, but a wine made for people who want wine, and not just something to drink.

The 2016 vintage of the Spy Valley sauvignon blanc has the grapefruit, of course, as well as a hint of tropical fruit and a minerality that doesn’t seem to have been there in previous vintages. In addition, it’s a very young wine and should get softer and rounder, with more layers of flavor, as it ages over the next couple of years. I’d also suggest letting it breathe for at least 20 minutes; that should help with its youth that it has a screwcap.

Highly recommended. Drink this chilled on its own or with almost anything fish or chicken that is grilled or roasted. I do it with a shrimp boil, and it’s always spot on.