Our Wines of the Week

(by peter)

As I write, Susie is rustling up a monkfish curry (thank you Jo Pratt) with a squid starter while I’m tapping away. It’s a neat, and entirely appropriate division of labour: Plato, Hume and Marx, we are in your debt.

The kids are, blissfully, asleep.

The kitchen window has become like an interactive piece of art: it’s a stunning evening on the south coast, white-tipped waves bustling over a sea-green bay, lazy clouds hanging over the skyline, a vigorous evening sun drenching the scene in solidity and life.

(For regular readers: we haven’t been idiotic enough to move house yet again – this is holiday.)

And all the while we’re enjoying a glass of the smoky, citric and spicy Little Beauty Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Marlborough, 13.5% (from £10.99, available in on-trade outlets, Madison Drinks, L’Art du Vin and www.littlebeauty.co.nz).

This particular wine arrived recently as part of an unsolicited samples package, along with a Pinot Gris from the same brand. More often than not, wines sent in this manner tend to be products that are as vacuous as their promotion is aggressive.

Not so in this case.

We tried the Pinot Gris first. This 2008 vintage from Malborough (12.9%, from £12.99) was nothing short of excellent.

Elegant on the nose, very faithful to the variety, with honeyed pear and apricot as well as  a touch of subtle minerality. On the palate it deftly walks the very fine line between being a proper Pinot Gris but not too rich, fat or cloying – it’s a refreshing dry wine with a subtle touch of residual sugar (7.6 g/l, as we’re reliably informed) which works brilliantly well. Succulent, gently spicy, long and elegant. Outstanding stuff (7.5/10).

Next we moved on to the Sauvignon Blanc. It achieved the same kind of excellent standard as the Pinot Gris, albeit (in Susie’s words), ‘beautifully different’.

An engaging nose, with fresh peas, tomato leaf but also passion fruit – an excellent mix of Marlborough sub-regional characteristics. The palate is soft-textured and succulent, with nippy acidity and pleasantly citric and vegetal finish (7/10 from Peter; 7.5/10 from Susie).

As for the background behind the brand, it’s produced by a company called Vinultra from fruit grown in the Waihopai Valley in Marlborough (Spy Valley being a brand commonly associated with this area). The winemaker is Eveline Fraser, formerly of Cloudy Bay. The brand was launched last year in the UK and is owned by Fleur McCree and Hemi Duns.

It’s great to see new and exciting brands emerging from Marlborough and making self-assured wines right from the outset. Smart branding, too – as I hope the accompanying photos show.

We’ll be looking forward to trying more from this promising stable. But for now, it’s time to try that monkfish curry. And what better to accompany it than a succulent Kiwi Savvy..?