Call me old-fashioned, but I’m a sucker for Pinot Noir. If I could have only one red wine for the rest of my drinking days, it would almost certainly be Pinot Noir (PEE-noh nwah, the grape that produces the wonderful reds of Burgundy. Unfortunately, red Burgundy is so expensive in Thailand that after a few months of enjoying it with dinner, I’d have to sell the car, the house and probably the dogs as well.
There are some exceptional wines (including Pinot Noir) coming out of New Zealand these days and many of them won awards in the Decanter 2009 World Wine Awards. New Zealand jumped into the limelight of the wine world in the 1980s and 1990s with some exceptional Sauvignon Blancs.
Today I want to tell you about two superb wines from Lightband Wines of Nelson. This is New Zealand’s eighth largest wine region, a small area on the western side of the country near the northern tip of the South Island. The climate is ideal for wine grapes.
The curious name "Quacks’ Corner" takes some explaining. The wine comes from the Brightwater Vineyards, which are close to the place where Ernest Rutherford was born. In case you’d forgotten, he was the famous scientist and one of New Zealand’s most distinguished citizens, considered to be the father of nuclear physics. As a boy he was extremely bright and eventually became dux (the top student) of nearby Nelson College. Needless to say, his schoolmates nicknamed him "Quacks". I bet you didn’t know that.
Quacks’ Corner Nelson Pinot Noir 2008 (red,) New Zealand (Foodland Bt. 869).
This is a ruby red colour with purple and crimson notes: instantly recognisable as Pinot Noir, with aromas of back cherries, strawberry and red currants. In the background there are typical Pinot Noir savoury aromas with hints of spice. It’s 14% alcohol with firm tannins with an attractive earthy quality and a long, pleasing savoury finish. This is quite an assertive wine and it would go beautifully with rich meat and mushroom dishes or of course Pinot’s classic partner in France, Beef Bourguignon. One reviewer suggested Peking duck, but perhaps he was joking.
Quacks’ Corner Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (white), New Zealand (Foodland Bt. 869).
The year 2008 was a good one for vines from the Nelson area, with a hot summer and cool nights. The wine is a light straw colour and has a pleasingly oily appearance with a typical gooseberry aroma and a dash of tropical fruit. It has a lovely, warm fruity taste and a rich, almost creamy mouth feel, with hints of herbs and spices. The acidity is well-balanced and there’s a long dry citrusy finish.
Some Sauvignon Blanc (SOH-vihn-yon BLAHN) wines can be dull and flabby (especially some of the cheaper ones from Australia) while others can be surprisingly tart and acidic. At just 13% alcohol, this one strikes the balance splendidly. It would go well with assertive Thai fish dishes and fresh sea food. OK, it’s a tad expensive but if you want to push the boat out and try an excellent Sauvignon Blanc, do give this a try.
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