The New Zealand Wine Fair seems to have found its home in the Roundhouse Community Center exhibition hall. The tasting moved there last year and compared to the sleek convention center, this open-beamed industrial ambiance better suits an industry as scrappy as New Zealand’s.
New Zealand has always produced fabulous sauvignon blanc and other aromatic whites, but their real advancement is with red wines: pinot noir, merlot and especially syrah. Organizer Robert Ketchin told us, “The world doesn’t need more merlot and cabernet, which is why we’re pursuing syrah as the next big grape.”
At the afternoon industry tasting on May 1st, a separate “seminar” was set up in a room off the main tasting hall. Here we tasted wines that were chosen in a blind tasting for their typicity to New Zealand terroir and were grouped in flights of three by varietal. The point was to compare, a Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris against a Waipara one. The tasting results were quite interesting, but too geeky to explain.
For now, here are a few of my favorites:
Waimea 2006 Riesling, Nelson: Appealing diesel nose, sharp citrus notes, clean, minerality, zesty acidity. Refreshing and lively. $18.99 Private
Seleni 2010 Pinot Gris, Hawkes Bay: Great minerality, flowery citric and stone fruit flavors. Very food friendly $17.99 Private
Astrolabe 2009 Gewürtztraminer: Spicy with an intriguing note of meat, richly flavored and full bodied. A crowd pleaser. $22.95 Private.
La Collina 2008 Syrah, Hawkes Bay: Earthy nose of sawdust, ripe plum. Muscular, well integrated and dry, with dusty fruit and graphite, long raspberry finish. Deep. NP.
John Forrest Collection 2007 Syrah, Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay: A well-oaked, smooth mouthed, complex and robust 5 year-old, with good acidity and ageability. A teeth staining delight. $59.95 Private.
The New Zealand Wine Fair comes around every year in early May and always includes yummy forage food. We had tiny lamb legs, beef sliders and fried oysters on the half shell, plus savory cheeses from All You Need is Cheese. All of that paired exquisitely with the wine on hand. Tickets to the evening event are $60, way cheaper than flying to New Zealand to get an equivalent wine experience, and much more fun.
Regarding Mad Men – Now that the season has closed, I have to voice my disappointment that the writers failed to follow the wine storyline in which the firm pursues the Manischewitz account. Besides offering the potential for innumerable wine jokes, the plot included the delicious irony that Rogers soon-to-be ex-wife and token-Jew-in-his-life Jane would start an affair with the Manischewitz scion, after helping Roger land the account on account of her Jewishness. What a lost opportunity for turnabout! Hopefully, Mad Men will get winey in the next season.