Wednesday, January 04, 2006

WBW #17: Hawke's Bay Merlot

I'm really not normally bad at picking wines, but for some reason whenever I participate in a WBW, I don't find the greatest wines. Granted, neither wine was terrible, but they were far from my favorites. Perhaps it's that I'm so limited in my selection, but, in the two WBW's in which I've participated, I would probably not buy the wines again.

The Corkdork is the host of this month's WBW and has chosen Red Kiwis as the theme. Red kiwis, you ask? New Zealand reds.

After doing some research, I was really looking forward to trying a nice New Zealand Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. Unfortunately, it took me visits to two liquor stores to find even one kind of New Zealand wine, and that a Merlot. At least it was red. The first store, Union Square Liquors, which usually has quite an impressive selection, only carried about a dozen wines from Australia, half of which were over $30, and none from New Zealand. So I moved on to the less impressive liquor store around the corner from home, Village Wine & Sprits Shop, they carried only one bottle of New Zealand wine, a 2002 Babich Winemakers' Reserve Hawke's Bay Merlot for $11.99.

I bought the bottle, brought it home and based dinner around it, finally finding an excuse to try out my newest cookbook, Garlic, Garlic, Garlic, one of my Chanukah presents from the Boy. According to a review of the wine, it marries best with Ratatouille, so I made a Braised Salmon with Simple Garlic Ratatouille, from my new book.

The Salmon came out better than the Wine, but it was fun to see how the flavors played together. We also paired it with a Smoked Gouda in lieu of dessert.

My wine notes follow. Keep in mind I'm still learning a wine vocabulary.

From the back of the bottle:

"This ripe, harmonious Merlot displays an attractive wealth of berry fruit and plum aromas, balanced by a full-flavoured, soft tannin finish. Enoyable now, it will improve for several years in the cellar."

Legs: Very short, barely noticeable.
Color: Purple-Red.
Nose: Very acidic, no recognizable fruits.
Taste: Oaky, with an acidic finish. Although a 2002 wine, it tasted very young, as though it needed several more years to mature. It worked very nicely with the salmon,, though, the high acidity of the wine playing nicely with the slightly-sweet Eggplant in the ratatouille. It was also much better after taking time to breathe. Dad preferred it with the Smoked Gouda, finding the smokiness of the cheese able to stand up to the acidic wine. Mom and I disagreed, as the Gouda had a very soft mouthfeel, as compared to the wine's harsher one.
Verdict: While not bad with food, we probably won't be buying this again. It was too tannic for our tastes, although perhaps it will be better in several years.

Winemakers Reserve
Gimblett Road Vineyard Hawke's Bay

and and and and and

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Catching up on some blog reading LA. Babich is what I think of as a commercial company more interested in profit that producing great wine. There are several good Hawkes Bay red wines produced. Next time try to locate an Esk Valley, Te Awa, Red Rock. The climate and terroir in Haawkes Bay is very similar to Bordeaux so they should be producing some great wine.