Gris because we love our Green Goddess

So as you may recall we covered off some Pinot Gris' before Christmas, but this was when our lovely Green Goddess Wendyl was away and as it's her fav style of wine, we thought we should cover it off again. Also, it is a varietal that EVERYONE seems to be making these days and it's definitely the wine I get sent the most. Unsurprisingly it is NZ's third most popular white. 

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Our easy-drinking friend Pinot Gris is a white wine made from red grapes, which is why sometimes you will see a tinge of pink every now and then in some Pinot Gris. This just means that in the winery the winemaker has left the skins on the grapes just a touch longer to get some of that gorgeous colour. 

As an aromatic, you can expect there to be a bit going on in the nose of a Gris with pear, apple, honeysuckle, and spice being frequent descriptors and unlike its light & quaffable European cousin Pinot Grigio NZ Pinot Gris is fuller in texture and tends to richer & more fruit forward. 

This wine is one that I just tried last weekend in Hawkes Bay & it's a 2017, so a brand new release!  The Brookfields Robertson Pinot Gris 2017 (named after winemaker - Peter Robertson) is fresh and teaming with aromas and flavours of pear and honey with just a hint of spice and off-dry at 7 grams of residual sugar. The team at Brookfields also reckon this beauty will cellar for up to 6 years. A pretty sweet drop for only $17

Organic winery Darling Wines in Marlborough have created a full-flavoured 2016 Pinot Gris will all the hallmark flavours of a Gris - apples & pears. It's also off-dry but only just at 5 grams of residual sugar. This wine is available for only $23 which especially considering it is organic is amazing value. 

To date, I haven't featured very many Auckland wines, but I am definitely looking to change that as the humid north has some stunners - case in point Kumeu River 2016 Pinot Gris is delicious in the extreme, apples, pears, spice, with a wonderful texture and weight in the mouth. This wine is a typically Gris in the best possible way with just enough sweetness at 6 grams of residual sugar all for $25. 

No doubt about it Gris is becoming more and more popular and I feel it's a great introduction to other aromatics, who knows Gris today, Gewurtz tomorrow! 

Click the link below to hear my chat with Wendyl about great Gris'

 

What else for V-Day than Rosé Bubbles

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Oh come on now, you didn't think that this die hard romantic Mermaid was going to let Valentines Day slip away without a mention did you?

As far as I'm concerned the most romantic of all drinks has to be champagne, and the only thing that could make that more romantic? Pink Bubbles of course!

Rosé Bubbles is essentially made the way that all Rosé is made, it can be made by either soaking the grapes with the skins on in order to extract the colour or if the colour can be pressed off the grapes (carefully as skins contain tannin & you do not want tannic rosé!). Here in New Zealand you can even mix white and red wines but that's not really that common. Blending is only allowed in France if you are making a Rosé champagne.

Two of my choices are are New Zealand Methode Tradionelles which if you remember means they are made in the style of a Champagne and as such must age for 18 months minimum, both of these winemakers have actually opted to aged their Rosé sparkling wine for two years.

First romantic cab off the rank is the aptly named PINK from Hawke's Bay winery Squawking Magpie, this Rose has all of the hallmarks of a great Rose wine, it's light and refreshing with delicious flavours of strawberries and cranberries and it is bone dry at 2.5 grams of residual sugar. All that for $30 and the bottle looks amazing too with white glass contrasted with black foil & a stylish white label. Impressive.

Cloudy Bay Pelorus from Marlborough is the first NZ Sparkling Rosé that I ever tried & and for me it (as well as it's non-Rosé) counterpart are staples in my wine collection. Cloudy Bay wines are consistently good. This Rosé Sparkling is Pinot Noir dominant and a delcious pale pink teaming with typical strawberry & cherry flavours. Still dry but a tad sweeter at 9 grams of residual sugar this bottle is available widely for only $40. Drink with Japanese food. Yum!

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Ok, ok, ok, this one is a bit pricey but if your love isn't worth a splurge on Valentines Day when when are they? If you are looking to really impress pick up a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Rose Champagne for $99 (although I have seen it as low as $79 so shop around!). This is a fine french Champagne with flavours of raspberries and strawberries and a wine with a remarkable heritage.

