Medal Winners Tasting at New Zealand House 31/07/12

Lay & Wheeler Wine Tasting - New Zealand House, LondonAs the eagerly awaited Medal Winners tasting day finally arrived, much excitement was felt as we went up to London, not only to taste the wines but also with the prospect of maybe catching some of the GB/Olympic Buzz. On arrival at New Zealand House we were greeted and signed in then off we went up to the Penthouse suite.

What a great venue for a tasting! All the New Zealand wines were lined up around the edge of the room with the amazing view of London as the back drop. The sparkling and white wine section was quite busy already therefore Edwina and I started on the reds. Some excellent Pinot Noirs were present – 2010 Gladstone Vineyard Pinot Noir from Wairarapa showed really well, dark fruited and quite exotic on the nose, with good fruit structure on the palate (Silver IWC medal winner). Another Pinot Noir that we both took to was the 2010 Lowburn Ferry Home Block Pinot Noir from Central Otago. The nose had a real Burgundian edge and the fruit was well integrated and balanced, fantastic! (Silver DWWA medal winner).

Some excellent Syrah was on display too, especially 2010 Elephant Hill’s from Hawkes Bay, which was very light and perfumed with a modern style. (Gold Sommelier Wine Awards)

After tasting the reds, we felt we had earned the right to a short breather, which we took on the Penthouse terrace, overlooking the Beach Volley Ball matches… or at least overlooking the crowds and the giant screen, as we couldn’t actually see them playing! Still, the atmosphere was great and you could hear the cheers from the crowds. It was fantastic to see and a few (hundred) photos were taken.

Back inside for the sparkling and the whites, we were a little too late for the fizz – the unfortunate downside to our plan of tasting the reds first! Undeterred, off we started with the whites, Riesling up first. 2010 Toi Toi Reserve Riesling from Marlborough was a classy little number with perfect poise and balance, I really enjoyed this! (Gold Best in class IWSC 2011) In fact this was my favourite of the Riesling crowd. We moved on to Pinot Gris, and in all honesty, there were perhaps too many of them! Clearly this is a growing part of New Zealand’s production. The 2011 Greystone Wines Sand Dollar, however, floated my boat out of all of the range. It had a wonderful, smoky nose and the palate was vibrant and fresh but also showing a hint of smoke on the finish. Sauvignon Blancs dominated the line up of whites. The best (in my eyes) was the 2010 Clos St Henri from Marlborough. It gave a little ‘more’ than the others, more intense, heady and exotic.

It was very enticing to smell lots of passion fruit and the palate was complex and long, so it had the edge over the rest of the flight. I did have to go back and taste again, only for educational purposes of course!

Overall there was a good selection of wines; I found the reds more exciting than the whites and would have liked to have seen and tasted a bigger selection of Chardonnays. The Chardonnays there did show very well indeed, my favourite being the 2010 Kumeu River the Society’s Exhibition, which was quite Burgundian in style, elegant and graceful with underlying power. (Gold IWC)

With almost 100 wines on show (99…), overall this was a very good tasting, thank you Chris Stroud and team.

Paula Hunter

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