Wine is often associated with love. We give wine to friends to mark the Chinese new year.
Love and wine brought Sarah-Kate and Dan Dineen together. They met in Australia while making wine for rival vineyards in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales. Sarah-Kate, a New Zealander, convinced Dan, an Australian, to move to the Central Otago region of New Zealand’s south island.
Central Otago is one of the most visually magnificent places in the world. It is also rapidly becoming known as one of the world’s best regions for cool-climate wine, especially pinot noir. America’s Robert Parker, probably the world’s most influential critic, featured the region in his highly Wine Spectator magazine.
Jancis Robinson MW, wine writer for the Financial Times, hosted wine dinners in Shanghai and Beijing last month. She describes Central Otago as possibly “the next great pinot region” in the world. And influential Australia critic James Halliday called Central Otago “God’s country” in relation to pinot noir.
Sarah-Kate and Dan Dineen have launched their own label in Wanaka in Central Otago (www.maudewines.com), and I had the pleasure of tasting the current vintage and some barrel samples while in Wanaka.
Sarah-Kate makes wine for her own label, Maude, and for a vineyard her parents own, Mount Maude. All are seriously good wines. The 2008 Maude pinot gris spoke of long romantic walks in an orchard, surrounded by the perfume of pears. The 2008 Maude pinot noir is refined yet complex – a lot like a good relationship. The 2008 Mount Maude chardonnay is creamily elegant, with excellent length on the palate.
Barrel samples of the 2009 pinot noir and chardonnay promise even better things. The chardonnay was like walking into a bread shop, to be embraced by aromas of brioche and bread dough. The pinot noir offered a range of red fruits, all contained in an elegant structure of new oak.
Wine speaks so much of love and wonder, and should be enjoyed in excess.
* “Elixir of life from God’s country” in China Daily, 15 May 2010, page 12