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Classically zippy and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand! Arona is based only half a mile away from the coast which means their vineyards feel more wind whipping through, keeping the temperature down than anywhere else in the region. This means they can be farmed more sustainably with less disease pressure, and it also makes their wines super fresh and vibrant. The nose brings you to a tropical place with a breeze from the ocean, notes of papaya, lemon and grapefruit pith and freshly cut lemongrass, and on the palate are ripe green and yellow apples, pink grapefruit juice and a tart, slightly bitter finish. Drink this after a long day at work to refresh your palate and spirit, and/or with anything that needs a spritz of citrus like grilled swordfish or a summery salad. Michelle DeWyngaert
Lovers of savory, skin-contact wines rejoice! Halcyon Days is a small winery in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand farming organically, hand-harvesting their fruit, using indigenous yeasts, no additions, and no filtration (all still pretty rare practices in this region). This blend of skin-contact Pinot Gris and rosé of Pinot Noir hits all the right notes. The Pinot Gris is destremmed and remains on the skins for two weeks with gentle extraction before blending with Pinot Noir rosé, then spends five months on the lees before bottling. In the glass it has a beautiful coppery-orange color and on the nose notes of simmered apricot, red and golden beets, red apple skins, and dried orange peel. The palate is brisk and gently textured from the skin contact revealing additional notes of wildflower honey, quinine, and freshly turned soil. This earthy, compelling rosé that remains bright and refreshing. We found this to be the perfect pairing for pizza, but could stand up to anything barbequed, or simply enjoyed on it's own. Michelle DeWyngaert
Years ago I discovered the wines of Central Otago, and since then I have been on a hunt for a beautiful example of naturally made Pinot Noir from this cool-climate region like this one. The Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate is a stunning vineyard atop the largest quartz reef deposit in New Zealand (hence the name) with a soil mixture of clay, fine gravel, and quartz. The vines are planted on a gentle north-facing slope and organic and biodynamic certified (one of only six vineyards in Central Otago to gain full certification). All of the fruit is hand-harvested and cold-soaked before spontaneous fermentation. The wine aged for 15 months in 50% new French oak barrels, and then bottled without fining or filtering. The nose is uniquely 'Bendigo Estate' with notes of lillacs, crushed rock, black cherry, dried thyme and fresh soil. On the palate the oak is already nicely integrated, balanced acidity, and soft, powdery tannins with additional notes of stewed cherry, wild raspberry, rosemary, sun-baked stones, and just a touch of vanilla on the finish. A pleasure to enjoy over several hours, it seems clear that this will continue to age gracefully for 5-10 years. Michelle DeWyngaert
Central Otago has been building its reputation for excellent sparkling wine, and this is a perfect example. The stunning Bendigo Estate vineyard is one of only six in the region to receive Demeter certification. Though they are at a high elevation and at the southernmost latitude for viticulture, the Bendigo sub-region is one of the warmest pockets in Central Otago, and their sun-drenched north-facing slopes bring much needed ripeness to the Pinot Noir. The name Quartz Reef refers to the large quartz deposits in Bendigo, which gives this traditional method sparkler a crystalline mineral quality. The wine spends a minimum of 18 months on the lees and is bottled with 3 g/l of residual sugar. Bright, crisp, and elegant are the words that come to mind with notes of just ripe raspberries, strawberries in fresh cream, a touch brioche. Excellent as an aperitif and worked very well with prosciutto and melon. Michelle DeWyngaert
I know what you're thinking, "why would I drink Gewurztraminer from New Zealand?", but hear me out. This is one of the finest expressions of an oft misunderstood variety, that I have ever had. Rippon has always been a trail-blazer, having planted the first vitus vinifera vines in Central Otago. They never irrigate and have been farming biodynamically since 2003 to support the health of the soil and their team. The Gewurztraminer vines were planted between 1986-93 on their own rootstock. The juice is kept on the skins for two days and then 10% is reserved to be fermented off-dry, with the remaining 90% fermented dry before being blended together. This makes the final wine the slightest bit off-dry, giving it great balance between the remarkably high acidity (for this variety), that kiss of sugared apricot from the off-dry reserve, and long mineral finish recalling the schist and loess soils. The aromatics are bursting with notes of white lilies and stone fruit, but instead of being overpowering it is tempered by a salty savory note from the extended lees aging. Drink this with spicy thai food or on its own as you envision this gorgeous, lakeside New Zealand vineyard. Michelle DeWyngaert
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most identifiable wines on the planet, but here's one that's a little less predictable. While most vineyards in New Zealand are conventionally farmed, and mainly on flatland to make mechanical harvesting easier, the Supernatural Wine Co. uses fruit from the certified organic Millar Road Vineyard which stretches across a north-facing hillside in Hawke's Bay. The fruit sees six hours of skin-contact before racking and fermenting with native yeasts. Kept on the lees for six months before bottling unfiltered with just a small dose of SO2. This is a distinctive and textural Sauvignon Blanc with notes of ruby grapefruit, lime zest, and touch of smokiness, and on the palate it's juicy and fresh, with a stony, slight grip on the finish. Michelle DeWyngaert