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Mt. Beautiful Chardonnay - Briscoe Bites

Stacy Louise Briscoe - Briscoe Bites

Stacy Lousie Briscoe, Briscoe Bites - March 2, 2018 

"When I showed this bottle to my friends, the response I got was, “New Zealand Chardonnay? Really?” Yes, really. Though the country is well-defined by its Sauvignon Blanc, it’s by no means the only white wine grape. In fact, in the Canterbury region, where the Mt. Beautiful winery and estate vineyards call home, Chardonnay is the third most-planted grape variety just behind Pinot Noir and, yes, Sauvignon Blanc. So let’s take a taste, shall we, and see what the southern portion of New Zealand has to offer the Chardonnay style spectrum.

About the Wine: The Mt. Beautiful 2015 Chardonnay is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from the Mt. Beautiful estate vineyards located in New Zealand’s North Canterbury region. The fruit was hand-picked then whole-cluster pressed. The juices fermented in combination new and seasoned oak puncheons as well as stainless steel tank. The portion fermented in oak went through secondary, malolactic fermentation. The tank and barrel batches aged separately for nine months on the lees. The final blend was created, then fined and filtered before bottling.

14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Twist the cap off the Mt. Beautiful 2015 Chardonnay and find savory aromas of grilled peaches, poached pears and a simultaneous roundness (like brown-butter cookies) and, what I call boxiness (reminiscent of a cardboard box).

This Chardonnay is a Champagne-yellow on the pour, presenting just a shade denser in the glass — but no less radiant. Initial aromas are of soft, round tropical stone fruits — apricots, nectarines, mango, guava. Deep breath in and you can sense there’s something more, so swirl and breathe again. This time breathe in flowers — petals, stems, leaves, and all: Yes, it’s perfume-y, yet oh-so-earthy.

The palate of the Mt. Beautiful 2015 Chardonnay is quite light in body but maintains a creamy baseline. There’s also a thin line of acidity that presents itself at the start of the tasting as a light fizz, but climaxes, evolves, and envelopes the palate for a fun, summer-sunburn finish. Indeed, there’s a warmth that penetrates the heart.

Dominant flavors are of soft nectarines, those poached apples, salt and butter, and agave nectar.

Food Pairing: I paired the Mt. Beautiful 2015 Chardonnay with a grilled tilapia fillet on top of roasted vegetables. What I loved about this pairing was the softness of the roasted veggies — which included butternut squash, brussel sprouts, and shallots — perfectly paralleled the softer, rounder textures and flavors of the wine, giving in a luxurious mouthfeel. Meanwhile, those same elements in the wine did well to counteract the tilapia, which was seasoned with lemon pepper and, on its own, a bit harsh for my liking."

Visit BriscoeBites.com 

 

Mt. Beautiful 2015 Pinot Gris - Briscoe Bites

Stacy Louise Briscoe - Briscoe Bites

Stacy Lousie Briscoe, Briscoe Bites - March 5, 2018 

"Pinot Gris is one of the new kids on the New Zealand wine block, making its first appearance just 30 years ago in 1990. Though it’s only responsible for 6% of the country’s total wine production, it is the third most popular white varietal. In the southern region, the Pinot Gris grapes are higher in acid, resulting in crisper wines. But winemaker Sam Weaver of Mt. Beautiful has a few interesting techniques that give this stereotypically lean white wine a bit of depth and multiple levels of flavor…

About the Wine: The Mt. Beautiful 2015 Pinot Gris is made from 100% Pinot Gris harvested from the Mt. Beautiful estate vineyards located in New Zealand’s North Canterbury region. According to the winemaker, the grapes were picked in two batches — an earlier batch showcasing more acidity and a later batch showcasing more concentration in flavor and texture. The grapes were then whole cluster pressed and fermented in a combination of old oak and stainless steel and aged on the lees.

14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Mt. Beautiful 2015 Pinot Gris and find fun aromas of lemon, apricot, and nectarine. This Pinot Gris is slightly Champagne-hued on the pour, but presents a solid straw-yellow in the glass — a light, bright, glimmering straw-yellow.

Initial aromas are “wow” with a round, creamy, caramel-like scent and a deep, rich floral bouquet complete with pollen. Swirl and find a dose of acidity that adds a bit of lemongrass, ginger, and apple to the nose. The palate of this Pinot Gris is smooth and, again, round, but there’s a solid acidic line that cuts right through the center keeping the tongue at attention and all flavors fully alive. Those flavors include honey, nutmeg, apple, and cashews. The finish includes a ginger-like heat, though the actual flavor is more reminiscent of a burnt brown-butter cookie.

Food Pairing: I enjoyed this bottle of the course of several nights. The first night I paired the Mt. Beautiful 2015 Pinot Gris with a baked salmon (seasoned with butter, rosemary, and thyme) on top of roasted vegetables (butternut squash, broccoli, and red peppers). The second night I enjoyed this Pinot Gris with a parmesan crusted chicken on top of a strawberry salad. And the very last night I enjoyed this wine all on its own.

Fish, chicken, veggies, or a la carte — this wine was amazingly satisfying."

