Wine in a can....yup, that's a thing...

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I can hear the audible gasp of horror from wine snobs at the very thought on wine in a can but actually it's been a thing for a while now, in fact it's been around since 2004 – Francis Ford Coppola (yes, thee FFC, he also owns a winery) introduced "Sofia" a Blanc de Blanc, which is a white sparkling methode traditonelle made entirely from Chardonnay grapes in a can. So canned wine has been around for a while in the US and it's popularity is massive, last year alone sale doubled to $14.5 Million, mostly driven by millennials who much prefer cans with cool designs rather than boxed wine which is considered low rent & bottled wine which is considered alienating. Wine in can isn't going anywhere and now New Zealand, it's coming to us! 

Let's be honest, the wines that you get in a can is never the top level, most prestigious wines, but they are the average price, consistently good wines that most people drink, so their popularity makes sense.

From a practical point of view light & air are the two biggest enemies of wine, putting wine in a can automatically this takes away both of those problems, also as most of the cans are either 250mls or 330mls it makes having a "glass or two" much easier as you don't have to open a whole bottle and worry about whether it will keep until the next time you want a glass or two. 

The final reason I think canned wine is a good idea is - have you seen an NZ summer? We have such an outdoor and active lifestyle and once the sun shines we spend our time on boats, at the beach, up hills hiking and going camping to name but a few activities. Cans are light, portable, easy to chill down and the rubbish you have to carry with you is a lot lighter than a bottle. This is a vessel made for summer days. 

The one downside to a can is you need to have access to the aromas of the wine in order to get the full experience - so I still recommend you put it in a glass (I'm currently crushing on these portable Goverre glasses and hope Santa gets the memo) to get the full aromas etc. When someone comes up with a rip-lid wine can, that would be perfect! 

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There aren't that many people doing wine in a can in NZ but I have found a few which taste pretty good. Firstly my old friends at  Allan Scott, have made a Green Hopped Gooseberry Bomb Sauvignon Blanc and which they call a Craft Wine as it's not just wine but a wine that has had some brewing techniques applied (Winemaker Josh Scott is also a brewer).  This wine is a jump out of the glass, grassy, gooseberry Sauvvy, lovers of "typical" Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc will not be disappointed. At $8.99 for 330mls (Just over two glasses of wine or 3.3 standard drinks), this is a great drop and it's also 11.5% so lighter in alcohol which I think is a responsible choice on behalf of the Scott Family as it does appeal to a younger demographic. For now, this is the only one in the range but an Allan Scott Craft Wine Riesling & Pinot Noir are coming soon! Watch this space...

Originally in a bottle Joiy, a sparkling Prosecco style wine in also now available in cans. Joiy is made from a combination of Riesling grapes from Waipara (north Canterbury) and the Clare Valley in South Australia. It's medium sweet and to be honest I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this wine despite it being sweeter than my usual taste. It's easy drinking with light bubbles & it went down a treat with the snacks I brought to a picnic just last week. It comes in a (rather pretty) slimline 250ml can and is 10% alcohol and $5.99 at Farro stores nationwide

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Misty Cove released their wines in a can last year it looked like it was a bit of a struggle for them as the format is so new to this market - but trojans that they are they didn't give up but went back to the drawing board, changed the format and added another varietal, I'm glad they didn't give up as the revised range looks awesome and tastes pretty good too.

There is a Sauvignon Blanc (The Charlatan) and a Chardonnay Sparkling (The Hustler) but one I'm featuring here is the Pinot Noir which they call "The Embezzler". It's a Marlborough Pinot Noir & exactly what you would expect of a mid-range, fruity, easy drinking Pinot. They have JUST canned this a few weeks ago - the cans I got were hot off the press but keep an eye out for this range everywhere you buy alcohol as I expect to see it all over very soon. Also slimline 250ml cans and each for $6.49. 

Wine in a can, it's here and it's most definitely here to stay. I predict A LOT more wineries following the suit of these awesome early adopters & hats off to them for being so innovative. It's not easy being the first one to try something new.

The one glaring omission from everyone range is a rosé! Let's have one of those next please wine in a can makers!

