Back in the early part of the 2000's I was penning a wine column for the Del Mar Times on a weekly basis. The fun of writing the column was how I would get exposed to more wine reps, brokers, importers as well as winemakers. One night I was at a dinner put on by the Torrey Wines folks with an importer who specialized in New Zealand wines. Pretty much up to that point the exposure to NZ wines on the west coast was limited to Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Villa Maria, Ata Rangi Pinot Noir and a few others. But that night there was a bevy of interested whites, reds and roses from the Central Otago, Martinborough and Marlborough regions.
This exposure to Isabel, Lawson's Dry Hills and a few others firmly planted in my mind how much good wine that was food friendly, especially for the Pan Asian, Hawaiian fusion cooking of David Abella during his days at Roy's La Jolla, and then others at the spot I often referred to as my dining room. This led to my own exploration of NZ wines, finding a bunch of neat producers of cool climate reds and white, which for a lot of reasons rested comfortably in the deep cellar of mine at a perfect 55 degrees of cooler.
One of those was the 2001 Omaka Springs Marlborough Riesling, a wine that the winery no longer produces. Talk about a treat to start a cool Los Angeles night dinner with, the Riesling was all fruit and lots of it. Apples, pears and lime from start to finish. If bottle aging is a way to appreciate a wine that comes from this part of the world, then let them age. This wine was not something just to gulp, it was so well balanced that it was perfect with a mozzarella, goat cheese, chives and truffle sea salt flatbread pizza. The lime and the sea salt were nice counterpoints to one another, as the bracing acidity of the Marlborough fruit stood up to the various flavors that the pizza tossed off.
Sadly, like so many excellent producers, Omaka Springs suffers from poor and inconsistent USA representation and distribution. Thankfully, I've gotten to enjoy the their wines for a long time...and can look forward to the next visit to New Zealand and some of their excellent wines.