Sparkling & Rosé Wines (January 2019)

“Too much of anything is bad,” believed F. Scott Fitzgerald, “but too much Champagne is just right.”  A glass or two of chilled sparkling wine is certainly a great way to celebrate – simply popping the cork on a bottle of fizz feels festive.

Rosé has a more laidback image, which raises the question: is rosé a colour or a lifestyle?  The latest sales figures suggest more and more of us are being seduced by the idyllic image of a relaxed lifestyle in sunny coastal climes, sipping a glass or two of gently chilled rosé.

Marlborough was the source of 40 per cent of the rosés in the tasting, but Auckland, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, the Wairarapa and Central Otago were all well represented. Pinot Noir (especially) and Merlot were the key varieties used, but several were based on Pinot Gris (sometimes confusingly labelled as “Pinot Rosé”), and others were made from Cabernet Franc and Pinot Meunier.

New Zealand’s finest sparkling wines are produced from the same grape varieties – mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – as in Champagne itself, and made by the same methode traditionnelle.  However, New Zealand doesn’t produce a huge selection of sparkling wines, because most small wineries find the production of premium, bottle-fermented bubbly too time-consuming and costly.

About half of the bubblies in the tasting came from Marlborough, but Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and Central Otago all featured.