Did you know in 1803, Madame Clicquot at the tender age of 27 took over running the Champagne house when her husband died, a truly audacious act for a woman at that time in history. In fact the word "Veuve" means Widow in French. Throughout her career Madame Clicout Innovated, invented, and encouraged people to “Act with Audacity". I love nothing more than an audacious woman!

Veuve Clicquot Rose is the world's first blended Rose Champagne and this year Veuve are celebrating 200 years since it's creation.

I know this is a pricer option but as myself and Wendyl say in the audio below, sometimes some cheap & cheerful food but an amazing bottle of wine shared with just the two of you is more romantic and special than a meal at a top class restaurant.

Happy Valentines Day lovers!

Organic Wines - First, The Whites

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Organics are taking off in a big way, this is no longer a trend but something that is really becoming a way of life. Some people believe that as we are such a small country in New Zealand we should really be setting the standard for the rest of the world when it comes to organics, but I'm not sure it's that simple. Due to New Zealand's long thin geography & variety of maritime influences,  the country has in fact a number of different climates & disease pressure (& as a result the need for pesticides) is much higher in the humid north than it is in the South.

Biogro is the New Zealand gold standard and once you have it you can call yourself “Certified Organic”, however the process to become certified is lengthy so there are a lot great wineries who are still in the conversation stage (which can take 2-3 years) who are genuinely making organic wines, so don't discount them just because they don't yet have the Biogro stamp of approval.

This is one of the topics I get asked about most frequently so today I am going to feature some whites and at another date I will recommend some reds.

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From the cool kids at Supernatural Wine Co comes Pacific Potion Sauvignon Blanc 2017, I've recommended these guys from Hawkes Bay before and I have no doubt I will again. This is Sauv as I think Sauv should be, it's Zesty with gooseberries & stone fruit & just the right amount of tropical flavours. It's gorgeous on a sunny day and a steal at $25.

This & it's Pinot Gris offsider were actually wines that them team made in 2015 for exclusive use in KLM's Business Class cabin in 2016. It really was supposed to be a one off but once it was out there and people got a taste there was no way it was going to be a one off.

Waipara are really leading the charge when it comes to Organics in New Zealand and this Greystone - Sand Dollar - Pinot Gris 2016 is gorgeous, it's off-dry with flavours of apples, pears, peaches and just a hint of honeysuckle. Divine. Greystone maker Dom, just won the Gourmet Traveller WINE - winemaker of the year. Though this award has been around internationally for twenty years this was its first year in NZ - what an honour for Dom to be the inaugural winner. Easy to see why he won producing quality wines like this gem - available for $27

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Another one from the Waipara, my premium pick is from The Bone Line. The first time I met owner and winemaker Vic (at a wine event, shocker) I instantly liked her, she is such a cool chick, funky & fun & boy can she make wine! The Sharkstone Chardonnay 2016 is made from some of Waipara's oldest Chardonnay vines and has the citrus flavours of grapefruit along with peach and it's buttery but not too buttery.

Another classic example of the best wines being those with balance. Elegant and moreish and a bargain at $35 I reckon!

Click the link below to hear my chat with the Green Goddess herself Wendyl Nissan on the Long Lunch about Organic wines.

Beauties from the Barossa

To celebrate Australia Day lets have a look at the most prestigeous of the Australian wine regions - The Barossa, South Australia. The Barossa is North of Adelaide and boasts some of the oldest vines in the world as by some miracle it was never affected by the outbreak of Phylloxera in the 19th Century. Therefore some of the vines are in excess of 170 years old. The grape that Shiraz is made from is the Syrah grape but Australia is the only country to call it Shiraz.

Barossa Shiraz is known for being big, jammy, tonnes of ripe blackfruit & lots of pepper. It's unapologetically unsubtle and full bodied.    

I have always been a fan of Shiraz and as far as I know there is nothing better than Shiraz with meat!

The first of my picks is the Peter Lehmann, The Barossan 2015, this is an exciting new label from the stalwarts of the Barossa, Peter Lehmann wines and it is big, rich beautifully decadent with smells of blackberry, plum, vanilla, and chocolate that is typically Barossa. Available for only $25, drink this wine with BBQ pork ribs or slow roasted BBQ meat.

