I’ve long been a fan of New Zealand wines and tonight’s ‘Wine & Dine’ at Central London Wine Society only served to illustrate what I already knew: that this is a country at the top of its game when it comes to wine-making. I thought three of the whites were excellent: the Nelson 2015 Te Awa Collection Left Field Sauvignon Blanc, East Coast 2014 Te Awa Collection Left Field Squidcrab Pinot Gris and the East Coast 2015 Te Awa Collection Left Field Harvest Duel Albarino were all wines I would choose in a restaurant or buy for myself / others. The fourth, a Chardonnay, was quite nice – but this will never be my favourite grape.
On to the reds – and, to my complete surprise, I was bowled over by the Hawkes Bay 2013 Te Awa Collection Left Field Hatchling Deer Merlot. This, too, is a grape I tend to avoid – but I may have to rethink my preconceptions. Full-bodied and fruity, with the most stunning nose, I would have happily stopped the tasting here and supped upon this one all night.
Needs must, however, and we moved on to what I found to be a very disappointing Malbec. What a shock – at the beginning of the evening I’d highlighted this Hawkes Bay 2014 Flying Roadship Malbec as the red I was most looking forward to trying. But then, that’s what I love about a wine tasting – there’s always a surprise or two along the way. The final two reds, a Hawes Bay 2011 Te Awa Collection Single Estate Cabernet/Merlot and a Hawkes Bay 2011 Te Awa Collection Single Estate Syrah were pleasant drinking, but for me could not match the Merlot.
Mixed views among my fellow tasters, a number of whom really rated the Syrah and the Merlot, but most of whom were more ambivalent about the whites (boo!).
Reasonable prices, too, I’m pleased to report, with all of the wines clocking in at under £20 and available from The New Zealand House of Wine. Go buy!