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New Zealand tasting notes

text and photographs © 2007 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on New Zealand's South Island.

Malborough Regional Tasting

Johanneshof Cellars Gewurztraminer 2005
Nice delicate fruit on the nose, with a gentle floral and spicy character. Some fine, mouthfilling fruit, with lots of fat on the mid palate and plenty of fruit sweetness. There is an unctuousness, but also a fine orangy acidity. Very nice drinking, with a powerful, spicy, perhaps slightly too hot and alcoholic finish.

Lawson's Dry Hills Gewurztraminer 2005
Less aromatically powerful, with some spices and a soft, gentle lychee and yellow plum flesh fruitiness. A much more constrained, grapefruit and concentrated citrussy character, just little elegant touches of sweetness and a tangerine fruit quality. Nice drinking.

Highfield Riesling 2002
Lovely petrol and gently paraffin and wax components on the nose. Nice minerality. There's a hint of really piercing, concentrated lime. On the palate quite delicate, with a slightly soapy, note, but very floral and intense. Masses of fine acidity comes through, with a real burst of lemon giving this plenty of length and poise. £11.95

Babich Dry Riesling 2004
Slightly more herbal, but quite muted, herbaceous nose, with quite dull apply fruit. The palate has nicer notes of crisp orchard fruits. A really lightness of touch here, and a savoury, dry citrus character to the mid-palate and acidity that makes it quite moreish and mouth-watering.

Huia Riesling 2004
Very restrained, quite muted nose. Very difficult to pick up much beyond a vague salty minerality. On the palate bone dry, with quite a rich, full mouthfeel, before a huge, searing core of lemon and mineral fruit sweeps through. There's a touch of sweetness that appears fleetingly in the finish, but the dry, pithy acidity drives this. £8.99 Bibendum

Spy Valley Riesling 2005
Crisp, floral edge fruit. Touches of honey and sweet, almost tropical fruit notes. The palate has a big streak of lime fruit; plenty of waxy, mouthfilling texture and a hint of floral character, but mostly pure lime. There's a very nice finish here, with a balance of intense fruit and acid. VG.

Isabel Dry Riesling 2005
A subtle nettly quality here to clean, slightly minerally white fruit. On the palate this is dry, with a savoury, pithy, dry citrus acidity. It has plenty of acidity, without perhaps the zing and zest of some others. Berry Bros/ Morris & Verdun

Framingham Classic Riesling 2005
Very fine qualities here, with a delicate balance between a floral, apple blossom character and a fruity personality. There is a fine hint of minerality too. On the palate lots of flavour and vim, with just off dry hints of sweet, tropical edged fruit, but very nicely constrained by tight, lean, citrus and mineral acids. Very good indeed.

Goldwater Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2005
A real blast of green bean and asparagus here, in a distinctly vegetal style. On the palate quite vibrant fruit, but that herbal, green quality persists too. Acidity is quite prominent, and perhaps this lacks a little bit of complexity. Fresh and juicy enough, with a hint of sweetness right on the finish, but not my favourite style.

Southbank Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Adds a touch of candied tropical fruit to bright, herbaceous aromatics. On the palate a lot more punch and zing than the Goldwater, with masses of tropical, ripe fruit and fiery intensity. Acids are good, sweeping through with a cleansing blast of lemon and lime.

Giesen "The Brothers Land" Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Lovely classic Marlborough character of green, grassy herbal notes and intense passionfruit and gently tropical notes. Lovely mouthfilling palate, with a boiled sweet, sour green plum character, and lots of savoury, mouthfilling quality. Excellent value for money here. Enotria, £7.

Nobilo "Regional Collection" Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Quite intensely green and herbal. A real nettle patch character here with some gooseberry and green pepper aromas. On the palate a fairly lean, mineral and linear style, with decent balance, but a slightly underpowered character into the finish.

Jackson Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Very attractive, relatively passionfruit and tropical styled wine, with toned down herbaceousness, but plenty of pungent, gooseberry and greengage fruit. The palate has a fine balance between a suggestion of nectarine and waxy, ripe lime and lychee fruit, and a constrained minerality. Very intense. Hedley Wright £9.99

Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Nice delicate, fresh and gentle grassy nose, with quite subdued, but appealing aromatics. The flavours here are interesting: there is a distinctive fruity quality of fresh grapy notes and nectarine, and decent acidity, but perhaps a touch too much RS for me.

