Four different varieties were represented in this year’s specialty whites tasting, and many impressed, writes JOHN SAKER.
THE CATEGORY WE CALL “specialty whites” is a disparate group. Not all of these varieties can be seen as fringe dwellers. Viognier, for example, has been around long enough and is grown by enough different wineries to nol onger be regarded as an alternative style. That wineries are achieving some promising results with a number of these grapes is reflected in the makeup of the five wines that were awarded four stars or more at this tasting. Four different varieties were represented in the group. “With most of these varieties we’re still finding our way, but I was encouraged by the highlights of this tasting,” said panel chair John Belsham. “There are some real gems among our top wines.”
The tasting panel
John Belsham, an international wine judge and owner of Foxes Island Wines in Marlborough.
Michael Brajkovich, winemaker at renowned Kumeu River Wines.
New Zealand’s first Master of wine John Saker, an author, and Cuisine wine writer.
Associate judge (non-scoring) was Poppy SakerNorrish, harvest winemaker at Ata Rangi.
Those wines offering an outstanding mix of quality and price are awarded Best Buy status. Price points differ, depending on the varietal, but if you see the Best Buy sticker you can rest assured you’re getting a great wine at an excellent price. Look out for the sticker on wine bottles at all good wine retailers.
THIS IS A PURE, joyous example of a Portuguese grape that has shown a liking for New Zealand conditions. Spring orchard and feijoa scents lead the way. In the mouth, it is attractively textured with excellent fruit definition and fresh acidity. “A generous, well-rounded style with terrific poise,” noted John Belsham.