Tag Archives: New Zealand

AG Pick: Loveblock Pinot Noir 2012

Celebrate love this Valentine’s Day and beyond with a bottle of the 2012 Loveblock Pinot Noir. This red wine comes from Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand. It’s a region known for high quality Pinot Noir, and Loveblock is just that.

Loveblock Pinot NoirThe winery was founded by Erica and Kim Crawford. Kim, Loveblock’s winemaker, is probably best known for the wines that carry his name, though he is no longer involved with the brand.

As the floral label would indicate, Loveblock is an aromatic Pinot Noir. Red fruit and violet aromas are further expressed on the palate. Cherry, raspberry and ripe strawberry flavors mix with white pepper and sage. The finish has a subtle note of dried mushroom.

The Loveblock Pinot Noir is light to medium in body, with a silky texture. It pairs well with a variety of foods so enjoy it with aphrodisiacs or at a romantic dinner with your Valentine.

For more information on Loveblock wines visit loveblock.co.nz. Loveblock Pinot Noir is imported by Terlato Wines.

$37, 14% alcohol

Sauvignon Blanc Cocktails

Looking for a new way to enjoy the Sauvignon Blanc you’ve been sipping all summer? Try it in a cocktail or even a popsicle, with one of these recipes from Brancott Estate.

Brancott Estate was the pioneer of Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand’s Marlborough region, planting vines in the mid 1970s. Today the company is New Zealand’s largest producer and exporter of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Brancott Estate also produces Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio.

For more information on the wines of Brancott Estates visit www.brancottestate.com.

Brancott Berry

Brancott Berry

• 3 parts Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc
(or Chardonnay or Pinot Gris)
• 3 strawberries, chopped
• 1 part Gin (like Beefeater or Beefeater 24)
• agave nectar to taste
• juice of ¼ of a lemon
• garnish: strawberry slice

In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle the strawberries in the lemon and agave nectar. Add remaining ingredients and shake well with ice. Strain over ice into a wine glass. Garnish with strawberry slice on the rim of the glass.

Minty Peach Sangria

Brancott Sangria

• 3 parts Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc
(or Chardonnay or Pinot Gris)
• 3 parts peach nectar
• 1 part orange-flavored vodka
• mint leaves (for every one serving, use 8-10 mint leaves)
• garnish: mint sprig and fresh peaches (when in season)

Slap the mint leaves between your palms to release oils, then drop into glass. Add ice and remaining ingredients and stir. Garnish with mint sprig and fresh peaches. Can be served in a pitcher.

Peach Bellini Sauvignon Blancsicles

• 2 cups sliced peaches (fresh or thawed from frozen)
• 1 cup Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc
• 1/4 cup orange juice
• popsicle molds
• wooden popsicle sticks

Combine wine, peaches, and orange juice in a blender and process until smooth. Pour the blended mixture into your popsicle molds and place in the freezer for about 1.5 hours uncovered without the sticks or popsicle mold tops. Insert the wooden popsicle sticks after the pops have had time to set a little, so you can place them directly in the center and they will stay upright. Allow to freeze for 3 to 4 more hours.

Winter Whites: White Wines in Season

White wine is in season even when the weather is cool. Here are five white wines to try tonight:

Craggy Range Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay 2011
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
13% alcohol

If you think the only white wine that comes from New Zealand is Sauvignon Blanc, you’re missing out. Craggy Range produces delicious single vineyard Chardonnay on the North Island.

This wine comes from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand’s second largest winegrowing region. The grapes were mostly harvested by hand, and the wine spent five months aging in 12% new French oak barrels.

Reminiscent of Chablis, the Craggy Range Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay has citrus and white peach aromas. Lemon, grapefruit and tart white apricot flavors mingle with vanilla and a hint of almond, with lively acidity and chalky minerality giving the wine a bright finish. It’s the happy medium for people who can’t decide between a stainless steel or oaked Chardonnay.


Vincent Gaudry Le Tournebride Sancerre 2010
Sancerre, France
12.5% alcohol

All wines tell a story, and this French wine has a dynamic – that is, biodynamic – one. Vincent Gaudry’s wines come from the Sancerre AOC in the eastern part of the Loire region, in central France. The domaine has passed from father to son for several generations; they began farming organically in 1993. Today the domaine is not only certified organic, but it is certified biodynamic too —  Gaudry cuts wood for his barrels only on days suggested by the biodynamic calendar, and the wines are bottled according to the lunar calendar. There are no artificial yeasts or additives in the wine, and the wine is not filtered. What you drink is a true expression of the place where the wine came from.

Le Tournebride, named for a small path leading to the domaine, is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes came from 30 year old vines that grow in limestone and marl soil. The wine was fermented in tanks, then spent eight months on the lees before bottling.

The nose of Le Tournebride Sancerre is a mix of citrus and tropical fruit. Flavors of lemon, peach, pineapple and tart lychee unfold on the palate, with a hint of Marcona almond on the lingering finish. Well balanced acidity and refreshing minerality make this wine a pleasant sip.


