You know, the more I get of it, the more I like it. I'm talking about New Zealand Pinot Gris and I'm joining the masses of Kiwi wine drinkers who simply love this varietal. And the more I drink of it, the more I know what I like. For me it has to have a touch of residual sweetness and lush ripe fruit flavours. None of the steely, neutral styles for me. Not too sweet either unless the acid balance is there. I want something that for my palate is 'just right'. And I found the perfect wine in a recent tasting.
Passage Rock Waiheke Island Pinot Gris 2011 is simply outstanding. It's a lovely rich spicy Pinot Gris with a touch of residual sweetness and ripe pear and stonefruit flavours. There are white flowers and ginger and something intriguing - perhaps white pepper. Fruit is in the ripe spectrum making this wine heading towards Alsatian style. With its soft acidity, it is real pleasure to drink. It was absolutely beaut with my dinner too. Pinot Gris and pork, particularly slow cooked belly pork infused with Asian spices, are perfect partners and this was an exemplary match. It was terrific with our fresh garden salad too. My rating. 5 stars on its own, 5 stars with food. Simply delicious wine.
I can't find out too much about this wine except what is written on the back label. This says, "After a fantastic summer, ripe bunches of Pinot Gris were harvested from our two Waiheke Island vineyard sites." 500 cases were made.
It has 13% alcohol by volume, it's sealed with a screwcap closure, and the price on the vigneron's website is $22 a bottle. Check out www.passagerock.co.nz for more.
And if you are ever on Waiheke Island, just a 35-minute trip on the ferry from downtown Auckland, find your way to Passage Rock near Orapiu Bay. It's probably a 45-minute drive from the passenger ferry, but it's worth the effort to get there.
© Sue Courtney
7 February 2012