The 2018 Air New Zealand Wine Awards

The Air NZ Wine Awards have been running for 31 years now which makes it one of the longest running sponsorships in New Zealand, (The All Blacks and Steinlager sponsorship has run for an equal amount of years)

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Every year this event grows from strength to strength and this year there was 1,300 entries, and each entry (yup, every, single, one) is blind tasted by 3 senior & 2 associate judges. The way that it works is firstly they pick and publish the medal winners and then only the winners of Gold medals go forward to be considered for a trophy. Honestly to earn a gold medal is an achievement in itself & they are prestigious! For example of the 149 Sauvignon Blancs that were entered only 9 were gold & on the red side 164 Pinot Noir's were entered and 19 won gold. So gold is not easy to achieve & a genuine mark of quality. 

Each year the awards are held in a different location - this year it was the beautiful Hawke's Bay - and 17 trophies are awarded with 2 supreme trophies which are essentially “Wines of the show” being the top awards on the night. 

As mentioned, all of the gold medals are already incredible wines so depending on your taste you will not be disappointed with a Air New Zealand trophy winners - the three below are just some of my picks of the bunch and also ones that I could get my hands on at short notice after the event in time for the Long Lunch the following Friday. 

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I will admit to feeling a tad smug when the Dashwood – Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 won not just an award, but THREE awards last weekend, one of them being the O-I NZ Reserve Wine of the Show - AKA one of the top top awards. I recommended this wine a few months ago and I am so proud to see how well it has done. This wine is a beautiful, plummy, fruity (very) easy drinking Pinot and an great expression of the amazing region of Marlborough. They also serve it in business class on Etihad Airlines. This wine is an absolute STEAL at $18 and my friends in retail tell me it's selling by the caseload...get yours now, you will know it by it's red label featuring a beautiful Pohutukawa. This wine also won the Dish Magazine Champion Open Red Wine Award & JF Hillebrand NZ Chamption Pinot Noir Award - what an over achiever!                                                                               

Also from Marlborough the Goldwater Sauvignon Blanc Wairau Valley Marlborough 2017 won two awards last weekend. The New World Champion Open White Wine Award and the Label and Litho Ltd Champion Sauvignon Blanc Award. This is another very affordable wine at $22 with aromas and flavours packed with citrus, apple, even feijoa and tropical fruit. The palate is crisp, well balanced and refreshing. This is a great one to have in the fridge this summer and is a wonderful example of what great looks like in the world of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and just why it's so beloved the world over. 

My final pick is a Hawke's Bay Syrah because, well because I bloody love Hawke's Bay Syrah! Man oh man what a wine is the Coopers Creek Reserve Syrah 2016, it's deep red is almost purple and it is so deliciously well structured with dark ripe fruit with just a hint of floral and oak. This wine I have no doubt will age so well but I advocate for treating yourself and drinking it now? Why? Because it's absolutely delicious. It is a little bit pricer at $59, but have a hunt around and it will be on special from time to time as low as $49. Trust me, it's worth it. This Hawke's Bay beauty took out the Champion Syrah Trophy and boy is it....        

For more info on the rest of the trophy winners go to the Air New Zealand Wine Awards page and to hear my chat with Carly Flynn on the long lunch click the link below....

Lighter Options Wines - Let's keep our standards low!

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As the silly season rapidly approaches I think it's apt to approach the sometimes tricky situation of standard drinks vs standard pour - as a lot of people don't realise that the two things are actually quite different.

One standard drink is actually only about 100mls of wine and a standard pour in a bar or restaurant is 150mls. That means one glass of wine is actually one and a half "standard" drinks. Ok but what does that mean? Don't worry, I'm here to break it down for you.

The measurement of a standard drink is simply based on what your body, specifically your liver, is capable of processing and your body (yes, everyone's body) is only capable of processing one standard drink every hour. I know we all know someone who we believe is capable of handling a lot more (or a lot less) than that, but the science says that 10mls of pure alcohol = 1 standard drink = a processing time of one hour. For wine, as I mentioned, that equates to (more of less) 100mls of standard strength (13-13.5%) wine per hour.

So next time you head out for a wine and you think you're ok to drive as you've only had a couple of wines, remember that two wines is actually three standard drinks. This is the one and only time I advocate for keeping your standards low!

