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Wine of the Week for week ending 2nd March 2003
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A trio of beauties

There's no particular Wine of the Week this week. I've tasted well over 300 wines but not one cork was popped or screwcap unwound to enjoy at leisure at home with food. Not that I've hardly been home anyway with family issues taking priority between the wine tastings. So here's a few of the highlights

Melness Canterbury Riesling 2002
The 2001 vintage of this wine was one of my favourite Rieslings of the year - it was one of my top 3. Now the 2002 wine has been released and what a terrific follow-up to the 2001, proving that this is a label that is not just a one-vintage wonder. While it is not quite so low in alcohol it definitely has all the attributes I like in Riesling - pure clean refreshing fruit, terrific balance and a long persistence finish. Here's my notes I made at the Wednesday night tasting.

Straw lemon in colour with flinty, stony, honey, orange juice and floral aromas, this fresh spritzy and vibrantly fruity terrifically balanced Riesling, with its sweet musky flavours of honeydew melon and all sorts of citrus, just flows. It is delicious and mouthwatering. There's a hint of botrytis too.

You'll probably find the wine in retail from about $22 to $25 dollars.

Clearview Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2002
We don't really read too much about Hawkes Bay grown Sauvignon Blancs as Marlborough always takes centre stage. We also don't hear too much about oak dominant Sauvignon Blanc as the clean fresh unadulterated grassy and vivacious Sauvignon Blanc grape flavours are what have taken the world by storm. But I have to say I was particularly impressed with this Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc made in a barrel fermented and deliberately oaky style. What impressed me most is that despite its dominance of oak., it smelt like a sauvignon blanc and tasted like a sauvignon blanc from the first sip to the last bit of the lingering flavour. I wrote in my notes

Full rich savvy flavours, rich and vibrant in an oaky, leesy style. Lots of interest. Long and pungent. Excellent balance of the oak to the fruit, allowing the fruit to make the statement of its variety.

It was my top wine in a tasting of 32 current vintage Sauvignon Blancs tasted the past weekend. I scored it 19 points - the same score as the wonderfully rich and pungent Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2002. Both are top wines in my opinion.

Chateau Waimarama Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
I have to admit I don't know much about this winery. The wine was tasted in show conditions where I gave it my best thumb up. First of all the wine's dense dark colour that was bright in its shiny blackberry hues. Then the rich and opulent meaty oak aroma allured. With its firm tannins upfront, ripe blackcurrant and plum fruit, creamy oak, a rich mid-palate and a creamy spicy savoury finish that is smooth, long and silky, I thought this wine was just excellent. The more I tasted it the more it grew on me.

There were also some stunning Syrahs - one of the best line-ups I've ever tasted in New Zealand. But I have another tasting coming up where I'll be able to spend a little more time on this variety and will match the wines to food. Hawkes Bay is really emerging as the premier wine grwoing district for Syrah but there are a couple of goodies from Martinborough and one from up north that I really like. Look out for these in a week or two.

Also click here to check out my notes from the Dry River Wines and Stonecroft Wines release tastings earlier in the week.

© Sue Courtney
24 February 2003

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