Well, December already team. It has been a strange year with a few downs to go along with the ups for some of us on a personal level.
That is not to say that it has been a bad year for our Cellar Club, quite the contrary in fact. Let’s review our year. By a long-established tradition, we began with our summer BBQ at the end of January. The usual excellent occasion and we continue to appreciate that Derek makes his premises available. February saw us heading to Askerne Estate in Hawkes Bay. The Hawkes Bay wineries never let you down. March was with the very well established Villa Maria presenting. While the winery originated in Auckland, the company has expanded over the years and produces wines from most of the major regions in New Zealand.
April saw something of a coup for the club with Joelle Thomson presenting. Joelle is a well-recognised personality in the New Zealand wine world as an author, wine writer and tutor. Another great tasting. May is the inevitable AGM then in June Simon Bell from Colab Wine Merchants took us on a tour of Europe. Simon brought along some large wine glasses and some time was spent on discussing the virtues and differences that wine glasses can make to your wine experience. On to July for the mid-year dinner at the Trade Kitchen.
Off to Nelson for the August tasting with Waimea Estate. Over the years Waimea has gathered 150+ Gold Medals and 26 Trophies across nine different wine styles. Nelson producers are right up there as a wine region. Cenna Lloyd for Negociants presented in September. She presented wines from two wineries, Misha’s Vineyard and Two Paddocks, both from Central Otago. Much enjoyed by those who attended and really great orders from a smaller group attending.
In October we celebrated the Rugby World Cup with a selection of wines from countries competing in the Cup. Keith Tibble was the presenter. November saw the very early return of Cenna Lloyd for the South American wine and food match evening outlined below. Cenna had been to South American after presenting in September and was keen to share her experience.
It only remains to anticipate yet another December Dinner. We have been to Cashmere Lounge before and we are sure you will not be disappointed.
Simon Bell, the Representative for Colab Wine Merchants, presented a taste of Europe. There was a good turnout of 33 members and 3 guests. Everyone enjoyed the evening. It was a different style of meeting with lots of member interaction. Simon gave out larger glasses to demonstrate the difference using a large glass versus a small glass. It was an interesting evening with the tasting aimed for the layperson. There were 14 orders with a total of 96 bottles. Simon was pleased with the meeting and is keen to do another meeting. To revisit the wines included:q
Alpha Domus Collection Sauvignon Blanc (NZ) Vivanco White Rioja (Spain) Guerrieri Rizzardi Pinot Grigio IGP Veneto (Italy) Domaine Dupre Bourgogne Chardonnay (France) Vivanco Rioja Crianza (Spain) Vivanco Rioja Reserva (Spain) Chateau Mauciol Cotes du Rhone Villages Red (France)
One of the prospects he discussed, and would be happy to run, would be a non-threatening “Wine Options” evening. Your committee will consider this.
A ghastly night weather wise and a long list of apologies through autumn ailments meant that the turnout for this tasting was a little lower than we had hoped for. Despite that, those who braved the conditions enjoyed an excellent presentation and some great wines. Simon Bell and Craig O’Donnell from Macvine International presented for this tour around Europe. The tasting was a little different from the usual but was done with great style and enthusiasm. The wines presented were not necessarily well-known wines from Italy, France, Spain, and Germany. Simon and Craig enjoyed the evening and expressed a keenness to return in the future.
The tour included the following wines:
Andre Delorme Methode BDB (France) Pazo Cilleiro Albarino (Spain) Bernard Defaix 2015 Cote de Lechet Chablis (France) Cantina Terlan Lagrein (Italy) Dourthe No 1 Rouge (France) Alpha Zeta “V” Valpolicella Ripaso Superiore (Italy) 1994 Burgermeister Lauer Drohner Hofberger Riesling (Germany)
(These are some excerpts from an article which actually canvassed 10 things you might want to know about wine. I have picked out several that I found more interesting. The rest, in fact, we didn’t want to know.)
What is orange wine if it’s not from oranges?
Orange, some say, is the new rosé, occupying the demilitarised zone between red and white. The colour crosses a spectrum – from pale apricot to enraged Trump, all the way to amber – but what’s really different about orange wine is the way it’s made. Traditionally, red wines are made from the juice of red grapes plus grape skins. Whites are made without skins.
Orange wines are made from white grapes but get the red-wine treatment – the juice is macerated with the skins, a technique dating back 8000 years to wine’s birthplace, Georgia. The resulting texture, tannin and colour means these “skin-contact” wines have more in common with reds than whites; styles vary from fruity, floral or earthy to sour and funky.
What is natural wine and why are people so excited about it?
Natural winemaking is a broad church in which wines are generally (purists say must be) made from grapes grown without commercial chemicals. Processing takes place with minimal “intervention” – so, for example, the wine may not be filtered to remove cloudiness. Additives, such as sulphur dioxide – used for centuries to keep wine tasting fresh – are shunned or kept to a minimum. It’s a departure from the kind of large-scale industrial winemaking that values hygiene and consistency over quirks and imperfections.
As with conventional wines, quality varies hugely. There’s no regulation of what’s called natural, so if you’re going that way to avoid chemicals, look for certified organic or biodynamic wines – they’re more likely to be what you’re paying for. When made by winemakers of skill and integrity, the best natural wines celebrate quality, individuality and character – hallmarks of all great wines, regardless of whether they’re pitched as natural.
What’s better – Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio?
Same grape, different name – one name is French, the other Italian, with “gris” and “grigio” both meaning “grey”. In Europe the French approach to making gris produces a highly perfumed wine with plenty of mouthfeel; grigio from Italy is often (not always) a crisper, lighter wine. “Better” is in the eye of the beholder – good news is they’re all food-friendly styles. So in short, no difference in the grape, just the name.
Why might some wines contain traces of eggs, fish or milk?
Egg whites with fish bladders and milk: a dish that might make guests at a Game of Thrones banquet actually welcome the post-dinner massacre. Yes, it’s medieval stuff – each of these has been used for centuries to “fine” wine. Fining is a process in which one or more of these proteins is dropped into unfinished wine to bind with components that taste bitter, astringent, or are likely to make the wine hazy. They are then removed. Traces, as the label states, may remain. If any of the above have been used you’ll find them listed on the label as allergens. The fish bladder derivative also goes by the name isinglass and is rarely used in Australia but egg whites and milk products are still common.
How long will a wine keep after it’s been opened?
Like fish and houseguests, opened wine smells less appealing after three days. Aim to finish an open bottle over no more than two nights. As a rule of thumb, red wines stay in condition for longer than whites (some robust reds taste better on day two). Exposure to air changes the aroma and flavour of opened wine, so reseal a bottle you’re not planning to finish in one go.
A bottle that’s mostly full will last better than one with only a glass or two left. It’s about the proportion of air to wine – more air in the bottle means faster deterioration. Store an opened bottle upright, not on its side. If you keep a clean, empty half-bottle handy, decant unfinished wine into that – it will stay fresher than in a full-size bottle. Otherwise, start scouting wine-saving devices.
(This last item may not reflect editorial opinion, surely once the bottle is opened it deserves to be finished in one sitting. The person I live with frequently draws my attention to the week that passes between a tasting and when the committee downs the tasting leftovers, but members may not understand the deterioration that has occurred during that time and the generous effort made by committee members to get rid of these leftovers on their behalf.)