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The Cellar: Wines From New Zealand + Australia

Friday, March 29, 2013


At the most recent ‘Evening with Wine’ event at the Providence Wine Academy participants sampled more than a dozen fantastic wines from these two great wine producing nations. The following is a review of some of the wines that were considered as ‘Crowd Favorites’.

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

The first head-to-head blind-tasting pitted two Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs against each other; the iconic (2012) Cloudy Bay and the award winning, single vineyard 2011 Dog Point. Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs are something really unique and a category that remains a favorite among American wine consumers. These wines are piercing and pungent; highly intense and enticingly aromatic.

The fruit profiles on many of these wines are those of passion fruit, grapefruit, and freshly cut grass with racy acidity to boot. While the $35 Cloudy Bay came out on top, the $20 Dog Point, which is made by Winemaker James Healy and viticulturist Ivan Sutherland who actually worked together at Cloudy Bay, had a lot of fans too.

And the winner is……

The second white wine blind tasting pitted Eden Valley’s 2011 Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling against the 2011 Mt Beautiful Pinot Gris from North Canterbury, New Zealand and the 2006 Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay from Tapanappa Winery, which is located in Australia’s Adelaide Hills. The winner was the $20, multi-90+ point awarded Dry Riesling from Pewsey Vale. Eden Valley, South Australia is becoming an increasingly popular source of quality Riesling. If you like the dry Alsatian style Riesling you should look for wines from Eden Valley. Pewsey Vale Vineyard has been planted with Riesling since 1847. The current owners planted their Riesling vines in 1961 and 1962. Their 60 acre single vineyard, which located at 1500 feet elevation, is the source of their 3 wines: this week’s featured dry, as well as a ‘Select’ and a ‘Spaetlese’ off-dry style Riesling.

New Zealand Merlot?

Yes! New Zealand makes a significant amount of Merlot. However the style of Merlot produced in this cool nation is different than what you might be used to from Australia or California. This was experienced firsthand when a head-to-head blind Merlot tasting pitted the 2010 Oyster Bay Merlot from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand against the $25 2010 ‘The Scooter’ Merlot from Australia’s Mollydooker Winery. Perhaps not surprisingly, the lean style of Merlot with pronounced ‘greenness’ and acidity didn’t have as many fans as the bold, full-bodied and fruit-forward Australian Mollydooker did - taking the title as the evening favorite red wine.

The evening also featured an interesting sparkling Shiraz(?), a fantastic Pinot Noir from New Zealand, as well as three very different Shiraz and Shiraz-blends. If you’d like see a complete list of the wines tasted, click here. While at the website feel free to sign up for the next tasting, which will feature the three powerhouse varietals Riesling, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.


Steffen Rasch is a Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine. Feel free to email him at [email protected] with any wine-related question. Follow GoLocalProv’s Wine Cellar on Facebook to stay connected to the local wine scene or sign up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy.


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