Herald change in seasons with quartet of New Zealand wines

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.

You thought I was making it up ....
You thought I’d made it up

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.

Ara Single Estate Pinot Gris wine
Ara Single Estate Pinot Gris

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

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express

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