Sunday, December 9, 2012


Winewriters talk about wines in terms of vintage, vineyards, terroir, taste and, invariably, ratings.
A wine is good or bad, is a Gold standard or a bronze, is 95 points plus or a low 80's etc.

But do they ever talk about time and place?

They taste wines in a sterile environment. This is at:
  • wine shows and competitions where hundreds of wines are on show
  • theme tastings for magazines or books where one or two varietals are being comparatively tasted with dozens of examples
  • personal/professional tastings with dozens of submissions from hopeful producers.
No time and place.

Most wine experiences that people remember fondly involve time. place and people.
For example:
  • the Frascati in Rome
  • the Pinot Grigio in Verona
  • the white Port in Lisbon
You know what I mean (and I won't even suggest the Retsina in Athens).

Often the experience is all even though the wine tried at the time might have got no rating at all in a wine competition or by a winewriter's evaluation.

Today we had our first taste of Summer here up North.
I swam, sat under a flowering Pohutakawa tree with lovely dappled sunshine (no wind) and read and towards evening sat on the deck with a nice wine.

The wine?

Pegasus Bay 2009 Riesling.

Time and place.

Sunny late afternoons need a matching wine.

I didn't want Chardonnay.

Reds didn't suit.

As I was on my own (Her Indoors had left for Auckland) I chose Riesling.

Pegasus Bay is one of our favourites.

The wine is always rich and full, bursting with peach and apricot flavours but cut with zingy lemon acid. It is never dry, being in the medium dry to medium sweet spectrum depending on the vintage.
Botrytis is a bad thing when talking Chardonnay and most varietals but with Riesling is an advantage.

In this 2009 the botrytis is not as pronounced as in other years but the slight touch is enough to round out the palate (kind of like the honey in a hot lemon drink).
There's no doubting that this is a quality New Zealand Riesling (in my view the best of them come from Waipara). It has minerality, a whiff of petroleum and a seam of fresh acidity that counterbalances the rich fruit. Nothing is extraneous. Without the fruit the acidity would be too lean. Without the acidity the fruit would be too plump. This is a lovely wine and at 3 years old is drinking well with a promise of many more years.

OK. Enough of the waxing lyrical.
The time? 6PM in December.
The place? By the sea in Northland.
The combination? Magic
The early evening Summer sun caught the bright and shiny light gold colours of the wine amazingly well.

I usually remember good wines that I've tried over the years. This will be one of them.


Richard (of RBB) said...

This post drew quite a few comments. One.

Anonymous said...

This is classy stuff.


Bin Hire said...

Yeah, not too bad a post. Three comments now, Richard (of RBB).

Richard (of RBB) said...

The Wine Guy Eepress turned out to be a bit of a fizzer.

Richard (of RBB) said...

Okay, I meant 'Express'.