Wine Spectator is widely-recognised in the wine industry as an important source of information for everything related to wine – from news, features, food and travel, wine education and ratings.
Each year the publication releases its Top 100 Wines of the Year list. Wine Spectator editors survey the wines reviewed over the previous 12 months and base their selections on quality, value, availability and excitement (perhaps we’ll contact them and ask how they actually measure that!).
In the lead up to this year’s New Zealand Food & Wine Festival in Saigon, Vietnam on Saturday, March 16th, we decided to feature the four New Zealand wines that made Wine Spectator’s cut for their list of 2018’s Top 100 Wines.
And for an added bonus, we called on sommelier and owner/manager of Saigon restaurant Lu Bu in Thao Dien, Jim Cawood, to give his assessment of the highly-regarded wines.
Here they are.
Number 12 (96 points)
Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2017
Felton Road’s story started in 1991 with a strict policy of fully-organic and biodynamic viticulture (Demeter certified). Comprising four properties totalling 32ha in the Bannockburn sub-region of Central Otago, Felton’s entire estate comes as close to true sustainability as is possible. The aroma of this pinot noir features a combination of red and dark fruits and florals. On the palate, there’s a noticeable combination of transparency, power and tension. The silky entry of spice and savoury notes expand to pure, deep fruits braced with acidity but remains luscious throughout.
“Regal, plush, well-built with a classy frame. The Rolls Royce of Central Otago”Jim Cawood, owner/manager Lu Bu Restaurant
Number 21 (93 points)
Scott Base Pinot Noir 2016
Scott Base Vineyard, established in 1994, is part of New Zealand winemaking trailblazer Allan Scott’s portfolio of award-winning wineries. He and his wines need very little introduction. Scott Base is a terraced vineyard with sandy, silty, loam soil that is sustainably managed and is located in the heart of Central Otago overlooking the town of Cromwell and Lake Dunstan. The grape variety in the Scott Base Pinot Noir 2016 is 100% pinot noir with an alcohol volume of 13.5% treated in French oak (100%) and new (35%). It’s a full-bodied pinot noir with aromas of berry fruit and black cherries, wild thyme and toasty oak, layered with savoury spice. It’s a wine that’s rich and luscious with supple tannins, balanced acidity and a long finish, which the Scott’s themselves say represents the best of their Central Otago range.
“Plums and cherry pits, sandalwood and spice, exotic aromas and a subtle meatiness. Like standing inside an Istanbul delicatessen”Jim Cawood, owner/manager, Lu Bu Restaurant
Number 32 (92 points)
Nautilus Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017
This Marlborough region sauvignon blanc displays intense aromas of ripe passionfruit, elderflower, limes and fresh herbs, according to Nautilus winemaker Clive Jones. On the palate, the 2016 offers a delightful lime-citrus based intensity and finishes with a strong textural component. Delicious upon release, this wine will continue to improve for 3-5 years post-vintage, and is ideal with seafood ceviche served with chili and lime, avocado and tomato with coriander salsa.
“Intense passionfruit, banana and kiwifruit aromas brought together with an enticing creaminess. Pavlova in a glass?”Jim Cawood, owner/manager, Lu Bu Restaurant
Number 42 (92 points)
Loveblock Pinot Noir 2015
Crimson with purple hues, Loveblock’s pinot noir has aromas of fleshy black plum with layers of cherry and sweet berries that play on the palate and dance with notes of violet, according to the winemaker’s tasting notes. With dry tannins and hints of cigar, this pinot noir’s versatility make it suitable to pair with turkey, salmon, lamb and beef. It’s also vegan friendly.