Tag Archives: New Zealand wine

Wine of the week: Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014


matua valley sauvignon blancTreasury Wine Estates has come in for its share of criticism on the blog, including its failure to help me retire to Burgundy. In this, Treasury has been everything Big Wine shouldn’t be — arrogant, unwieldy, and not focused on its customers. So how does the Matua Valley sauvignon blanc fit in?

As an example that shows what Big Wine can do when it isn’t arrogant, unwieldy, and unfocused. Treasury owns the company that makes the Matua Valley sauvignon blanc ($10, purchased, 13%), and this white from New Zealand is exactly what you want to be able to buy at the grocery store — well-made, tasty, food-friendly, and something that offers more than $10 worth of value. I wish I could say that about more supermarket wines.

Look for enough red grapefruit so that you can tell it’s sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, plus some tropical fruit in the middle that is usually a sign of a more expensive wine. It’s not as simple as other $10 Kiwi sauvignon blancs, and there was even more of a finish than I expected.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame. Drink this chilled on its own, especially as summer drags on, or with grilled or boiled seafood. And, as with most sauvignon blancs, it pairs well with almost anything made with olive oil, parsley, and garlic.

And be glad that someone at Treasury didn’t think Matua was important enough to micro-manage, and so left it alone to make something of this quality.

Wine of the week: Ocean Blue Chardonnay 2013


Ocean Blue ChardonnayOne of the most important trends in the wine business is the increase in private label wines, which give retailers an exclusive to sell and a bigger profit margin when they do. The catch is that private label wines, which are sold in only one retailer and can be limited in availability, are too often of indifferent quality.

That’s not the case with the Ocean Blue Chardonnay ($9, purchased, 12.5%), a private label for the Aldi grocery store chain. This New Zealand white is unoaked, which helps to keep the price down and gives it a bright and fresh approach. In addition, there is lots of crisp green apple and a rich mouth feel despite the lack of oak.

In this, it’s not especially subtle, but $10 New Zealand wine has never been famous for being understated. That’s how the country’s sauvignon blanc became famous, after all. And those who need vanilla or toasty and oaky in their chardonnay will probably wonder what it’s doing here.

But those of us who are more open minded about chardonnay will appreciate the wine’s value. Drink this chilled, on its own or with white wine food, and even something with a simple sauce. Grilled chicken breasts with garlic and parsley, perhaps? And hope more private labels approach this level of quality.

Mini-reviews 60: Wairau, Garzon, Chapoutier, Chablis


Mini-reviews 60: Wairau, Garzon, Chapoutier, ChablisReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

Wairau River Chardonnay 2012 ($22, sample, 13%): Professionally made California-style chardonnay from New Zealand, with green apple fruit and enough oak to be noticed but not to be offensive. Having said that, why spend $22 for it when there are similar wines costing one-third less?

Bodega Garzón Tannat 2012 ($20, sample, 13.8%): Tannat is a red grape that has caught on with wine geeks, and this bottle from Uruguay is well made, if pricey. But, save for a funky aroma, it tastes a lot like $15 California central coast merlot without any of tannat’s grip.

M. Chapoutier Rosé Belleruche 2013 ($15, sample, 13%): Dependable French rose has increased in price by almost one-third (thanks to a new importer?), which makes it a lot less dependable. Wine itself is OK, though this vintage has more strawberry fruit and less crispness. But there are dozens of $10 roses with same quality or better.

Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis 2012 ($20, purchased, 12.5%): This chardonnay from Chablis region of Burgundy in France was sadly  disappointing — thin and almost watery, with very little of the crisp, fresh green apple fruit that makes Chablis so wonderful. May have been corked, which is yet another reason for screwcaps. If not, the producer has serious quality control problems.

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