So at a time of year when there seems to be a party, end of year celebration, catch up or something else every other night of the week and if you're not catching up with friends for a BBQ (Hurrah summer is here) you're playing host yourself, I think it's a good idea to look at some of the lighter wine options out there, if you don't feel like abstaining (which remember is also an option!). Grab some of these to bring around to friends houses or have them in the fridge if mates are coming around. Remember - good friends - provide the beverages, great friends - don't let mates drink and drive!

But wait a moment I hear you holler - lower alc wine? Ewh! Isn't that stuff awful!? Ya know what, I will agree that once upon a time it most certainly was, but not anymore. There is a real commitment by the wineries, particularly the big wineries to make great quality, lighter option wines and ya know what's even better about lighter alcohol wines? They're usually lower in calories too, and at a time of year when calories abound, how can that be a bad thing?

I don't recommend anything I don't think is good and these wines are good, they're also not expensive and widely available in supermarkets nationwide. Pick up a few mid strength beers like Mac's Mid Tempo or Steinlager Mid while you're there and everyone will be happy.

I wasn't kidding when I said these wines were good quality - the Stoneleigh Lighter Sauvignon Blanc 2017 just won a gold medal at the New Zealand International Wine Show and that's saying something. This wine is 9.6% alcohol and is off dry and is what I would describe as a typical Marlborough Sauvvy - and I mean that as a compliment! This wine is full of fresh citrus and passionfruit with that capsicum quality we have all come to know and love in our Sauv. We all know a Sauvignon Blanc lover so grab one of these for only $16 to have in the fridge when they pop round. Enjoy chilled with any kind of seafood.

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For those with a sweeter tooth the Villa Maria Private Bin Lighter Pinot Gris 2016 from Marlborough will definitely hit the spot. This wine is 9.5% and smells like flower blossoms and tastes like ripe pears with just hints of spice. Super moreish and the medium sweetness makes is perfect with thai food or if you're serving up some spring rolls to share. $14 and widely available.

You just cannot have a list that talks about summer without including a Rosé and my favourite of the lighter styles is the Wither Hills Early Light Pinot Noir Rose 2017. Summer defined this wine is watermelon pink with the smells and flavours we have come to know and love in our Rosé - strawberries and raspberries. Yum. Pack this one in the picnic basket as I think it pretty much goes with anything and that's not too shabby for a wine that will only set you back $15. This wine is 9.5% and is the driest of my picks.

Hope you enjoy these wines and remember, lighter in alcohol is still alcohol and alcohol like all drugs should be treated with respect and used in moderation.

Lets make some awesome choices this silly season, lets look out for each other this summer and make sure we all get home safe while having tonnes of fun!

Click the link below to hear my chat with Carly Flynn on the Long Live Lunch

Riesling - The Wine Lovers Wine

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Riesling is one of the oldest German grape varieties and it is without question the wine lovers wine, I have yet to meet a sommelier, wine maker or wine expert who doesn’t adore it, yet the general public tends to be really suspicious of it. So why? To those in the know they see Riesling as a complex, aromatic, delicious wine which ages exceptionally well, however the general public seems to believe that all Rieslings are sweet and nasty. I think we should place the blame firmly at the feet of Blue Nun which was indeed very sweet and ever so nasty!

Despite the stereotype, not all Rieslings are sweet, in fact quite a few of them are dry or off dry. Also as Riesling tends to have high acid and where you have higher acid you have a lowered perception of sweetness. Riesling also goes with pretty much any food, but goes especially well with spicy food like Indian or Thai.

Cork dorks like myself, well we just go crazy for Riesling, and even more so when it's been aged. The smell of a good quality aged Riesling is unmistakable, it smells like Kerosene or petrol, as strange as it may seen, that's a good thing for Riesling lovers....ok, I can see how that might take a bit of convincing but in the meantime lets more onto my top Riesling picks.

My first pick is from Central Otago and is the driest of the three with 7.4% residual sugar, the Bannockbrae Dry Riesling is from a small boutique winery in Bannockburn and has flavours and aromas of : Lime, honeysuckle, crisp granny smith apple and stonefruit. This wine has so much going on but all of it is good! I recently enjoyed this with Thai Food & it was perfection & only $22. Contact Bannockbrae directly to order.  

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A little bit sweeter at 11.5% residual sugar the Johner Estate 2016 Riesling from the Wairarapa has all the hallmarks of a Riesling that will most definitely age well, it's also made by German winemakers The Johners and it has to be said if there is a country that knows its Riesling, it is most definitely the Germans. This wine has smells like orange blossom but flavours of peach and lime with just a hint of honey. Drink it now at $24 a bottle or buy a case and cellar some to see how well it will age & improve.

