Random Wines from AUS and NZ

So many great local wines at your fingertips when in Australia and New Zealand.  Of course many of them aren’t available in the US. Some of them we sampled included:

Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir, Tasmania — some nice fruit

Scrubby Rise Sauvignon, Semillion, Viognier, Australia (Adelaide) – pretty light

Priory Ridge Pinot Noir, St. Helens, Tasmania – ooo, nice.  Some pepper on it

Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough – pretty traditional sauv blanc

Brancroft Estate Brut Cuvee, New Zealand – some nice crisp bubbles

Gibbston Valley Pinot Gris, Otago – much tropical fruit

Millton Viognier, New Zealand – smooth

Pegasus Bay Riesling, Canterbury, New Zealand – very nice dry riesling!

Amisfield Sauvignon Blanc, Otago – lots of flavors going on

Explorer Pinot Noir, Central Otago – drier than expected, earthy

Terra Sancta, Mysterious Diggings Pinot Noir, Bannockburn, Central Otago – nice pinot

Mojo Shiraz, Barossa Valley – berries

South Island Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough – really good for an basic bottle

RedBank, The Long Paddock, Shiraz, Victoria – good happy hour wine

Kuru Kuru Pinot Noir, Central Otago – chocolate, some spice

Stefani Estate Shiraz, Heathcote — delicious!

Corbans Pinot Gris, Gisborne, New Zealand – a bit too Chardonnay-like

Mt. Difficulty Sauvignon Blanc, Bannockburn, New Zealand — grassy

 

 

 

 

 

Eichardt’s, Queenstown, NZ

The last (dinner) stop in Queenstown was a place called Eichardt’s.

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We went to the bar area for wine and tapas.  Another great menu!  This time the wine choice was a flight of Pinot Noir. It was comprised of Mount Edward ‘Eichardt’s’ 2013 Gibbston, Wild Irishman 2013 Bannockburn and Misha’s Vineyard ‘The High Note’ – 2009 Bendigo.

The first on the tasting was ok.  The 2nd was quite solid with very nice fruit notes.  The 3rd was absolutely amazing.  There was the slightest hint of leather, almost like a Pinotage with the traditional fruit.   I still had many stops to go on this trip so it wasn’t easy to buy one.

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For dinner we grabbed several of their tapas.

Seared Otago nectarine & goat’s cheese salad with local rocket, shaved fennel & candied almonds.

Grilled bruschetta of local wild mushrooms, thyme and feta

Sourdough bread with Cairnmuir olive oil & macadamia nut dakkah

Wild game terrine, sourdough toasts, homemade pickles and relish

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All of them just melted in the mouth.  Absolutely outstanding.  Between them and the wine, great final dinner in Queenstown.

Coyote Grill, Queenstown, NZ

Next place to check in a NZ town if of course a Mexican restaurant, right?  After getting back fairly late from a tour it was close to the hotel and looked pretty good, so why not?  So we checked out Coyote Grill.

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One of two mandatory orders was right (and done right away) – chips & guac.  The other that wasn’t (margarita) was simply replaced with sangria.

The guac had a perfect texture and spice to it.

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Two appetizers were ordered after that for dinner.

Prawns (that’s what they call shrimp) Veracruz– sautéed with mild guajillo chili and slow cooked garlic IMG_5406

Duck Tostada – shredded roast duck served on a crispy corn tortilla with salsa

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The shrimp had a nice kick to them and whatever seasoning they used on the duck was amazing.  And for appetizers, these were big dishes.  Perfect end to a long day.

Smiths Craft Beer House, Queenstown, NZ

Another spot visited in Queenstown was the Smith Craft Beer House.

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You can pretty much deduce what they have based on the name.  And you can order a sampler of whatever you like.  Based on their large selection, the bartender chose several for the table based on our taste.  The six that came to the table were:

From left to right:

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Garage Prospect, Teas & Tea, Spicy Brown Ale, 6.2% — very dark

Horse Box, Vigilante, IPA, 5.8% — tasted a bit like tea

Horse Box, Storm Hopper, APA, 5.7% — crisp and not too hoppy

Beer Barrons, Lady Danger, Red Ale, 6.5% — red definitely describes it

Wigram Tornado, IPA, 6.6% —  bit of fruit, not much else, slightly bitter

Tuatora/Coucher, Summer Gold Golden Ale, 4.5% — light, totally an ale

For lunch we ordered a pizza, half with cheese half without.  The crust on this thing was amazing.  So light and fluffy!  One of the best pizzas I’ve had.  Great stuff.

