All about Wine
Here you'll find information about various wines and wine-making regions, wine history and current thinking on wine and wine-making from Chris and Lin at the Bottleneck.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Although the reputation of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is excellent the history is short, the first commercial quantities of the wine only appearing in Marlborough in 1980. It’s rise in popularity was meteoric and by the early 1990s had achieved international fame led by Montana who originally planted Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough and Cloudy Bay who took it to iconic status.
I can almost guarantee that you won’t come across a bad New Zealand Sauvignon the fresh zingy style that we know and love is from Marlborough in the South Island, a richer more oily style comes from Hawkes Bay and Gisborne (always makes me think of Robin Hood!!) in the North Island.
There are two principle styles of Kiwi Sauvignon, the fresh, youthful stainless steel tank fermented type that is designed to be drunk young. I know that there is a school of thought that says keep the wine for a decade (sometimes longer!!! ) and amazing things happen to it, but if a wine is prized for it’s youthful exuberance I don’t see why it should be served middle aged or worse as an old pensioner!!!
The second style is a newer development with use of oak fermentation and maturation, this second style will certainly benefit from a couple of years in the cellar, it’s very different from the first style and a blend of the two styles is giving the grape another dimension.
If you are looking to match NZ Sauvignon with food the best season for Sauvignon is the summer, it copes well with salads and is superb with roasted capsicum the flavour is echoed in the wine, any seafood sits well with Sauvignon Blanc and Dover Sole is a heavenly match.
We stock Sauvignon Blanc from Tohu, Wither Hills, Spy Valley,Cloudy Bay and Fairfeilds Estate. Don't overlook the other grape varieties from New Zealand Grove Mill Pinot Gris is worth trying, Grove Mill is a carbon neutral winery. New Zealand is very keen on sustainable development of their agriculture and make every effort to keep agro chemicals to a minimum, and use natural, green methods where possible. Enjoy the wine from a clean green land.
Does the Label Matter?
Why do you buy your favourite wine? The grape? The Area? The country, or have you been seduced by the clever graphic artist who designed the magnificent label?
The “Off Licence News” tells me that, fake coats of arms, animals, puns!!!, “good with chicken” and wedding type face scripts are out. That’s all very well but some of our best selling wines are Fox Wood from the Vin de Pays d’Oc Merlot, Syrah, Viognier and Chardonnay, the impressive, Pikes Red and White Mullet the delicious award winning Slowine Shiraz and as for the wedding invitation script that means we’d be saying goodbye to our best selling English wine, Biddenden Ortega and numerous other good bottles, so what’s wrong with a nice font?
I’m told that a good way to name your new wine brand is a word to describe the person sitting next to you, an animal you have never clapped eyes on, plus a feature you can see from your window. This unfortunately left me with the words Nervous, Aardvark and scaffold ( the Chinese Restaurant is having it’s roof etc repaired ) unfortunately however you arrange these three words I don’t think it’s going to be a winner, nervous scaffold sounds more like a timid 1960s pop group!
I think the best label in the shop is our Brampton range from South Africa, stylish and understated. The trendy “in crowd” are choosing trees, silhouettes and neat tasting notes on their wine labels, but I like to think of Broadstairs as rather more traditional than that so bring on the “critter” labels along with flowery writing, a good pun and we’ve always liked chicken!!
The Nebbiolo grape is native to Northern Italy and is at its best in Piemonte where it produces the long lived wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. It is believed to named for the morning mists that form in October when the grapes are harvested, although other sources say it is named after noble, it being the most noble of grapes. Wines of this area were mentioned and praised in the writings of Pliny the elder so it’s history is long standing. During the fifteenth century it was illegal to cut down Nebbiolo vines without official permission heavy fines were imposed but it could be punished by the cutting off of a hand or even hanging. In modern Italy the powers that be have taken a more enlightened view but have restricted the growing area for Nebbiolo to only the best sites.
Outside of Piemonte it is planted in the Valle d’Aosta where it it produces the DOC wines of Carema and Donnaz production is very small and they are rarely seen outside of Italy. It also appears in Valtellina where again production is small. These DOCs are all producing medium bodied wines that although sylish do not match the power of classic Barolo.
Nebbiolo is a late ripener and is given the best south or south western facing slopes to ensure perfect ripening. Barolo and Barbaresco are not cheaply priced wines if you find one that is, it is the so called “new style”, this will not age and is made for early drinking, keeping this wine will not improve it.
The grape has been widely, hopefully planted all over the world but to date no one has managed to reproduce the inky black long lasting wines of Barolo or Barbaresco. This said, some very attractive lighter wines are being produced in Australia and California. If you are a Barolo fan try Prunotto’s Barolo it’s not for everyday drinking but is worth every penny.
Top Ten Tasting Tips
1. Never wear white!!
2. Never wear perfume, you’ll upset the delicate noses of every other taster present.
3. Always hold the glass by the foot, you’ll look like a wine tasting professional.
4. If at all possible spit don’t drink, if you drink you won’t give your taste buds a chance, and if there are more than a dozen wines to taste you’ll be over doing the alcohol.
5. Never say it tastes like vinegar (unless there is a fault that is making it taste like vinegar) just because you don’t like a wine doesn’t mean it’s bad!! If you don’t believe me just take a sip a vinegar then a sip of wine.
6. Don’t take it seriously, especially blind tasting, blind tasting is little more that a practised party trick. A recent experiment in France found that even “wine experts” did little better than novices when blindfolded before a tasting, with over 50% of them unable to tell the different between red and white wines.
7. Never use cut glasses for a tasting, it cuts out the flavour, the rule is the thinner the glass the better.
8. Before tasting give the glass a good swirl, stick your nose in the glass and give a good long sniff , you’ll tell more from the aroma than you tell from the taste.
9. Every trade has it’s jargon stand next to the most experienced taster and listen and learn!! Then develop your own winespeak style.
10. Remember in a blind tasting that a glimpse of the label is worth 30 years experience.