Visit BriscoeBites.com 

Harvest 2018 is on the horizon!

The 2018 harvest sits on the horizon, maybe only a month away. Our winery and vineyard teams are readying themselves for what is the most important event of the year both inside the winery and out in the vineyard. 

Veraison Pinot Noir North Canterbury

Earlier this month our Vineyard Manager, Garrick Guy, shared this photo that shows veraison happening in our Pinot Noir vineyard blocks.  Veraison is a French term that means the grapes are changing color, and this indicates the onset of ripening.

As the grapes ripen, the risk of animals eating them (and thus destroying the crop) increases drastically. In some countries, such as South Africa, it’s the baboons you have to watch out for. In Tuscany, it’s the wild boar. But all across the world, birds are unanimously a threat to vineyard crops.

We mitigate damage made by birds a couple of  different ways. In addition to having dedicated team members tirelessly ride quad bikes up and down the rows of vines, honking their horns to scare off birds, we also employ the use of technology.

Last year we invested in a powerful (and costly) vineyard netting machine, which can cover four rows of vines at a time. This proved to not only be a huge time saver, but also great insurance in preserving our crop from the threat of birds.  

Turns out that the net doesn’t keep ALL the critters out, as indicated by the photo below.

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It seems hardly feasible that this image was caught to begin with. Here's a statement from our Vineyard Manager about this frolicking furry fellow:

"One of the guys managed to take this photo of a sneaky critter hiding under the nets keeping guard.”

In closing, here’s a photo of our Pinot Noir posted by Erin, our Business Development and Operations Manager, with this caption:

"Not long now......🍇”

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Our Sheep go for a "Dip"

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Our vineyard and winery crews are ramping up for harvest, but on our Caverhill Farm (960 hectares) Hamish our Farm Manager, and his team are taking our Corriedale sheep in for a "dip." The fungicide / insecticide solution the sheep are showered in helps protect them against infestation by flies and parasites. It's a vital step taken to protect the sheep and their wool prior to shearing.

Selected as Editor's Pick in Wine Spectator Magazine



Wine Spectator, MaryAnn Worobiec, January / February, 2018

"This stunning property with 184 acres of vineyards is located in a remote corner of New Zealand's South Island. North Canterbury might not be a familiar winegrowing region yet, but there's lots of potential, as demonstrated by Mt. Beautiful's distinctive wines. Founder David Teece is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business, and is one of the most widely cited economic and business scholars in the world. He picked this spot in his home country to plant vineyards in part because he wants to tell the new and exciting story of an emerging wine region. His project benefits from the experience of CEO Robert Watkins and viticulturist Fin Grieve.-M.W."

Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir North Canterbury 2015
91 | $28 | 2,780 cases made
Comprising a mix of 13 different Pinot Noir clones, half of them Burgundy clones, this wine reveals its complexity on the finish.

Mt. Beautiful Riesling North Canterbury 2016
90 | $22 | 665 cases made
Shows great intensity, with crisp acidity and fresh citrus flavors. The wine is a blend of grapes from two distinct blocks of the vineyard, higher-elevation sites sheltered by a pine forest.

Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc North Canterbury 2016
89 | $16 | 12,100 cases made
North Canterbury Sauvignon Blancs are less aggressive than their Marlborough counterparts, showcasing melon flavors and suppler texture.

Mt. Beautiful Chardonnay North Canterbury 2015
88 | $22 | 1,100 cases made
Notable for its plump, creamy texture, this wine blends grapes that were both tank- and barrel-fermented, finding excellent balance.

"30 Great Wine Bargains of 2017"

Fredric Koeppel, Bigger Than Your Head - January 9, 2018

Chief Blogger Fredric Koeppel included Mt. Beautiful's 2016 Sauvignon Blanc in his round up
of great bargain wines of 2017. We're pleased to have landed in his "Excellent " category!

Two Great Blog Posts by Stacy of Briscoe Bites

Stacy Briscoe, Briscoe Bites - January 8, 2018 (photo: Briscoe Bites)

SF based food and wine blogger, Stacy Briscoe, included Mt. Beautiful's 2015 Pinot Noir in her post "The Pinot Noir Style Spectrum," and also wrote an informative stand alone review on our 2015 Pinot Noir you can read here!

"New Zealand’s winemaking history dates back to the colonial days, when the British first settled on the tiny island. But it wasn’t until the 1960s and into the 1970s that New Zealand became a presence on the winemaking map. At this time there was an influx of New Zealanders traveling abroad to Europe, experiencing the wines and vines of that continent, and bringing home with them the knowledge and the passion to put their own “kiwi” twist on the Old World’s drink.

Though the New Zealand wine industry is quite tiny, producing less than 1% of the world’s wine, it is home to 11 different wine regions. And while the country’s “claim to wine fame” may be Sauvignon Blanc (indeed, nearly 70% of New Zealand’s vines are planted to the white grape, totaling about 200,000 tons harvested each year), there are certain regions where other grapes — like Pinot Noir — can claim a small kingdom.