Misha’s Vineyard “LimeLight” Riesling is from Bendigo in Central Otago and is the sweetest of my picks at 33grams of residual sugar, which makes it technically medium but one of the best quality. All of Misha's wines are single vineyard & hand harvested and I have yet to find one that isn't delicious.  Available widely for $28 this Riesling has flavours  of lime, lemon zest and flint, making it quite a typical expression of the New Zealand style of Riesling. Another wine with great balance of sweet and acidity making it destined to age well.

I really hope that some of you try some of my picks and realise there is nothing to fear when it comes to Riesling! If you're not sure of the sweetness level, do ask the retail assistant for their help. A well trained staff member will know what's what. Also don't be afraid to try something a little sweeter if you are having spicy food as the spice in your meal will offset the sweetness in the wine.

Click the link below to hear my full Riesling chat on RadioLIVE with Leah Panapa

Celebrate Marlborough - NZ's Largest Wine Region

Beautiful Marlborough, located at the top of the South Island, anyone who has been to Marlborough can appreciate it's beauty and hopefully you've enjoyed on of their long warm summer days that are perfect for grape ripening!

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Marlborough is New Zealand's largest wine region at over twenty thousand hectares of grapes, though small Marlborough is mighty! The region accounts for approximately 2/3 of New Zealand’s wine production, a huge proportion of this goes overseas and to be honest it seems like they can grow almost anything in Marlborough. The two things that Marlborough mostly produces mostly are New Zealand's international wine signature - Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc & also Sparkling Wine, it has to be said too that I am a massive fan of Marlborough Pinot Noir which is really starting to rival Central Otago & Martinborough in popularity because of its fruit forward style and easy drinkability. Also if you're a wine collector it has the complexity needed to age well.

So that's what I've picked! See my celebrations of Marlborough below..

You just cannot talk Marlborough without mentioning a zesty Sauv & this Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2016 is everything that good Marlborough Sauv should be, Dry but acidic with delicious juicy zesty citrus bouncing around your mouth. All that and it's organic too (I know!) and available widely for an astonishingly reasonable $18. You just can't go wrong!

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When it comes to eternal favourites - Nautilus's Cuvee Brut Methode Traditionelle NV is just so. This pinot noir/chardonnay Sparkling has been produced since 1989 at a consistently high quality and continually wins award after award. It nails the fact that the key to success in a great NV is consistency. Toasty and biscuity as any good bubbles should be and it is flush with aromas of peaches and citrus. In a word. Yum.....available for $37 at either supermarkets or Liquor stores nationwide.  

My obsession with finding the best boutique wineries in New Zealand continues and Blank Canvas are completely rocking my wine world. This 2014 Marlborough Pinot Noir is so fruity with delicious red fruit aromas, the tannins are so silky and all in all the word I would use to best describe this wine (apart from delicious) is balanced, and as far as I'm concerned a well-balanced wine, is a great wine. This wine is $45 and worth every penny. Winemakers Matt & Sophie have just returned from Europe where they did the 2017 harvest. Matt himself has done back to back, Northen and Southern Hemisphere harvests for 25 consecutive years! He has yet to miss a harvest in that time which means in 25 years, he has done fifty - yes that's right - FIFTY harvests. Matt believes the only way to improve your wine is to learn from other people & step outside your own world and where better to learn than in the Old World and bring those influences back to his making of his own Blank Canvas New World wines. 

Click the link below to hear my chat with Carly Flynn on the RadioLIVE Long Lunch

 

O.M.Gris - A white wine made from a red grape?!

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Pinot Gris is a white wine made from a red grapes - no truly, that's a thing, and it's a great example of the fact of just how much the skins of grapes influence the look, style & taste of a wine. In this case the grape juice is pressed from the skins without any (or very little) contact with the skins therefore it gives no colour influence to the wine.

Pinot Gris is a very important grape in Alsace, France where they make a full bodied, spicer version which is also called Pinot Gris, however in Italy they make a lighter, fruity, drink now style they call Pinot Grigio. Our style of Pinot Gris in New Zealand tends to be fruit forward and varies from very dry to off dry with some sweetness. For the most part New Zealand Pinot Gris is a drink now style of wine. 