Domaine Georges Michel Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Very distinctive in this line up, both with broad-shouldered bottle shape, DIAM cork, and a nose that is nutty and oatmeally, with lemon and only tiny herbal hints. Possible wild yeast ferment? Certainly toned down aromatics. Very linear, mineral, lemon flavoured palate with bone-dry finish. Very nice finish.

Clos Margueritte Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Decisively back on the green and herbal track. Nettly and asparagus aromas dominate. ON the palate quite a dry, savoury style, with apple and melony characters, and a very dry, fine. All hand harvested. All the Awatare Valley fruit, which is usually herbal.

Gunn Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Passionfruit and greengage and gooseberry to the fore here, with a little note of honey. Palate is quite mouthfilling, with a sweet edge to the fruit that does tend to lend a touch of sweet and sour character, as lemony acidity sweeps into the finish. Nice in a commercial style and not unpleasant.

Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Lovely gentle herbal qualities here, with a touch of nettle and gooseberry, and a hint of oatmeal. Very fine grapefruity palate, with a pink grapefruit flavour. Some very old vines and kept on fine lees through to November. Very long and polished. Ellis of Richmond, around £10.50

Mud House White Swan Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Quite a fine, relatively subtle green bean and nettle nose, with a definite suggestion of sweet, ripe melon and tropical fruit. Palate has plenty of verve and juicy fruit quality, with masses of unctuous ripe nectarine and pear coming through. Very good fruit sweetness, and enough lemony acidity to sharpen and balance.

Grove Mill Sauvignon Blanc 2005
A very restrained, mineral quality here that is surprising. NO real flamboyance or pungency, but quietly concentrated. On the palate at nice sour grapefruit and lime juice character marries with juicer, more ripe nectarine and peach hints. Good balance and good length here, in a style that grows on you as you drink it.

Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2005
This has a tropical character, with mostly nectarine and ripe fruit aromas. A burst of lime joins in , and just a hint of grassiness. On the palate it is quite grassy and very crisp, with mouth-watering lemon and lime fruit and acidity giving lots of elegance and length. Quite a Loire style this, and very successful. Fiarwood Wines £9 - £10.

The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Again a fairly subdued, almost mineral nose, with some of the Awatare herbal character and plenty of verve. On the palate good fruit, and a nice blast of acidity with plenty of cut and verve to the lime acidity.

Crossroads Destination Series Sauvignon Blanc 2005
A fine gentle herbaceous wine again, with decent gooseberry fruit and a crisp, slightly zingy with an almost petillant character and very good freshness. Very vibrant and crisp.

Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Big spearmint and vanillin influenced nose, with hints of green fig and custard and apples. There's a definite toffeed quality here, with a rich, rounded weight of oak and buttery richness sitting slightly apart for the very fresh, decisive lemon acidity and punchy fruit. Mint toffee is the lasting impression.

No 1 Wine Estate, Sparkling Cuvée
Chardonnay. Lovely herbal nose, with lots of nettle and touches of earthy freshness. Fine, lively palate, with a big blast of sweet, mouthfilling fruit and fine mousse, and plenty of zest and zing.

Terravin Pinot Noir 2004
Ripe, juicy, mulberry and plum aromas, with an overlay of oak that is vanillin, and not too much softness or Pinot earthiness coming through. Very compact, solid, sweet plum and almost liquoricy palate, perhaps slightly too dense and over extracted for me. Balanced, rich and tannic, but little elegance.

Terravin "Hillside Selection" Pinot Noir 2004
More of the same in many ways, with an even more compact, muscular solidity. Fruit has a slightly rounder appeal, with juicy fruit and sweet, mulberry edges. Rather dense.

Staete Land Pinot Noir 2004
Single vineyard. Fairly muted nose, with touches of plum and damson fruit. Vanilla tone to the oak, but not very open and generous. Big, ripe, sweet fruited palate with lots of richness and weight. Lovely fruit, but again for me too dense and too solid.

The Crossings Pinot Noir 2004
A little more light and subtle in colour. Slightly more open and generous too. On the palate a little more lightness and softer, more strawberry fruit, then a crisp acidity comes through. Quite juicy in style.

Wither Hills Pinot Noir 2004
Massive charry, toasty, nose, with masses of espresso and chocolate and a real sweetness of fruit beneath. Fine elegance on the palate, though the high, almost minty char of the wood still influences this. Very sweet fruit and good quality. Some lightness about it, with cherry and strawberry notes and not just plummy richness. Long, balanced finish.

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