New New Zealand – and good value too

I’m a big fan of wine from New Zealand.
Trouble is, prices seem to be creeping up. The reputation of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, spearheaded by the wonderful and increasingly hard-to-get Cloudy Bay, is now sky high – in fact SB could soon overtake Chardonnay as our Preferred Grape – and makers seem to be getting a yo-yo or two more for the product.
Recently, Matt Thonpson, winemaker from an estate new to me, St.Claire from Marlborough, breezed into town and I attended a tasting and lunch that showcased four of his wines. The Riesling, I thought, was a little eccentric, though pleasant and full of character – certainly different to the Clare Valley Aus ones that have established the pattern for New World Riesling. The SB was of the full-on fruity variety, rather than the usual green apple acidity version, but none the worse for that. The Chardonnay, I thought, was an absolute stand out and I confirmed this by drinking half a bottle last night, aided and abetted by Silke Cropp’s cheese with green peppercorns on Robert Ditty’s oatcakes – about as good as it gets in the C&B combo. The Chard was very impressive indeed, quite creamy and laid back, still New World but without the unsubtle ‘can of pineapples’ savour that comes as a trademark with many of the cheaper Aussies and Chileans. Bearing in mind that these St.Claire wines, brought in by Irish Distillers so they should be quite widely available will sell for around the 11 euro mark they are very good value indeed. And – to pile astonishment on amazement there’s a pretty decent Pinot Noir for the same money.

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