The southern island’s coastal Canterbury/North Canterbury is one such region. Protected by the Southern Alps, rainfall is limited and sunshine is abundant. Though day temperatures can get quite hot, especially in the summers, the cooling breezes from the ocean provide a diurnal shift, allowing for even ripening — even for the picky Pinot grape.

When it comes to soil types, the terrain is quite diverse. Pinot Noir seems to thrive best near the Waipara Valley which combines gravel and limestone clay soils along the hillsides framing the Waipara River. This terroir reduces the vigor of the vines, producing low yields of intense fruit.

About the Wine: The Mt. Beautiful 2015 Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from the estate’s southern-most vineyard which, according to the winery, has the highest elevation, allowing for extra warmth and less frost exposure.

All fruit was hand-picked, de-stemmed, and left to cold soak for seven days. Individual blocks were fermented separately with twice daily punch downs. The grapes were then pressed and juices transferred to oak barrels. The wine aged in 100% French oak barrels (25% new), undergoing secondary, malolactic fermentation while in barrel. The wine was racked once and fined with egg whites before bottling. 14% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open this bottle of Mt. Beautiful and breathe in aromas of dank wetness, dark fruits, muddy soils, wet rubber, and bits and pieces of woody herbs — a bit like a forbidden tropical forest. The Mt. Beautiful 2015 Pinot Noir is a dusty light rouge on the pour, settling into the glass just a shade darker — more like a maroon jewel. Initial aromas are of the dank funkiness of an oak barrel cave, along with scents of rosewater perfume, and a delicate acidity. Swirl, and the Pinot Noir opens up to some green herbal notes like eucalyptus, basil and spearmint along with fruit scents of bright fresh cherries.

On the palate, the Mt. Beautiful 2015 Pinot Noir is smooth like butter until about a quarter of the way when embedded spices begin to prickle the tongue. Tannins come forward about a half way through, but stay toward the back, as hazy as staring toward the horizon — creating that line, that backbone, that point of reference, but never disturbing the elements surrounding it.

Dominant flavors are of red cherries, orange blossoms, blood orange, and dull baking spices like nutmeg and, towards the finish, perhaps a bit of white pepper. With its fairly light tannins and amplifying acidity, this light to medium bodied red wine finishes on a lingering note. Indeed there’s a prickle and tickle of spices along the tongue that will have you yearning for another sip.

Food Pairing: I paired the Mt. Beautiful 2015 Pinot Noir with a grilled salmon on top of a persimmon salad. One thing I will note here is that the wine opened up as the evening progressed, revealing fuller, plusher fruits that further hazed that tannic line. A sip of wine at this point was like taking a bit into a cherry bursting with juices — thin skin and all. This means that the silky, oily texture of the salmon filet absolutely complemented this Pinot Noir.

What I liked about the salad portion of this pairing was that the earthy sweetness of the persimmons brought out the funky earth elements in the wine. The salad greens highlighted that little spice kick at the end, in a most enticing way."

Decanter: New Zealand Chardonnay Panel Tasting Results



Rebecca Gibb MW, Decanter - January 4, 2018

Mt. Beautiful received a rating of "91 Points and Highly Recommended" for our 2016 Chardonnay in Decanter's New Zealand Chardonnay panel tasting. We found what the reviewers had to say about the tasting particularly interesting, as it relates to the general region where our wines are grown - Canterbury!

"Nelson and Canterbury were the pick of the regions; elsewhere our panel would like to have seen more of the fruit and less of the winemaking," reports Amy Wislocki

2016 Mt. Beautiful Chardonnay | 91 Points, Highly Recommended
"Lovely fruit concentration on the nose leads to a lingering palate full of stone fruit and
moreish complexity. Good crispness and it will evolve with time, despite the touch of heat on the finish. Drink 2018-2021 Alc 14.5%"

Five Xlnt Reviews - Restaurant Wine - Ronn Wiegand MW

In Ronn Wiegand's latest Issue #175-177 of Restaurant Wine, he shares five excellent reviews of Mt. Beautiful's wines.

5 Stars
2016 Sauvignon Blanc (Medium Priced Category)
A crisp, complex Sauvignon of exceptional quality and value. (Screw cap closure.) It is full bodied and crisp, with elegant pineapple, lemon grass, lime, toast, and guava aromas/flavors, fine balance, and a long, crisp finish. Top value. Aged 9 months in both oak barrels (partly new) and stainless steel tanks. 12,000 cases. 14% [2018-2019]

2015 Chardonnay (4+ Stars) and 2015 Pinot Gris (5 Stars) – (High Priced Category)
Both wines have screw cap closures, and both are excellent wines. The Chardonnay is crisp, full bodied, finely flavored (white peach, pear, lime, honey, candied lemon, vanilla, oak), balanced, and long on the finish. Aged 9 months in both oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. 1,100 cases. 14.5% F The Pinot Gris is exceptional: elegant in flavor, supple in texure, and medium rich; a wine with excellent depth and balance, and a long finish, tasting of apple, lime, lemon grass, pear, guava, and honey. Great value. Fermented in both oak barrels and stainless steel tanks.

