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Cuisine’s Best of the Best Wines for 2011

By April 19, 2011No Comments

the wines tasted over the previous year. The editorial staff and the wine tasting and writing team have put in a great deal of work to make the content more prominent over the past few years, and Cuisine has taken centre stage again among the general media and lifestyle publications in the wine area. The ‘Best of the Best’ wine award is a further step in the process.

Cuisine’s wine tasting panel of chair John Belsham, Rod Easthope and Ralph Kyte-Powell, along with associate judge Andrew Parkinson re-judged the top wines from each issue over the past year to choose a best red, best white and best sparkling wine, and then selecting one of these to become the ‘Best of the Best’ champion. Essentially these top wines come from 1550 wines tasted and reported in Cuisine in that period.

The Champion Wine and Best Red Wine was the Trinity Hill ‘Homage’ Syrah 2007. Here’s what Cuisine says about it “The world is sitting up and taking notice of Hawke’s Bay Syrah and the best are world beaters. Trinity Hill Homage is a wine of great concentration and richness, but there’s also a lovely impression of finesse and elegance to complete the story.”

The Best White Wine was the Spy Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2010. “This luscious Kiwi Gewurztraminer captures the unique, decadently lush personality of the grape perfectly. There’s an incredible volume of complex aroma – a cornucopia of rose petals, lychees, oriental spice, floral talcum powder – and an intense palate of excellent depth and structure.” reports Cuisine.

The Best Sparkling Wine the Taittinger ‘Comtes de Champagne’ Blanc de Blancs 1999 has these comments: “An utterly superb Champagne, incredibly fine and persistent, this dances on your tongue with the lightest of steps, yet its presence reveals its true gravitas. A millionaire’s tipple to be sure, but it’s simply wonderful”.

The contenders for these awards were:

Red Wines: Trinity Hill ‘Homage’ Syrah 2007, Thorn-Clark ‘Sandpiper’ Barossa Shiraz 2008, Church Road ‘Cuve Series’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Vidal Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Soho ‘McQueen’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009.

White Wines: The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Forrest Botrytised Riesling 2009, Hunters Marlborough Riesling 2010, Man O’ War Pinot Gris 2010, Shingle Peak Pinot Gris 2010, Tupari Pinot Gris 2010, Spy Valley Gewurztraminer 2010, Villa Maria ‘Reserve – Barrique Fermented’ Gisborne Chardonnay 2009, CJ Pask Gimblett Road Viognier 2010

Sparkling Wines: Taittinger ‘Comtes de Champagne’ Blanc de Blancs 1999, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin ‘Yellow Label’ Brut NV, Lindauer Rosé NV

Cuisine’s Chardonnay and Viognier Tastings

The May 2011 edition of Cuisine, Issue 146 reports on New Zealand Chardonnay and New Zealand Viognier. The top wines from these two categories, the Villa Maria ‘Reserve – Barrique Fermented’ Gisborne Chardonnay 2009 and CJ Pask Gimblett Road Viognier 2010 went on to be contenders for the ‘Best of the Best’ award announced in this issue.

John Saker, Cuisine’s New Zealand wine writer reports on the trend with Chardonnay towards lighter, more restrained, austere styles, and this was manifest in this latest Cuisine magazine tasting. The panel leader, John Belsham stated “we are seeing tighter, bright styles with more finesse, but those wines shouldn’t lose presence and texture”, suggesting that the trend could go too far, as it has happened in California and Australia. It should be noted that 2009 was a reasonably difficult year for Chardonnay in Hawkes’s Bay in 2009, and the results may also reflect the more elegant, leaner style of the wines from that vintage.

Of the 178 Chardonnays entered, 35 were awarded four stars or more. In the Top 10, the Villa Maria group took five of the places, confirming the success this producer has enjoyed over many years in show judging competitions, and the quality that they have achieved.

The five star wines in order of merit are Villa Maria ‘Reserve – Barrique Fermented’ Gisborne Chardonnay 2009, with the comment by Andrew Parkinson “Our champion Chardonnay is a local supporter of Gisborne’s claim to be Kiwi Chardonnay’s chef-lieu. Fruit concentration is beautifully presented in a svelte, tight structure, with flinty flavours coming through alongside cinnamon, spice and nuts. Showing true class, it hit all the Chardonnay benchmarks: balance, length, concentration and flavour”.

This was followed by Mission ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay 2009 (which was Top Best Buy), Kina Beach ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay 2008, Villa Maria ‘Single Vineyard – Keltern’ Chardonnay 2009, Villa Maria ‘Single Vineyard – Ihumatao’ Chardonnay 2009, Vidal ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay 2009, Nautilus Marlborough Chardonnay 2009 and Villa Maria ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2009.

In reporting on the 26 New Zealand Viogniers entered for tasting, writer John Saker concluded that this country’s “producers were still coming to terms with the demands of the grape”. There is a balancing act to capture the variety’s aromatic and textural charms, panel leader John Belshan saying “high alcohol can be an issue along with phenolic bitterness”. Only three wines ended up being awarded four stars or more. The top wine was the CJ Pask Gimblett Road Viognier 2010, with four and a half stars. The comment by Cuisine is “Rich, exotic scents – reminiecent of honeysuckle, orange blossom and apricot compote – arrive in a dense swarm. Those themes, with a pinch of ginger, persist in the mouth, where crisp acidity keeps the opulence in check. A balanced, vibrant wine fashioned by the very experienced Kate Radburnd.”

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