Rebecca Gibb's party wine picks
Champagne and fish and chips is Rebecca Gibb's favourite food/wine combo. “The high acidity acts like vinegar, cutting through the fat,” she says. You can take Rebecca’s word on that and practically anything else to do with wine. The North Yorkshire-born Birkenhead resident has just been made a Master of Wine, the youngest in the country and one of only 11 in New Zealand to hold the prestigious title. Even better, at the graduation ceremony a fortnight ago in London, Rebecca was named as the winner of this year’s top award — for the candidate who was outstanding in all parts of the exam.
Becoming a Master of Wine is a gruelling feat in anyone’s book. It took the 34-year-old six years (she managed to cram in motherhood, too — son Mac is 15 months old) and until recently edited Wine Searcher website. There are only 340 Masters of Wine today in the world.
Part of the examination process includes three 12-wine blind tastings, each lasting two and a quarter hours. Wines are assessed for variety, origin, winemaking, quality and style.
Just don’t expect blind tasting party tricks from Rebecca this silly season. “You build up to it. It’s like being ready on race day to do a marathon. I wouldn’t have a hope in hell now,” she says.
As new deputy editor (wine) for luxury Hong Kong lifestyle magazine Le Pan, Rebecca travels to Asia every eight weeks. She also writes her own blog, focusing on New Zealand wines.
Our guess is that there will have been a few celebratory fish and chip and Champagne dinners coming her way recently. Her Champagnes of choice? “I love a bit of Bollinger and RH Coutier, a blanc de blancs [the Champagne is made by the ‘grower’ — a new trend in France where Champagne houses traditionally buy in grapes].”
Rebecca also favours a Hawke's Bay syrah with steak. “It’s like having pepper on the meat.” However, riesling is her favourite variety — “so versatile”.
We raise our glasses to her. Hopefully they will be full of the wines Rebecca recommends here for your own end-of-year celebrations.
Rebecca’s party picks
Escarpment Rosé 2015, $25. It’s plush, gentle and easy to like.
Mudbrick Vineyard Rosé 2015, $27. A spicy, flavoursome and full-bodied rosé that has enough wherewithal to pair with barbecued meat.
A bit of a splurge: Pelorous 2009, $44.99, a complex, rich, sparkling wine. Four years on lees have added attractive layers of complexity.
Save: Look for prosecco. It’s a little bit off-dry, soft, with a gentle sparkle.
Splurge: Elephant Hill Reserve Syrah 2013, $49. Something a bit special. A rich and mouth-filling savoury syrah with a delicious texture. Very young, with plenty of life ahead.
Save: Te Mata Estate Syrah 2014, $20. A lot of wine for your money. An elegant red, packed with bags of fruit and a sprinkling of black pepper spice. Dangerously easy to drink.
Burn Cottage Moonlight Race Pinot Noir, 2014, $45. An accessible wine to drink now. Amazing label design — it’ll look really sassy on your dining room table. Fresh and a touch broody. Plenty to enjoy with a flush of acidity at the finish.
Kumeu River Village Chardonnay 2014, $20. A light-bodied, fresh and fruity, easy-to-drink chardonnay. Peach and pear fruit with a touch of creaminess on the mid-palate. Tangy acidity leaves a clean, bright finish. A delicious, great value-for-money chardonnay.
Mt Edward Albarino 2015, Central Otago, $29. First release of this variety from northwest Spain. Excellent, it captures the essence of the variety — round and crisp, with lots of apple and nectarine flavours. Pair with fish and shellfish. An alternative to sauvignon blanc — unoaked and not too much out of the box. Watch out, Spain!
FOR SUMMER QUAFFING
Aperol spritz: 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, 1 part soda water. Add a slice of orange and ice cubes.