New Zealand

Holiday Wine Picks for 2013 - How to look like a Wine Superstar!

Just in time for the holidays are my top wine picks! So if you’re going to or hosting a holiday party, I recommend these four bottles of wine. I chose 3 reds and 1 white. I actually hosted a little party and these were the wines that I served.

Watch my video below, or scroll down a bit and you’ll see what I have to say about them as well. (Heck, you should live a little and do both….watch the video AND read my blog…then when you’re done you mine as well share this with all your friends and family too!!!) 

The white wine that I thought would be a great ‘winter holiday white’ is actually a wine I featured in a video awhile back. It’s Astrolabe’s Sauvignon Blanc, you can click here to view that video if you would like: . In my previous video, I feature the 2011 vintage. This holiday video features the 2012 vintage. I found this particular vintage to have more peachy notes and less mineralaity than the previous year. Still reminds me of summer though and its oooohhhhhh so delicious! I’ve had several other Astrolabe wines and have been impressed by all of them. So if you choose another one from this winery instead, you likely will still be quite happy with your selection and so will your guests. I also think that featuring a New Zealand white wine from the Marlborough region is something a little bit different because I do think there are a lot of people who aren’t really aware of how fabulous these wines are – so you’re likely to impress a few folks too (and lets be honest, who doesn’t like impressing others!?). You will be the Wine Superstar at the party in no time!

For the reds, I selected Belle Glos 2012 Meiome, which is a Pinot Noir from California. Now, I know that some of you are thinking…OMG I HATE Pinot’s…but I urge you to try this one and then tell me if you still hate Pinot’s. I do like Pinot’s, but like many, a good Pinot hard to find at times. This one took me about 2 years to find since the previous Pinot I thought was amazing and noteworthy, so with that alone – this is a MUST TRY wine! It’s elegant and traditionally French/Old world in style (I believe it’s also aged in French oak), so it’s got more earthy, spicy notes rather than some of the other fruiter Pinot’s you might find out there.

The second red I chose is the 2012 Felino Malbec by Vina Cabos. This is from Mendoza, Argentina and I chose this one because it seems like EVERYONE these days are into their Malbec’s. Before it was Shiraz, now it’s Malbec’s, so you definitely need at least one Malbec on hand this holiday season and I think this is a great one. Nicely balanced on the palate and not to tannic, so it’s quite friendly for a variety of wine drinkers over the holidays.

Last but not least, I threw in a little 2011 Freakshow – by Michael David Winery. This winery is the same winery that produces 7 Deadly Zins. I’m only pointing that out because it’s a popular wine out there and sometimes we like to know where things are coming from and support what we may already like. Freakshow is Cabernet Sauvignon with some Petite Syrah blended in. I purely chose this wine because of the label and the name. Being the holiday season…sometimes family get together’s can be a little ‘nutty’ to say the least, so I thought a wine named Freakshow might just be appropriate to throw in the mix this holiday season. Turns out that when I tried it, I loved it! So I don’t think you will go wrong with this wine either. It’s a great medium bodied wine that has nice complexity and structure. The bottle of this wine is likely also going to be a conversation piece because it has a lot going on in the label. I would probably leave this bottle out on display for others to view and let your guest’s converse away. Might be a good bottle to help get over any awkward silences around the dinner table, or help fill any brief gaps in discussions with the in-laws. And on side note, if your in-laws don’t like you, you could perhaps point out one of the ‘freaks’ on the bottle and reassure them, that’s not you so you’re not sure what their hang up is. NO, I’m just kidding DON’T say that because that will most definitely be followed by another (and much longer) awkward silence….

With that said, these are the wines I would recommend this holiday season. If you’re looking for another white wine to feature, Joie’s Noble Blend is good. So is Blasted Church’s Hatfield’s Fuse. Or perhaps a Pinot Gris would be a nice alternative option from the Astrolabe’s Sauvignon Blanc.

Whatever wines you do chose, be sure to have lots of fun and laughter this holiday season and DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!!! Be save everyone and Happy Holiday’s!