5 Stars
2016 Rose (Medium Priced Category)
An exceptional dry rose. Screw cap. Light reddish pink in color. Fragrant and distinct in aroma and flavor (cherry, raspberry, lime, rose petal), it is full bodied, well balanced, and long on the finish. Great value. 100% Pinot Noir. Partly barrel fermented.

5 Stars
2015 Pinot Noir (High Priced Category)
Screw cap. An outstanding Pinot Noir in an elegant, velvety style. It is full bodied, very supple in texture, ripe and complex in flavor (red currant, cherry, white pepper, rose petal, toast), and well balanced, with a very long finish. 7 day cold soak. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 25% new..”

Mt. Beautiful; Beautiful Wines from New Zealand

Napa Valley Register




Napa Valley Register and Please the Palate, Allison Levine

"I was sitting in an outdoor patio in Healdsburg on a classically beautiful early afternoon. The sun was shining, a nice breeze was blowing and I ordered oysters. With the briny, delicate oysters, a natural pairing is a crisp, acidic sauvignon blanc.

Although I was in Sonoma, I found myself sipping a sauvignon blanc from Mt. Beautiful from North Canterbury in New Zealand. While it is not uncommon to find New Zealand wines throughout the U.S., there is a connection between Mt. Beautiful in New Zealand and California.

David Teece, founder of Mt. Beautiful, is a New Zealand native who lives in Berkeley, California. Raised in Lower Moutere along the Tasman Bay on the South Island of New Zealand, Teece’s father started a trucking company that transported items from outlying farms to the cities. His father also purchased a fallow quarter-acre lot next to their home, which Teece and his brother cultivated crops.

Growing up in the outdoors and working with nature are normal activities in New Zealand. But Teece left to study economics and geology at University of Canterbury. He pursued a career in academics and today is the Tusher Professor in Global Business at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, as well as the director of the Tusher Center for Intellectual Capital. Writing more than 30 books and 200 scholarly papers and co-editor of the Palgrave Encyclopedia of Strategic Management, Teece is considered one of the world’s most cited scholars in business and economics.

Settled and living in Berkeley, Teece’s love for the outdoors and enjoyment of risky endeavors led him to look for a location in New Zealand to plant grapes. Consulting with his friend Ron Sutherland, a geologist and vineyard consultant, Teece wanted to grow grapes in New Zealand where no one had done it before. Sutherland explored the northern part of the South Island, which includes the Marlborough and Waipara regions. Ultimately, he found a place that no one had yet planted, North Canterbury.

Canterbury is a region in the middle of the South Island with Christchurch as the main city. Famous as a location used in filming “The Lord of the Rings,” vineyards were first established on the Canterbury Plains in 1978. Waipara Valley in Northern Canterbury, 40 minutes north of Christchurch, was first planted in the 1980s. Mt. Beautiful is even farther north of Waipara, on the northern tip of the North Canterbury wine region, approximately an hour and a half north of Christchurch.

Ron Sutherland had located an awesome site that consisted of four farms and Teece purchased the property in 2003. This area of North Canterbury had not been planted to grapes yet but he and Teece saw something special. They named the wines Mt. Beautiful after the series of mountains of the same name that are along the coastal range to the east.

The vineyard sits below the mountains that protect it from the winds from the Pacific Ocean. It has a cool maritime climate with hot summers with Nor West winds and cooler winters. The property is home to a variety of microclimates with 23 different soil profiles, including silt loam, clay, mudstone and alluvia gravel. With these characteristics, Teece achieves his goal to produce distinctive wines.

Today, there are approximately 180 acres planted to vines and Mt. Beautiful produces riesling (planted in 2005), sauvignon blanc (planted in 2004-2006), pinot gris (planted 2005-2006), chardonnay (planted 2006-2011), rosé of pinot noire and pinot noir (planted 2004-2013).

— Mt. Beautiful 2015 Riesling, North Canterbury – Riesling was the first wine that Mt. Beautiful produced and it is a gorgeous wine. On the nose, there are aromas of grapefruit, stone fruit and white flowers, as well as a flinty note. And on the palate, the wine has citrus, apple and mineral notes with bright acidity. There is a bit of residual sugar in this wine and yet the acidity balances it out. This is a perfect wine to pair with a spicy dish.

— Mt. Beautiful 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, North Canterbury – Not all New Zealand sauvignon blanc tastes like a green grass herb garden and this is one of those. A small portion of the juice is fermented in new and used barrels and is aged on the lees for nine months. The resulting wine showcases tropical flavors and floral aromatics and is bright and crisp with a creamy mid-palate. This wine is a beautiful match for shellfish, especially oysters.

— Mt. Beautiful 2015 Pinot Gris, North Canterbury – The pinot gris is a blend of some grapes picked early for good acidity and some grapes picked later for concentration. The resulting wine has intense floral, tropical fruit and pear aromas and intense acidity and minerality on the finish. The wine has a lovely mouthfeel and can be enjoyed with grilled salmon or chicken.