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Aged in American & French Oak for 12-18 months and then transferred to scotch barrels. the Jacobs Creek Double Barrel Shiraz 2015 is a premium offering available for only $24. This double barrelling process adds flavours of plum & fruitcake to this deliciously drinkable wine. I enjoyed a bottle of this with Brisket & other meaty deliciousness at Ponsonby BBQ restaurant Miss Moonshines recently and it was the perfect combo           

For those who are not a fan of the jammy, OTT style that is typically Barossa, my next pick the 2016 Shiraz from Woods Crampton is a more elegant expression of Barossa Shiraz with a clear focus on drinkability. These are old vine wines, rich yet elegant with loads of delicious flavours of blackberry, vanilla but with slight hints of violet.

So what better way to celebrate our fabulous Aussie cousins this 26th of January than to crack one of these Barossan beauties and enjoy with some BBQ'd meat delights. You can even drink it chilled if you wish - yup, that's totally something you can do - even Wendyl thinks so, click the link below to hear our chat at Shiraz.

Give Gewürztraminer A Go!

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Gewürztraminer, like Riesling it is a wine varietal that winemakers love to make and love to drink....so why does no else like to drink it? Seriously, this gorgeous aromatic wine makes up less than 1% of the New Zealand wine market, so you can be pretty sure that winemakers are not making it for the money, they are definitely making it for the love of it.

The Gewürztraminer grape is pink and it loves a cold climate like we have here in NZ. It is a highly aromatic wine with telltale scents of Lychee, Turkish Delight or Rose Water. Imagine all of the exotic scents of a Moroccan bazaar. The texture is usually quite rich & mouth-filling (a bad one will feel soapy in the mouth) and while the driest you will get a Gewürzt is off-dry it never seems that sweet because of its tendency to have high acidity

Gewürztraminer goes exceptionally well with spicy or intensely flavoured food, think Thai, Indian even Mexican and of course with Moroccan food given the synergy between the flavours, just remember to serve it really cold.

My favourites right now are Matawhero Gewürzt 2016 from Gisborne, it is clean and fruit driven with smells of rose petal, clove, lychee and star anise 2016, as Matawhero is a boutique winery this is a wine that you can mostly get in liquor stores and should cost you as little as $22. This wine is vegan with residual sugar of 7 grams, so off dry, and will also go beautifully with a strong tasting cheese like a Blue.

From my old friends in Marlborough, Allan Scott comes the Generations G:Wizz. The Generations range is a single vineyard range which is a tribute to family, something that is extremely important to the Scott family and just another reason to love this awesome winemaking team. This crispy wine is medium sweet with residual sugar of 15 grams but very well balanced with delicious lychee flavours and goes perfectly with Asian food like dumplings. A wonderful wine available widely for only $26.

Misha’s Vineyard “The Gallery” Gewürzt from Central Otago is a wonderful wine with flavours of Turkish Delight, peach and orange zest. The word I use to describe this wine is a word I find I use frequently when I describe the Misha's vineyard wines - elegant. It's gorgeous and the 13 grams of residual sugar make it to my palate medium in sweetness. Pick this up from liquor stores for about $32 and serve with Thai or Indian food.

Gewürztraminer has come a long way since the bad old days of dodgy overly sweet wine, so I gotta ask yet again, at least once, give Gewürztraminer a go!

Click the link below to hear my chat with Wendyl Nissan on RadioLIVE to hear more

Rosé 2.0 for 2018

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Wow - Rose is such a juggernaut and it is not showing any sign of slowing down. It's next to impossible to pick one off the shelf so the lovely peeps at SipNZ are making it a little bit easier with their Rosé  Directory, they have taken 42 wines from 10 regions covering different styles, sweetness & prices and put them all into a database, all you have to do is go to sipnzwine.co.nz put in your preferences and bam - a Rosé recommendation - I love it. 

Rosé Day is Feb 5th so if you're keen to have a bit of fun and find out what you're Rosé personality is you are you can take the Rosé personality test (I'm the socialite - haha), the thing that made me most happy about this is it actually did recommend for me one of my all time fav Rosés - "Isle of Beauty" by Two Rivers. Whoop! 

