You won't be surprised to see me recommending a Riesling, but in my book New Zealand Rieslings have been a little slow to join the party. Many clung to too high a level of rather residual sugar for too long, I think. Natural fruitiness in a great and fascinating German wine with massive extract is one thing, but simple sweetness in an alcoholic one is another. It has also taken time to reduce levels of astringency and phenolic bitterness in many NZ Rieslings.
But now I see more and more evidence of really fine zesty Riesling from New Zealand in which to my palate (see the current discussion on What is a 'dry' wine? in your turn) are well balanced and just off dry. Particularly impressive examples to have come my way include two from Waipara, the very promising wine region in the hinterland of Christchurch in the South Island, Pegasus Bay Riesling 2004 (find this quite widely distributed wine) – I wondered whether the 2005 wasn't just slightly too sweet? - and the following new star:
Richardson Riesling 2005 Waipara 17.5 Drink 2006-10
Ex Villa Maria winemaker Michelle Richardson's first exported NZ Riesling made from grapes ground in Canterbury, pressed gently which 'resulted in flawless juice' according to the back label. A 13% wine, with just 4g/l residual sugar so tasting almost bone dry, the balance seems just about right for this refreshing, lightly floral, quite Germanic, 'cool' wine which will clearly have an interesting life in bottle. Quite complex.
As far as I can tell from winesearcher, this first release is available only within New Zealand and from Genesis in the UK at £12.03.
Those looking for something a little less expensive and absolutely ready to drink might be more interested in
Clifford Bay Riesling 2004 Marlborough 16 Drink 2005-07
Very fruity but not cloyingly sweet – just off dry, slightly floral and very refreshing and immediate with just a hint of botrytised fruit to add interest.
Clifford Bay specialises in wines made from their own estate-grown fruit just south of the main Marlborough area in the Lower Dashwood area of the slightly cooler Awatere Valley. The wines are made by Glenn Thomas at Vavasour's winery nearby. This one, for the techies, has 9.8 g/l residual sugar and 8.3 g/l total acidity with about seven per cent botrytised fruit. The 2004 is sold out at the winery but the 2005 seems, according to http://www.cliffordbay.co.nz/ to have been garlanded with awards.
I came across the Clifford Bay at Friarwood, London SW6 who are selling it at £9.95 a bottle. They also have the most delicious Volnay, Clos des Chênes 2003 Dom des Echards at £30.50 which is drinking beautifully now – all spice and soft richness. If you are looking for a wine to shine over dinner this summer, here is a very strong candidate.