If I were a sommelier, somewhere, I would definitely include wines from the’boutique’ New Zealand Waipara West range on my list.
From their vineyards, sheltered by coastal hills and baked in South Island sunshine, come an ambitious variety of cuvees which provide exceptional class and style at remarkably approachable prices.
So it came as no surprise to me when I learned that this, one of New Zealand’s most original wineries, had secured a prestigious deal to supply Japan Airlines with their delicious Sauvignon Blanc. I used the news as an excuse to open two contrasting vintages which are currently available; but before doing so, reached for Roget’s Thesaurus because I quickly run out of superlatives when writing about these wines.
The Waipara West Sauvignon Blanc 2012 is the latest vintage which will become available in the U.K. from the end of May. It will no doubt be a star performer on the Japan Airlines flights as it has stacks of clean, fresh gooseberry on the nose; a perfect characteristic to cut through the pressurised cabin atmosphere.
This outstanding wine has a big, round palate of buttery gooseberry and ripe peach brushed with caramel. Enlivened with refreshing minerality, it’s bold, confident, complex and, like all Waipara West gems, has a winning and individual personality.
You may ask what price for such quality. I always have to double-check that I haven’t mis-read the figure but, at £11 from Waterloo Wines, this has got to be a 5* bargain.
Although made with the same grape variety from the same vineyards, the Waipara West Sauvignon Blanc 2009 is, paradoxically, a completely different wine.
Three years of bottle age is immediately apparent on the nose. The scent of autumn leaves has replaced the fresh, assertive gooseberry. On the palate, the concentrated fruits have mellowed into lush, golden, crystalline perfumes and mature honeycomb sweetness with a hint of brandy barrel.
All this opens up the possibilities of food pairing way beyond the usual expectations for a Sauvignon Blanc. The 2009 is definitely for drinking up now so there’s no need to waste time thinking ; it’s virtually being given away by Waterloo Wines at the nutty price of £8.25.
How long will it be before JAL also add Waipara West’s lip-smacking and unctious Riesling 2012 (£11.50) to their list, or maybe the masculine Ram Paddock Red 2009 (£11.50) with its distinguished Bordeaux-like maturity?
Well, if I were the sommelier for Japan Airlines, they’d be on the planes already.