The food-friendly, considered wines in the recent tasting prove that NZ’s love for rosé is far more than a passing fad, writes JOHN SAKER.
NEW ZEALAND IS under the spell of rosé. It is currently the fastest-growing wine category in the country, as shown by the sharp increase of entries into this Cuisine tasting – up 20 percent from last year. The growth in quantity is matched by an upswing in quality. Every year there are more rosés that excite (and are rewarded by) the tasting panel. “The rise of New Zealand rosé is not just a fad,” said panel chair John Belsham. “It’s a wine style that now deserves to be taken seriously. We’re seeing more considered wines made from premium fruit. Winemakers are coming to grips with how to make a style in our relatively cool climate.”
Master sommelier and tasting panel member Cameron Douglas was particularly pleased that more food-friendly rosés were emerging. “Lolly water doesn’t work with food. Now we’re seeing drier wines, lighter in colour, with more delicate flavours that are great food partners.”
For this New Zealand rosé tasting, John Belsham, an international wine judge and owner of Foxes Island Wines in Marlborough, was joined by Cameron Douglas, New Zealand’s only Master Sommelier, leader of the wine and beverage programme at AUT University and senior wine show judge, and John Saker, author and Cuisine wine writer.
VIBRANTLY COLOURED, this pinot noir-based rosé welcomes you in with light floral and strawberry scents. It is lively and juicy in the mouth, well served by refreshing acidity, and runs tight lines. There is an attractive touch of fruit sweetness mid-palate, yet the finish is long and dry. It is a style that has an easy charm and would give pleasure on its own, but is also very food compatible. It would work beautifully with salmon and salsa verde.
A ROSÉ REVIVAL
There’s a rebuild happening at Isabel Estate, and its chief architect is Jeremy McKenzie. The former Villa Maria senior winemaker came on board as general manager-chief winemaker at Isabel after the label was bought in 2014 by corporate entity Pinnacle Drinks (NZ). McKenzie knew the potential was there – Isabel was an early Marlborough success story on an excellent site – and is quietly pleased with the comeback story so far. “It has been a great project. We’ve been slowly working away on the vineyard and the wine styles. Now the wines are ready, we’re entering shows and getting some credibility back for the label. And this is great… I’ve won a few awards before but never a Cuisine ‘top wine’.” McKenzie set out to make a ‘premium’ rosé in 2017, dedicating a section of his pinot noir vines specifically for the purpose. “For me, making rosé is like making white wine– it’s about vibrant fruit, brightness and freshness. I like a touch of sweetness, but it has to be balanced by crunchy acidity. That gives the wine tension, drive and length.”
“Delightful,” enthused Cameron Douglas. This lilac-tinted wine is an off-dry style where …2
A worthy successor to Whitehaven’s much-awarded 2016 rosé, this wine’s delicate wildflower …3
Pale salmon in colour, this rosé creeps up quietly on you. Gentle, …4
Pretty in the glass, and pretty good to drink as well. This …5