UPDATE: The wine festival has been sold out. There are no more tickets available for this year.
BUSAN, South Korea – Of course, one doesn’t need a special occasion to enjoy some great wine but there’s nothing like wine in the spring. Unlike bone-chilling winter or the dog days of summer, these mild vernal months are the backdrop for wines suitable for any palate. And doubling-down on this effect, we’ve got the Kiwi Wine Fest on May 31 at the Park Hyatt Busan.
While it was Cloudy Bay’s Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough (New Zealand’s most popular appellation) that garnered the wine world’s attention and elevated it to a premium wine producing country in the 1980s, their renown is still on the upswing.
Beginning with Sauvignon Blanc, as novelist/America’s best wine writer Jay McInerney extolled, Sauvignon Blanc grown in cool, sunny Marlborough tastes like nothing else. Some exhibit more grapefruit, lime, and gooseberry while some reveal more passionfruit and mango but what they all have in common is a refreshing acidity that beckons with an enticing soif.
Beyond Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, there’s Martinborough across the Cook Strait with two stellar standouts including Palliser Estate and Ata Rangi (both exciting newcomers to this year’s roster that I would certainly line-up for). Also, as McInerney explained, The success of Sauvignon Blanc opened the door for Chardonnay, with almost twice as much acreage now devoted to the latter.
For those who like a blend of Burgundian elegance with California richness, then it’s time to move up to the North Island. Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, and Auckland appellations are the domain of Chardonnay and are worth seeking out at the upcoming wine festival. But don’t forget about some aromatic exotics such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer from Forrest, Hunter’s, Rapaura Springs, and Vynfields.
Now, as far as reds go, one should not get too sideways to imbibe some world-class Pinot Noir. Again, Marlborough’s the place where it all began, filled to the rim with its ripe, smooth, red-fruit charming character. However, the world’s most southerly wine region, Central Otago, has received cultish acclaim for its introverted, contemplative appeal. In that regard, Wooing Tree Vineyard is one to truly savor. And for the true oenophile or one who hasn’t experienced Martinborough Pinot Noir, the aforementioned Ata Rangi was awarded with the inaugural Tipuranga Teitei o Aotearoa or the Grand Cru of New Zealand honor.
But not all kiwi reds are about Pinot Noir. The North Island regions evoke Rhone-like Syrah and traditional Bordeaux grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot where these varietals meet at a crossroads of New World polished fruit with Old World complexity. Mission Estate Winery in Hawkes Bay, established in 1851 which records the first commercial wine sale in New Zealand dating back to 1870, offers a Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon with a touch of Malbec. It blends the right fruity/savory notes buoyed by appropriate oak and tannins.
Last year’s classy Bacchanailia on the 33rd floor of the Park Hyatt overlooking Diamond Bridge, Gwangalli Beach, and the marina, offered more than just wine, though. There was a delicious buffet featuring a variety of salads, cheeses, appetizers, and entrees. Caprese on focaccia, smoked salmon on cream cheese, beautiful gnocchi with mushrooms, lasagna, lamb bolognese, and roasted leg of lamb expertly paired these marvelous wines and provided a tasty respite and palate refresher from the fruit of the vine. The menu may be different this time but, if it’s anything like the inaugural event, the spread will be on par with the stellar, savory array of wines.
In addition, DJ Jeff Rands from New Zealand via Seoul will be returning to keep the party bouncing and as bubbly as Hunter’s methode champenoise traditional sparkler (which is the perfect toast to kick it off with). And due to last year’s success, most who previously attended have already confirmed their tickets for a repeat performance so it is advised to book in advance. With the 2014 New Zealand Wine Festival returning to this lovely venue, one should expect nothing less than a memorable, once-a-year only event bringing extraordinary wine from New Zealand to the shores of Gyeongsangnamdo. Salud!
Five Bottles to Look for at the Kiwi Wine Fest
Hunter’s Miru Miru, Marlborough, Sparkling Wine
This highly-acclaimed sparkler is a traditional blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. It’s bubbles supporting peach, citrus, green apple, and slight bread notes are wonderfully balanced. A great aperitif or pairing with a first course.
2012 Clark Estate, Upper Awatere Marlborough, Sauvignon Blanc
A truly distinct quaff with a nose of passion fruit, chalk, and hay, it’s nimble with lemon-lime citrus that minerally expresses river rock and salinity with mouthwatering acidity. Perfect for Jagalchi or Millak fish markets or on the beach.
2011 All That Jazz, Marlborough, Pinot Noir
This wine is redolent with dark cherry, black raspberry, and brings the funk with cola, herbs, and earth. These notes continue on the palate with some dark plum, smooth tannins, and a distinct complexity from this appellation.
2008 Forrest Estate Tatty Bogler, Otago, Pinot Noir
A highlight from last year’s event that is reminiscent of Premier Cru Nuits-Saint-Georges with it’s medium body, bing cherry, pepper, floral, and mineral notes that are seriously structured yet elegant. Certainly a pleasure now but even better with time.
2010 Clearview Black Reef Blush, Hawke’s Bay, Rose
A wolf in sheep’s clothing being a pleasant surprise made from Bordeaux grapes. With its deep color that would tend to lead to punchy Rose, this was not the case. Red apple, grapefruit, and peach on a medium-bodied profile, with a tasty dry finish, one of those perfect wines for the season.
If you’re interested in attending the Kiwi Wine Festival at the Busan Park Hyatt on May 31st you can get more info from the Kiwi Chamber on their website at www.kiwichamber.com or visit the Haps event page here
For more info on New Zealand wine, go here.
Photos courtesy of the Kiwi Chamber.
The New Zealand Wine Fest is an advertiser with Haps.