2014 New Releases – Nelson

Each year Wine Nelson hosts a tasting of new and recent release wines. Last week I spent an enjoyable few hours at the Boat House tasting wines from the current vintage and catching up with winemakers, marketing people and buyers from local hospitality and wine retail businesses.

There are so many wines available to taste at this event it is impossible for me to try them all in the time available so each year I pick a couple of varieties and do my best to try all of these offered for tasting by wineries taking part. This year my focus was on 2014 vintage Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Gris’ and roses with the occasional Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and new variety included if I had time or was tempted by the winemakers.

My overall impression of the examples of these varieties I tasted is that the 2014 vintage has treated Nelson winegrowers particularly well; wines are bright, fresh and packed with flavour. Sauvignon Blancs in Nelson generally have ripe tropical fruit characters and those I tasted from the 2014 vintage have delightfully balanced fruit ripeness and acidity making them simply delicious to drink.

Pinot Gris is a variety that frustrates me a bit; because it is a relatively easy grape to grow and tends to produce a heavy crop of grapes the results can be pretty boring easy drinking wines and some winemakers treat it as a bit of a cash cow, they don’t give it the attention it deserves. Based on the examples I tasted last week Nelson winegrowers haven’t fallen into the over-cropped trap, the local Pinot Gris wines are beautifully crafted and packed with flavour.

When it comes to Rosé lots of people dismiss it as a ‘pretty or girly’ wine and I think those people are missing out on some outstanding wines. For me the best examples are dry or off-dry in style rather than being too sweet or creamy. In days gone by winemakers used to take a bit of surplus Pinot Noir or Merlot and press it without much skin contact making a low quality pale red wine, however in recent years winemakers have been setting out to make rose as a serious wine, using great fruit and treating it with respect in the winery. The result is Nelson produced Rosé wines that can now be taken very seriously and that are winning gold medals on a very regular basis.

A couple of wines at the annual Wine Nelson tasting that were real standouts for me were the 2014 Blackenbrook Pinot Gris (RRP$22.90) that has pure, clean flavours with exquisite balance and lots of what I call ‘drinkability’. This wine has collected a couple of gold medals and a trophy already and I won’t be surprised if it wins more as the wine show season progresses.

Another to impress was the Seifried Estate 2014 Gruner Veltliner (RRP$25). This is an old European variety that is reasonably new to Nelson and in fact New Zealand and I think that as the vines get older they are starting to deliver some delightful flavours, it is a variety to look forward to future vintages of. This example has lovely depth of flavour with a nice off-dry finish.

There were many more wines available for tasting and as I said earlier it looks like the 2014 vintage in Nelson has delivered some outstanding wines.

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