Mt. Beautiful 2015 Chardonnay, North Canterbury – A well-balanced wine, this chardonnay is picked in three batches according to ripeness. Part of the juice is barrel fermented which goes through partial malolactic fermentation and part is fermented in stainless steel and then the wine is aged for nine months on the lees. The resulting wine has aromas of stone fruits and apple that continue onto the palate. There is also a hint of roasted almonds and brioche on the palate, as well as a touch of flintiness. The creamy texture with elegant acidity make this a wine to also enjoy with salmon and chicken.

— Mt. Beautiful 2016 Rosé, North Canterbury – The rose is made from pinot noir that was pressed off after a short period of skin contact and then fermented. A bright pink color, the wine has notes of red berries and on the palate is crisp and fresh with notes of grapefruit, bright acidity and minerality.

— Mt. Beautiful 2015 Pinot Noir, North Canterbury – On the nose, the pinot noir has classic notes of raspberry, cherry, red currant and violet. On the palate, it is a smooth wine with notes of black cherry and white pepper. The pinot noir is a medium-bodied wine with intense acidity that makes it ideal to enjoy with salmon, lamb, duck or pork."

92 Points - Cameron Douglas MS - The Shout

The Shout, Cameron Douglas - December 5, 2017

Here's a review on our 2016 Mt. Beautiful Chardonnay written by New Zealand based wine writer, Cameron Douglas in The Shout.

92 POINTS

"Attractive and familiar Chardonnay bouquet with a mix of white-fleshed fruits and citrus layered between a mineral and oak core. Youthful, fresh and plush. On the palate – youthful with vibrant ripe acidity showing off the citrus then white peach and minerality. Balanced use of oak adding just a hint of woodiness and decent layer of complexity; lengthy finish and very well made. Best drinking 2018 through 2025."

Mt. Beautiful Wines Featured in Las Vegas & Southern California Food & Beverage Professional's Magazine

Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional's Magazine, Bob Barnes

"Mt. Beautiful Wines from New Zealand

Appreciation for New Zealand wine continues to increase, and for good
reason, as the region’s maritime climate provides vineyards with extended
sunshine hours and cool night sea breezes provide a long, slow ripening period
resulting in flavor growth. A worthy example is the wines of Mt. Beautiful, a North
Canterbury winery located on the South Island of New Zealand. 100% estate
grown and certified sustainable, production is focused on Sauvignon Blanc
and Pinot Noir but also smaller quantities of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay
and Rose are produced.

The Sauvignon Blanc pushes the boundaries of the typical New Zealand flavor
profile, highlighting tropical flavors, toning down the grassiness with a crisp
finish with bright minerality.

The Pinot Gris combines stone fruit, apples, juicy ripe pears, and a touch of
floral honey with a persistent finish.
The Chardonnay features aromatics of ripe apple, stone fruits, and nectarines,
and has a creamy texture that makes it easy to drink, with underlying notes of
buttered brioche.

Unlike some Rieslings, Mt. Beautiful’s is not overly sweet, and has dry flavors of
honeysuckle, lime and wintersweet flower and finishes with a lingering acidity.
The Pinot Noir, the personal favorite of owner David Teece, begins with
fragrances of black cherries and violets followed by a palate of ripe bramble
fruit and subtle tannins.

The traditionally made Rosé is produced from Pinot Noir juice that was pressed
off after a period of light contact and fermented in barrel and tank. The 2016
vintage boasts floral notes and intense sweet red berry aromas, and a creamy
and dry palate with hints of watermelon and pink grapefruit."

92 Points - 2015 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir

Wine Enthusiast Magazine

2015 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir


92 points,
Editor's Choice - Christina Pickard, Wine Enthusiast.

"This Pinot, from the cool climes of the unsung region of North Canterbury, is downright sultry. This shows a dense nose of blue fruit, cherry, chocolate, baking spice and violets, while the palate slinks with tart cherry and earth, hugged by elegant, fine grained tannins and a long, chocolatey finish. Drink now–2022. Mt. Beautiful USA. Editors’ Choice. —C.P."

View Wine Enthusiast's December 2017 Buying Guide here.

Weekend Wine Notes: 15 Sauv Blancs



Bigger Than Your Head,
 
Fredric Koeppel

A passel of sauvignon blanc wines today, most from California, but one from New York, a pair from Chile and one from New Zealand are included. With three exceptions, these are from vintage 2016. Prices range from about $14 to $50, and a number of real bargains can be found. As is typical with the Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew most technical, historical, geological/geographical and personnel data for the sake of quick and incisive reviews, ripped, as it were, from the pages of my notebooks and designed to pique your interest and stimulate the palate. Enjoy! And always consume in moderation.

Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc 2016, North Canterbury, New Zealand. 14.1% alc. Pale gold; lime zest and green bean, grapefruit and pea-shoot, gooseberry and roasted fennel, with penetrating notes of iodine and seashell; a pert, tart and sassy sauvignon blanc that tickles the palate with an herbal edge and bright acidity; a bracing, saline finish. Rich with nuance and not exaggerated. Excellent. About $16, a Great Bargain.

Bloomberg: Wine on Demand? ...

