The Gimblett Gravels might not be the most dramatic stretch of vineyard but looks aren’t everything: on this former river bed, the seemingly poor, stony land didn’t seem fit to grow anything. Occupied by a quarrying firm, a dragstrip and a rifle range, the Gimblett Road welcomed its first wine grower in 1981 who thought …
The hot, dry region grows approx 75% red grapes including carignan, grenache, cinsault, mourvèdre, syrah and merlot. Whites include a number of obscure varieties like clairette, rolle, and picpoul and a few standards such as muscat, viognier and chardonnay.
Languedoc boasts 320 days of sunshine and I can confirm that there is sun – and a lot of it. Most days when we exited the Airbnb we would subconsciously head straight for the shady cool side of the street. Local history is quite fascinating and sadly barbaric. An 11th Century heretical Christian sect known as Cathars flourished and built many churches, and becoming the majority religion in many places in the region. Within a hundred years, they were ruthlessly persecuted and exterminated by the mainstream Catholic church.
Sorry to kill the holiday atmos. Anyhoo – here we go with some ab fab local wines.
Typically French and a tad rustic, it has slightly dusty aromas with prune and plums. In the mouth it’s plummy, savoury and earthy with soft tannins and hints of rhubarb and liquorice. Medium bodied and soft. Match with mushroom risotto.
Availability – Regional Wines & Spirits Wellington.
Robust and chunky red. Smells like cedar, anise and black plums. Tastes like a medium to big tannic red with flavours of plums, Christmas cake, and dark Ghana chocolate. Long finish of savoury spice and tannin.
Availability – Caro’s Wines
A renowned label in the Corbières appellation, Fab and Bordeaux-like, this is a blend of four local grapes – carignan, grenache, mourvedre, and syrah. Very full, soft, ripe and juicy, it’s a slightly gamey with aromas of leather and savoury spices. Flavours of cassis, black plums, bouquet garni, and roast meat. Dry lengthy finish with fine tannins.
Gin has had many incarnations over hundreds of years – from the cheap and nasty opiate of 17th C masses to the boutique hipster thirst-quencher of millennials.
The early 17th century marks the first production of gin in the Netherlands. In Holland it was regarded as a medicine and was sold in apothecary shops to treat stomach problems, gout and gallstones. And to make it more palatable, the Dutch flavoured it with juniper, which also had purported medicinal properties.
The Empire Strikes Back.
Then when the British Crown took over governance of India, British expats struggled with the ravages of malaria. A local folk cure came from the bark of the chinchona or ‘fever tree’, which contained bitter quinine. To make it more pleasant, sugar, lime, ice and gin were added – and thus the G&T was born.
Gin is basically a pure distilled ethanol white spirit with added botanical flavour compounds derived predominately from juniper berries but also a number of additives including angelica, hops, coriander, lime, lemon, orange, liquorice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, bitter almond, cucumber and cloves.
With native Horopito and juniper in the mix of 11 botanicals, Black Robin is named for the endangered Chatham Islands Black Robin. A portion of the profits are donated to the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of NZ.
Aromas and flavours of juniper, lemon squash and bitter almond, with a hint of cloves. Opens up in the mouth soft and sweet with a nudge of liquorice.
Much softer than the Black Robin at 5.8% less ABV. Soft and subtle with stem ginger, gardenia florals and sandalwood. Produced by In The Bush Ltd., they scooped a Bronze Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Perfumed on the nose with sweet lime, pomander and cloves. Soft and smooth palate with orange zest, Turkish delight and angelica.
Batch distilled eight times over copper pot and column stills. They include botanicals of juniper, coriander, angelica, lemon & orange zest, plus rose hip.
One the nose, it’s assertive with coriander and juniper and a hint of pine resin. Flavours of marshmallow plus all of the above botanicals.
Very classy packaging in a tall black bottle with a silver badge.
Aromas of Juniper, lemon zest, liquorice, ripe orange and talcum.
The palate is citrus dominant – with orange zest, florals and lychee tropical fruit.
Pacifica style branding with fern leaves and tapa cloth images. Lime and orange dominate the palate. On the nose, there are cinnamon and clove aromas. In the mouth it’s very soft and integrated with flavours of cake spices and orange zest.
Karven Dry Gin 700ml 40.8% alcohol $NZ74.99
Made by Puhoi based Ukrainian expat Alex Kirichuk. Has picked up two international awards. Botanicals include Manuka flower. On the nose it’s orange zest, cinnamon and clove, opening out on the palate with soft integrated flavours of cake spices and candied orange peel.
Another one from the Deep South – this time Queenstown. Uses glacial water from Queenstown. The brand reflects the relationship between two German master distillers who launched the brand. Joerg was a pilot and Bernd an engineer. Sadly, Bernd died after battling illness and Joerg’s gin is a testament to their friendship. Nose of juniper, lime and cumin. With soft and spicy flavours of orange and lime
Maude Wines Methode Traditionnelle NV Central OtagoBase wine is from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – spanning 9 years, blending 5 vintages and aged on lees 36 monthsThe bouquet for this wine is quite remarkable with scents of complex lees autolysis capturi…
Babich Wines ‘Black Label’ Syrah 2015 Hawke’s BayMasculine and forward bouquet of roast red berry fruits and toasty oak – vanilla and brown spices galore; black pepper and bacon note (oak) and even a touch of new leather adds complexity and intrigue. O…
Church Road Chardonnay 2016 Hawke’s BayBold and forward bouquet showing off aromas of ripe peaches and oak, a mild toasty layer and a touch of lees. On the palate – creamy, fruity, moderate oak flavours and dry on the finish; Medium+ weight, easy acidi…
Jules Taylor Wines Chardonnay 2016 MarlboroughGentle beginning to the bouquet that gets bolder as the wine opens up in the glass; aromas of ripe stone and tree fruit laced with oak suggesting generous flavours to come of white and yellow peach, red app…
Mills Reef Winery Reserve Pinot Gris 2016 Hawke’s BayFruity and engaging bouquet with ripe pears and other white tree fruit aromas, a distinctive honeyed fruit note and gentle white spice layer. On the palate – fruity and fresh, medium+ (ish) acidity, …
Man O’ War ‘Paradise’ Pinot Gris 2016 Ponui Island – AucklandRich and honeyed bouquet of Gris with aromas of sweet pear and poached apple, some floral tones and sugary tones. On the palate – off dry with some noticeable sweet – well contrasted by eleva…
Ata Rangi Sauvignon Blanc 2015 MartinboroughLovely bouquet which is fragrant, varietal and showing minerality. Aromas of citrus, peach and fresh red apple, a floral, mineral combination and overall complex allure. On the palate – also lovely with a per…