What was in the glass this Christmas

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This year I travelled up-country with LG to visit my folks for Christmas. My sister came down from south Auckland to join us. It was the first time all of us adults had been together at Christmastime for maybe 20 years. Wow.

As usual, I lined up a few bottles to enjoy over the period. Over the preceding year I deposited money each grocery shop into my supermarket’s Christmas Club to buy the feast food and some good wines and not break the bank doing it. I bought nothing at all ‘prestige’ this time, but grabbed a few new and interesting wines worth a look by both my reckoning and that of others.

We started the afternoon with a few glasses of bubbles. First up was my parents choice; Hihi Gizzy Fizzy NV from Gisborne. I knew nothing about this wine beforehand and even less after drinking it, cos it was cut with orange juice. A sparkling “blanc de blanc” made from chardonnay grapes. Nice to drink, but impossible to score.

Then I splashed out on Lindauer Special Brut NV – $. Heh. This wine is a cliché. Pound for pound, it should be claimed as NZ’s best wine if you allow for the volume in which it is produced, its uniformity of style, and price. The Reserve is better, but this always scores a solid 3. Dependable bargain bracing bubbliness, if a bit metallic.

Sister then brought out the Deutz NV – $$$. Methode Traditionale from Marlborough. Brioche and bubbles and elegant dryness. 3.75.

Then we got down to the serious business of the turkey and ham. For that I opened a Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Viognier 2013 – $$. Pale gold. 14%. Gorgeous aroma of apricots and bush honey. Dry and spicy in the mouth, with more apricots. Full on palate with ripe fruit, but restrained. Not as oily as other examples I have tasted, and better for it I think. If a wine can express a sense of a place like Hawkes Bay this one does. I can see the heat and rolling golden summertime hills in its flavours and texture. 3.75

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The next day over leftover Christmas ham and salad we shared a bottle of Framingham Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – $$. My parents like savs. Fruit from the Wairau Valley. 13%. Pale straw colour.  Pungent aroma of pears. Mouthfuls of grapefruit and passionfruit. Fresh, herby, slightly sweet. Wet stone minerals. 4

Along the way I also had a few bottles of Mac’s Sassy Red beer with Dad. Hoppy and bitter; proper ale, and not sweet like the childs beer this country is awash with.

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