Everyone but everyone is now making Rosé and I have been sent so much I could bathe in it. Actually. Not that I'm complaining I adore Rosé it just makes it really hard to pick a top three! So here are three I love that are doing something a bit different. 

There are so many reasons to love the Waiana Estate, Indian Summer Rosé 2017, firstly it's in the kind of bottle that gets my motor running. A tall elegant bottle with a beautiful dappled punt (This gal loves a punt!), it has a beautiful pale colour & it is the typical Provençal style of Rosé that I adore - bone dry with less than a gram of residual sugar. This Hawkes Bay beauty is made from Merlot and Malbec grapes and will set you back a mere $22

All the way from Otago the family owned, single vineyard winery Wooing Tree have created a Rosé that is typically Central in that it is 100% Pinot Noir but also because behind the typical strawberries & cream we love from Rosé there is also hints of nectarine and stone-fruit - oh so central and lovely, crisp & dry at 2.9 grams of residual sugar. Pick this one up for $27 or $25 on special.

I've done these in order of sweetness rather than price this time around and the sweetest of the three is the Spade Oak Voysey Rosé 2015 (a slight aged Rosé - interesting) from Gisborne is only $18 and is off dry with 8.5 grams of residual sugar. It's delicious and oozes Raspberries! Yum! The great thing about this wine is that it's made from the Spanish grape Tempranillo, a grape varietal that loves meat so this is the perfect BBQ wine this remarkable summer season we've been having.

Click the audio below to hear my chat with Wendyl Nissan on the Long Lunch about why I love these Rosés so much and keep an eye on my social media for more great Rosés this summer.

My Top 10 Wines of 2017

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What a year it has been! I have had the most amazing time writing and talking about wine on the RadioLIVE Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissan. It has been such a great year and I cannot believe how many amazing wines I have tasted and how many new wineries I have discovered.

I have to take a moment to say thanks to everyone who has listened or read my recommendations. The huge amount of engagement I get from wine lovers throughout New Zealand is humbling & I'm really grateful. Also massive thanks to the wineries who send me wines to try. The hard work & passion that goes into creating these beautiful wines is remarkable, I take my hat off to each and every one of you, as, despite what people may think, making wine is not an easy task. But you amazing wine makers live and breathe it every day and the end result is something quite spectacular.

So what better way to round out the year than a good old fashioned "Best Of", everyone loves one of those don't they? Well maybe they don't but I do, so let's have a look at MermaidMary's Top 10 wines for 2017. When I started this task I thought it would be relatively easy & it really hasn't been, not because I can't find ten but because I can't narrow it down to just ten! It's like picking best friends, I have too many wonderful options to choose from!

So here it is my agonisingly chosen top ten (in no particular order). These wines are all special for me for different reasons but first and foremost because they are great wines.

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1. JK14 - Malanotte: I discovered that the John Kirwin had this own wine label JK14 (a combo of his initials and All Black Number) at Winetopia 2017, the JK14 Malanotte was the first wine I tried and to be honest it ruined me for anything else at the event. All of the wines in the range are Italian as John's wife is from Treviso in Veneto, Northern Italy.  This wine collection has been put together with so much love each of the bottles is named after someone dear to the family and tells a story. As for the Malanotte only two wineries in the world make Malanotte and they stand side by side in Veneto, Italy. The people of the area believe that Malanotte is the wine that Jesus had the Last Supper. Well if it's good enough for Jesus! This wine is superb & it comes with a sense of humour as the front label on the bottle states: “Approved by Jesus Christ….we’re pretty sure!". The whole JK14 range is available at www.jk14.com and the Malanotte is about $60, a more expensive drop but trust me when I say it is worth every penny.

