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Wines of the Week for week ending 31 March 2002
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Babich Marlborough Pinot Gris 2001
Babich Marlborough Riesling 2001
Marlborough, New Zealand

What wine with Thai? Usually I take gewurztraminer along to the local 'Thai Rain Forest Restaurant' in Albany but tonight I though I'd try something different.
Babich Vineyard Babich Wines 'home' vineyard in Henderson, Auckland
I had been out to the home of Babich Wines on the slopes of the Waitakere Ranges earlier in the day to catch up with the goings on at this long established Auckland winery. I came away with a bottle of their latest productions of Pinot Gris and Riesling, both sourced from David Pigou's Salems Road vineyard in Marlborough's Wairau Valley. I had been keen to try the two time gold medal winning Babich Marlborough Pinot Gris 2001. But when I tasted the Riesling I was utterly wooed as well.

Which one should I take to dinner? Oh, what the heck, take them both.

Pinot Gris has become really trendy in the last few months. Blame it on the local soap, Shortland Street, perhaps. Did you see that episode last November when Chris Warner went to the bar to buy a bottle to take away. I don't know when it became legal to buy takeaway wine at the bar, but that's beside the point. "I'll have a bottle of Pinot Gris, thanks", he said. Then later he said to his flatmate. "I've a nice bottle of Pinot Gris. Would you like a glass?". That episode probably did more for the image of Pinot Gris amongst the trendy Shortland Street watchers than any big-budget advertisements could have done.

Then yesterday I was listening to radio chef Annabelle Langbein. in her radio chef spot on the radio. "I've been drinking Pinot Gris" she said and went on to say how it was her favourite tipple of the moment, mentioning it again several times throughout the program. More points for Pinot Gris, this time with the older, Thursday afternoon radio listening set.

The Babich Marlborough Pinot Gris 2001 would take Chris Warner's and Annabelle Langbein's fancy, I'm sure.

Babich Pinot Gris label The pale coloured wine is sweetly scented with nuts, pear drops and the flowers of summer herbs. There's bubble gum-like flavours (I loved the flavour of forbidden pink bubble gum when I was a kid) then a nice lemony note together with hints of apples, the richness of pears and the fleshiness of golden queen peaches. This is a fairly dry wine (just 4 grams of residual sugar) with good palate weight and a creamy, slightly oily texture. Floral notes linger with zesty spice on the ripe fruit finish. Some of the blend went into old oak and was lees stirred. The rest was tank fermented and matured.

I also have to recommend the Babich Marlborough Riesling 2001. Gosh I love this wine with its citrus blossom scents and juicy flavours like freshly squeezed tangelo oranges from the tree in the back garden with a twist of lemon and the spiciness and zest of orange peel. There's some lingering ripe grapefruit juice that sits in the mouth and loiters nicely. This is a refreshing riesling, not too dry and not too sweet, just juicy, juicy, juicy. There's some weighty richness in this wine and the bright citrus finish lasts simply for ages. Absolutely yum now but I'd like to see this develop some of those aged riesling complexities, which it will do in time. Some control will definitely be needed to do that.

Both these wines retails for around the NZ$18 mark.

And did they go with the food? Well it depends. When eating Thai with a group of friends, there are many dishes to taste and try with the wines. Some dishes went well with both wines. Some went well with one but not the other and vice versa, while the spiciest and hottest dishes were a disaster with both. It's all a matter of taste, really. The pinot Gris was probably the most food friendly of the two.

Never mind. I could drink the Riesling on its own at any time of day.

For further information about the Babich Wines, check out the Babich website at

© Sue Courtney

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