The quality of New Zealand sweet wines is on the rise, with one region – and one winery – dominating the field, says John Saker.
IN A RELATIVELY short time, the New Zealand sweet wine category has moved from offering far too many “sweet nothings” to a good number of “sweet something specials”. Quality is on the up, and this year saw that momentum being maintained, with nine wines out of the 36 entered being awarded four stars or more. One region dominated the field, and particularly one winery from that region. Central Otago’s Mt Difficulty is emerging as one of the country’s standout producers of a wine style that is not easy to get right, but is pure nectar when that happens.
The tasting panel
For this sparkling wine tasting, John Belsham, an international wine judge and owner of Foxes Island Wines in Marlborough, was joined by owner-director of Oenotec Pty Ltd, Australian Dr. Tony Jordan. Tony has enjoyed an illustrious career at the top of the sparkling wine world with various roles at Moët Hennessy, Domaine Chandon, Cape Mentelle and Cloudy Bay. Rounding out the tasting panel was John Saker, author, and Cuisine wine writer.
Cellaring recommendations are not given for the Champagnes and sparkling wines reviewed in this issue, as they arrive on the market ready to drink. A few may surprise with longer bottle age, especially younger examples of vintage wines, but most are released with enough age already.
THIS WINE SHONE out like a beacon. It exhibits gorgeous sweet purity and a structure that shows off the glories of its fruit to perfection. Luscious fruit laced with honey, marmalade, ginger and lavender notes flows creamily to a succulent finish. Fine acidity supplies the necessary definition. Have it with a lovely, soft gorgonzola dolce.
Now owned by Saint Clair, the Lake Chalice brand has a strong …2
Mt Difficulty Scores a five star double with its Long Gully noble …3
Golden in the glass, this is a fascinating wine. It has some …4
Hukapapa is M?ori for ice or frost, and this delightful expression was …5