Tuesday, December 29, 2009
GOOD-BYE CHARDONNAY HELLO RIESLING
I go through phases of the type of wine I drink. Over the last year my drink of choice has been Chardonnay. We in New Zealand are pretty lucky with our Chardonnay choices with many companies making pretty reasonable ones and there not being too many bad ones about. Sure, some are indifferent but the price points are often a warning to keep away from them (you won't get a decent Chardonnay below $10 unless it is hugely discounted). Of the rest some decent drinking can be found in the $12 plus area covering unwooded, lightly wooded through to properly barrel aged variants. As regards Chardonnays from other countries some careful selection is needed. We don't see a lot of good Chardonnay from France here. What is coming in is very expensive (avoid the cheaper ones). Australian Chardonnays are simple and blowsy at the cheap end and big and over-wooded at the top end. Careful selection in the middle can turn up some nicely balanced wines but these all have a 'tropical' character that is not as satisfying as a good 'stone-fruit' New Zealand style. Californian Chardonnays are at the extreme end of the Australian style and good South American and South African Chardonnays are seldom seen.
My drink of choice over the Summer will be Riesling again as it has been over the last couple of years. Good Riesling is refreshing and satisfying in a way that few other wines can be outside of Champagne or good Methode Champenoise. Riesling is versatile with dry, medium-dry and medium styles all being of high quality. There is a range of alcohol options also so a lunch-time or afternoon choice can be a wine with less than 10% alcohol by volume. There are some very good German wines available that cover a range of styles and most are at the lower alcohol end. Australian Rieslings, particularly those from the Clare Valley are good albeit very dry and austere, but once again New Zealand Rieslings offer the best value for money and price:quality ratio. The best New Zealand Rieslings are from the South Island (although Martinborough can produce some stunners). There are plenty of good Marlborough ones but I prefer the Waipara style. The best ones like Fiddlers Green are rich and luscious but with a refreshing and elegant edge to them. Try them if you haven't already. You will be amazed.