My fav Gris' at the moment are:

Hihi Pinot Gris 2017 from Gisborne, this one is definitely in the sweeter camp with 6.5 grams of residual sugar and very aromatic with flavours of pears and honeysuckle - this would make it great with Thai food I reckon.

Hihi is a small boutique producer and winemaker Andy thrives on making a huge range of really interested varieties of wine. Hihi sell their wines at the Gisborne Farmers Market at the weekend or it is available at local Gisbourne stores & at www.hihi.co.nz for $18 a bottle - an absolutely bargain in my estimation!

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Loveblock Pinot Gris 2014 is from infamous Marlborough Kim Crawford. Since he sold Kim Crawford Wines almost 15 years ago Kim & his wife Erica run Loveblock - all of the Loveblock wines are certified organic. This Gris is my type of thing - dry (2.6 Residual Sugar), delicate, with flavours of melon & pear that are oh so delicate & delicious. I could drink this all day long & would definitely pair with some seafood. Available widely for $22

Cypress Pinot Gris 2016 is from the renowned Gimblett Gravels area of the Hawkes Bay. Cypress are a family owned boutique producers of some pretty stunning wines since 2009. This Pinot Gris is a more fuller bodied style than you would normally see and it's just a little sweeter at 3 grams of residual sugar (so off-dry). This wine though with delicate flavours is a bit more robust so I could see myself enjoying this with a platter of antipasto deliciousness (who doesn't love a platter with their wine!). Pick this one up for $26 in liquor stores or online.

There's no doubt about it Pinot Gris can be a divisive varietal of wine but there is also no doubt that it is definitely growing in popularity all the time in New Zealand with people seeking out more premium offerings and are prepared to pay a little more for a great Gris.

I've given three different styles & sweetness levels below so hopefully you find something in here that appeals your Pinot Gris palate.

Trick or Treat?? Enjoy some Hallo-Wines

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Don't know if you've been Trick or Treating with a gaggle of small people any time recently but I find it kind of stressful!

I always find that I need my own treat in the form of a wine afterwards - So, keeping in the "spirit" of Halloween, I have picked some spooky themed wines for you to enjoy that are a so much more than just "Boos". Ok, ok, I'll stop now.....

First though, a Halloween related wine fact: Did you know that in the 17th century when they started making sparkling wines they really didn't understand really how second in-bottle fermentation (the one that gives us the bubbles) worked. So as the bottles sat in cellars the CO2 would build and build and the bottles became under so much pressure that they would spontaneously explode and often one bottle exploding would cause a chain reaction & many would explode & the producer could lose anywhere from 20-90% of their bottles - working in wine cellars in those days was a hazardous job! In the 18th century they finally figured out the science behind the bottles but until then Sparkling Wine was thought to be possessed and was dubbed "The Devil's Wine”

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The first of my picks is a Rosé- I do love a Rosé, this one is called Take It To The Grave Rosé and is from the Australian Barossa, hard to believe that a Rose made from Grenache & Shiraz - big bold red grapes - could create such a modern, dry elegant style of Rosé, but they most certainly have. This baby oozes with red berry & candied fruit flavours. Apparently this vintage - 2016, was an exceptional one in the Barossa & you just cannot talk about this wine without calling out the artwork. The cute little "Day of the Dead" Style Skeletons on the bottles are super endearing & make this one really attractive on shelf. This Rose will set you back a very non-scary $20

I love Rockburn, in my eyes they can do no wrong. Devil’s Staircase is their secondary label which makes it easier to access their great wines at a more accessible price. This 2015 Devil's Staircase Pinot Noir is inspired by the winding road leading from Queenstown to Kingston along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. This is an easy drinking, approachable wine with the usual Central Otago giveaways of stonefuit (specifically plums) and blueberries. To get a Central Otago Pinot Noir of this quality for $22 (or as low as $19 on special) is almost unheard of. Grab a bottle soonist.

