Category Archives: New Zealand Wine

Feb 02 2014

Kusuda Syrah 2010: New Zealand’s Top Rated Syrah

Posted on February 02, 2014 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Martinborough-based winery Kusuda has long been winning plaudits for its sublime pinot noirs, but recently its syrah has started stealing the limelight. The Kusuda Syrah 2010 was rated New Zealand’s top red (for wines other than pinot noir) in this month’s Gourmet Traveller Wine. The panel of expert wine tasters, who tasted all the wines blind, commented that it is “an enormously impressive wine. Rich dark berries and lovely nutmeg oak combine seamlessly and the tannins are beautifully balanced.” (Red Highlights, Gourmet Traveller Wine, Feb/March 2014)

The Kusuda Syrah 2010 reminds critics of the medium -bodied, cool-climate syrahs of Northern Rhone – a style also embraced with great success by Australian wineries like Clonakilla. As wine writer and panel member Huon Hooke remarked, it has “lovely cool-climate white pepper and spice aromatics. An elegant and medium-bodied wine with intense spice and fruit blossoming on the plate. Succulent and smooth with sweet-fruit richness, but not overdone. Great length. An outstanding wine!”

Kusuda has been making fine wines in Martinborough for more than 10 years. Situated about 90 kms east-northeast of Wellington in New Zealand’s North Island, Martinborough is also home to Ata Rangi, one of New Zealand’s most famous expressions of pinot noir.

The deep, free-draining alluvial gravels of the Martinborough terrace force the vines to dig deep for water, which coupled with unusually low levels of annual rainfall and a long, gentle growing season, create full flavour grapes and impart mineral qualities in the wines. These growing conditions have proven ideal for creating flavourful, complex pinot noirs, and now wineries like Kusuda are demonstrating that the terroir holds excellent potential for syrah as well.

Kusuda is run by Japanese-born Hiroyuki Kusuda, who cultivates approximately three hectares of vineyards – 1.6 hectares of pinot noir, 1.2 hectares of syrah and a small amount of riesling.  Kusuda studied at the famed wine school of Geisenheim in Germany; hence the appeal of riesling.

He makes up to 10,000 bottles of high-end wine a year, 60 per cent of which is shipped to Japan with the rest being quickly snapped up in New Zealand,.. [Read More]

Sep 09 2012

New Zealand Pinot Noir: What Sets it Apart?

Posted on September 09, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I was intrigued to read Lettie Teague’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled What Happened to New Zealand Pinot Noir? Fortunately, the article was not about a decline in the quality of New Zealand pinot noir, but rather a lament about its disappearance from the shelves of many American wine stores. Teague cited a few reasons that I’m sure would also ring a bell with Australian wineries: not enough distributors, an unfavourable exchange rate and poor brand recognition. (WSJ, 1 September 2012)

Teague also shared Felton Road‘s head winemaker Blair Walter’s comment that “The USA is about the only place where New Zealand Pinot competes directly with the other New World Pinots.”.. [Read More]

Nov 11 2011

Can you tell if a wine is any good just by tasting it? Impressions from a Craggy Range Tasting

Posted on November 11, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Have you ever been unimpressed with a wine on first taste, but then fallen in love with it over the course of a meal?

Well, according to a very interesting article by Decanter’s Andrew Jefford “digestibility is as much a hallmark of truly fine wine as is sensorial intricacy and harmony.” Jefford goes on to explain:

Twenty-five years of reading wine assessments, as well as providing assessments of my own, have convinced me that tasting without drinking is, in fact, a monstrous (if inevitable) flaw in all wine criticism... [Read More]

Dec 12 2010

Martinborough Pinot Noir: All about the Terroir

Posted on December 12, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In my last post, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: Top Producers Create an Exciting Alternative Style, 14 December 2010, I mentioned that our friends served the sublime Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2004 with a magnificent roasted prawn dish. Well, the follow-up course and wine were equally spectacular. This time they chose another New Zealand wine, the Dry River Pinot Noir 2002, to complement beautifully steamed John Dory with Asian flavourings and lightly sauteed greens.

New Zealand’s success with sauvignon blanc is in danger of being eclipsed by the Kiwi’s formidable achievements in creating superlative wines from one of the world’s most difficult noble grapes: pinot noir… [Read More]

Sep 09 2010

Australian and New Zealand Wine: Telling a Complex Story!

Posted on September 09, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Even the most dedicated wine student can have a difficult time understanding the wine regions of France and the complex classification system. The Bordeaux classification system of 1855, for example, still dictates the ranking of the chateaux in the Medoc region, dividing the wineries into five different growths according to their value, prestige and quality. Burgundy is even more complicated with hundreds of premier and grand cru vineyards.

But Australian and New Zealand wines seem to be suffering from a perception that is the opposite of complexity,.. [Read More]