01 Champagne Jean Milan Symphorine Grand Cru 2010 $118 Until recently, the champagne market has been dominated by a group of big producers who buy their grapes from small farmers. We’re seeing more and more of these ‘growers’ turning out exceptional releases under their own labels, rivalling the quality of the bigger names and often at a better price point. Jean Milan is a tiny organic and biodynamic operation in a prestigious Grand Cru village which used to sell its fruit to the likes of Dom Pérignon. The Symphorine is its best cuvée, and the 2010 vintage has everything we look for in a premium champagne. Crisp and linear, with notes of brioche and lime, finsihing pure, lengthy and satisfying. The perfect accompaniment for any celebration.
02 Mon Cheval Waipara Valley Pinot Noir 2008 $75 C.P. Lin has produced very special wines from this small North Canterbury vineyard. He is blind, although he insists that this isn’t the reason for his heightened sensory perceptions of smell and flavour; like any artist he was born with that ability. Unlike most producers, Mon Cheval holds back its pinot for years; the current release is 2011. Great Little Vineyards has a small amount of library stock from his remarkable 2008 release, a great vintage that almost a decade on is just showing its best characters. This drop is reminiscent of great Burgundy, with soft, stunningly integrated tannic structure and an incredible velvety finish.
03 Corofin Carter-Ashmore Marlborough Chardonnay 2015 $49.90 Rather than working with their own vines, Mike and Anna Paterson have sought out the best micro-sites in Marlborough to produce just five single-vineyard wines that
express the vastly different character of their soils. The Carter-Ashmore Chardonnay is produced in tiny quantities and is an example of how, done right, small-scale organic winemaking can produce something polished and elegant. Judiciously oaked and with a clean, pure finish reminiscent of Grand Cru Chablis, this dazzles with complexity.
04 Mahana Nelson Carbonique 2015 $35 “Summer sipper with body and character” – pinot noir rosé, but not as we’ve ever known it. Mahana’s Michael Glover, is a true maverick who has learned from Europe’s best winemakers and brought his respect for old-world processes to some daring experiments in Australia and now in Nelson. His interpretation of rosé is by no means traditional, but makes for a ridiculously moreish wine. The organically farmed pinot noir grapes undergo a special process called carbonic maceration, which gives the wine great perfume and lift. This tipple is strongly aromatic with a sustained, medium-bdied and very dry finish. Good texture and versatile enough to match with any number of dishes.
Brought to you by our new wine columnist Daniel Kemp of greatlittlevineyards.com