Wednesday February 10, 2016
By Frederick Thurber | Published: February 16, 2016
New Zealand occupies a magical green place in my imagination, and I like to think I am there when sipping their wines. There is a lot to like about New Zealand; I am especially interested in the rural, rustic environment of this other land down-under (I also appreciate the lack of venomous spiders, dodgy snakes, and saltwater crocs). A friend of mine who fishes for New Zealand’s gigantic, truculent trout claims that the fish grow so large because of the rich, aquatic life in the Kiwi streams, which he attributes to the low pesticide use in this country. I don’t know about that, but in general New Zealand seems much more careful with their environment than we are. One example is the Mt Beautiful winery; they are certified sustainable.
The aptly-named Mt Beautiful Winery is one of my favorite wineries in New Zealand. This winery is owned by David and Leigh Teece. David Teece is a native Kiwi, a renowned professor of economics at Berkeley, and a highly-successful entrepreneur. Mr Teece is also a promoter of US/New Zealand relations and the export of New Zealand goods to the US; in Mt Beautiful wines he has found a winery that has a definite niche here in the States.
While airfare to New Zealand is not in my budget at this time, the Mt. Beautiful wines definitely are. They strike the right balance between quality and price. Below are descriptions of two Mt Beautiful wines I recently tried.
2014 Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc. $16. I found this wine to have the classic grapefruit / spruce / grassy flavor that I have come to expect in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. However the grassy spruce scent was tamed quite a bit making this wine much more quaffable than so many of the other Kiwi versions of this grape such as Cloudy Bay (which I cannot drink). There is just enough spruce to wake up the palate without being over powering. Interestingly enough, I found this wine to be even better on day two after opening. Right now I would consider this my top choice in this price range to pair with seafood. Sure, you could spend $50 for an Arkenstone or Herb Lamb flagship Sauvignon Blanc, but I doubt you could do better than Mt Beautiful in the $16 range.
2014 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Gris. $19. This wine caught me by surprise. New Zealand is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, so I was not expecting its Pinot Gris to be so good. This wine featured delicious floral/fruit scents and right now is my favorite wine from New Zealand. Interestingly it also had a bit of spritz; I am not sure if this was intentional or not, but it worked. I tried this wine on some local wine professionals (while we watched the Super Bowl!), and they were intrigued, both for its flavor and exotic origin. Like all truly great wines, this wine was still wonderful on day two after opening. This is an outstanding wine that deserves more recognition.
While we are on the topic of exports from New Zealand, you should be on the lookout for New Zealand honey. I used to keep bees myself and am extremely skeptical about claims of organic honey, at least in North America. I suspect that New Zealand is the only place in the world that exports truly organic honey. Why? Unlike the deplorable import controls in this country, New Zealand has vigorously prevented any bees or bee products from entering their country and have thus been spared the huge spectrum of hive disorders that have wrecked bee keeping in the USA. So if you can find Kiwi honey, buy it! [I cannot write about Kiwi honey without also noting that New Zealand’s most famous gentleman bee farmer was Sir Edmund Hillary who made the first ascent (along with Tensing Norgay) of Mt Everest.]
- See more at: http://blogs.southcoasttoday.com/wineobserver/2016/02/16/new-zealand-truculent-trout-and-winsome-wines/#sthash.IFDaPC49.dpuf