A feast of various varietals brought interest to the tasting table, says MARY- THERESE BLAIR.
The ‘Other Reds’ category is a double- edged sword. On one hand it gives our judges the chance to stretch their palates beyond the handful of varieties that are the mainstay here in New Zealand; but on the other hand, if they are stretched too far over too many vastly differing wines, are they doing any of them justice?
However, we had no real cause for concern with our panel of judges rising beautifully to the challenge. The end results include a smorgasbord of different reds, one of which is from the tiny country of Georgia. Formerly part of the USSR, Georgia is believed to be one of the oldest wine- growing regions in the world. That’s the beauty of wine: it gives you the opportunity to circumnavigate the globe, travel back in history, learn about climates and landscapes, all through the glass in your hand. For Cuisine, that’s what makes the challenge worthwhile.
Rioja is a small wine region in the northeast of Spain that is best known for growing the red grape tempranillo which makes up almost 90% of its production. Rioja, is the red wine named after the region and is, generally speaking, a tempranillo- dominant wine with no more than 5% other red grapes allowed. This wine for example is 95% tempranillo grapes with 5% graciano – another red grape native to the region – blended through.
Grown in sand and limestone soils at high elevation, the grapes for this wine come from tiny parcels handpicked from 60-year-old vines. As vines age, they become less productive so produce fewer grapes year upon year. Vines of this age are hard work as they are fragile and require a lot more work. However, for those looking to put quality over quantity in the bottle it is most definitely worth it. The grapes that remain receive all of the resources the vine has to give so they have a higher concentration of flavours and aromas, so while you end up with less wine, it is of a much higher quality. For this very reason vine age is something that tends to be of interest to those looking to purchase investment wines.
Youthful and fresh despite its time in bottle, this wine is dark fruited and bold on the nose, with ripe plums and jasmine floral aromas which segue onto the beautifully weighted and lengthy palate. The palate is complex with generous fruit flavours and spice commingling in perfect harmony. Sublime. (A)
Medium colour in the glass belies the rich dark fruit aromas alongside …2
The primary nose is ripe and plump alongside expressive florals which add …3
Deep, dark and still very youthful this Georgian saperavi is a modern …4
Deep and dark in the glass with high- toned black and red …5