When you want a change from your everyday drinking stash, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir for example, what do you turn to? Something European maybe? Unless of course you are diehard patriotic and drink only #nzwine.
Well it is getting easier to find the more unusual made in New Zealand as a number of winemakers are experimenting with diversification in mind. Inspired by the Europeans of course, we have wines made from grapes better known in France, Spain, Italy and Austria that you can buy.
First there was a trickle, now there is a creek. Yes, here in Auckland, on the Kumeu Wine Trail, you can find the biggest range by one producer at Coopers Creek and with many of the wines you can taste before you buy. Coopers Creek’s point of difference includes the Italian Arneis and Montepulciano, the Spanish Albarino, the Austrian Gruner Veltliner and now the French Marsanne.
Doug Bell in Gisborne is the grower that supplies Coopers Creek with the exotic aromatic whites.
The Albarino, planted in 2009, is undoubtedly the Coopers Creek star with back-to-back trophy wins at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards for back-to-back vintages 2012 and 2013. But that’s not all. The 2013 also won gold and a trophy at the Bragato Wine awards, while the record-setting 2012 vintage collected five golds and four trophies from five shows. The Trophy it missed out on was at the NZ International, when it was pipped at the post by a simply incredible aged Australian Semillon.
The first Albarino was produced in 2011 but with only 250 bottles produced it was exceptionally rare. Check out my review right here: www.wineoftheweek.com/archives/wine110731.html.
Available at the time of posting, from the winery at least, is Coopers Creek Select Vineyards ‘Bell Ringer’ Gisborne Albarino 2013
This straw gold wine has a delicate but invitingly fragrant scent of subtle rose petal and spice and tastes fresh, zesty and spicy with textural richness.
When I tasted in June just after release I detected a little estery bubble gum character and thought that while it showed great potential it needed more time.
Tasted again at the Air New Zealand gold medal tasting the second week of November, that time had come.
The aromatics now rich, almost Viognier-like with an ethereal apricot-like scent infused with lemongrass. The rounded palate, satisfyingly textural with apple, apricot and citrus fruit, a touch of spice and a long, dry expansive finish that lasts for minutes.
From the Coopers Creek website: This tank fermented wine was handpicked and whole bunch pressed to give us juice of great character and flavour. Our inputs were minimal and were all designed to preserve as much purity as we were able to do. Alcohol is 13.5% and price is $22.
The Marsanne plot started producing in 2011 but was not harvested in either 2011 or 2012 due to the weather. But with such a successful vintage in 2013, the fruit of the late ripening Rhone variety was picked.
Named for Doug Bell’s WW2 aircraft engine, the Coopers Creek SV Gisborne ‘Allison’ Marsanne 2013 is possibly the first commercial release of Marsanne in New Zealand.
It’s been a long time between Marsanne drinks so I only had vague memories of what to expect and the aroma of this light golden coloured wine had me baffled – a slightly earthy nuance leesy characters from the aging in old oak, I guess.
But no question mark about the taste. It’s stonefruit through and through – peach, apricot, loquat and yellow plum – a touch of dried pineapple and dried mango coming through. Fresh acidity cuts through the fleshy fruit flavours and the finish is extremely dry – like sucking on an apricot kernel in some respects. “Toasted pine nuts,” the wine pourer added. Yes, we had those in our salad yesterday and I get this.
From the Coopers Creek website: The fruit was harvested in pristine condition on 21 March and started ferment in tank. It was transferred to five year old oak to finish ferment and rest on lees until the end of May 2013. Alcohol is 13% and price is $22.