Wine On Demand? Rating Bottles From Blue Apron. Hello Fresh, Caviar

Bloomberg,
 
Elin McCoy - November 13, 2017 

As consumers get more and more used to expecting top-tier food delivered promptly to their doorsteps, why not wine, too?

The U.S. is now deep in the throes of a food home-delivery mania that goes way beyond a pepperoni pizza arriving at your door in 30 minutes. I’m talking about the billions-of-dollars-a-year meal-kit business as well as the dozens of restaurant takeout apps aiming to appeal to millions of busy, busy people.

What’s been missing—until recently—is wine on demand, delivered with both.

The cooking-kit company pioneering wine is Blue Apron, which added bottles to its mix two years ago, partly because customers asked for it and partly to woo them back when they dropped out. Poor retention was one of the reasons for the company’s lackluster June initial public offering.

Berlin-based Hello Fresh, which has a presence in 10 countries, launched its wine plan in the U.S. in May. It priced its IPO in November.

The Dom Pérignon delivery app.Source: Dom Pérignon
Expect more meal-kit companies to pile on. All-organic Sun Basket says vino offerings are part of its future strategy. Martha Stewart’s meal kit, Martha & Marley Spoon, is cross-promoting with Martha’s new wine website for bottles to go with the $160 complete Thanksgiving feast box. (Preview: the 2015 Pretium malbec from Cahors, made by Georges Vigoureux, in the Thanksgiving pack is terrific.)

Adding wine to your restaurant takeout order, on the other hand, is very much in the early stages, largely because of current alcohol regulations, which vary from state to state.

Are They Any Good?

But let’s start with meal kit wines: How are they?

If you’ve never signed up for a meal-kit system, here’s what you get: a weekly box packed with premeasured and chopped fresh ingredients, recipe cards, and step-by-step instructions for two to three dinners, as well as suggested wine pairings.

So Blue Apron and Hello Fresh were well-primed for the next step—providing actual bottles. Both programs are structured like wine clubs: You receive a box of six wines designed to go with the month’s recipes for a set price.

After tasting selections from both, I’d rate Blue Apron’s house wines as the clear winners. They’re way more sophisticated in taste and packaging.

Made by some of the West Coast’s star winemakers, such as Napa’s Steve Matthiasson and Helen Keplinger (in conjunction with Blue Apron’s own winemaker), exclusively to complement the company’s recipes, they’re bottled in California. Blue Apron holds a winery license, so the bottles can be legally shipped to 32 states, including New York.

Wines offered by home delivery service Hello Fresh.Source: Hello Fresh
I’m also a huge fan of their cute, 500 ml bottles, the equivalent of two-thirds of a standard one—perfect for two when you have reports to review after dinner.

Cost? A reasonable $65.99, including shipping, plus tax, for six bottles, or about $11 each. All come with pairing info and flavor profiles. Labels carry a convenient flavor symbol—a yellow diamond stands for crisp and minerally—that matches the one on appropriate meal recipes.

Of the dozen I sampled, the best were the tangy Mt. Beautiful pinot noir from New Zealand and spicy, fruity Medel pinot noir from Oregon, plus zingy Uvaggio Vermentino, savory, delicious white blends from Matthiasson, Vermillion, and De Sante L’Atelier, and a bright, minerally chardonnay labeled Le P’tit Paysan. (Note: You can also purchase these without buying a meal kit.)

Hello Fresh’s wine model is slightly different; it partners with online bargain retailer Lot 18, which buys from winemakers around the world, bottling the wines at its California winery. A Lot 18 buyer works with the Hello Fresh culinary team, hunting down reds and whites that are highly versatile to match with Hello Fresh recipes.

Monthly cost is $89.00 for six regular 750 ml bottles, about $15 each including shipping.

All those I tasted were pleasant, well-made entry-level wines with two standouts, the rich, lush Lustra Pinot Blanc from Monterey County and easy-to-like Voilà pinot noir.

The next meal-kit wine player will surely be giant Amazon.

As Bloomberg reported, the internet behemoth has already filed a trademark application for prepared food kits, after purchasing Whole Foods Market Inc., with 470 stores in dozens of states and a stellar, sommelier-headed wine program. Among the latest bottles on its shelves is a white made for it by star Italian winery in Piemonte, G.D. Vajra.

Meal Delivery, Plus Vino

But meal-kit companies aren’t the only businesses pushing to get wine pairings to your door. Apps for restaurant takeout are adding wine to go—at least where they can. San Francisco-based TryCaviar.com, now in 21 cities, is signing up top spots as fast as possible. You can order private-label Greek wines from San Francisco fast-casual spot Souvla, for example, but, sadly, because of New York State liquor regulations that bar restaurants from retailing wine, none of the stellar bottles on the list are at New York’s Charlie Bird. At least not yet.

In fact, getting wine delivered to your home or apartment as fast as possible has become yet another craving of the instant-gratification crowd. After all, you may suddenly need a special bottle while watching Netflix and chilling.