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2. Two Rivers "Isle Of Beauty" Rosé: Rosé is an absolute juggernaut and it seems like everyone is now making rosé, it would most definitely appear that pink is the new black! The sheer volume of rosé I have been sent this year is overwhelming - at one point i was pretty sure I just about manage a rosé bath! Picking just one in one way has been difficult but in another was pretty simple as for me Two Rivers “Isle of Beauty” Rosé 2017 just stood head and shoulders above everything else for a number of reasons, one the wine is the dry style that I love (I genuinely think that winemaker Dave Clouston is a genius) but also the fact that the bottle is one of most beautiful bottles I have seen in quite a while, tall, thin, elegant with a beautifully dappled punt (that's the dent thing in the bottom of a bottle of wine). Gorgeous.  "Isle of Beauty" is vibrant salmon in colour and quite simply a joy to drink. Pair with friends, sunshine and laughter. Available in liquor stores for $20.

3. Soho Wine Company "Carter" Chardonnay 2016 : Getting to know the team at Soho Wine Co has been such a 2017 highlight. For starters the company is run by the awesome kick ass girlboss Rachael Carter but also their range of wines is really superb. My fav wine from the team at Soho had to be “Carter" 2016 their black label Single Vineyard Chardonnay. Chardonnay is my favourite white wine and this gem from Waiheke and is named after Maximus Carter Rachael's beloved Dalmatian who has since passed, she named the Chardonnay after Maximus as they are both of an excellent Pedigree. Couldn't think of a better tribute to a beloved pet. Pick up a Carter in liquor stores nationwide for $40

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4. Element Syrah 2015: I love discovering new wineries and one of my favourite discoveries of 2017 was Element Wines. Element are a teeny tiny 2.66-hectare vineyard in the renowned Gimblett Gravels area of Hawke's Bay and they make some pretty spectacular wines. Winemaker Dom is all about a balanced & harmonious way of growing & Element don't use herbicides, pesticides or other associated nasties. This Syrah is a deep Purple and it smells of violets & blueberries & boysenberries. At first glance you think this is going to be a super grunty but in fact it's smooth and soft silky & delicious. This wine was one of my most exciting finds of 2017 & frankly I think Dom is selling this wine way too cheaply at only $25. You can only buy online at www.elementwines.co.nz but at those prices why wouldn't you buy a case! Buy up now before Dom takes my advice and puts the price up!

5. Clearview Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2016: For Chardonnay lovers the Clearview Chardonnay really needs no introduction, this wine has definitely built up a cult following and each vintage it sells out. The winery don't make any more of it as a result of it's popularity so when it's gone, it's gone so each year we all have to sit and wait with baited breath & eager anticipation for it to come around again. But come around it does and each vintage is as good as the one before and we all breathe a sigh of buttery oaky relief (between sips). This The Chardonnay is that perfect balance of fruity, creamy & toasty without too much of anything taking over. It will also cellar beautifully for the next 10 years for those of you out there with the willpower not to devour it now! It is a more expensive drop with a retail price of $47, but hunt it out for as low as $42 as it really is worth it (and so are you!). 

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6. Supernatural Wine Company - Green Glow: Natural wines are becoming such a massive trend & the thing that I love most about natural wines is you can't judge the wine by the varietal. A perfect example of that is the Green Glow by the Supernatural Wine Co, This wine is a Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand's first skin fermented Sauv B) but it is not a Sauv as you or I know it. But that's the beauty of it. For me it's about judging a wine for what it is, rather than what you want it to be. If you taste this wine expecting a typical Sauv Blanc then you will definitely be disappointed as this wine is not typically anything. This wine is full bodied and refreshing with lots of stonefruit and a herbal quality which makes it unique and truly wonderful. Leave your preconceptions about Sauv behind & enjoy this wine chilled but not cold. I cannot wait to see what the Supernatural Wine Co do next as these guys are most definitely one to watch!

7. Villa Maria – Reserve Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 - When I originally talked about this wine I described it as "so beautiful and so special it deserved the shedding of a tear"  This wine is a 2007 vintage but was only just been released and it's rare to find a 100% Cab Sauv in New Zealand but rarer still to find a ten year old at finding it for $63 seems almost unbelievable. I know that seems like a lot of money, and in fact it is but if you wanted to invest then this is the wine to do it with. Beautiful smells of ripe blackcurrants and even coffee, the taste is so fine yet quite powerful and it's a wine that will aged beautifully. If you have a child born in 2007 this is the wine to buy, cellar well and share with them on their 21st birthday.

