Centuries-old traditions and a new world confidence meet in New Zealand méthode traditionnelle, says MARY-THERESE BLAIR.
MAKING WINE IS A labour of love, patience and perseverance and never more so than in the making of sparkling wine in the méthode traditionnelle. The winemaker must honour with reverence a tradition laid down by Champagnemakers in France hundreds of years ago. This tradition dictates the process for making a sparkling wine where the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in bottle which creates delicate, fine, persistent bubbles in the glass. The process is labour intensive with many skilled steps that need to be taken over time. Making great sparkling wine is no mean feat and we should feel very proud of the quality of bubbles made in New Zealand. The selection presented to the panel was described by head judge Ben Glover as having “purity and poise and presence in the glass with a beautiful sense of confidence.” With a great selection of quality represented within these pages we’re confident you will find something to enjoy with your loved ones this festive season.
TASTING PANEL Ben Glover, owner and head winemaker for Zephyr Wines in Marlborough and internationally regarded wine judge, led this panel and was joined by two experienced wine professionals. Jane De Witt is operations winemaker North Island for Lion and one of New Zealand’s most-awarded sparkling winemakers and Chloe Somerset is winemaker and vineyard manager at Cable Bay Vineyards, Waiheke Island.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN champenois expertise, knowledge and love of craft meets the best of Marlborough grapes? Magic, it would seem, as this Mumm Marlborough Brut Prestige NV stole the hearts and palates of the panel to win the top méthode traditionnelle 2020. There’s a field of thought out there in the wine world that in New Zealand we should be as famous for our sparkling wine as we are for our sauvignon blanc. The quality is most certainly there and it’s true to say that no maison de champagne would stake their reputation on a partnership such as this if they didn’t believe in the purity of New Zealand fruit. Simply put, this collaboration with Maison Champagne Mumm is the ultimate collaboration between the old and new wine worlds. Chief Mumm Marlborough winemaker Jamie Marfell – who has been crafting both still and sparkling wine in Marlborough for 18 years – consults across the globe with the Mumm team in Reims, Champagne to ensure the shared vision of excellence is achieved in the bottle and ultimately in your glass of Mumm Marlborough Brut Prestige. Made with 46% pinot noir, 45% chardonnay and 9% pinot meunier, this superbly crafted méthode traditionnelle has sublime citrus and lime aromas intertwined with toasty, crushed super wine biscuits and complex autolytic characters on the nose. Fresh, bright fruit and a fine bead that runs a steely and defined line straight through the palate keep this sparkling, bright, alive and invigorating. In a word, stunning.
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