Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

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Filtering by Tag: New Zealand

Kosher Countdown

Consume as much pizza and pasta as you can; Passover is less than a week away.  Time to clean out your shelves and replace most of your foodstuffs with kosher-for-Passover (KfP) items.  Buh-bye bread, hello matzah.  Many people also change their wine selections during this holiday and only drink Kosher wines.  Luckily, this doesn't mean Manischewitz for a week straight; there are some great Kosher wine options out there.  I was fortunate to receive several bottles for sampling and will review them in this week leading up to the first Seder so you have some solid options for the big dinners and beyond.  Let the Kosher Countdown begin!

First, for a quick refresher on Kosher wines, read my previous post:

To start things off, I selected an intriguing New World option: The Pacifica - Evan's Collection, Pinot Noir, Oregon, 2010.  Oregon's wine industry essentially started in the 1960s when pioneering winemakers started successfully growing European varietals. Over time, many grapes have thrived, but the state's  cool climate has especially been successful for the Pinot Noir grape.  


The winemaker, Phillip Jones, originally hailed from New Zealand, where he created wines for nearly 20 years.  He and his wife noticed an opportunity to create kosher wines in this emerging region and started the Pacifica label.  

On the nose, this wine showcases black fruits and spices with dominant layers of earth and soil.  On the palate, the body leans towards a fuller New World style, as opposed to a light-bodied Burgundy; however, I'd say it was still medium minus. Again, the palate echoes many of the characteristics the nose found, along with moderate acid and tannins. Elegant and structured, the fruits ripened as the wine opened up but still maintained the balance of the savory tones.  It's a rather high 14.5% ABV, which I found somewhat surprising; however, this could come in handy if your seder falls into the "we're taking 5 hours to go through the whole Haggadah" camp.   Overall, it's a delicious option, regardless of its Kosher certification, and a worthwhile wine to seek out. 

New Zealand Wine Fair

New Zealand wines have always been a bit of a hard sell for me. Touted for their Sauvignon Blanc, I haven't been able to fully get on board with the cut grass/pineapple/cat piss thing that is prevalent in so many of these wines.  I always get a little gun-shy when ordering and inevitably hide behind the fort of Old World vinos.  

So, at a recent James Beard wine event, I went into the trenches and put myself in the line of fire.  New Zealand, hit me with your best shot.  (like I went from violent warfare references to cheesy eighties tunes right there? Didja?)

Overall, there was quite a bit of what I expected, but there were a few shining gems that definitely turned my head. The Framingham Classic Riesling, Marlborough, 2011 was one of the first wines I tasted and it held my attention for most of the night.  I started with the Sauvignon Blanc, 2013, and was about to walk away but figured I'd give it's vineyard neighbor a chance, even though this first wine was textbook in all that didn't appeal to me in a Sauv Blanc. I'm glad I gave it a whirl; this Riesling had intruiging notes of charcoal up front with mineral and flint tones immediately following. Fresh peach and lemon took the edge off and although this was technically a dry wine, there was a tingle of residual sugar on the palate.  



Framingham Classic Riesling, 2011.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Framingham Classic Riesling, 2011.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Waimea Estates presented a noteworthy Gruner Veltliner, 2012. This producer is located in the Nelson region, which has very few wineries, especially in comparison to the vineyard-heavy Marlborough.  However, this wine proves branching out from the popular crowd can lead to something unique. There was nice balance between fruit, body and acidity in this accessible white. 

Waimea Gruner Veltiner, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks WIne

Waimea Gruner Veltiner, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks WIne

Astrolabe, who's Sauvignon Blanc I've written about in the past, did not disappoint with the latest vintage, but there were a couple other wines that showed this producer's skill. The Province Pinot Gris, Marlborough, 2013, presented a bouquet of honeysuckle, freesia and other flowery aromatics on the nose.  Apricots also came to light when drinking through this crisp wine.

Their Province Pinot Noir, Marlborough, 2011, was another wine worth considering.  Very New World in style, it was rather fruit forward but still characteristically light bodied, yet had a dusty violet essence that what somewhat reminscent of a Burgundy. 



Astrolabe Wines, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Astrolabe Wines, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Finally, there was VIlla Maria.  One of the most well-regarded wineries in the Marlborough Region, their lineup included delectable whites and reds. Their Cellar Selection Riesling, 2010, was one of the few Rieslings I encountered, besides the Framingham, that had a Germanic tilt to it. Acid? Yep. Citrus and stone fruits? Check.  But it also had a smoky charcoal essence that moved it away from its fruit-driven New World counterparts.  The Reserve Pinot Noir, 2008 and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Gimlett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, 2008, were two of the best reds tasted all night.  Both in balance, both delicious.


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Keep tasting, friends….