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Fishbone Bar & Grill, Queenstown, NZ

New town, new country, of course new exploration.  The hotel where we stayed recommended a great seafood restaurant for the first night in Queenstown; Fishbone Bar & Grill.  Of course, you have just a bit of water around you when you’re in New Zealand so there is likely to be some decent seafood.

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And to kick off the meal in the new country we started with some vino, of course.  We opted for some Rockface Pinot Gris from Waipara, NZ.  Pretty dry, which is why we picked it to pair with upcoming seafood.

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For dinner we decided to go with 3 appetizers.  They were good sized as we saw them going to other tables, which is why we went this route.

Seared Tasman Sea scallops with tomato and fennel ragout, shaved fennel, orange and fresh fennel pollen

Sesame-crusted west coast Albacore tuna sashimi with Daikon, cucumber and bok choy, black garlic mayonnaise

Salt & chili arrowhead squid with radicchio, endive, orange, and squid ink mayonnaise.

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I don’t think you could find a piece of food left on these plate.  The tuna was perfect crusted in sesame seeds and the perfect size, the squid had been cooked to perfection and was the perfect texture and those scallops, oh those scallops.  This place needs to open a location in DC.

Miles Better Pies

So I’m not a pie eater.  But when you’re on a tour and you have to stop and get a high recommendation from a driver sometimes you listen.  We were on our way to Milford Sound, New Zealand and took a break in Te Anau.

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The driver pointed at this little tiny shop called Miles Better Pies and more.

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This is a long-standing shop that primarily makes meat pies.  I don’t eat a ton of red meat but something he said clicked.  They have venison pie.

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I don’t like crust but wanted to check out the inside.  After finding out the filling had no dairy, bring it on.  The filling was chunks of meat vs. ground and had mouth-watering flavor.  So…amazing…  One of those places where you just kind of leave the fork hanging in your mouth.

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Saturday Wine Tasting

I checked out a great wine tasting on Saturday and some of the wines made it home — can never go wrong with that.  It was at Wine Cellars of Annapolis and the theme/title was Value Imports from Vintus Wines.  We suffered through 3 whites and 3 reds from a total of 4 countries.

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2012 Talmard Macon-Chardonnay, Burgundy, France

Per the cheat sheet:  Gerald and Philbert Talmard are a father son team carrying on a four century family tradition of grape growing in the French village of Chardonnay, believed to have given the grape its name.  The vines are planted in calcareous soil, which provides the wine with a particular mineral characteristic along with fruity aromas.  This wine is luscious, showing scents and flavor of butterscotch, honey and lemon with a distinct mineral taste on the finish.  $14.99

My notes:  Dry Chard (score!), with some butter at the end.  Unique in the sense that you wonder how it’s a Chard then voila!  There it is right at the finish.

2010 Domaine Des Baumard Savennieres, Loire Valley, France (if you want to check out their true site, here it is, in French obviously — www.baumard.fr)

Per the cheat sheet:  “This is perfectly balanced dry Chenin.  It had just the amount of richness, aided by a touch of vanilla.  The green and white fruit are blended with deceptively soft acidity to give a wine that feels full and ripe in the mouth.  Good to drink now, but also worth aging 3-4 years and more.”  93 points Wine Enthusiast  $26.99

My notes:  Too sweet for me.

2013 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

Per the cheat sheet:  “This is powerful and rich with a reserve and tension.  Full and layered with beautiful dried fruits and a bright acidity.  Dried apricots and lemons.  Lots going on.  Loving it.  Turns to aniseed and dried lemons.” – James Suckling  $22.99

My notes:  AMAZING smell — grapefruit, mango.  But, the taste doesn’t match the nose.

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2011 Tommasi Valpolicella “Rafael”, Veneto, Italy

60% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella, 15% Molinara

Per the cheat sheet:  This classic Valpolicella is full of dried-cherry flavor with a hint of smoke and grilled meat on the nose.  Offering loads of bold fresh cherries on the palate and a core of mouth-watering acidity in the background behind all the bright cherry fruit.  Tart dried cherries and a whiff of smoke linger in a long finish.  $16.99

My notes:  Cherry, smooth, light but still has body, cranberry.  Big stars on my piece of paper.  Left with a few bottles — and enjoyed it 1while watching the Red Carpet and Oscars on Sunday.

2010 Heartland Shiraz, Langhorne Creek, Limestone Coast, Australia

Made by star winemaker Ben Glaetzer, this deliciously dark and rich Shiraz has hints of chocolate, pepper and tobacco leaf on the nose.  Plums, blackcurrant and spice flavors abound on the palate and are perfectly balanced by fine supple tannins.  $19.99

My notes:  Coffee, smoke, amazing, light acid taste, will get some soon.

