Wine, not whine

August 4, 2022
2 mins read

PHIL PARKER is back with a top-notch selection of premium vino and even – shock! horror! – a “de-alcoholised” choice.

This month, first up, I have a fab pinot gris and a riesling, then a pair of equally fab pinot noirs from two premium producers, Rockburn and Pegasus Bay. Then, two new de-alcoholised wines from Giesen’s Zero wine range – a riesling and a merlot.

The low alcohol phenomenon is a growing segment of the beverage market, starting a few years back with reduced alcohol beers aimed at responsible drinkers and dieters alike. Now we have zero alcohol beers such as the (very good, in my humble opinion) Heineken Zero, with Asahi, Macs and even Garage Project joining the throng.


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Wine producers have been a bit slow, but now we are seeing a wider range of lower alcohol wines offered by NZ producers such as Yealands, The Doctors, Stoneleigh, Selaks and Brancott. Giesen seems to be leading the charge in NZ with their zero-alcohol range that includes sauvignon blanc, rosé, pinot gris, riesling and a merlot.

Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Gris 2021 $27
Lovely pinot gris that has spent time ageing in old French oak and could pass for a fruit-forward chardonnay. Integrated flavours of lime, grapefruit, and clover honey with a dash of quince jelly. Soft acids and a yeasty, tangy finish. Fab as a party starter aperitif with appetisers, or with seafood.
Available: Fine O Wine, Pt Chev Organic Wines

Main Divide North Canterbury Riesling 2019 $21
Consistent producer of fine Rieslings, Pegasus Bay nails it again with this crisp and complex wine. Oily, spicy and very rich on the palate with grapefruit, mandarin, beeswax and passionfruit and a hint of roasted pineapple, plus a very lengthy finish. Match with Asian foods, scallops, or slow-cooked rich pork dishes.
Available: Herne Bay Cellars, Liquorland

Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2021 $40
Young and vibrant, with cherry, plum cassis and a hint of florals, smoke and poached tamarillo. Medium silky tannins and a lengthy finish. A good match with slow-cooked beef or a rich ratatouille.
Available: Fine O Wine, Pt Chev Organic Wines, Glengarry

Pegasus Bay Aged Release Prima Donna North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2012 $130
Lovely aged wine, still showing ripe fruit characters at 10 years old. Plum and liquorice with cassis and a firm backbone of umami soy. A hint of sherry sweetness and Christmas cake spice. Food match: venison or rabbit. Veg option – pasta with truffle and mushroom sauce.
Available: Fine O Wine, Pt Chev Organic Wines

Giesen 0% Merlot $20
An addition to Giesen’s range of zero alcohol wines, this merlot shows some real ‘winey’ characters with spice and red plum flavours, all wrapped up in medium tannins. Alcohol is removed with imported spinning cone technology that separates the aromas and liquids from the alcohol – then the ‘wine’ and aroma profile are recombined. My food suggestion – BBQ steak, or a rich tomato vege lasagne.
Available: Fine O Wine, Pt Chev Organic Wines

Giesen 0% Riesling $20
Very drinkable and has a lot of the riesling flavour profile despite the lack of alcohol. Typical aromas backed up with flavours of lychee and jasmine plus subtle floral notes and a hint of Moscato and lime citrus. Great with Thai or Vietnamese cuisine.
Available: Fine O Wine, Pt Chev Organic Wines


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Originally a physiotherapist, Phil's fascination with the fermented grape juice led to the launch of his wine tour company Auckland Fine Wine & Food Tours at the turn of the century. A seasoned and well-respected wine writer, Phil's oenophilia led to the publication of his wine region guide to New Zealand, The Mad Keen Wine Buff's Road Trip (Random House).

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Korero Te Reo

PHIL PARKER is all for embracing diversity, especially when it comes to wine varieties from all over the world.
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