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New Zealand Wine part II

by Tom Cannavan, 07/01
The New Zealand Wine Institute is the marketing organisation for many of New Zealand's best wineries. I attended their wine "roadshow" in Scotland earlier this year and a full report is available. Here are notes on another dozen wines from a similar event held recently in London, to which I paid a flying visit.

Approximate retail prices are given where known in pounds sterling. The tasting was not blind.

White

Babich Hawkes Bay Winemakers Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2000 - £8.25
Pungent, with plenty of crunch from crisp, bright citrussy fruit. Really ripe sweetness on the palate with plenty of buttered lime fruit, some gentle herbaceous notes and fine length. Very good. UK Agent: Percy Fox 01279 626801

Isabel Estate Marlborough Riesling 2000 - £9.50
Lovely lime-fresh Riesling nose. Plenty of juicy, sweet, oily but crisp fruit. Exceptional purity on the palate with a searing acidity that is well matched by juicy, ripe, crunchy green apple and asian pear fruit. Fine length and balance. Very good indeed. UK Agent: Morris & Verdin 020 7357 8866

Isabel Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2000 - £9.50
Terrific nose again. Typical Marlborough nose of crunchy, vibrant leafy gooseberry fruit, grapefruit and hints of lychee. The palate follows through, delivering smooth, rich, pure flavours that are lipsmackingly fresh, yet edged with tropical sweetness. Very bold, with a huge stripe of grapefruit acidity into the finish, this is excellent.

Isabel Estate Marlborough Chardonnay 1999 - £11.00
Quite flashy toast on the nose; big charry French oak layered over focused citrus fruit. The palate is quite crisp and lemony with an almost Puligny-like freshness and limpid pear and apple fruit around a core of minerality. Nice and long, the nutty, creamy oak rounds out the finish. Very good indeed/excellent.

Sacred Hill Whitecliff Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay 2000 - £6.99
Really plenty of bold, crunchy fruit here. Green apples dominate, with nuances of much sweeter, full tropical fruit. Quite savoury on the palate though, with good acidity and a nicely balanced drinking style. Very good. UK Agent: Philips Newman 01332 627 497

Sacred Hill Whitecliff Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2000 - £7.00
The profile here is very aromatic and fresh with crisp green apple and just a buttery suggestion of lees or minimal oak. Lots of zippy citrus and pear fruit that is very succulent with good acidity and quite long. Very good.

Sacred Hill Barrel Fermented Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 1998 - £8.50
A toasty style, with lots of buttery richness and juicy peach and apricot fruit. Creamy texture on the palate before grapefruity, slightly pithy acidity braces the finish, but good length. Very good.

Seresin Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 1999 - £13.50
This has a very distintive lime-fresh nose with floral hints and orchard fruits. The palate is quite cool and classy, not quite the fruit of the Isabel, but a serious, dry wine with plenty of mineral acidity that should develop well. UK Agent: John Armit 0207 908 0623.

Sherwood Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 1999 - £9.50
Quite herbaceous on the nose, with asparagus, greengage and gooseberry fruit. Much more herbal aromatics and flavours, with nettle and crunchy green fruit, and decent balance into a long finish. Good/very good.

Red

Sacred Hill Whitecliff Merlot Hawkes Bay 1998 - £8.50
Lovely gravelly depth to ripe, sweet berry fruit. A serious nose, with briar wood, cedar and plum. Little notes of smoke and tobacco. Very ripe, lush fruit on the palate but balanced by sweet, fine tannins and a gorgeous savoury acidity. This is superb at the price. Excellent.

Sacred Hill Helmsman Cabernet Sauvignon Hawkes Bay 1998 - £13.50
Big, sweet, creamy black fruit on the nose. Hints of black olive and earth, with some punchy cherry notes. On the palate it stays very succulent, the luscious fruit overlaid with fine tannins and juicy acidity. The finish displays sweet vanillin oaky flavours. Good weight and length. Very good indeed.

Isabel Estate Marlborough Pinot Noir 1999 - £13.50
The nose is suffused with full, soft, earthy strawberry fruit and a little note of sweet, jammy raspberry. The palate is sweet and rich, but well-balanced with medium body and enough bright, focused red fruit matched to mellow, smooth tannins. Very good indeed.