Ahead of the game

12 December, 2008

Kiwi producers will be showing their increasingly popular wines at next month's annual tasting.

Graham Holter picks out the highlight

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New Zealand is in good shape as it approaches its 28th annual UK tasting, with sales here up 15% by value and 7% by volume, according to Warren Adamson, UK director of New Zealand Winegrowers.

"South Africa is the only country ahead of us in growth for volume and value," he says. New Zealand's average price is £6.58, up 42p on September 2007's figure. "The over-£5 sector now represents 86% of New Zealand's wine sales, and this includes promotional activity. All in all we are trading well in the UK market but the coming months are going to be critical to everyone."

There are 175 Kiwi wineries trading in the UK, 130 of which will be present at Lord's. "We're up to more than 730 wines now so it will be our biggest ever tasting, which is great news," says Adamson.

This year will see the arrival of some "highlight tables", demonstrating the breadth offered by Pinot Noir and Riesling.

Constellation Europe will be showing its new brand, Crawford Farm, made by Kim Crawford.

There are four styles: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Rosé and Pinot Noir. The rosé is already available at Threshers. The rest of the range will be available in the UK in March 2009 priced

£9.99, and will be exclusive to specialists and independents.

Nobilo new releases include Central Otago Pinot Noir 2006, Regional Collection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008 and Pinot Grigio 2008.

HBJ Wines & Spirits became the agent for Vavasour last year, and has now added Clifford Bay to its portfolio. Both brands are part of the New Zealand Wine Fund. Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2007 will be showcased, alongside the newly-repackaged Clifford Bay Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

Coopers

Creek winemaker Simon Nunns will be on the Berkmann stand, showing classic Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir but also more unusual varieties such as Viognier and Arneis. The line-up also includes New Zealand's first Grüner Veltliner and

a Malbec.

Matakana Estate will be showing its exclusive off-trade range, Goldridge Estate, and ultra premium wines from Prophet's Rock in Central Otago, producing Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and "Alsace-style Riesling".

Stratford's Wine Agencies will be presenting a host of new vintages and award-winning wines from Cable Bay, as well as the new Driving Stream Sauvignon Blanc and vintages from Distant Land.

Also on show will be new vintages of its Sauvignon Blancs and Culley Pinot Noir. Cable Bay has recently developed a new label, Branken Hill, which is aimed at national retailers.

For the first time, Cloudy Bay will present its 2008 Sauvignon Blanc in magnums. Updated vintages from the rest of the portfolio of still and sparkling wines will also be available to taste, including the new 2007 Pinot Noir and 2007 Chardonnay from the Wairau and Brancott Valleys and the 2006 vintage of Cloudy Bay's oaked Sauvignon Blanc, Te Koko, which is currently undergoing a packaging update.

Enotria is promising its "strongest line-up yet of Kiwi producers". Quartz Reef, from Central Otago, will show its Chauvet Brut NV - a Pinot Noir/Chardonnay traditional method sparkling wine - as well as Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

Lawson's Dry Hills, from Blenheim in Marlborough, brings a range of single varietal wines to the tasting, including a celebrated Gewürztraminer.

Trinity Hill of Hawkes Bay will offer a table of its top end wines. Among them will be Mansion House Bay's barrique-fermented Sauvignon Blanc, The Governor; Mc-Arthur Ridge Pinot Noir; and Thornbury's Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Central Otago Pinot Noir.

Great Western Wine is presenting Christine Kernohan's Gladstone Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris from Wairarapa and new vintages of West Brook Blue Ridge Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.

Kahurangi Estate, a family-owned vineyard near Nelson, is showing Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay and wine from "some of the oldest Riesling vines in the South Island".

Montana will be showcasing its 30th vintage on the Pernod Ricard UK stand and says the 2008 is a "benchmark wine that displays all

the characteristics that spawned interest in this distinctive [Marlborough] wine style the world over".

The highlight for Lindauer will be the Blanc de Blancs, while Stoneleigh's key wines are Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Pinot Grigio 2007 and Pinot Noir 2008. Pernod Ricard's chief winemaker for New Zealand, Jeff Clarke, will be present.

New releases from Marlborough's Staete Landt Estate

will be shown by its new UK distributor, Thorman Hunt. These include 2008 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2007 Marlborough Pinot Noir and 2007 Marlborough Riesling Auslese. One bottle of the estate's 2007 Marlborough Viognier will also be on taste, in anticipation of the release of the 2008 vintage in March.

Boutique vineyard Mount Dottrel of Central Otago is releasing its wines in the UK. Pinot Noir 2006 is expected to be one of the big attractions.

The Flying Kiwi Wine Company, based in Christchurch, has appointed Myliko Wines as its UK agent. It has developed a range of wines for the UK on and off-trades, including a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and a South Island Pinot Noir. On show will be Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon/Semillon and Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay.

Framingham is showing six botrytis affected wines - Noble Riesling,

a Gewürztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles, a Botrytised Viognier and three Riesling Auslesen. All have been made in tiny batches with Framingham having to borrow, from the local institute of technology, equipment small enough to bottle the limited quantities.

The first vintage of Jackson's Estate Gum Emperor Pinot Noir will be on show. Launched last year and only available in the very best seasons, this 2005 vintage wine is exclusive to the independent and on-trade sectors and retails at £19.99.

Also available will be the 2008 Grey Ghost Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Green Lip Sauvignon Blanc and 2007 Shelter Belt Chardonnay.

The latest addition to the Ehrmanns portfolio is Tohu Wines, New Zealand's only wholly Maori-owned wine company. The acclaimed Rore Reserve Pinot Noir 2006 will be joined by Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Pinot Gris 2008, and Marlborough Unoaked Chardonnay 2007 and 2008.

Waipara Hills, represented by Free Run Wines, will be showing three ranges: Soul of the South, consisting of five cool-climate varietals; the reserve tier, Southern Cross Selection; and Equinox, a small parcel, single-vineyard range. The wines have recently been given a new look.

New Zealand annual trade tasting

Where: Lord's cricket ground, London

When: Jan 13, 10am-5pm

Contact: 020 7973 8079




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