kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits & lifestyle writer / wine educator

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New Zealand Wine Fair

I attended a fantastic tasting of New Zealand wines in DC yesterday, including a Pinot Noir seminar. There are a lot of exciting things happening in the world of NZ wines, especially with their Pinots. I tasted both fruit-driven, New World styles, as well as classic Burgundian styles, and was blown away by their quality. Here were some of my favorite Pinots from the seminar, which was given by Spy Valley's winemaker Ant Mackenzie.

2003 Spy Valley Pinot Noir: This Pinot was complex, yet easy drinking, with soft tannins, red berry fruit and some earthiness.

2003 Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir: This was my favorite Pinot that we tasted during the seminar. It was smooth, with soft fruit including hints of strawberry jam. A fantastic wine--I couldn't help but go back for taste after taste of this one.

2003 Te Kairanga Martinborough Reserve Pinot Noir: This Pinot was the most different out of the eight that we sampled. Lots of barnyard aromas, gaminess, and earthiness, and very restrained fruit.

After the Pinot Noir seminar, I attended the walk-around tasting, where there were 22+ New Zealand wineries pouring samples of 100 or so wines. Here are some highlights:

2005 Jackson Estate Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough: Wine Spectator just gave this wine a score of 90, and I can see why. Textbook NZ Sauvignon Blanc--grass, grapefruit, lemon--but it was as if someone turned up the volume knob on this one. Full mouthfeel, good fruit on the mid-palate.

2005 Kim Crawford Riesling (Dry) Marlborough: Another great wine from Kim Crawford! Good acidity and green fruit flavor, and a dry, refreshing finish.

2005 Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough: This wine is a steal at the price. Full of zingy, herby, citrusy flavors, at $12 a bottle. One of my new favorite lower-end NZ SBs.

2005 Matua Valley Estate Pinot Noir Marlborough: Lots of red cherry fruit, and a smooth, elegant finish with a bit of earthiness.

2005 Oyster Bay Chardonnay: Very balanced, with apple and stone fruit flavors and a minimal oak finish. This is an oaked Chardonnay that you can still enjoy with food.

2005 Spy Valley Gewurztraminer Gisborne: A dry Gewurz with lots of spicy floral notes. Perfect for enjoying with Asian food, or on the deck this summer all by itself.