August in Auckland is Restaurant Wine Month with lots of culinary events and restaurants offering special menus. Part of the celebrations was the Wine AkL Show held over a weekend at the Viaduct Centre in the up-and-coming Wynyard Quarter of the harbour area.
Sixty wineries, mainly from New Zealand, were exhibiting their wines and there were a number of interesting seminars, some just 20 minutes offering a snapshot of a particular wine style, wine or just good advice on how to taste wine.
And not just about New Zealand wine.
Other seminars were twice as long going into more detail. Indeed on of the speakers Nick Stock, from Australia, presented a tasting of Jura Wines, particularly because Peugeot, one of the main sponsors of the Wine AKL Show is based in Franche-Comté, France, the same region as the Jura.
We were there for just one session (one of three over the weekend) and met a few old friends as well as making some new ones.
We caught up with Larrry Mckenna who was showing his Escarpment Wines from Martinborough. I first met Larry in the very early days of the New Zealand wine success story in the UK and used to buy his Martinborough Wines from farsighted Suffolk agents, Adnams for my wine bar. Popular they were too!
Escarpment Martinborough Pinot Noir 2011
The attractive ruby colour draws you into this wine, together with a bouquet of sweet blackberries, spice with a touch of wholemeal toast. Dry with gentle, maturing tannins with tasty smoky plums completed by a long finish. Will age well for another 5 years.
A rarity for New Zealand is a Pinot Blanc. Larry is a dedicated pinotphile so it makes sense that he should plant a white Pinot in this Pinot-friendly part of the world. With a nod to Kaiserstuhl, Germany, the home of the graceful Baden Pinots, his third vintage was showing very well.
I can now understand why Karl Johner, from Baden, also makes wine up the road from Escarpment in Martinborough…
Escarpment Martinborough Pinot Blanc 2012
Greeny gold with roasted peaches and herbs on the nose. Dry with good taut acidity showing rich, elegant fruit that is well balanced and weighty.
It was good to meet Emily Camblin whom we hadn’t seen since we all attended the second European Wine Bloggers’ Conference four years ago in Lisbon. Emily is now working for Villa Maria and was at the Wine AKL Show with their new wines called Wise Owl.
Time for lunch which was another treat as the little food corner was run by Auckland’s Euro Restaurant and Bar.
With only a little time left we made our way South – to Central Otago, a beautiful region we’d visited two weeks ago. A trio of wineries shared a lively stand under a striking purple banner and it was good to meet Sarah-Kate Dineen who, with her husband Dan, own and make Maude Wines. We’d tried, and enjoyed, a couple of their wines during our recent stay in Wanaka.
They produce Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay from Central Otago and a Sauvignon from Marlborough.
Maude Central Otago Pinot Gris 2014
Mid gold with pear, flowers and white currants on the nose. Dry, good acidity with a creamy rich texture with bags of spice; well balanced with a long finish.
Maude Central Otago Dry Riesling 2014
Pale gold, lime blossom and apple on the nose. Dry bags of refreshing acidity, citrus and good minerality. This is the third vintage made with fruit from their Mount Maude vineyard.
The back label showing the useful Riesling Taste Profile scale, developed to help consumers in their choice of wine by the International Riesling Foundation.
Maude Central Otago Pinot Noir Reserve 2012
Palest ruby, dark chocolate, coffee cinnamon buns, toasted buns in fact! Dry, good tannic structure an elegant concentrated rich, fruity wine with some spearmint showing through; lingeringly long. A gem that will age delightfully.
I had noticed someone on the stand wearing a T-Shirt telling us who drinks Riesling…
It was none other than the Big Cheese (well, it says so on his card) of Mount Edward Wines, Duncan Forsyth! We tasted his Riesling which he made with Anna Riederer.
I can only echo what Ernie Loosen, a top Mosel producer says:
“The Mount Edward Riesling, My god it’s so good it could be JJ Prum.”
Mount Edward Central Otago Riesling 2014
Zesty citrus on the nose, medium dry, medium weight with tangy acidity. Pure fruity wine with lots of minerality. A wine to enjoy with Thai food, and it will improve over the next few years.
The Wine AKL Show was a great success and a worthy component of Auckland Restaurant Month.