THERE are two things I always do as the seasons tick by. One is to proffer a “pinch and a punch, first of the month”, to my pal Jamie; the second is to text my daughter whenI see my first lambs in a field. The latter went like this.
Mummy (that’s me): I’ve seen lots of baby baa baas today. Daughter: Baaaaaaa. Don’t eat them! Mummy: Oh dear, just realised have ordered lamb shank. (We both have sensible careers by the way.)
My point is, I love this time of year. I love pinot noir with my Sunday lunch. (Lamb. Sorry.) I love sipping my first glass of the year in a sun-bright garden as the birds sing. And lo! It stopped raining and all came to pass. Sharing my seasonal joy was a quartet of New Zealand wines.
Now, metaphorically, I’ll share them with you.
Ara Single Estate Pinot Gris 2013 (£11.99 Wine Direct). I loved this wine. I mean, really loved it. Aromas of pears burst out of the glass; they looked over their shoulders to some nectarines, saying “come on, then, follow us”. Then at the last, a fleck of apple caught up, leaving a ripe memory. To taste, imagine all those fruits in a willowing silky skirt, with a velvet trim adding texture, weight, balance and softness. If you can imagine that, keep taking the tablets.
Ara Pathway Pinot Noir 2012 (£11.99, Tesco, Morrisons). This was the wine with my Sunday lamb and roasties. It has a fruity reticence with redcurrants and raspberries on the nose and vegetable tones, rather like cooked broccoli. Stay with me. To taste, light, integrated tannins and more red fruits. A lovely pairing, though I stayed away from any overpowering mint sauce.
Nautilus Estate Chardonnay 2012 (£14.95 Wine Direct, Hailsham Cellars, Edgmond Wines). This wine won the Champion Wine of the Show at the New Zealand International Wine Show. Judges said it was “exciting and fresh”.
This was my garden wine. It has subtle smokiness on the nose, together with honeyed nectarine andpeach. To taste, fresh fruits with a vein of minerality. It’s a take-another-sip-before-you-put-the-glass-down kind of more-ish wine.
Nautilus Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (£13.99 down to £10.99, when you buy more than two NZ wines at Majestic). Aromas of tangy citrus, kiwi fruit, passion fruit and freshly cut green peppers. There’s a mouth-burst of gooseberries, citrus and limes. A cheek-pinching acidity and the fresh citrus both linger delightfully.
I settled down to watch The Essential Guide to Wine Tasting (RRP £14.99) a DVD in The Ideal Life Collection (www.stitchcombe.co.uk). Other subjects include Keeping Bees and Keeping Chickens. I chose wine as bees scare me and chickens always run off to cross the road.
It is presented by wine expert Jaspar Corbett and when he said “I’m not a big fan of the current modus which says let’s demystify wine” I was a little grumpy.
I’m of the view that maintaining the “mystery” of wine puts people off trying new ones. I’m doing Mr Corbett a disservice. He was an interesting mentor to his guinea pigs TV presenter Zöe Salmon and antiques guru James Rylands, with chapters covering reds, whites, New World, Old World, food and sparklies, to name a few.
Published in the saturday extra magazine March 15 2014