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8. Te Whare Ra - Syrah 2015: It's no great secret that I love the wines of Te Whare Ra in Marlborough. This organic & biodynamic winery is run by husband & wife team Anna & Jason Flowerday. Anna is quite simply one of my favourite people (and not just in the wine world) with her unbelievable passion for making wine and her no bullshit attitude when it comes to pretty much everything. She's such a cool chick. It's almost impossible for me to pick a favourite from their range but if I had to it the Syrah has the edge - most likely because of just how much I love Syrah. As this is cool climate Syrah (and that's not something you see a lot of) with amazing depth and complexity with all of the peppery deliciousness of a great NZ Syrah.

9. Rockburn - Pinot Noir 2015: When it comes to absolute quality you can never go wrong with a wine from Rockburn, Central Otago. They consistently make remarkable wines & I have been a fan for as long as I have been in New Zealand. Their 2015 Pinot Noir is everything that a great Pinot should be teaming with flavours of both red and black cherry,  with smooth tannins and a long delicious finish. It's so elegant & this wine would be such an amazing gift for a vegan friend (or any friend at all). All Rockburn wines are vegan & organic and multi-award winning. This retails at $50 but I have found it for as low as $40 in New World which is a steal!

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10. Allan Scott - "Generations" Gewurztraminer 2016. Another winery that I'm known for being a fan of and this year the team at Allan Scott released the "Generations" Geurtztraminer. I am passionate about more people trying aromatics and this is a good example of a great accessible aromatic wine with layers of delicious lychee and spice with a medium body and off dry sweetness. This wine is dangerously moreish and a treat at only $26. Another reason why I love this wine is because the Scott family are the nicest family of passionate people you could ever hope to meet. They've been great supporters of me so their wines feel really special.

So that's that! This Mermaid's round up of my favourite wines of 2017. To be honest I could have easily picked 30 wines choosing just ten was tough!

Looking forward to trying even more wines in 2018 and bringing them you via the RadioLIVE airways and here.

Happy New Year

MM

x

 

No Pain Like Champagne

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Champagne has been around for centuries and it is thought even that the first sparkling wines were actually made by accident, as a result of wine being bottled before it had finished fermenting, this meant that the ferment continued in bottle & created bubbles which made the wine sparkling. It wasn't until the 16th century that wine was deliberately made sparkling & even then they weren't aware of how to regulate the second fermention. This combined with that fact that the glass bottles weren't strong enough to withstand the intense pressure of the bubbles meant that bottles of Sparkling Wine would explode, in fact back in the day being a cellar master was an extremely hazardous as not only would one bottle explode but it would start off a chain reaction with as much as up to 90% of bottles in any one vintage being lost. This unexplained phenomena earned sparkling wine the nickname of "The Devils Wine" as people believed the only explanation was that the wine must be possessed.

Although he wasn't the original creator of Champagne (as most people think) the Benedictine Monk Dom Perignon was a pioneer in perfecting the subtle art of making champagne. He also helped to establish the set of strict wine-making rules that still Champagne houses still must adhere to today. 

The amount of rules that a sparkling wine must adhere to in order to be called a Champagne is extensive! I'm not even going to start down that track as I would break the internet! I think the one that most people know is that Champagne must come from the appellation of Champagne in Northern France. To give context Champagne is about the same size as Waikato, a relatively small area but the business of Champagne is worth a whopping 4.74 Billion Euro with approximately 312 million bottles being produced annually. Champagne makes up 30% of France's wine exports. Needless to say it's a massive business!

One of the key things to remember about Champagne is the difference between non-vintage and vintage Champagne. Every year a non-vintage Champagne will be made but vintage Champagnes are only made on the very best years years. So how do you know? Easy. If your Champagne has a year on it, then that's a vintage, it is the best wine that a house can make, it's the most prestigious, the Champagne that has been aged longer and if cellared correctly will age excellently & most definitely a more expensive Champagne that one without a year on the label.

Great Champagne should have vibrancy and the bubbles should be lively on your tongue & appear both light and mouth filling at the same time. One that definitely fits the bill is Lanson, made in 1760 Lanson is one of the oldest Champagne houses and has a subtle toasty characteristic with honey flavours and delicious fruits & citrus. This time of year Champagne is the cheapest that it will be all year round and you can get this wine for as low as $60 this time of year - an absolute bargain considering you are buying a Champagne that has been around since 1760. I'm such a fan of this Champagne, it is an amazing drop that is completely underrated considering the quality & history.

