Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Zealand Riesling rocks, if you like minerality

My column this month for Wine Review Online is a little counter-programming to what you'll read about wine everywhere else in December. Most folks are writing about heavy reds, Port and of course, Champagne. So for me, it's the perfect time to write about New Zealand Riesling.

This was a strange column for me, because so often I try to delve into issues, or introduce personalities. Here, I started with the simplest of premises: I just really like New Zealand Riesling. I think it's underappreciated, and one thing I particularly love is its minerality. But I didn't get to go to New Zealand (sigh), so I did more or less the classic newspaper-column style: I tasted a bunch of wines I liked, interviewed a couple of winemakers, and wrote it up. It's funny: that's what wine writers did for years, but for me it felt unusual.

The reviews and ratings at Wine Review Online are hidden behind a pay wall, but I wanted to tantalize you with the tasting note of my favorite Riesling from my tasting adventures. There are cheaper Rieslings and easier ones to find, but what the heck, it's the holidays: why not treat yourself?

Envoy Marlborough Riesling 2007 ($36)
Produced by Spy Valley; Imported by Broadbent Selections, San Francisco
Point score: 95
Envoy is Spy Valley's single-vineyard portfolio, sold in a long, stylish bottle that won't fit well in your wine refrigerator, which is a shame because I'd love to see how this tastes in a decade. The nose has lime fruit with lots of minerality. It's medium-sweet on the palate -- apricot, white peach and clementine -- with plenty of acidity, and a mouthfeel like plum jam on the roof of the mouth with a current of minerality beneath. It just kept getting better one, two and three days after being open, but I couldn't restrain myself so I can't tell you about potential improvements after that. 9.5% alcohol.

Read the Wine Review Online column here.

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