Half a dozen apps promise to bring you wines in less than an hour; in the U.K., Booze-Up claims it will get to you in 15 minutes, but the selections of spirits and wine are pretty ordinary. Minibar lists 387 wines and delivers in 60 minutes or less. Most wines are obvious inexpensive picks, such as Ménage à Trois red, but there are some top labels such as Domaine Drouhin pinot noir from Oregon and Grgich Hills Cabernet from Napa. The Liquor Cabinet delivers only spirits and cocktail makings.

Far better to turn to a luxury wine company. In partnership with delivery company Thirstie, Dom Pérignon launched one-hour delivery of rare vintages in New York and Miami this summer, and just last week it expanded to San Francisco and Palo Alto. If you’re craving the 2006 DP or the 1998 P2, just go todomperignon.com on your phone, get out your credit card, make a few clicks, and set out some glasses.

Now if only it offered caviar to go, too.

Mt. Beautiful's U.S. Running Team Nails The Half!

South Pacific Pacers Team Photo Mt Beautiful Winery

The U.S. is our largest export market, where we also have a dedicated staff focused on growing Mt. Beautiful’s distribution across the country, as well as its brand awareness.

Naturally our team in New Zealand has firsthand and immediate interaction with the core of our brand (vineyards, winery and farms). The U.S. team relies on communication from our New Zealand teammates, to keep us informed on what’s going on.

Although the U.S. team can’t participate in the spontaneous staff BBQs known to happen from time to time in the vineyard or an afternoon quad outing, they come up with their own ways to build camaraderie and have fun. A few examples include lunching at a local account to show support, the occasional SF Bay outing on Mt. Beautiful’s owner’s yacht, or the annual sales and marketing retreat, which last year was held in scenic Lake Tahoe!

With a “work hard play hard” culture encouraged in both countries by CEO Robert Watkins, it was a win when Mt. Beautiful’s Marketing Manager, Suzanna Mannion, pitched the idea of forming a Mt. Beautiful U.S. running team for the Headlsburg Half Marathon, slated for October 2017.

Sadly, due to the devastating wildfires that took Sonoma and Napa counties by storm, the Healdsburg Half Marathon was canceled. That didn’t stop the U.S. running team ("South Pacific Pacers") from getting together and cashing in on the months of running conditioning they endured.

Instead of letting their training go to waste, they quickly registered for another Bay Area half marathon in Redwood City. While this running event didn’t end in an epic wine party that the Healdsburg Half promised, they still celebrated their accomplishment over lunch and enjoyed some Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc post run in the parking lot. 

South Pacific Pacers Mt. Beautiful Running Team

In 2018 they are looking to reform the U.S. running team (and add team members), while showing support for the wine country located in their own "back yard." If you're angling to run the 2018 Healdsburg Half Marathon, click HERE to send an email to Suzanna. 

Hburg Half A

Beautiful Wines From New Zealand



Food Wine Travel Chix, Linda Milks

Exploring wines from around the world is always a delight, and on a pleasant Sunday afternoon the Wine Review Council sat down to see what the North Canterbury region on the South Island of New Zealand had to offer. Mt. Beautiful Winery lies at the foot of its namesake, Mt. Beautiful, part of the coastal range to the east that protects the vineyards from ocean winds. (By the way, a bit of trivia is that about 90% of New Zealand wines have screw caps.)

Wine Review Council
Each member of our wine council brings a pairing for one of the wines we sample. Often we find different pairings work just as well if not better than the one we chose. Three of the wines stood out to us which will be what I want to share with you.

Our favorite wine of the afternoon was the Pinot Gris ($18.99). Pinot Gris isn’t a favorite varietal of mine, but this one was delicious. The first thing I noticed was the floral fragrance of jasmine. A sip fills your palate with a lush roundness of ripe pears, apples, and stone fruit. One of the things I liked the most was the long finish with a minerality to it. Our group paired it with Nut & Fruit Crisps topped with Chevre and Apricot Compote. This was a perfect pairing that complemented the stone fruit and creaminess of the wine.

Our second choice was the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc ($15.99). This wine is composed of clones from California and a fourth of the clones are from Bordeaux. The Bordeaux clones lift up the flavor and lessen the cut grass typical of Sauvignon Blanc. Again, our noses picked up floral aromatics with flavors of tropical fruits like melon, guava, and honeydew. The Sauvignon Blanc is creamy on the mid-palate and has a crispness at the end. We noticed more grassiness as the wine opened up. The Sauvignon Blanc was paired with a Nectarine and Blueberry Cream Galette, another good pairing that complemented the fruit and creaminess of this good wine.

The third wine that we enjoyed was the 2015 Pinot Noir ($24.99). Pinot Noir is one of my favorite varietals, so I was excited to try one from this New Zealand region. Violets and blackberries greet your nose. My palate picked up cherry and blackberries as well as earth. I find in Pinot Noir the terroir (composed of climate, soil, and terrain) is one of the most telling and interesting aspects of the varietal, and this one had its own special earthiness. Our group paired a crostini topped with bacon, fig jam, and cream cheese. Another delicious pairing.

