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New Zealand whites easy on the nose

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From left to right: Celliers d’Asie’s Bunthon Thon with guests Chandeth Prum and Pailin Plok from Prince D’Angkor. Photograph: Nicky Sullivan

An exploration of brawny Aussie reds and more delicate New Zealand whites was the theme of a wine tasting at Celliers d’Asie on Wednesday evening, August 15. It also enabled area branch manager Scott McNeill to show off the storage facilities and part of the enormous new selection of wines added to Celliers catalogue since the beginning of the year.

The evening is part of a long series that’s hosted by the distributors, open to hotels and restaurants, to introduce people to the new wines.

It’s also an opportunity to refresh people’s memories about some of the wines that have featured on their lists for a while. And on the night, the Heritage Suites Hotel provided a mouth-watering range of savouries to help imbibers keep up their strength.

The evening brought to me the discovery of my new favourite words: “Villa Maria” and “sparkling”. Villa Maria was a famous New Zealand wine before there were famous New Zealand wines, and this bottle’s light and easy bubbles and well-defined fruit flavours, together with Villa Maria’s signature staying power, demonstrate why very convincingly.

It’s a tough act to follow, but other whites presented on the evening held their ground. The Villa Maria rosé had clean and softly sweet fruit flavours, with that subtle richness that make rosés so dangerously more-ish. Meanwhile, Warrane’s Sticky Beak chardonnay stood out among the lower-shelf whites for its rounded, fruity flavours and consistent follow-up.

In the red corner, the shiraz from Warrane was a rich, delicious flavour bomb, while the Hewitson Ned & Henry’s shiraz was a little more subtle. The Petit Clos pinot noir was a surprise, and a full-flavoured pinot noir from Petit Clos made its presence known as well.

McNeill took me on a whirlwind tour of the beautifully laid-out shop that operates as both retail and wholesale. “We’ve added 246 new wines to the catalogue since the beginning of this year,” he said, adding that this does not include the selection of champagnes and sparkling wines.

That brings Celliers d’Asie’s count to over 500 wines from over 100 wineries from all over the world. This should end the notion of finding the same wines on every wine list in town in the future.

New wines include the Warrane winery in Australia, the only winery in Tasmania in fact. From New Zealand, the selection from Villa Maria is expanded, and there are more wines from the highly regarded Clos Henri and a very tasty sauvignon blanc from Stillwater Bay in the Marlborough region.

But both old and new worlds have been explored by Celliers d’Asie, and the listings include tempting new offerings from, inter many alia, Trimbach in Alsace, Bonny Doon in the US, Cos d’Estournel in Bordeaux, and Dr Loosen in Germany.

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