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Wine Club Newsletter - October 2016

Touring New Zealand’s Wine Country

By Gary Parker, Owner
The WineSellar & Brasserie

As you may know, we take people on wine yours nearly every year. We have been to South Africa, France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, and New Zealand wine lands to name a few of our most note-worthy adventures. (Should you ever be interested in going on one of our wine and culture tours, feel free to email me, gparker@winesellar.com).

We were in New Zealand ten years ago, and I enjoyed the country immensely. I fantasized about moving there, but they do have some significant regulations about outsiders immigrating to their country. We are going back this year.

New Zealand is a beautiful country visually. The people are generally laid back and thoughtful, there is interesting architecture, fresh seafood, great beaches, organic vegetables, more sheep than people, and some excellent wines.

Exploring New Zealand and its wine country is a must-do travel excursion for the epicurean. With an abundance of fresh seafood, lamb, venison, and great fresh produce, the culinary criterion is pleasingly elevated.

Beyond enjoying the excellent wines the country is now making, there are many world-class sites and adventures on both the North and South Islands of New Zealand waiting to be explored.

Getting there from the West Coast is actually less burdensome than making the trek to Western Europe. There are a number of non-stop flights to Auckland leaving from Los Angeles and San Francisco, taking only 12 hours of flight. You board your flight at 9:00 PM, have dinner, a couple glasses of wine, go to sleep, and wake up to breakfast in New Zealand.

Hawkes Bay
To get to the wine lands, you will drive about a half-day south from Auckland to get to the coastal town of Napier, with its gorgeous art deco architecture. The wineries here enjoy a lot of sunshine, moderate weather, and great soil. The whole Hawkes Bay area produces exceptional grapes as well as other artisan fruit products. Look for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. Top producers found locally include Craggy Range, Elephant Hill and Sileni Estates.

Martinborough & Wellington
After a few days in Hawkes Bay take a drive to Martinborough to experience the intensity of their Old World wines, which they make with a New World flair. Pinot Noir is the major player in this relatively small community. The better producers are Ati Rangi, and Escarpment. From here drive up to Wellington and hang in the town for a day or two, and enjoy its San Francisco feel.

Nelson
Take the ferry from Wellington to the South Island, and enjoy the fiords as you dock at Havelock. The Nelson area has pristine beaches, ample sun, beautiful scenery, fresh foods and great wines. Cooler weather varietals excel here, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Noir, made by Neudorf, and Te Mania.

Marlborough
About two hours south of Nelson is the largest wine region in New Zealand, Marlborough. Their world famous Sauvignon Blancs hail from this region, from such producers as Craggy Range, Cloudy Bay, Clos Henri, Kim Crawford, Oyster Bay, and Whitehaven.

Queenstown
Take a flight from Marlborough to Queenstown and taste the elegant Pinot Noirs, Pinot Gris, and other aromatic wines made here. The temperatures are cooler here, and it takes the grapes 4-8 weeks longer to ripen. Queenstown offers great beauty, and a lot of extreme sports opportunities. Top producers found locally are Mount Difficulty, Peregrine and Amisfield.

October 2016 aOctober 2016 b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 2016 c

2014 Eagle’s Cliff Pinotage

Growing Region:  Western Cape, Breede River Valley, South Africa
Varietal Composition:  100% Pinotage
Fermentation:  New and used
Alcohol Content: 14.0%
Suggested Retail:  $16.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $14.39

Broad Strokes:              
Christiaan Groenewald grew up on a farm where his father grew wine grapes and was involved in the wine industry, so he was exposed to the wine business from a young age. His studies at Stellenbosch University included some courses on winemaking, vine growing and economics. After his father died in 2003, Christiaan built the cellar on the farm.

Pinotage is a red wine grape that was bred in South Africa in 1925 and was to become the now world famous signature variety of its homeland. Originally a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut (known as Hermitage at the time), Pinotage naturally produces deep red varietal wines and now has a vast range of blending varieties that has brought the taste of South Africa right around the world

Appearance:                      
Very dark ruby-red at the core. The hue is getting progressively lighter as it goes to the rim. We got another screw cap, yippee! It’s a great looking label with the gold eagle.

Nose:                    
Rainier cherry, with black fruits that are slightly jammy. Sweet vanilla oak, deep sense of terroir, sage, tarragon, eucalyptus, some mint and dried cherries. It became rather hypnotic with air . . . noted a whiff of pomegranate syrup as well.

Texture:      
Pinotage can be considered rustic, specifically when sipping for the first time. Some brittle, harsh, drying tannins makes this wine racy, edgy, and distinctive in the feel in your mouth. It then later smooth’s out and the harsh dissolves into a more silken texture.

Flavors:                        
The Pinot Noir element of the Pinotage really stands out on the entry and finish on your palate. Strawberry fruit, then dense black cherry fruits are melded with coffee, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa, black pepper and anise. To speak to the Cinsaut impressions, there is a nice bit of Rhone-like tar and rocky soil.

Serving Suggestions:
This is a GREAT wine to have with BBQ! Steaks, ribs and chicken, all sauced up sweet and spicy-like.