Wine Line Up:
Once I have had the opportunity to taste some unusual and delicious wines, I want more information about the wines. To learn more about the winery and its history as well as more of their wines, go to Mt. Beautiful’s website at http://mtbeautiful.co.nz/.

To find these wines online for purchase in the United States, I went to http://www.finewinehouse.com/.

Happy drinking of some beautiful wines from down under

Pour Heavier, Richer White Wines As Fall Settles In

The Times-Tribune, Dave Falcheck

Even as the weather cools and the air gets a bite to it, we don’t need to abandon white wines just yet.

Now is the time to reach for heavier, richer and spicier white wines as the leaves start to drop.

White grapes that originate in Rhône — such as the trinity of marsanne, roussanne and viognier — tend to make richer wines whose texture comes from the grape rather than oak aging.

Blindfold 2015 California White Wine offers a kitchen-sink blend of fall-ready grapes — chardonnay, roussanne, viognier, grenache blanc, marsanne and chenin blanc — and offers a viscous mouthful of baked apple and spice with a round texture and ripe finish. The wine shows a bit of creaminess and sweet oak from aging. $32.

A perennial favorite of mine is Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc. Made from a grape that is a mutation of the red grenache, Priest Ranch Napa Valley 2016 Grenache Blanc is a complete package with smells of starfruit, a rich texture and tropical notes. Yet, it manages to pull off a clean finish that crackles like dried leaves. Sadly, there are only a few of these left in the Pennsylvania system in an older vintage. $12. 1/2

I tried going back to Rhône for a deal but came up empty-handed. Cave de Tain Première Note Marsanne is dry and unfocused, with elementary tree fruit character and acidic finish for an anonymous, dry white wine. $12.

You would do better with another selection, such as a blend or Côte du Rhône Villages Blanc to try these grapes at the source.

Fall is the best time to enjoy a style of wine I usually avoid: oaky chardonnay. Substitute your pumpkin spice with oak spice in a wine such as Mt. Beautiful North Canterbury 2015 Chardonnay, which is fermented and aged in oak but in way that doesn’t result in a woody wine. The fruit in this New Zealand wine is so loaded with apple and nectarine character that it stands up to the buttery notes and oak spice. It almost tastes like a mulled wine. Even when it is cold, it tastes warm. $15.

Other suggestions for fall favorites include the off-dry Vouvray, made with fall-friendly grape chenin blanc. German wines that lean sweeter, such as riesling or sylvaner, are great this time of year by themselves.

DAVID FALCHEK, executive director of the American Wine Society, reviews wines each week. Link to article here.

Polish Comfort Food and Sauvignon Blanc

Wine & Wonder, Robin Shreeves - October 22, 2017

I spent last weekend laughing my ass off with three wonderful friends - Cheri, Lisa and Dina. I met them at summer camp when I was in high school, more than just a couple of years ago at this point. Now, we get together at least once a year to eat good food, drink good wine, enjoy the outdoors, and play card games that leave us in tears of laughter till late at night.

My friends all grew up in the Poconos where a large Polish population lives. Dishes like homemade pierogies and haluski were common in their homes (but definitely in mine). They decided to put these foods on the menu for one of our weekend meals. And I decided to do what I do best in these situations. I brought the wine.

Research led me to choosing Sauvignon Blanc, based on a recommendation from DeliPair. Put a link to a recipe in the website's search bar, and it suggests a wine based on the ingredients. The website suggested a Sauv Blanc from either Chile or New Zealand to complement the cabbage, butter, and spices in the food.

I had a bottle of Mt. Beautiful 2016 Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand sitting on my wine rack so I added that to the other wines I chose to take for the weekend, and off I went.

Lisa was mid-dumpling making when I arrived, and the kitchen smelled like a delicious time was about to be had. The dumplings were added to butter-sauteed cabbage for the haluski. She also made panache - potatoes and cheese spread between two thin layers of dough, baked in the oven and then spread with butter while still hot. Cheri brought homemade pierogies - more cheese, potatoes, and butter. Jalapeno cheddar kielbasa rounded out the dinner.

So what we had - besides a whole lot of yum - was something very rich, very buttery, and very fatty. Enter a crisp, lemony, acidic Sauvignon Blanc to cut through the heaviness and balance it all out. The pairing worked.

The Mt. Beautiful 2016 Sauvignon Blanc is bright with the aroma of grass, flowers and stone, with minerality, lemon, and some melon on the palate and a mouth-watering acidity. Depending on where you purchase it, this bottle falls into the $15-$18 range.

The winery, which is located in the Canterbury region on the South Island - where a lot of wonderful Sauvignon Blanc comes from - has a commitment to sustainability that I really appreciate.

Sustainable farming methods are a core value behind Mt. Beautiful's success; the vineyards and winery are certified-sustainable. In the vineyard, the team uses minimal input—they tread very carefully, using things like motorbikes to pull the mowers and harvesting by hand. Lush ground cover acts as host plants for parasitic wasps that naturally keep pests under control. Flowers and other plants attract beneficial insects in and around the grapevine rows. Additionally, after these helpful plants have flowered and served their purpose, their organic matter adds nutrients to the soil.