2009 Chatean Lyonnat Lussac Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, France

Per the cheat sheet:  “Firm, richly dark wine from the Saint-Emilion satellite village of Lassac, with chocolate and coffee flavor, layers of wood and spice.  It is packed with ripe plum and black cherry fruits, weighty and already concentrated.”  90 Points Wine Enthusiast  $24.99

My notes:  Light wine, taste of ‘wet rocks’ — we know exactly what those taste like, right?  So funny who we know the taste of random things.

Overall, some great new finds!

Wine Recap

Over the past month, I’ve had a nice spread of new wines that I’m finally getting around to posting about.  From red to white to bubbly, I love trying new happy grapes to add options to my wine rack.

#1 — Fire Road Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand. Citrus, apple, crisp, light, but still a nice weight to it.  Price seems to range from $10-$16/bottle (when looking online).

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#2 — Oakley Eighty-Two, California Red Wine.  Who makes this one?  One of my favorite vintners — Cline.  Nice red blend that’s a bit heavier (jammy) and can pair with about anything.  Great to have on hand to open and serve (or drink) whenever needed.  Price is about $10-$12/bottle.

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#3  — Diseno Old Vine Malbec, Argentina.  Fruit and spice can make a wine so nice.  Price is $8-$10.

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#4 — Bleasdale Vineyards Sparkling Shiraz, Australia.  I seek out sparkling reds.  This one is better than some but a bit sweet.  Was drinking it on New Year’s Day, though, so very fun for the occasion.  Definitely worth trying.  Price is $16-$20.  Note, the picture in the link is different than the one below, they might have changed the bottle/label.

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#5 — Alvarez de Toledo Roble, Spain.  Just a nice red wine.  I was at a friend’s place for dinner and it was out and it was so nice.  Doing some searching looks like it’s about $8-$10 bottle.

Wente Chardonnay, Livermore Valley, California.  Some apple, some tropical fruit.  Aged in both barrels and stainless steel tanks it’s a very unique wine.  Definitely a Chard I’ll add to my list.  About $12-$14.

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#6 — Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz, Australia.  Berries, a hint of chocolate and smoke and a bit of pepper.  Very nice.  About $20-$25.

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International Pinot Noir Tasting

For Thanksgiving we opted to do an international Pinot Noir tasting.  Since the varietal is one that has been rumored to pair well with turkey, we thought it  would be fun to see how different country’s respective grapes compared.  We went for three continents — get everybody to join the party!

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Hob Nob, 2011, Languedoc, France:  Smooth, oh so smooth.  I could taste chocolate.  Not a great pairing for turkey, but we took one for the team and still enjoyed it!  Hand me some chocolate covered pretzels and this wine…oh yes! Very reasonable — about $10-$12.

Nobilo Icon, 2012, Marlborough, New Zealand:  More acidic than Hob Nob, much better pairing for turkey, traditional Pinot taste.  I say that as nothing jumped out about it but still very nice.  About $15.

Schug, 2010, Carneros, California:  Same as above…more acidic than Hob Nob, much better pairing for turkey.  Taste of cherries then a bit of smoke at end.  About $17-$20.

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Definitely a fun element to add to Thanksgiving dinner and it was great listening to all the comments at the table on people’s specific tastes, likes, distinctions, characteristics they took from each wine.  Go Pinot!

Wine Class #3

And I go back a class.  In the third week we bounced around a little on what we learned about, but some of the main points I took home were:

-the ‘parents’ of Cabernet are Sauvignon Blanc and Cab Franc

-high tannins and acidity are the base for Bordeaux

-Cabernets and Chardonnays adapt to climate

-Syrah=crowd pleaser

We tasted quite the range of wines that night, darn!

2011 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, about $13

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2011 Willm Geurztraminer, Alsace, France, about $16

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2009 Chateau les Grands Marechaux (Merlot), Blaye Cote de Bordeaux, France, about $24

 

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2012 Milton Park Shiraz, South Australia, Australia, $9 — definitely lived up to the price

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2012 Punto Final Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, about $13 — almost ‘raisin-ed’

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2012 Clos Le Vouvray (Chenin Blanc), Loire Valley, France, about $20

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2011 Chateau de Chasseloir Muscadet, Loire Valley, France, about $12 — pair with salt

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2011 Tres Picos Garnacha (Grenache), Borsao, Spain, about $18 — love this one!

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2011 Karl Erbes Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany, about $18

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