Our June tastings at the Richmond and Teddington Wine Societies – both live events and on Zoom, focussed on an eclectic range of Antipodean whites that demonstrated a rich diversity of style and inevitably high quality. The aim was to taste a selection of grape varieties that may not normally crop up in mainstream discussions. With this in mind we kicked off with an utterly delicious Albarino from the Left Field winery in Gisborne, to the north of Napier and Hawkes Bay on the north island of New Zealand. Crisp and dry with a rich mouthfeel, it really showed the excellence of both wine making and grape quality. An excellent Verdelho (of Madeira fame) weighed in next with a nice nip of residual sugar followed by something very unusual – an Assyrtiko from Jim Barry in the Clare Valley. Assyrtiko is all the rage in the wine press – particularly from Santorini – and this showed all the classic minerality with a new world ripeness.
The Aromatico blend of Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris once again showed off the legendary wine making skills of Steve Pannell in Mclaren Vale with a distinctively rich and complex spicy wine. One of the highlights amongst a stellar line up of wines the Gruner Veltliner from Blank Canvas in Marlborough. Tasting the 2013 it showed that this grape that we rightly associate with Austria has great potential elsewhere, with lovely depth and balance. John Duval, ex head winemaker at Penfolds, now runs his own estate with great success. While he mainly focusses on Shiraz, his Plexus white is a Marsanne, Roussane, Viognier blend that is rich, spicy and aromatic – a fabulous food pairing wine.
Our final trio focussed on three grapes that are synonymous with New Zealand and Australia: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Semillon. The Wild Sauvignon from Greywacke, the fabulous winery run by Kevin Judd, transforms your perspective of the grape due to wild yeast fermentation in barrel that yields a complex array of spiced fruit aromas and flavours. A stunning wine and consistent year in year out. The Wigan Riesling and the Margaret Semillon from Peter Lehmann – both with some bottle age – showed the ageing potential of both grapes and the quality of the Lehmann estate.