Barbi Orvieto 2011
Umbria, Italy
12.5% alcohol

Orvieto is both the name of a region in central Italy and the wine produced there. White Orvieto can be a blend of several grapes; the Barbi Orvieto is a blend of Grechetto (40%), Procanico (30%, also known as Trebbiano), Verdello (10%), Malvasia (10%), and Vermentino (10%). These combine to make a wine that is crisp, refreshing and aromatic, with a slight touch of sweetness adding a lift at the end of each sip.

The grapes in the Barbi Orvieto were grown in vineyards that are 960 feet above sea level, in clay and sandy soil that is rich in fossils. Fermentation was stopped early to retain some residual sugar.

Melon and honeysuckle aromas introduce a palate of honeydew, green apple, yellow pear and a hint of white pepper. Vibrant acidity gives the Barbi Orvieto a lively mouthfeel and a clean finish.


Halter Ranch Côtes de Paso Blanc 2011
Paso Robles, California
14.2% alcohol

If winter weather has you feeling down, try the Côtes de Paso Blanc from Halter Ranch. Its fragrant floral aromas will make you feel like spring is already in bloom.

Rhône grapes shine in Paso Robles, the Central California region where Halter Ranch Winery is located. This wine is a blend of Grenache Blanc (33%), Roussanne (26%), Picpoul Blanc (20%), Marsanne (12%), and Viognier (9%). After fermentation in French oak barrels, the wine spent four months aging on the lees in 100% neutral French oak barrels.

Aromas of white flowers and peach expand on the palate, along with flavors of white apricot, jasmine, orange blossom and toasted hazelnut. Elegant with refreshing minerality and a satisfying finish, the Côtes de Paso Blanc is a white wine that is sure to cheer you up on a cold day.


Standing Stone Vineyards Riesling 2011
Finger Lakes, New York
11.7% alcohol

The Finger Lakes region in upstate New York is becoming the go-to spot for new and exciting Riesling. Even the president is a fan – on Monday a Finger Lakes Riesling was served at President Obama’s inaugural luncheon.

Standing Stone Vineyards is located on the east side of Seneca Lake. The grapes for the 2011 Riesling were fermented in stainless steel tanks using three different yeasts. The final wine is a blend from the lots, which brings together the most desirable characteristic of each.

This off-dry Riesling is wonderfully aromatic with notes of ripe citrus, tropical fruits and wildflower honey. On the palate are flavors of tangerine, sweet grapefruit, guava and mango. Gentle acidity balances out the sweetness, and flinty minerality makes for a clean finish.

More White Wines | Red Wines | More Under $20

AG Pick: Craggy Range Chardonnay 2010

With all the attention paid to New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc it may be easy to overlook the country’s Chardonnay. While Craggy Range Vineyards produces lovely Sauvignon Blanc, the Chardonnay should not be missed.

Refreshing acidity, pleasing minerality and just the slightest touch of oak make the 2010 Craggy Range Chardonnay reminiscent of its French counterpart.

Craggy Range is a family-owned winery that specializes in single vineyard wines. Their 2010 Chardonnay is produced entirely from Chardonnay from Kidnappers Vineyard in Hawkes Bay. The Hawkes Bay region is located along the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

Grapes for the Craggy Range Chardonnay were mainly harvested by hand. Fermentation took place in stainless steel and closed oak tanks. The wine spent five months in 8% new French oak barrels.

This Chardonnay is pale straw yellow in color with tart aromas of citrus. The taste is light and crisp, with flavors of lemon, white grapefruit, starfruit and a hint of toasted almond. Mineral notes of flint and chalk give the wine added depth. Overall the wine is refined and elegant, and highly enjoyable to sip as an aperitif or with food.

The Craggy Range Chardonnay can be paired with shellfish, salads and light seafood or pasta dishes.

A bottle of the Craggy Range Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 costs $22.

13.5% alcohol by volume

More White Wines | Red Wines | Under $20

AG Pick: Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2007

With its cool climate, New Zealand has the ideal growing conditions for Pinot Noir.  In fact, Pinot Noir is the most widely planted red wine grape in the country.  Yet as with a lot of Pinot Noir, finding a bottle from New Zealand that suits your tastes can be tricky.

But there’s no finger crossing involved when it comes to Cloudy Bay’s 2007 Pinot Noir.  Seductive and savory with fresh red fruit flavors, this wine will please picky Pinot drinkers.

Cloudy Bay’s vineyards are located in Marlborough, a region at the northern end of New Zealand’s South Island.  More than half of New Zealand’s vines are located in Marlborough, including more than 85% of the country’s Sauvignon Blanc.

The grapes used in Cloudy Bay’s 2007 vintage were hand picked from nine clones of Pinot Noir from the southern side of the Wairau Valley.  The wine was aged in French oak barrels (approximately 50% new), for nearly a year.

Cranberry red in color, the wine has fragrant aromas of cherry and plum.  These fruit flavors ripen on the layered palate, mingling with bright notes of red currant and blueberry along with spicy sandalwood.  Smoky bacon, white pepper and toasted oak add depth, while gentle tannins give the wine a pleasing mouthfeel.  The wine finishes smooth with lingering spicy red fruit.

The 2007 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir costs $35 a bottle.

14% alcohol by volume

More Red Wines | White Wines | Under $20