On Sunday, Kournikova joined me for a wine tasting ($29) at Vine Arts. Hosted by the co-owner of Juice Imports, Erik Mercier showcased Kindeli wines from Nelson, New Zealand. Let’s listen to “Hurt Feelings” by Flight of the Conchords for this post.
Our welcome drink was Kindeli Primavera, a rosé with a dark, raspberry-like hue and a light sparkle of carbonation. Erik informed us that this wine is made from several grapes: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Viognier, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Noir. He noted this rosé drinks more like red wine. Kournikova liked this one so much that she bought a bottle.
Our first official tasting was Blanco ($39.37). I was surprised when I took the first sniff, as I’d never smelled a wine like this before. Kournikova thought the wine smelled grassy. Erik described this wine as “rocking” and said it smelled like the Sauvignon grapes in Kindeli’s vineyard. He mentioned the wild fermentation process Kindeli employs results in a wider range of flavours.
Kournikova enjoyed the Luna Nueva ($44.91). This wine consists of a blend of Pinot Gris, Viognier, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Erik said this wine had a crazy texture, describing it as round, soft and bright.
When I asked him to define “texture” to me, he compared the difference between skim and whole milk. Erik told me to think about the words “fatty” and “saturation” and what that sensation would feel like in my mouth. For example, he stated Viognier is an oiler and heavier white wine.
My favourite wine was Verano ($44.91). Erik described this dry, fresh wine as savoury, with notes of dried apples and Oolong tea. I knew right away my girlfriends would love this bottle. I bought one bottle for my friend Sunflower, who has a penchant for orange wines.
Erik recommended pairing this wine with something funky and sweet, like a Japanese curry. He stated that Verano represents a complete picture of Kindeli’s farm, as every variety is blended into this bottle: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Syrah.
The Otono ($44.90) is made from Gewurztraminer grapes, fermented on skins for five days in an amphora (Greek vase). After the pressing, Riesling and Pinot Gris juice is added to the “spent skins”. Erik noted this wine is bottled unfined, unfiltered, and without sulphur.
Erik loved the smell of Ivierno ($44.83). He stated one of the many reasons he likes natural wines is the different breadth of flavours it produces. This wine contains about 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Gris.
Kournikova thought Tinto ($44.83) smelled peppery. Erik described the flavour as dark fruit juicy with a violet floral. Of the red wines, this was my favourite. With each sip, I noticed a new tasting note.
The last wine we tried was Luna Lena ($44.90). Erik described Luna Lena as sweet, with dark fruit characteristics. I asked him why my initial reaction to his wines changed with each sip. At first, I was unsure if I even liked the wine. However, with each quaff, I started to appreciate different flavours I didn’t pick up at first. I told him this experience is the opposite when I drink terrible wine at a pub, as even though I keep drinking it, it never tastes better, no matter how hard I wish it to be.
Erik believes it’s because we initially don’t like unfamiliar flavours that we can’t describe. It is our body’s way of warning us about poison. But after we try something new, such as wild fermented wines, we get used to the unique flavours and begin to taste other things.
I’m looking forward to Erik’s upcoming events in November and December. I already booked up each class he’s teaching. These wine seminars are so cheap that I can afford to splurge on fancier bottles for my forthcoming Christmas parties. Hitting the Sauce gives Erik’s evident passion for natural wines two phat thumbs up.