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Thursday, 1 July 2010

Spinyback by Waimea, 2008, Nelson Pinot Gris‏

Expectations for this latest NZ wine from Cambridge Wine Merchants were reasonably high in the CWB household; I am generally a fan of NZ whites as they often seem to be the closest thing the southern hemisphere has to match Austria; well-structured, aromatic and full-bodied yet crisp, lean and minerally with the kind of restraint that next-door Australia seems never to have heard of.

In general, I am also a fan of Pinot Gris - related to Pinot Noir it is highly versatile, producing rich, fat aromatic yet dry and wines as Pinot Gris in Alsace, but also sharp, crisp, steely, minerally wines as Pinot Grigio in Alto Adige in northern Italy, and elsewhere.

Cambridge Wine Merchants had this on special offer at £6:99 with an in-store tasting, whilst the promotional poster noted it as having been awarded "best single varietal white under £10" by Decanter, so this was a bargain I could not resist.

Tasting stocks had run out by the time I got to the Mill Road branch, but the assistant helpfully explained a bit about the wine - most usefully pointing out the residual sugar on the finish. This being so, I decided to limit myself to just a couple of bottles with the intention of coming back for a case if it was as good as I'd hoped.

The wine hails from Nelson, at the northern tip of South Island next door to the more well-known Marlborough, but separated by a range of mountains; the terroir here is varied with hills, valleys and various mesoclimates. The back label refers "Classic varietal aromas of pear and quince ... notes of lime and spice ... palate lingering and softly textured".

We drank the bottle over the course of three days, firstly with salmon in a creamy sauce, then on a picnic on one of those gloriously hot days we had recently on Castle Mound overlooking the city before finally finishing it off with a starter of mozzarella dressed with olive oil.

For me, it was a really well-made Pinot Gris - a strong, minerally nose that belies the off-dry finish (a bit like hearing Kiera Knightly's voice come out of Angelina Jolie). On the palate, it is ripe, fleshy, with good fruit and nicely-balanced acidity, well-structured and a long finish - I can see why the judges gave it a nod.

Off-dry, however, it needs something really rich and slightly sweet to go with, so for the second bottle, we tried it with a traditional Alsatian tarte flambee (a pizza-like dish, but with sour cream, onions and lardons over a pastry base).

Tarte Flambee recipe - using puff pastry

Pack of puff pastry (allow around 50g per person for a starter)
A little oil
1 medium onion, chopped
Crème fraîche (around 50ml per person for a starter)
Salt and pepper to taste
A few gratings of nutmeg
Bacon (around 1 rasher per person), cut into strips

Roll out the puff pastry and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Make the sauce by frying the onions in the oil, then adding the creme fraiche, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Spread the sauce on top of the pastry, add on the bacon strips.

Cook in a medium oven (180C) for 10-15 minutes


Waimea - http://waimeabrands.com/

Cambridge Wine Merchants - http://www.cambridgewine.com/index.asp

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