Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 4 March

Wine Club 4 March
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I adore the wines of New Zealand. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if I had to drink the wines of just one country — taking France out of the equation, of course — then New Zealand would do it for me.

There are spectacular aromatic whites from Marlborough, Gisborne and Nelson; soft, smooth and supple Pinot Noirs from Marlborough, Martinborough and Central Otago; and wonderfully sophisticated Bordeaux blends from Hawke’s Bay. There are also fab fizzes and exquisite sweet wines if you can find them.

So, just for the heck of it, thanks to an excellent proposed longlist from Mr.Wheeler, we’ve gone 100 per cent Kiwi this week with six typically tasty wines from the Land of the Long White Cloud.

And just so you know, Mr.Wheeler is the new trading name of our long-time partners The Wine Company. Their trademarked tag line ‘We Choose Better Wine’ might sound a mite too close to, but don’t let that put you off. Mr.Wheeler boasts some very fine wines, and operations director Mark Cronshaw, having sucked on his pencil and ummed and aahed, has come up with some very fine discounts too.

The 2014 Greenhough Moutere Gewurz-traminer (1), from a small, family-owned estate in Nelson in the north of the South Island, is an absolute peach. There’s all the spicy, peppery lychee-ness you might expect from this grape, but it’s kept in check with fine acidity and decent weight of fruit thanks to a year on the lees, a proportion of it in small oak barrels. I absolutely loved it. £12.00 down from £13.25.

The 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Domain Road (2) is from Central Otago rather than Marlborough and thus something of a rarity. (The Domain Road Vineyard lies in an old gold-mining valley in Bannockburn.) I loved the vibrant gooseberry fruit on both nose and palate, the passionfruit and whispers of lemon zest. It’s far from an over-the-top fruit bomb, though, and is soft and creamy with a long dry finish. £13.50 down from £14.25.

The 2014 Greywacke Pinot Gris (3) — it’s pronounced gray-wacky — comes from Marlborough and the super-experienced hands of Kevin Judd, formerly of Cloudy Bay. Pinot Gris is one of my favourite grape varieties and, having been damned by Italian Pinot Grigio for far too long, is finally being taken seriously. I’ve had some great Alsace Pinot Gris lately but none better than this little beauty, which has succulent stone fruit and a long creamy finish. £18.50 down from £19.75.

The 2013 CJ Pask Gimblett Road Syrah (4) comes from the Gimblett Gravels in Hawke’s Bay. Here, the dried-up bed of the old Ngaruroro river enjoys exceptional soil and climate, ideal for making Rhône-like Syrahs and Bordeaux blends. This, from the much-loved and widely fêted Kate Radburnd, is ripe, juicy, plummy and peppery with hints of bramble flowers and violets on the nose. £12.75 down from £13.50.

The 2013 Alpha Domus ‘Pilot’ Merlot/Cabernet (5), also from Hawke’s Bay, is an engagingly approachable red that cries out to be knocked back in serious quantities with the neighbours over supper. 90 per cent Merlot and 10 per cent Cabernet combine to give soft blackberry fruit with a hint of spice, mint and vanilla. It is ridiculously easy-drinking and none the worse for that. £12.75 down from £14.25.

Finally, the 2013 Moa Ridge Pinot Noir (6) from Marlborough, made exclusively for Mr.Wheeler (Moa Ridge and Mr.W boasting an owner in common in Suffolk-based Johnny Wheeler). It’s a pretty sophisticated drop too, with plenty of ripe hedgerow fruit, gentle tannins and a long savoury, slightly earthy finish. It spends 15 months in oak and has a delectably supple texture. £18.00 down from £19.50.

The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.

Written byJonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is the Spectator's wine editor.

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