2014 Mad Crush, Onx Wines

Growing Region: Templeton Gap District, Paso Robles, Ca.
Varietal Composition: 45% Grenache, 19% Tempranillo, 18% Malbec, 9% Mourvedre, 9% Zinfandel
Fermentation:  30% New Oak, 12-14 Months
Alcohol Content: 15.1%
Suggested Retail: $48.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $43.19

Broad Strokes:              
Onx Wines are made up with a gang of “characters” who have a focused set of criteria for making their wines. Here are some of their Mantra’s:

“We’re not being radical for the purpose of being radical. it’s all about being attuned to the locale . . . this is what we can do in this place, on this property. and we’re learning how to do it better every year . . .We don’t make wine at ONX.  We let it happen . . . Our wines are never shy; they are packed with personality and can border on exuberant.”

Only 561 cases of this wine were produced.

91 Points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Appearance:                      
Good, heavy black bottle with a die-cut label show the wine is cherished by the producers, and commands higher pricing. The wine is nearly black also, giving way to a ruby-red rim with some very serious legs on it.

Nose:                    
Smoky oak hovers over cherry liqueur, with black olives, spice and a touch of mushroom. Chocolate and vanilla notes are blending with espresso, blueberry and blackberry essence that is beguiling.

Texture:      
You’ll experience a full and rich palate entry, with lively acid and substantial forward fruits. The high glycerin content (alcohol) levels out the tannins, lending to a more even disbursement of complex flavors. There’s a nice, long, “grainy” finish that’s kind of sexy, leaving a joyous completion.

Flavors:                         
Deep cherry and milk chocolate are first imprinters for the flavor wheel. Then you get the Indian spices, lots of earth and dust elements, followed by lightly stewed dark berries, blueberry, blackberry, roasted nuts, espresso and star fruit.

Serving Suggestions:
This wine has good versatility, and can be consumed on its own or with a lot of different foods. Because it has a somewhat “Rhone Valley” feel to it, I would have it with lamb, black olive tapenade, dishes with roasted or stewed tomatoes, tomato sauces, pasta dishes, ravioli’s and such. Will cellar for 10 years!

2013 Reckoning, Onx Wines

Growing Region: Templeton Gap District, Paso Robles, Ca.
Varietal Composition:  62% Syrah, 19% Petite Sirah, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec
Fermentation: 30% New Oak, 12-14 Months
Alcohol Content: 15.4%
Suggested Retail: $54.00
WineSellar Club Price: $49.99

Broad Strokes:              
Onx Wines are made up with a gang of “characters” who have a focused set of criteria for making their wines. Here are some of their Mantra’s:

“We’re not being radical for the purpose of being radical. it’s all about being attuned to the locale . . . this is what we can do in this place, on this property. and we’re learning how to do it better every year . . .We don’t make wine at ONX.  We let it happen . . . Our wines are never shy; they are packed with personality and can border on exuberant.”

Only 429 cases of this wine were produced.

93 Points by Wine Enthusiast, 92 Points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Appearance:                      
Good, heavy black bottle with a die-cut label show the wine is cherished by the producers, and commands higher pricing. The wine is nearly black also, giving way to a dark garnet hue on the rim. It has some very serious legs on it, dripping down the inside of the glass in slow motion.

Nose:                    
Smoky oak and ash are first out of the gate, soon followed by a high-spirited, vivacious energy-ball of deep, black cherry fruit. Look for Asian spices, nutmeg, plum, cocoa bean, vanilla bean, bread dough and blackberry.

Texture:      
This wine has an excellent, ripe, voluptuous texture. It is clearly the better between the two ONX wines we have sent to our club members this month. The wine is quite sizeable, but maintains a remarkably silk and velvet-like texture from the start to its weighty, plush, long, crisp finish. It also possesses a Bordeaux-like structure.

Flavors:                         
Black raspberry, cassis, chocolate, roasted hazelnuts are beautifully intertwined, and are complemented by touches of Bing cherry, ripe plum, vanilla oak, spice and some fresh herbs. It is waiting to be more, and becomes more generous with ample air time (at least 30 minutes). It’s a knockout.

Serving Suggestions:
This is one of those wines that is so seamless and well-integrated that it can be deceptive in regards to how long can you or should you age the wine. Drinks great now, but I would love to cellar it 15 years or so, given the Bordeaux-like structure I mentioned earlier.

Multi-Colored Carrot Salad

I put a version of this together the other night for dinner, and we really enjoyed it. The colored carrots aren’t highly distinctive from each other flavor wise, but it is a pretty dish when completed. A bonus is this dish is good for all seasons, and it’s great with Rosé wine.

Serves four.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of mixed color carrots (purple, white and orange)
  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries
  • 2 zucchini squash
  • 1 large avocado, quartered.
  • 1 cup Feta cheese, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

For the dressing:

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Grate the carrots in a food processor. Set aside.
  2. In a large salad bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  4. Add dressing to carrots and shallot. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To Serve:

  1. Slice squash vertically, very thin. (Use a Mandolin of you have one)
  2. Cover the inside of the (4) chilled salad bowls with the zucchini slices.
  3. Add the blueberries and Feta cheese to the carrot mix and stir in.
  4. Distribute the carrot salad to the zucchini lined salad bowls and garnish each with the avocado.

Gary Parker
October, 2016

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