Tasting Report: Wines of New Zealand 2017

As was the case with 2016’s releases, New Zealand continues to slowly drift away from the classic “New Zealand style” of blowing wines out with tropical fruit and replacing it with a complex array of characteristics. You’ll find NZ wines today showing off a variety of styles that focus on everything from herbal notes to florals to earthier elements, both in whites and reds.

NZ’s finest winemakers descended on San Francisco recently, and we tasted a number of bottlings. Brief tasting notes, as always, follow.

Tasting Report: 2017 New Zealand Wine Fair

2016 Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / B+ / simple, with brisk acidity
2015 Astrolabe Province Pinot Gris Marlborough / B+ / mild, some peach notes
2013 Astrolabe Taihoa Sauvignon Blanc Kekerengu Coast / B+ / very aromatic, dense body with long legs
2012 Astrolabe Wrekin Vineyard Chenin Blanc Southern Valleys / B / big briny character, high acidity, lots of sea spray
2016 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / A- / fresh, melon and tropical fruit – classic NZ
2013 Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / B / huge body, very fruity, some mushroom notes
2014 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir Marlborough / B+ / cherry and dried fruit, mixed berries; some beefy notes
2014 Cloudy Bay Te Wahi Pinot Noir Central Otago / A / dense, licorice and cloves, some chocolate
2016 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough / A- / tropical heavy, with some honey; long finish
2013 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Pinot Noir Martinborough / A- / a touch of earth; beautiful and silky body
2013 Craggy Range “Le Sol” Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Syrah Hawke’s Bay / B+ / bold, heavy graphite and roasted meats; racy but also gently fruity at times
2013 Craggy Range “Sophia” Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Merlot Blend / A- / very spicy, aromatic with violets and baking spices
2015 Crown Range Cellar Drowsy Fish Riesling Canterbury / B+ / semi-sweet, honey and some earthiness
2014 Crown Range Cellar Stolen Heart Merlot Malbec Hawke’s Bay / B+ / very dry, with mineral notes and dried fruit
2013 Giesen Wines The Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay Marlborough / B+ / bold, California style, slightly meaty, buttery body
2013 Giesen Wines The Fuder Matthews Lane Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / A- / green apple, some touger undercurrents, bold body
2013 Giesen Wines Single Vineyard Selection Clayvin Pinot Noir Marlborough / A / rich, Russian River style, orange peel and blackberry
2012 Giesen Wines Single Vineyard Selection Brookby Road Pinot Noir Marlborough / B+ / acidic edge, also earthy, some baking spice
2013 Giesen Wines Single Vineyard Selection Ridge Block Pinot Noir Marlborough / B / minty and funky, Burgundian at times
2013 Giesen Wines The August Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / B+ / bold structure and big body, some camphor
2013 Giesen Wines The Brothers Pinot Noir Marlborough / B+ / gentle, expressive and fruity
2014 Giesen Wines Pinot Noir Marlborough / B- / quite jammy, some green notes
2016 Giesen Wines Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / B+ / fresh and simple, fruit-forward
2016 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / B+ / slightly sweeter style, more floral
2014 Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / B+ / a little funky, exotic with some meat character
2013 Greywacke Chardonnay Marlborough / B+ / bold fruit, acidic and slightly flabby on the finish
2016 Grey’s Peak Sauvignon Blanc Waipara / A- / fresh, apple and mineral notes; soft acidity with lots of lemon notes
2015 Grey’s Peak Pinot Noir Waipara / B- / thin, short finish
2015 Rockburn Wines Devil’s Staircase Pinot Gris Central Otago / A- / very acidic, lots of minerals, peaches
2014 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir North Canterbury / B / chewy, some flab; lightly spicy
2015 Mt. Beautiful Chardonnay North Canterbury / B / classic new world whie, modest oak and vanilla notes
2015 Mt. Beautiful Riesling North Canterbury / A / really fresh, surprisingly pretty with light florals, honey, and spice
2014 Mohua Wines Pinot Noir Central Otago / A- / brighter acid, fresh fruit
2013 Peregrine Wines Pinot Noir Central Otago / A- / fresh, lightly fruity, long finish
2016 Nautilus Estate Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / B / tropical fruit dialed back a bit; a touch meaty on the finish
2014 Nautilus Estate Clay Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir Marlborough / B+ / understated, fresh cherry, strawberries; herbal finish
2016 Spy Valley Wines Sauvignon Blanc Wairau Valley Marlborough / B / iconic tropical character, bold fruit
2014 Spy Valley Wines Pinot Noir Southern Valleys Marlborough / B+ / bold and fruit forward, chewy finish
2015 Spy Valley Wines Envoy Johnson Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Waihopai Valley Marlborough / A- / aged 11 months in neutral oak, softening the acids; silky
2016 Tohu Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Awatere Valliey Marlborough / A- / fresh, citrus and peach notes; acidic with gentle florals
2013 Tohu Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Awatere Valliey Marlborough / A- / bright acids, lots of cherry; earthy underpinnings; a great value
2015 Vinultra Little Beauty Pinot Noir Southern Valleys Marlborough / A- / a subtext of earth, loaded with fruit
2014 Vinultra Little Beauty Black Edition Pinot Noir Southern Valleys Marlborough / A- / very similar to the above, with a slight graphite note
2014 Vinultra Pounamu Pinot Noir Southern Valleys Marlborough / A- / expressive fruit, strawberry focused
2016 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / B / a touch bitter, lightly tropical
2015 Whitehaven Greg Sauvignon Blanc Awatere Valley Marlborough / A / pretty, with florals and a finish of fruit; none of the above bitterness at all
2016 Whitehaven Hidden Barrel Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / B+ / hand-picked and foot-stomped; wild and funky, lots of rancio on the nose, but lush and approachable on the palate
2014 Whitehaven Pinot Noir Marlborough / B+ / earthy with meaty overtones; understated fruit

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