Social: Unfortunately I have yet to visit New Zealand but I was invited, along with other Ottawa-based sommeliers and wine writers and bloggers to taste Nobilo wines over lunch at the sophisticated Ottawa restaurant "Social." The chef and bar manager at Social put together a delicious menu to pair with various vintages and styles of two varietals from Nobilo wines: Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014: I should admit that I am generally not a fan of Sauvignon Blanc. The varietal, especially the New Zealand style, is commonly recognized by the aromas of canned asparagus or peas and cat urine. In France the varietal is known as Sancerre after the appellation of that name in the Loire Valley. So I was pleasantly surprised with the superb quality of David Edmonds' winemaking. The Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014 has abundant aromas of passionfruit (maracuya), pineapple, melons, lemon-lime, and herbs. It represents a blend from vineyards in different sub-regions in Marlborough. On the palate it was crisp and acidic with mouthwatering flavours of green apple, passionfruit and unripened pineapple. It was the perfect pairing for quickly seared tuna sprinkled with spicy red pepper and served with wasabi and cucumber.
Icon Sauvignon Blanc 2014: This rendition of the varietal was not a fruit forward wine like the Regional Collection. Rather, it has predominant aromas and flavours of minerality, lime and green herbs. I could detect some pepper that winemaker Dave Edmonds pinpointed as jalapeño pepper. This wine did have a hint of asparagus on the palate and indeed paired well with Social's asparagus salad.
Icon Pinot Noir 2010, 2013, 2014: We tasted three vintages and each was very distinct from the other. The 2010 vintage, no longer available for sale, was a complex wine with aromas of peppery, smoke, ripe red fruit, blueberry and additional flavours of leather, dark chocolate and licorice. In the mouth the 2010 was silky smooth, well integrated tannins, medium plus body and dry. At 15% alcohol it was a bit "hot" with the lamb. The 2013 was more fruit forward on the nose but with other aromas of white pepper, game, forest floor and mocha. This lighter body wine and brigher acidicty was the perfect match with the grilled lamb which had been rubbed with delicious harissa (Tunisian hot chile paste). The 2013 vintage is currently available in Ontario. The 2014 Pinot was a delicious blend of dark cherry, forest floor and toasty caramel. These wines are on a medium grain French oak for about 9 months. The oak aromas and flavours still need to integrate and the wine could age for a few more years.