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Every so often I get really excited by a winery - Supernatural Wine Co is just such a winery. This little winery with only 8 hectares planted in the Hawkes Bay are producing natural wines which are also organic and vegan. There is a massive movement towards Natural Wines and these guys are setting the standard where it belongs - high! Their wines are already starting to sell out yearly & I only expect to see the demand grow and grow. I tried two of their natural wines - Green Glow (the label for which glows in the dark BTW) and The Supernatural. I’m recommending the Supernatural 2015 here as I think of the two it is the most accessible for the general public. This is one of those wines you open to taste and end up drinking half a bottle (or was that just me?) This is Sauv Jim, but not as we know it - this Sauv is rich, full and delicious and I cannot wait to drink a whole bunch more of it. This does come at a higher price point at $30 but frankly for a wine this special that’s actually a steal. The most interested & exciting Sauv I have had in quite a while.

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

Day of the Unicorn - A celebration of New Zealand Sparkling Wine

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Bubbles, well it's just one of those words you can't say without smiling & who can resist a little cheer as the cork goes POP!

The gold standard as far as most of the world is concerned is Champagne, but to be a Champagne you must be made within the Champagne region in North West France in accordance with very strict rules. Considering Champagne is approximately the same size as the Waikato - that's a lot of kudos for a really small part of the world! If your sparkling wine come from absolutely ANYWHERE else in the world even if it is made to the exact same specification, well what you have there my friend, is a Sparkling Wine.

back home in New Zealand, we are pretty lucky to have some amazing sparkling wines to call our very own. The vast majority of them come from Marlborough as the cool climate suits the structure and acidity needed to make an elegant Sparkling Wine and let's be honest, the best Sparkling wines exude elegance. In NZ we make a lot of Sparkling wines that are called "Methode Traditionelle" which basically means it is made in the traditional method or style of Champagne. So to all intents and purposes you could call it a New Zealand Champagne (but you definietly can't say that or the people in Champagne get very upset, and so do their lawyers!)

When it comes to quality, how that works is if your wine doesn't have a year on it, that means it's an NV or "Non-Vintage" these are the sparkling wines that are made up of wines from several different years. It is done this way to ensure consistency of quality of wines - every NV release should taste the same as another from the same winery. If, however, your sparkling wine has a year on it, well that's something just a little bit more special as sparkling wines with vintages (years) on them are the best sparkling wines that winery can make and are only made on years that the vintage was exceptional and as a result more expensive. 

Bubbles can be an aperitif (the wine you serve before dinner) served by itself or with some canapes or it can also match with a  number of delicious foods - I cannot think of anything more magical than super fresh, unflavoured seafood and bubbles, like sashimi or natural oysters - amazing! However it has to be said that my all-time favourite match for bubbles is Fish and Chips - I know, I know, that sounds like madness but the clean crisp flavour of the sparkling wine is the ultimate match to the salty, oily deliciousness that is good old kiwi fish and chips. One of the most romantic dates I ever had was fish and chips and (vintaged - oooh) Champagne on the beach in Wellington. 

So why the day of the Unicorn? Well simply put, if unicorns were to have a signature drink, I'm pretty confident it would be bubbles or sparkles - aren't you? 

So let's take today to celebrate the wonderful world of NZ Bubbles, grab a bottle on your way home from work and remember to always - yes ALWAYS - serve your bubbles cold, like, properly cold. The ideal serving temperature is 6-8 degrees. 

Here are my picks for my favourite NZ Bubbles right now in three different styles Rosé, Blanc de Blanc & Brut Methode Traditionelle:

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Why is it that every time I find a wine I love - particularly a Rosé - I find out that it's been made by Marlborough based winemaker Dave Clouston?? Seriously the man is a wunderkind.

This Snapper Rock Sparkling Rosé is made from 100% Marlborough Pinot Noir grapes and has a full nose of strawberry & roses. A seriously delicious & exciting wine which is surprising drier than I thought it would be for all its fruity pinkness and is available for only $25. If this wine could speak it would say "have fun".

I think gal pal unicorns would have this on summers day over lunch with their bestest gal friends. 

The No. 1 Family Estate Cuvée is made from 100% Chardonnay which makes it a Blanc de Blancs. I personally love Blanc de Blanc as it is a drier style of sparkling which appeals to my taste buds. Made by iconic Kiwi Winemaker Daniel Le Brun this was the very first wine they made at No. 1 Family Estate and it is the perfect balance of fruity yet toasty - definitely the right combination in a great bubbles. Everything about this wine from the minimalistic bottle with curves in all the right places to the smooth taste & delicious finish screams elegance & is widely available at liquor stores for $36.

