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Wine of the Week for week ending 28 Dec 2008
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Passage Rock Waiheke Island Viognier 2008
Auckland, New Zealand

This week's Wine of the Week is a gorgeous Auckland region white. It's the Passage Rock Waiheke Island Viognier 2008 and it's a beauty. I remember early versions of PRV and they were dominantly oaky. Not the 2008. There's a touch of oak that adds a subtle smokiness to the aroma and a toastiness to the palate - but the oak is more of a textural rather than a pronounced flavour component of this gorgeously heady wine.

This pale straw lemon-coloured wine has a blossoming fragrance - it's delicately smoky, a little bready with apricot and a sweet floral and nougat scent. Then the flavour - the gorgeous flavour - the palate equivalent of heady - this is rich and textural and though it is probably bone dry, there is a mealy, winey, alcoholic sweetness. There's a subtle nutty toastiness, the apricot, peach and nougat take over, there's a touch of exotic spiciness and the lifted finish is rich and full. There's a lovely lemony intonation too - like citrus curd or lemon verbena.

This is the wine to have with salmon sashimi. The moist sweet fish almost melts in the mouth. Add a little soy and a tiny garnish of pickled ginger and what a taste treat. PRV also goes well with oily, cold smoked salmon slices or pan-fried fresh fillet of salmon that's only 'just cooked' in the middle so it retains that 'melt in the mouth' effect.

The notes on the Passage Rock website say this is 100% Viognier grown on the Passage Rock estate, which is at the eastern end of Waiheke Island, a little off the beaten wine trail track. Fermentation was carried out in both stainless steel and oak barriques, it has attained 14% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a screwcap.

Personally, I do not think this wine should be over chilled - perhaps 20 minutes in the refrigerator is ample to temper the sweet alcoholic edge.

Taste this wine at Passage Rock winery on Waiheke Island. Better still, sit down at the Café and enjoy a glass with the matching food item on the menu.

The Passage Rock Waiheke Island Viognier 2008 also plays a starring role at The Big Picture at the Auckland Fish market (22 Jellicoe Street) in Auckland (between downtown Auckland and the Harbour Bridge). It's part of the white wine film flight. If you visit the Big Picture for the red wine flight, you get to try Auckland's best red - the Passsage Rock Reserve Syrah 2007 - it's just sublime. You can buy the wines there to take away too and the PRV08 retails for about $30 a bottle - the same as at the winery - check out

© Sue Courtney
22 Dec 2008

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