It’s time to rekindle the chardonnay flame, says Rebecca Gibb, as she reveals five smouldering wine trends
Italian wines are hot and there’s nothing quite as fashionable as Prosecco right now. When it comes to bubbles, Champagne has had to step down from its most-wanted status in the UK; Brits spent more money on the Italian sparkler than French fizz in 2014, and the trend is going global. Why? Because it’s a fresh and fruity, lightly sparkling style with a kiss of sweetness. And prosecco is generally a lot easier on the pocket than Champagne, meaning bubbles no longer have to be reserved for ‘occasions’. Instead, you can drink it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, although that may affect your productivity at the office.
Save: Villa Jolanda Prosecco, $19.99. Spend: Foss Marai Guia Millesimato Brut, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore, $46
Okay, you skirted the Greenpeace collector in the street but you put out your recycling bin and would liketo do a little more for the environment, if you could find time, right? You can start by drinking organic and biodynamic wine. Admittedly, you aren’t going to save the world drinking eco-wines – that’ll take meaningful legislation by global leaders and multinational corporations – but every little bit helps. And you won’t feel nearly as guilty when you wake up the next morning and realise you finished the whole bottle. Luckily, you don’t need to compromise on taste when it comes to drinking green. Organic grape growing means no synthetic chemical fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides are used in the vineyard, while biodynamics takes organics to the next level, incorporating special preparations which are added to the vineyard when the stars and moon align. Sounds bonkers. It is a bit. But if the wine tastes good and it’s environmentally friendly, who are we to argue?
Mid-price: Millton Riverpoint Viognier 2013, Gisborne, $26. Spend: Seresin OSIP Pinot Noir 2012/13, Marlborough, $38
CHARDONNAY IS BACK
Dump the brown paper bag chardonnay lovers – you can come out of the wine closet. Get loud and proud because it’s more than okay to like chardonnay again. We moved on to zesty sauvignons and easy-going pinot gris a while ago because we thought we didn’t like chardonnay; what we didn’t like was the creamy butter and oaky flavours that dominated chardonnays. But those overwhelming flavours were the result of heavy-handed winemakers and the good news is that winemakers have got the hint: we don’t want lashings of Anchor in our glass, nor do we want to sip on a plank of wood. A new wave of chardonnay has emerged: fresh, elegant styles that are sensitively oaked – or not oaked at all. Chardonnay is back and if anyone disagrees, tell them to take it up with me.
Save: Kumeu River Village Chardonnay 2012/2013, Auckland, $30. Spend: Black Estate Home Block Chardonnay 2014, Waipara, $38
OUTRAGEOUSLY GOOD RED
The weather has outdone itself the last three summers, the sun bronzing our skin and topping up our vitamin D levels. Farmers whined that it has been too hot, too dry (but when are they happy?), grapevines have been lapping up the rays. Result? New Zealand red-wine lovers have never had it so good. The 2013 harvest (‘vintage’ in wine lingo) was labelled “vintage of a generation”; hell, some even went as far to say it was “vintage of a lifetime”. Then, came along another cracking summer and another… In the depths of winter, console yourself with spicy syrahs, sultry pinots and classy cabernets sporting the years 2013 and 2014 on the label, knowing you are getting a LOT of wine for your money.
Save: Sacred Hill Reserve Syrah 2014, Hawke’s Bay, $29.99. Spend: Te Mata Coleraine 2013, Hawke’s Bay, $110 – if you can get your hands on any, if not, their Awatea 2013, $34.90 is an impressive substitute.
There is more to wine than sauvignon blanc and pinot noir, and wine lists are starting to sport a few varieties that are more Jean-Paul Gaultier than Glassons. There’s a decent amount of the voluptuous white variety viognier (vee-on-ee-yay) growing around New Zealand’s North Island, while the South Island is giving another white variety – the fresh and spicy grüner veltliner – a good stab. There are also small pockets of ‘alternative’ varieties peppered around the country that are native to France, Spain and Italy. This is a fashion you can help to lead rather than follow.
Two mid-priced wines to try: Cooper’s Creek The Bell-Ringer Albariño 2013/14, Gisborne, $22 and Elephant Hill Viognier 2014, Hawke’s Bay, $29.