I think Unicorn couples would drink this on Valentine's Day to celebrate their unicorn love. 

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Well, it would be rude not to throw in vintaged Sparkling Wine - wouldn't it? From all the way down in Bannockburn, Central Otago the Akarua Methode Traditionelle 2011 is made in the traditional Champagne method & as it turns out 2011 was a year worthy of putting on the label. This sparkling wine was aged for 3 years before release which means it continues to age beautifully in the bottle since its release in 2014. 

The vines the grapes for this wine originate from are 16 years old & you can tell this wine's quality by its delicate complexity, it's peachy & fresh & toasty & so delicious & incredible value for money at $45 (available widely) 

I think Unicorn Brides & Grooms would serve the Akarua Vintage Brut Methode Traditionelle 2011 at their wedding. 

For more information on Day of the Unicorn head on over to the good peeps at SipNZ

Non-Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

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The one comment I am hearing so much at the moment is “I don’t like Sauv”, it almost feels like it's not that cool to like Sauvignon Blanc anymore & there's slight hint of people feeling slightly “over” it. To that sentiment, I have just one thing to say to that..... Noooooooo! Sauv is wonderful & also vitally important to the New Zealand wine industry. 85% of the Sauv we make in New Zealand goes overseas and let me tell you, NZ Sauv is absolutely adored around the world - lets be proud of our Sauvignon Blanc!

Ok, ok, so maybe you're a bit over the taste, it is true that Marlborough Sauv can sometimes seem as if they are following a recipe - that grassy, acidic gooseberry can sometimes feel a bit "same same" glass after glass but rather than give up on Sauv I recommend trying a one from another region other than Marlborough  and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised 

So let's show our Sauvvy some love shall we? To help you with your choices my three picks are from around the country (but not Marlborough)

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Granted, I haven't gone that far from Marlborough with this one considering Nelson is just next door, but this Te Awa Leftfield Sauvignon Blanc 2017 is punching above its weight particularly when you consider it only costs $18 ($15 on special). This is also the wine that Air New Zealand serve on their domestic "Koru Hour" flights, and let me tell you that AirNZ takes their wine selection seriously!

The other thing I love about this wine is the "SquidMill" image on the front. The Squidmill is one of a range of mythical creatures that don each bottle of Leftfield wine. (You can learn more about those here). This wine is fun, it has gorgeous scents of lemon & herbs & flavours of passionfruit. Crack a chilled bottle immediately if not sooner. 

As we head up the country to the Hawkes Bay and the wonderful wines of Elephant Hill  - an impressive winery who are mixing state of the art technology with traditional wine making practices. Elephant Hill are a highly sustainable winery who have the technology to turn waste winery water back into clean water again - super impressive! Not as impressive as their wines though - wow.

The current Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc is a 2015 vintage & one that has been kept on slight lees (yeast to help with flavour) - a real commitment to quality considering Sauvignon is a drink now (or that could be a sell now) wine. This delicious wine has fresh flavours of Apple, peach and gooseberry (don't worry, it's subtle) with some floral as well. It has all of the acidity we know and love from Sauv but a hint of cream from its time on lees. Elephant Hill also recommends this is a Sauv you can age (whaaaat? Aging Sauv? Yup, it can be done) and will keep until 2022. This wine is a bargain at $22. 

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From the home of Pinot Noir comes one of the most impressive range of wines I've had the pleasure to taste of late & I have no hesitation in recommending Misha’s Vineyard ‘The Starlet’ – Bendigo Central Otago Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (or any of Misha's wines to be honest). This wine is handpicked and as another 2015 vintage has been aged a little in old oak. It is a unique mix mango, white pear and even hints of lemongrass! It is so smooth silky and delicious with such a depth of fruity flavour. This Sauv is also ageable for another 5/6 years under the correct conditions. Pick this little starlet up for $27

As for the name, Misha spent a lot of time in the wings of the theatre as a child as her mother was an Opera singer & Misha later in life became a ballet dancer, so all of her beautiful wines have a theatrical theme. 

Misha recommends matching her Sauv with strongly flavoured cheeses like goat cheese, feta, pecorino or sharp cheddars - hell to the yes Misha! 

To hear the audio from the Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen about my Non-Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc choices, click the audio link below.