Diary Entry #31 - Astrolabe 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Dear Diary,

Today is Wednesday April 17, 2013 and I have what I think is a really special white wine to share with you all today! This particular wine was actually featured in Wine Spectator’s top 100. It was #59 on the list and it’s the ONLY Sauvignon Blanc to be featured this year. Wine Spectator also gave this wine 91 points. This wine also won best Sauvignon Blanc in 2006 and 2008 in the IWSC (International Wine and Spirit Competition) This is the only wine in the history of IWSC to wine 2 out of 3 years. So there is a lot of really great recognition given to this wine so this is why I'm excited to share this with you today.

The color of this wine is very clear…almost white, very crisp looking. On the nose I get lychee, very tropical fruit smelling. On the palate there are very nice soft acids, very smooth, nice soft mineral complexity, hints of mango and mellon – like honeydew (the green one right?). There are also some nice peach notes that come through nicely. 

There are a couple things that are interesting about this wine. Firstly, Simon Waghorn – owner/winemaker previously comes from Kim Crawford where he was the winemaker for several years there. He and his wife own and run this since about 1996 with 2 other owners.

I met Simon here in Vancouver when he was here for the Vancouver Wine Festival about a month and a half ago. I tasted all of their wines at their table and I enjoyed each one of them, I cannot say that for very many wineries – often I like one or two and maybe not so fond of another, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed all of the ones I tried at the Astrolabe booth.

Another interesting thing about this wine is that Astrolabe didn’t name their label after a bay, rock, animal like many New Zealand wines. Astrolabe is actually named after a ship called, The Astrolabe. This was a ship that belonged to an early French explorer who i believed was one of the first to discover the south island of New Zealand. Another cool piece of information, if you didn't already know, is that an Astrolabe is an early navigational tool that dates back to as early as 150BC.  So this is where the owners came up with their brand - they wanted to start this winery in the spirit of exploration & adventure. I like the intention of what is behind this bottle and other Astrolabe wines. Between the passion of Simon as well as the branding I believe they are doing something right!

I think there are about 10 to 15 different vineyards throughout Marlborough, that Astrolabe has source the sauvignon blanc grape from their own vineyards as well as other growers and vineyards to blend this bottle of wine. They do single vineyard bottles, but this is a blend of sauvignon blanc grapes from a variety of different vineyards. So this wine can vary from year to year even though they try to be consistent – it's not a cookie cutter wine from year after year which I think is pretty cool.

AstroLab only been around in BC for the last few years so maybe that is why you have not seen it at your local BC Liquor store, but it is there and you should try it. I think you should definitely try it if you are a fan of Kim Crawford, Oyster Bay & Cloudy Bay wines. Astrolabe is newer to the scene, but I think they definitely hold their ground and could potentially be a new favourite New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

With summer just around the corner I think this is a nice wine that will help kick start those great afternoon and evening hang outs on a patio. 

Thanks for watching and reading this blog. I hope you enjoyed it and gained some fun new knowledge.

May the beauty you love be what you do. Come back in two weeks on Wine Wednesday for the next video!


Diary Entry #20 - Craggy Range Te Kahu 2010

Summer has been busy and I've been a bit M.I.A. on my vlog. But I'm happy to announce that I'm BACK! :-) 

This vlog is on Craggy Range's 2010 Te Kahu Proprietary Red blend. It's a blend of 80% merlot, 8% cabernet franc, 8% cabernet sauvignon and 4% malbec. Craggy Range is located in the Hawkes Bay wine region in New Zealand. This particualr wine comes from their Gimblett Gravels Vineyard - which is a special terrior located in Hawkes Bay. This area is known to produce very good bordeaux style wines. 

Craggy Range is a family owned winery specializing their production in single vineyard wines. TE KAHU means the 'cloak' and refers to the mist that covers the hills around Craggy Range's Giants winery. The Maori people believe this 'cloak' covered the mythical maidan when she visited her lover Te Meta (fallen giant). 

What I think is another cool thing about this winery is that it has to stay in the family. Terry Peabody started Craggy Range to carry the legacy of his family. I wish my dad owned a winery!!! I think that's pretty cool! 

Anyways, here is the video! Hope you enjoy it :-)