Tasting Report: Wines of New Zealand 2012

I’d written New Zealand off years ago as the next Australia: Its wines have been turning into ultra-fruity, high-alcohol monsters that didn’t pair well with food and came across almost like dessert tipples.

Things may be changing. Recent vintages I’ve tried have been more restrained, and a recent exhibition by the New Zealand Wine organization shows that that trend may be on the rise. Sure, you’ll still find powerfully tropical Sauvignon Blancs and fruity Pinot Noirs, but more of the wines I tried at this event seemed better balanced than in recent years. Is NZ wine worth another go-round? Here’s a look at a handful of recent releases from all over the country.

Tasting Report: Wines of New Zealand 2012

2010 Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir Central Otago / $45 / B / heavy earth

2011 Roaring Meg Pinot Gris Central Otago / $20 / B+ / brisk, lots of pineapple

2008 Astrolabe Pinot Noir Marlborough / $28 / B+ / some bitterness and green pepper here

2009 Babich Pinot Noir Marlborough / $18 / B+ / earthy

2010 Babich Pinot Noir Marlborough Winemakers’ Reserve / $26 / A- / bigger fruit profile

2011 Elephant Hill Sauvignon Blanc Hawke’s Bay / $19 / B+ / big tropical fruit notes

2011 Elephant Hill Pinot Noir Central Otago / $29 / B /

2011 Middle-Earth Sauvignon Blanc Nelson / $24 / A- / good fruit, mango character, nice balance; a favorite here

2010 Middle-Earth Pinot Noir Nelson / $32 / B / tobacco notes are strong

2011 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir North Canterbury / $22 / B+ /

2010 Mohua Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $15 / B+ / metallic edge

2010 Mohua Pinot Gris Otago / $22 / B / cheese-like finish

2009 Mohua Pinot Noir Otago / $35 / B- / quite bitter on the finish

2011 Brancott Letter Series “B” Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $26 / A- / mellow, more rounded than most

2007 Brancott Letter Series “T” Pinot Noir Marlborough / $33 / B+ / good fruit, mild earth

2010 Saint Clair Vicar’s Choice Pinot Noir Marlborough / $20 / B+ / mild, easy body

2011 Saint Clair Pioneer Block 18 Snap Block Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $26 / A- / lovely tropical character

2011 Staete Landt Annabel Sauvignon Blanc Rapaura Marlborough / $19 / A- / clean, melon notes

2010 Staete Landt Annabel Sauvignon Blanc Rapaura Marlborough / $19 / B+ / modest in comparison, restrained

2009 Staete Landt Estate Grown Chardonnay Rapaura Marlborough / $25 / B+ / burgundy style, sedate

2009 Staete Landt Paladin Pinot Noir Rapaura Marlborough / $27 / A- / modern, rich fruit

2009 Villa Maria Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Gimblett Gravels Reserve Hawke’s Bay / $35 / B+ / tannic, needs time

2009 Villa Maria Pinot Noir Marlborough Reserve / $40 / A / best Pinot of the day, good body, rich

2010 Greywacke Pinot Noir Marlborough / $39 / A- / very fruity, strawberry character

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