Righto, I'm stripping everything back to the bare bones with this week's column. It's like the MTV Unplugged, the drum 'n' bass, the dub version of what's been happening in the wine week that was.
The major newspapers reported that, economically, things are finally looking less glum for our wine industry, with a lower 2012 harvest pushing grape prices up - so apparently we can kiss the glut goodbye. The jaw-droppingly gorgeous Grasshopper Rock Earnscleugh Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 from Alexandra took out Champion Wine of the Show at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards (this is on top of it earning Top Wine of the Tasting and Best Buy in Cuisine Magazine and five stars from yours truly). In further pinot news, Neudorf's Tom's Block Pinot Noir 2010 was quaffed at the world premier of The Hobbit, although winemaker Tim Finn assures me that no hairy feet were used to crush the grapes.
There have been some nasty frosts affecting vineyards all over the show, particularly down in Central Otago, which is not good. The high dollar has meant there are loads of great value French champagnes on the market just in time for Christmas, which is good. Winemakers are playing musical chairs with people, shifting jobs about the place and Kate Middleton has changed her hairdo, which is not really wine news but it's big news.
So that's it for the past seven days and now I can get to what's really important - the best wines of the week.
GRASSHOPPER ROCK CENTRAL OTAGO PINOT NOIR 2010, $30
A sexy scarlet colour and boasting aromas of cherry blossom, rhubarb crumble, pomegranate and red rose, this is stunning stuff. In the mouth there's a savoury note and a hint of mushroom alongside the rich black forest berry and cocoa characters. Incredible persistence of flavour on the palate, this is multi-layered and lovely. An absolute classic. www.regionalwines.co.nz
CROSSROADS WINEMAKERS' COLLECTION HB SYRAH 2010, $39
Attractive, berry-heavy aromas with a dusting of pepper, red rose and seasoned leather and spice. In the mouth there are layers of espresso and earthy notes leading to chewy, youthful tannins and a long finish. I'd love to try this again in three or four years. www.crossroadswines.co.nz
TERRES DE GALETS COTES DU RHONE 2011, $14.99
This is an absolute bargain from Gabriel Meffre, who is one of the top producers in Gigondas, situated right next door to the famous Chateauneuf du Pape in the south of France. Terres de Galets means "land of large round stones" after the famous pudding stones of the area, which absorb and radiate heat up into the ripening fruit hanging from the vines. It's a blend of grenache, syrah, cinsaut and mourvedre and if you like your reds dusty and earthy with a hefty whack of pepper, plum, liquorice and mushroom, then this is it. www.finewinedelivery.co.nz
INVIVO ORGANIC MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012, $20
Soft, classic green herb and lime characters make for a juicy, mouth-filling mash-up of flavours, yet it has a lovely, lean elegance on the finish. Magic with mussel fritters straight off the barbecue. www.invivowines.com
PALLISER ESTATE MARTINBOROUGH PINOT GRIS 2011, $26
I really like the aromas of custard apple and white peach in this wine. Coupled with clean, bony acidity and hints of feijoa on the finish, this is a superb sip indeed. Gorgeous with roast chicken seasoned with Moroccan spices. www.palliser.co.nz
LOTHLORIEN ORGANIC DRY SPARKLING FEIJOA WINE, $15
The team at Lothlorien has been producing premium organic fruit wines in the Ahuroa Valley near Warkworth since 1971 and it is unrivalled when it comes to fizz made from the fabulous feijoa. Clean, crisp purity of feijoa flavour combined with elegant acidity and a long, dry finish make this the perfect match for spicy seafood dishes or strong, aged cheeses. www.lothlorienwinery.co.nz
LONE GOAT BOTRYTIS SELECTION 2007, $35
It's no surprise this snazzy sweetie won the dessert wine trophy at the NZ International Wine Show back in 2008 - but wow, four years on, it's tasting absolutely sublime. With exotic aromas of toffee and tangelo and intense, luxurious citrus, honeyed sweetness and clean, refreshing acidity on the finish - it's mind-bending stuff. www.lonegoat.co.nz