Curious Wines: tasting New Zealand's best

Last Thursday saw the first public tasting drawn from the portfolio of new Bandon-based wine merchants, Curious Wines, whose assiduous preparations have recently given Bandon a wine warehouse, and Ireland a(nother) first-class online wine shop. It was a privilege to be invited along, and a pleasure to meet the friendly and energetic Kane brothers, bright new nails in the coffin of incurious wine consumption. Following their enthusiasms, and with the approaching festivities in mind, Michael and Matt Kane decided to share some highlights from the varied New Zealand section of their list with the full house of about thirty people, who were made welcome and cosy by the brothers, high above Cork’s Western Road at the Jury’s Inn hotel there. The wines were expertly introduced by Joyce Austin of New Zealand Boutique Wines, who has made a career of representing smaller estates. Some make so few cases each year that, if you listen carefully, you may just be able to hear their commercial pips squeaking as passion drives the business along. There were twelve wines on show, with a diversity of styles to match the diversity of experience in the room: some of the guests had never attended a tasting before, there were the keen amateurs and wine bloggers of the middle ground; and, on this occasion, the perceptions of a brace of supremely knowledgeable sommeliers. I have to thank Greer, Lauren, Stefan and Tim for their company as we talked about all sorts, including Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV and the differently beveraged Beer Nut, which links I thought it might be useful to include for them here. The dozen wines eschewed the Marlborough region in favour of sunny Nelson, whence cometh our own Brightwater range; east-facing Waipara, and the balmy-going-on-tropical Hawkes Bay further north. We were treated to three wines from Sauvignon Blanc, three from Riesling, two Pinot Noirs, and the partridges in the pear tree were a Pinot Gris; a Gewurztraminer; a Chardonnay; and (the Hawkes Bay wine) a Syrah. The pouring was efficiently seen to, and plenty of water and plain crackers to accompany the wines showed that the Curious team knew what they were doing. There’s a place for exquisite nibbles, and I don’t think a wine tasting is it. Save that for Christmas, with one of those sprightly Rieslings, perhaps. Thank you and welcome, Curious Wines.