OK, so they don’t speak Spanish in New Zealand…they speak Kiwi English. I know this, but based on my love of Spanish food and my experiences along the coasts of both Spain and Portugal (diff language, I know!) last Summer, they might as well speak that Romantic language, what with the bright, quality wine that they put out with each vintage. Seafood is the phenom pairing for the vast majority of these wines and I’m happy to throw them together on the regular.
Now clearly, I’ve always been a fan of NZ wines, so let’s just get that experiential bias right out in the open. So when I heard that would soon be a winemaker dinner that not only paired some classic NZ winemakers alongside some fervent wine bloggers, but also some extremely tasty Peruvian seafood with said winemakers’ wines…I said [frak] yeah, I’ll come!
I attended this tasty dinner courtesy of Benson Marketing Group. They teamed up with Constellation New Zealand to put together this US road show and I was happy to be a part. The setting was La Mar Cebicheria, at Pier 1 1/2 in the San Francisco Embarcadero. The food at this place is just nuts. I’d been there a couple times before for both wine work and work work: it features a freshly prepared menu of seafood that I haven’t yet found an equal. Damn good food, so I was pumped when I arrived. I met two of the most friendly bear-men you’ll meet when I arrived, winemakers Dave Edmonds and Darryl Wooley of Nobilo Wines (as you can see in the video above, courtesy of Nobilo). The third winemaker, Anthony Walkenhorst from Kim Crawford, was also extremely nice, but seemed more likely to kindly offer up a run through the forest than wrap you in an strong embrace (also a good thing).
As we tasted through the wines, alongside some slammin’ cebiche chifa, we had a nice walking tour through the various sub-regions, climates and soils of the Marlborough appellation. The well-known Marlborough appellation has a variety of sub-regions that are just now getting their own names out across the US. From the warmer, drier and more alluvial soiled Wahopai, Wairau, and Rapura that help to contribute a more tropical fruit flavor to their wines, to the cooler Awatere Valley, where the wines can pick up those more herbal and citrus characteristics that have made NZ wines a star across much of the wine world these past two decades. It was a fascinating lesson in climate and geology and one that I sorely needed, with my limited understanding of these sub-regions.
The patience of Dave and Darryl (and most likely Anthony if I was able to hear that end of the table) to answer my questions was exceedingly high and rivals only that of my first grade teacher, Mrs. Rogers. This was made even more evident when Dave leaked the fact that he was desperately trying to find a ride to the North Bay (after the last ferry) in order to meet up with with a very old friend that he hadn’t seen in many years, the last time he was stateside. And all of this was going on after I had already been told that these this kind troupe of winegrowers had gleaned only about 10 hours sleep in the last week, during their zip across the states for this vino trip. For this patience, their wines, the education and the delicious food; I thank them!
Drylands Wines (WineLog):
Color: Delving into golden tones, with clear edges
Nose: Slight savory herbs at first, then tropical fruits and some nice clean slate minerality.
Palate: Softer pink grapefruit in the fore, then that kicks into a zesty, almost spicy fruit composition out to the finish. All of this is complemented by some tropical fruit lurking underneath. Good: NewWorldWK, QPRWK.
Monkey Bay Wines: (WineLog):
Nobilo Wines (WineLog):
Color: Medium canary core, clear edges
Nose: Clean, some minerality with medium tropical fruits and good grapefruit.
Palate: Salty, juicy grapefruit and bright zesty tropical fruit, with a long juicy finish featuring crisp acidity: NewWorldWK.
Color: Medium canary clear edges
Nose: Distinct tomato vine here, Great juicy grapefruit as well and clean minerality.
Palate: More complex structure here, with a fuller mouthfeel and better balance with the crisp and clean citrus and that tomato vine finish. Very good: NewWorldWK.
Color: Lighter ruby
Nose: Good savory nose with toast, darker red fruit of rhubarb and then anise in this barrel sample.
Palate: Silky and medium full body, with good acidity showing bright cherry and cranberry fruit alongside that rhubarb and subtle anise. The toast underlays all of this along with some white pepper towards the finish. Good: NewWorldWK.