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Consumer NZ – White Wine Tasting

By January 15, 2015No Comments
My ‘Consumer’ magazine may have got lost in the Christmas and holiday season post, but I managed see the contents of the December 2014/January 2015 Issue #553 on-line, so didn’t feel as though I’d missed out too much. I suspect it’s a sign of my age, but I still enjoy a good read of a magazine, and book for that matter, as the feel and turning of the pages as well as the layout and information or detail visually presented offers a tangible and greater experience than on a computer, tablet or cellphone screen. An email to my contact at Consumer resulted in another copy being quickly dispatched.

Consumer has many interesting articles and reports. This issue featured awareness of the incorrect advice that can be given by shop staff on health supplements, advised shopping around for airline flights and the hidden costs of event ticketing, as well as explaining the SPF numbers of sunscreens. The product tests included results on barbecues, chilly bins, 4-person tents and car rooftop boxes, which are all relevant at this time of year. And the results if the ‘White Wines’ tasting are published in this issue, just in time for the summer weather! www.consumer.org.nz

White Wine Tasting
Consumer magazine lined up 54 mid-priced (under $30.00) white wines for its annual tasting, covering the Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Chardonnay varieties, including for the first time, a group of lower-alcohol Sauvignon Blanc. This latter category is an important and growing one in the marketplace, and funding for research and development to the tune of $17 million has been pledged by the wine industry and Ministry for Primary Industries. The present approach in making these wines is by fruit and vineyard selection and management, along with the careful balancing through winemaking.

The big question is: How do you make lower alcohol wines with good flavour and mouthfeel? Attempting to answer this, as well as finding the best wines was Consumer’s tasting panel, led by experienced judge Larry McKenna of Escarpment Vineyard, with industry professionals Sue Davies and Laura Saba, with keen enthusiasts Gary Bowering and Elissa Jordan.

The lower-alcohol Sauvignon Blanc wines were judged to the same criteria as the ‘regular’ wines, with no concessions made. Generally they were found to lack intensity with fruit flavours in the cooler spectrum. These characteristics are not negative in that they enable accessibility and ability to work with food. The best of the group tasted was the Saint Clair ‘Vicar’s Choice’ ‘Bright Light’ 2014, rated a 4-star wine.

In the ‘regular’ Sauvignon Blancs, the Jules Taylor 2014 was rated a 5-star wine. Among the Riesling wines tasted, the Saint Clair ‘Pioneer Block 9’ 2013 was another 5-star wine. In the Chardonnays, two wines came out with 5-star ratings: Stoneleigh 2013 and Esk Valley 2013. It is usually more difficult to find top-rated Chardonnay wines in the under $30.00 price range.

The magazine also publishes a list of the 4-star wines, equivalent to silver medal standard, along with brief tasting notes. There are 15 of these wines, one of which was a lower-alcohol Sauvignon Blanc, which are recommended drinking. For this issue, the lower-alcohol wines were highlighted with the five 3-star wines being published. The other 3-star wines are listed on the website www.consumer.org.nz  As usual, the magazine offers some useful tips to the responsible enjoyment of wines. It’s an easy and accessible read.

In my opinion, it’s well-worth paying for the ‘Gold’ and ‘Silver’ memberships to see content beyond the free basic material of ‘Bronze’ access.


The  Consumer tasting panel
Back: Gary Bowering and Larry McKenna
Front: Laura Saba, Sue Davies and Elissa Jordan
Photo: From Consumer NZ

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