kelly magyarics

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

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NZ Wine Expo in DC

I attended the NZ Wine Expo in DC on Thursday evening. This event was sponsored by the New Zealand Winegrowers Association, and the Washington Wine Academy, and it was a great chance to taste over 100 NZ wines.

I attended the NZade tasting the previous year, which was organized, as many wine tastings are, by producer. This year things were a bit different. The wines were organized by varietal, which allowed tasters to really compare and contrast within the same varietal. Of course there were a lot of Sauvignon Blancs there, as well as a great deal of Pinots (wine critics say that NZ Pinots may rival those in Burgundy within 10 years or so, and I tend to agree.) There were also some great Rieslings. Here are some highlights:

* As I mentioned a few weeks ago after the DC Int'l Food and Wine Festival, the 2006 Spy Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is a winner. Not just a one trick pony, it's very complex, with citrus, passion fruit and grass all wrapped up into one.

* The 2006 Matua Paretal Sauvignon Blanc tasted very Sancerre-esque to me. By that, I mean "cat's pee on a gooseberry bush," in a good way. But at $20.00, it's more expensive than a lot of other choices, like Kim Crawford, Nobilo and Monkey Bay.

* The 2006 Brancott Classic Unoaked Chardonnay from Gisborne was a bit soft and buttery (must have had some malo), but still had good acidity. It was easy drinking and would be a great choice with food.

* Another Spy Valley option, the 2006 Marlborough Riesling, was very nice. It had aromas and flavors of crisp peaches, yet with all its fruit it still finished very dry.

* The Kim Crawford 2006 Marlborough Pinot Gris had some tropical fruit overtones, yet finished dry and refreshing.

* The 2006 Saint Clair Vicar's Choice Marlborough Pinot Noir is a great value Pinot at $16.00. Had some Burgundian character.

* The 2005 Seresin Pinot Noir from Marlborough had a funky aroma, along with great earthiness and acidity.

* Pourers told me the 2005 Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir from Central Otago was one of the favorites at the event. It was very Bungundian, with smoke and a meaty quality.

* The 2003 Blind Trail Pinot Noir from Central Otago also had an earthiness and smokiness to it, yet was easy drinking.

* The 2006 Oyster Bay Merlot from Hawkes Bay was jammy, with supple tannins. An easy drinking choice for Merlot lovers.

For more information, go to www.nzwine.com.