Every month, the fabulous Helena Nicklin, AKA the Wine Bird, uncorks a bottle of wine from our cellars and gives you a fuss-free low-down on what’s behind the label…
Which bit is the wine?
I’m pretty sure you got the ‘New Zealand’ part on the label, but which bit of ‘Coopers Creek, Bell-ringer, Select Vineyards, Albarino, Gisborne’ is the wine?
They key word you need to know here is Albariño; that’s the grape, which is actually most famous on the Iberian peninsula over in north-west Spain and Portugal. Gisborne is a sunny region on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island that these days is turning out some gorgeous, fruity white wines that aren’t just Sauvignon Blanc. Cooper’s Creek is the name of the vineyard that produced the wine and it’s part of their ‘Select Vineyards’ range, where the wines are crafted from very small batches with an aim to being excellent examples of type and brilliant with food. The winemakers have named this batch of Albariño ‘bell-ringer’ as the style is as crisp and pure as the peal of a bell. It was also made by Doug and Delwyn Bell so all in all, it’s the perfect name!
What does 2015 mean?
2015 printed on the label is the year that these Albariño grapes were harvested. This is the ‘vintage’ of the wine. The 2015 growing season on New Zealand’s North Island was great for quality if not quantity, as early frosts destroyed some of the buds. What was left made glorious wine.
Albariño: the mermaid of wine grapes!
The peal of a bell is a great descriptor for Albariño; think refreshing, pure citrus with ripe peach, a saline, mineral twist and a subtle, bitter kick on the finish. I remember it as the peachy-skinned mermaid of wine grapes, singing in a crystalline voice on wet rocks coated with sea spray as lemons ripen in the sunshine on the coastline opposite.
What does this one taste like?
Thanks to the particularly fertile soils and a lot of sunshine in Gisborne, our new Zealand version of the mermaid is a touch fuller-bodied! There’s a little more peach and the lemons are riper, but it’s still crisp, cool and refreshing. This is a style that will please any kind of white wine drinker as it’s got fruit (but not too much – it’s not gloopy) and a refreshing, cool acidity that will cut through the hot summer days just as a zesty Sauvignon Blanc would. It’s also incredibly versatile, making it a great aperitif wine or an accompaniment to food.
Hmm, now I really fancy a glass…
What do you eat with it?
What else would you eat with the mermaid of wine but seafood?
Yes, shellfish, white fish – any fish for that matter – would make a fantastic match for Albariño. The citrus and saline feel like a squeeze of lemon and pinch of sea salt and the fruit stands up to the flavour.
Crack a bottle and let the sunshine in!