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Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’

Post-Holiday Detox

After all the holiday gorging, it actually feels good to raise the white flag and yell “Mercy!”…returning to some (much needed) healthier eating habits.  After plowing through so many plates of food and downing enough tannic reds to fill a barrel, I’m excited to be taking steps in the right direction to get back on my ‘A’ game.  And I’m just as excited to find some white wines that send my taste buds racing with crisp and zesty acidity, which will be perfect for my post-holiday detox.

What better place to start than a place that breeds these types of mouthwatering champions:  Marlborough, New Zealand.  My first pick for 2012 is the 2010 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc (Sample, MSRP: $14 US).

The 2010 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc is like a breath of fresh air:  it’s lively, vibrant and intense with a full charge of grapefruit, orange peel and lemon/lime flavors.  One interesting thing to note about this New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is that it doesn’t possess an overwhelming grassy/herbaceous element that oftentimes is the giveaway that you’re drinking a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  So…if that’s something that has been a turn off for you, you may want to give this New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc a shot.

3 Stars out of 4 for the 2010 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc.  A perfect pairing with some much needed lighter fare; it offers a rewarding kick of fruit flavors to thrust you straight into a healthier state of mind.

Add Your Own Summer Scenery

Summer Dream:  relaxing on the beach under an umbrella, while listening to the pounding waves with a cold drink in my hand.

Produced and bottled by Vavasour Wines, in Marlborough, New Zealand, the 2010 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from two different locations within the renowned Marlborough region.  This 100% Sauvignon Blanc (61% Awatere Valley, 39% Wairau Valley) explodes with a blend of tropical fruits and a mouthwatering racy acidity.  In your glass you’ll taste a massive avalanche of grapefruit, lemon, lime, and pineapple flavors.  It’s even better than that fruity, frozen concoction that you might otherwise be sipping on under your umbrella!

4 Stars out 4 for the 2010 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc. If you’re looking for summer in a glass, look no further!

(Sample, MSRP: $10.99)

Who Doesn’t Love A Good Cupcake?

Moist, cute little cakes, topped with a big dollop of creamy, rich icing that just melts in your mouth – they’re dangerously delicious, always fun and perfect for any occasion!

The 2010 Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc (Sample, MSRP: $12 US) is a lot like that!  Showcasing the refreshing, zippy-delicious goodness that Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough Valley is known for, the flavors in the 2010 Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc are like licking the key lime pie frosting off of the top of a tiny moist lemon cake.  Speaking of cupcakes, I wish I had some of this Sauvignon Blanc left over so I could try it with this Brown Sugar Banana cupcake with Avocado Buttercream frosting!  I bet it would be an interesting contrast in flavors.

If the cupcake idea is a bit much for you, try giving this on-the-fly, super-simple recipe idea a go:

Sauté chicken breasts in olive oil and fresh lemon juice, season with dry barbecue rub, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss in a heap of fresh baby spinach and diced up Oscar Mayer Fully Cooked Bacon into your pot.  Keep it all juicy and tasty with a big splash of chicken stock and a ½ cup of the Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc.

3 Stars out of 4 for the 2010 Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc.  This is one cupcake you can enjoy without guilt!  :)

Bottle Shock: 2010 was the Year of the Box!

A few weeks ago, I was asked by Spark Magazine to provide some advice for wine consumers based on my experiences in 2010.  My response was:

“If I could offer consumers one piece of advice that I learned in 2010, it would have to be: don’t judge a wine by its package.  I’ve had several terrific box wine experiences in 2010 – I hope to see this category continue to grow and that consumers give them a try.”

Now I’m sure that some of you that are reading this may have just spit out your wine in laughter or think that I was completely hammered when I made this statement.  However, I assure you that I was not inebriated…so get a napkin and wipe your chin!

In 2010, more than just a few boxed wines were damn fine, and actually earned the right to put the words “Premium Wine” on its cardboard outer shell.  Don’t get me wrong – there’s still plenty of undrinkable plonk on the shelf that deserves to be put in a time machine and dropped back into the 70’s with plaid bellbottoms and polyester suits, with no hope for return.  However, the wine industry is moving in the right direction by offering several boxed wines that taste good and are affordable to the masses.  That is something definitely worth cheering about!  So here are my picks for the best boxed wines of 2010:

Best All-Around Boxed White Wine

Winner:  La Petite Frog, Picpoul de Pinet, 3L box. It’s a box full of 100% Picpoul, otherwise known as Folle Blanche.  It has terrific acidity, supported by grapefruit and a zest of lime.  This wine is superb alone or with chicken, fish, Mediterranean foods, salads and even Tex-Mex; and the best part – it costs less than $30 for the equivalent of 4 standard bottles of wine.

Honorable Mentions:   The Octavin Home Wine Bar line-up.  Octavin has completely elevated the box wine category to a whole new level with Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), Big House White (California), and Monthaven Chardonnay (California).  These wines are all crowd-pleasers and CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP!

Best All-Around Boxed Red Wine

WinnerBig House Red (3L Box).  This past week, I had several folks taste a bar-length table full of boxes filled with red wine, and the Big House Red garnered the most compliments and universal approvals among these tasters. 

Some comments from them were: 

“A lot going on the front, middle and finish.”
“This is a nicely put together New-World style wine.”
“It’s very pretty.”
“Complex, yet very easy drinkin’.”
“Tastes like you’re trying something new.  It expands your palate without being intimidating.”

I sum up the Big House Red, as being a killer value-red for under 20 bucks that pairs well with just about anything.  It’s a very food-friendly red wine.

Honorable Mentions:  My little tasting group also had lots of nice things to say about the French, terroir-driven La Vieille Ferme (3L Box) Rhone blend.  Tasters remarked of its “Good Character,” that “Everything is in balance”, and it had “Nice layers of flavors.”

Finally, California’s popular Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon (3L Box) made a lasting impression on our tasters as well with its “Brawny,” “Big,” and “Meaty” black-cherry and vanilla-spice flavors.

All in all, I’d love for more wineries give the box a shot and see more wine drinkers try these box wines with a fresh and open mind. Still can’t get past the box – especially when entertaining?  Try pouring the wine into one of your fancy decanters and hide the box in a cabinet!

Very special thanks to my friends at Branmar Wine and Spirits for agreeing to an impromptu tasting and for helping me to power through the boxes of red! :)

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