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Wine of the Week for week ending 28 September 2003
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Huia Brut 1999
Marlborough, New Zealand

Every so often it's time to break open a bubbly. Do you need an occasion? No, not really. But when you have an occasion, bubbles will certainly start the proceedings in style.

I really don't drink enough bubblies. I find many of them too acidic, too metallic, too steely but there's none of those traits in the attractively presented Huia Brut 1999, a Marlborough blend of 38% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir and 29% Pinot Meunier made in the classic 'traditional method' style. This bubbly wine is soft, round and simply gorgeous.

It's a well-coloured lemon with golden onion-skin hues and plenty of white creamy mousse that froths up in the glass as the wine is poured.

The rich, bready, yeasty, creamy aromas remind me a little of the 'creaming soda' milkshakes I loved when I was of the age when milkshakes were the hip drink of the day. But my creamy soda milkshakes never tasted as good as this.

It's a little earthy - some would even say minerally - and crisp and dry with a delicately floral, rose-like connotation before citrus and rich creamy bready flavours fill the mouth. It's a little nutty too and the rich, full-bodied, dry finish has excellent length. I like the way the acidity zings the mouth as the nutty, bready, citrus and stonefruit flavours linger. Then long after the wine has gone, strawberry emerges to titillate you.

This wine is from the 1999 vintage - four years ago - hard now to remember what the vintage was like. So I clicked on the Huia website and checked one of the notes on the 1999 release wines - here's what they say.

"The 1999 vintage was warm with cool nights throughout the spring, summer and autumn months. There was some useful rain early in the season but very little rain during the weeks preceding harvest. April received 46% of its normal rainfall. Marlborough enjoyed sunshine hours slightly above average in March and average in April. Growing degree days were down on 1998 due to temperatures being slightly lower and the nights being cool. "

Cool temperatures are perfect for the production of quality sparkling wine and it shows in the Huia Brut 1999.

This is the fourth 'Brut' sparkling from Huia but the first to have a proportion of Pinot Meunier. I have to say I like complexity, depth, roundness and floral rose-like nuances it adds to the wine.

How much will it cost? RRP in New Zealand is $36 a bottle. Treat yourself. Don't wait for an occasion.

Huia Vineyards is on the 'net at Their wine is available in NZ, Australia, USA, UK, parts of Europe and parts of Asia. Dial up their website to find your local distributor.

© Sue Courtney
21 September 2003

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