Tasting Report: Wines of New Zealand 2010

New Zealand. Jesus, both the Shire and Mordor are there, you’d think they could make some more interesting wines than what we’re currently seeing.

Mind you, New Zealand isn’t producing bad wine. But compared to its exciting, up-and-coming heyday in the late ’90s, much like Australia, New Zealand seems content to rest on its laurels and simply ride the current. The results: Lots of extremely similar wines, most of it perfectly palatable — but with tons of sauvignon blanc so over-perfumed it often smells like Ben-Gay and tons of pinot noir that has no real character at all and might as well be from Modesto.

In this self-guided tasting, I sampled over 40 wines from all over NZ, and found a shocking consistency in them to the point of tedium. Some standouts were to be found, but unsurprisingly these tended to be the reserve, single vineyard, and/or very expensive wines. A $25 New Zealand sauvignon blanc just doesn’t get you very far any more.

Complete ratings and some notes follow.

New Zealand Wine New Release Tasting 2010

2009 Te Awa Sauvignon Blanc Hawke’s Bay / $20 / A-

2009 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $15 / B+ / a bit astringent

2009 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $16 / B- / medicinal

2009 Brancott Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $16 / B+ / big peach

2009 Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Vicar’s Choice / $16 / B+

2009 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $18 / B

2009 Brancott Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Reserve / $18 / B / flinty

2009 Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $18 / B+ / acidic

2009 Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Pioneer Block 1 / $24 / B

2009 Brancott Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ‘B’ / $25 / A- / better body than most

2009 Babich Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Black Label / N/A / B / off

2008 Bel Echo Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $20 / B+ / odd banana character

2008 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough SP Spitfire / $26 / A- / decent balance, good fruit

2008 Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $26 / B- / Chardonnay style

2008 Staete Landt Chardonnay Marlborough / $25 / B- / odd perfume character

2008 Alana Estate Chardonnay Marlborough / $35 / B / strange

2009 Spy Valley Riesling Marlborough / $20 / C+ / smoky, semi-sweet

2007 Envoy by Spy Valley Riesling Marlborough / $35 / C+ / similar to above

2009 Spy Valley Pinot Gris Marlborough / $23 / B

2009 Mt. Difficulty Pinot Gris Central Otago / $20 / B+

2008 Envoy by Spy Valley Pinot Gris Marlborough / $35 / C / dessert like

2009 Mad House Pinot Noir Central Otago / $19 / B- / dusty

2008 Kim Crawford Pinot Noir Marlborough / $19 / B+ / tart and sweet

2008 Ara Composite Pinot Noir Marlborough / $25 / B- / too racy

2008 Golden Mile Pinot Noir Marlborough / $25 / B

2008 Babich Pinot Noir Marlborough Reserve / $25 / B / earthy

2008 Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir Marlborough / $26 / B

2008 Brancott Pinot Noir Marlborough ‘T’ / $29 / B+

2008 Spy Valley Pinot Noir Marlborough / $29 / B-

2008 Staete Landt Pinot Noir Marlborough / $33 / B

2008 Tarras Vineyards Pinot Noir Central Otago / $30 / B+

2008 Wild Earth Pinot Noir Central Otago / $32 / B+

2008 Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir Central Otago / $35 / A- / cocoa kick

2008 Tarras Vineyards Pinot Noir Central Otago “The Steps” / $35 / A-

2008 Quartz Reef Pinot Noir Central Otago / $35 / A / balanced, one of the best of the show

2008 Rippon Pinot Noir Central Otago / $49 / A-

2008 Alana Estate Pinot Noir Martinborough / $48 / B- / bizarre and funky

2007 Whitehaven Pinot Noir Marlborough / $25 / A-

2007 Clos Henri Pinot Noir Marlborough / $35 / B

2007 Envoy by Spy Valley Pinot Noir Marlborough / $58 / A / great little bottle, packed with blueberry notes, nice balance

2007 Palliser Pinot Noir Central Otago / $27 / B / thin

2006 Isabel Pinot Noir Marlborough / $22 / B+

2005 Wither Hills Pinot Noir Marlborough / $20 / B- / out of balance

2007 Te Awa Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon Hawkes Bay / $30 / B-

2009 Felton Road Dry Riseling Central Otago / $30 / B-

2009 Dry River Lovat Gewurztraminer Martinborough / $50 / B+

new zealand wine tasting Tasting Report: Wines of New Zealand 2010

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3 Responses to Tasting Report: Wines of New Zealand 2010

  1. Pingback: Drinkhacker.com » Tasting Report: Wines of New Zealand 2010 | Kilbirnie

  2. You hit it right on the head. Marlborough Sav Blancs all taste the same (give or take). There are a handful of outstanding vineyards (Astrolabe for extreme fruityness, Vavasour for mineral action) but 99% of them are passionfruit, green flavors… you know, the standard stuff. In NZ, you can get them for half the price you get them in the US, (all of them for ~$5 US), so it makes a lot more sense. They are making mainly for the local market.

    However, I’m a little sad about the range you got. Never buy Marlborough Pinots. They are almost never good (the exception is Mud House, Fromm and Ata Rangi, age it 5-10 years, and they are world beaters). The best NZ Pinot Nior comes from Otago. Amisfield, Cornish Point (06 vintage), Gibbston Valley, Mondillo (07 vintage), Mt Difficulty -Long Gully. The list goes on and on.

    To me, it goes like this for NZ wines. Marlborough = Sav Blancs. Central Otago = Pinot Noir. Hawkes Bay = Aromatics and Syrah and Cab Savs.

    Maybe there are some odd exceptions. Pegasus bay doesn’t screw up anything it makes. But those rules will always work.

  3. Pingback: Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2005 | iTube – Powered by iWooho.com Online Movies

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