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A better known Champagne is Perrier Jouet - is is so hard to dislike this Champagne not only because it is absolutely delicious but also because it looks so beautiful. PJ always focus on beautiful design & this year's box is a gorgeous festive green and gold. This Champagne is available also for as low as $60 at Christmas (which is crazy inexpensive) and oozes lime, honeysuckle, vanilla & apples. Wow!

I loved the idea of Bollinger even before I tasted it as I was a fan of Ab Fab back in the day - does anyone else remember the catch phrase of Eddie & Patsy "Boli Darling, Boli Sweetie" then an old boyfriend bought me a bottle for a romantic picnic for my birthday and I realised it was also one hell of a Champagne! So many different apple flavours as well as stonefruit, pear & even walnut - can you believe you can get a Champagne as complex & delicious as this is available for as low as $80....I honestly wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own two eyes! Also Bollinger is one of the last remaining independent Champagne houses that is still family managed.                 

There is no doubt about it Champagne is a pretty special drop & I am a firm believer that ever so often you have to treat yourself to something special! Click the link to hear my chat with Annabelle White on the subject :)

Pinot Noir that make great gifts for Christmas

Central Otago Pinot Noir is the perfect Christmas gift as it not only is good quality but it also has the perception of good quality and lets be honest, at Christmas no one wants to look cheap!

Also, Pinot as a light red wine pretty much most foods, Turkey, Ham, Smoked Salmon, Duck, Semi Soft Cheeses, fruit & nut cakes - yup that's right all of the delicious foods and treats that we usually serve at Christmas.

As a final point to seal the deal about Pinot Noir being perfect for Christmas, as a kiwi Christmas is kind warm,  that did you know that Pinot can be chilled? Not too much,  but about 15 degrees, so just a little warmer than a Chardonnay. Chill in the fridge for up to an hour

The following wines are my top 3 suggestions for Pinot Noir gifts for Christmas, each of these can be cellared for up to 10 years from vintage date if cellared properly, each one costs between $40-$50 which is a great pricepoint for a gift. It’s important to remember with Pinot Noir that vintage matters! So the wines that I am recommending aren’t just the wines themselves, but the specific vintage.

From Bannockburn, the warmest & driest sites in Central Otago Akarua Pinot Noir 2015 is a Pinot Noir that has intense black fruit flavours and the complexity that you can expect from this exceptional sub region. The flavours are a combination of red and black fruit with just a hint of spice & earth. Such a remarkable wine for only $43            

If you can’t find Akarua I also recommend the Pinot Noir from Mt Difficulty & Felton Road also from Bannockburn

For the wine loving romantics out there (like me) you just cannot go past Michelle’s Pinot Noir 2016 from Invivo, this is a power packed Pinot full of lush concentrated flavours of dark cherries & the most subtle hint of vanilla from the cooler sub-region of Gibbston Valley. This vintage won a Gold Medal & Trophy - No.1 Pinot Noir at the NZ International Wine Show 2017. A stellar vintage of a great wine available for only $40. Oh did I forget the romantic piece? Well Invivo winemaker Rob Cameron named this wine, the winery’s premium wine offering after his own wife Michelle - you gotta love that! It has to be said if you could find a Pinot Noir loving Michelle, there truely is no more perfect gift than this drop.

If you can’t find this wine then pick up the Pinot from Gibbston Valley Wines

Last but not least is the Mount Michael Pinot Noir 2015 from Lowburn, Mount Michael is a boutique winery run by Anna Robbie who is the youngest winery owner in New Zealand at only 28 (go Anna!). All the Mount Michael wines are hand picked from Single Vineyards and this delish drop has an abundance of berries flavours with just a hint of that mushroomy, savouriness that makes it a great wine to pair with food & is available for $42

As it is a boutique winery I know it may be harder to find so if you can’t I also recommend Lowburn Ferry wines and of course, my eternal favourite - Rockburn

All amazing Christmas gifts to share with your loved ones this Christmas!