Now, Spy Valley may not mean much to you. Not even with its trendy Modern Warfare-type label design. To you, it may be just one more highish-end New Zealand wine brand.
But Spy Valley and me? We got history.
Okay, as history goes, this is very recent history. History from last Wednesday evening, to be precise. On which date, several bottles of Spy Valley Pinot Noir ushered me — disarmingly — far, far down the path of inebriation. To a destination marked ‘Hammered’.
You know. The head-in-hands, only-daring-to-peek-between-clawed-fingers, occasional-abject-moaning-to-noone-in-particular kind of hammered.
(Resulting in, incidentally, a maybe-if-I-wear-my-suit-into-work-today-I-will-trick-my-brain-into-behaving-like-a-professional kind of hangover, the next morning. I don’t think the suit fooled anyone, to be honest. My brain least of all.)
Anyhow. You may well imagine the barely-concealed suspicion and simmering resentment with which I eyed the bottle of Spy Valley Gewurtztraminer I subsequently found lurking in my wine rack. The way you might regard the sister of a man who’d recently punched you in the face.
But, Spy Valley Pinot Noir, all is forgiven!
Because your sister, it turns out, is pretty damn fit.
In other words, this is a very good Gewurtztraminer. Putting it to your nose is like turning on a big tap of flowers, tropical fruits, perfumes of the Orient.
And this wine is smooth. It is so smooth it’s practically frictionless. It makes an F-117 Stealth Fighter look a bit indiscrete and rough round the edges. And it sits in your mouth like nectar. It may well be the quietest, stillest thing you’ve ever had in there: it’s the polar opposite of fizzy. It’s almost as if it went right through ‘still’ and came out the other side.
This is anti-fizz.
And, Christ alive, it’s nice.
Unlike our earlier Alsatian fling, Cave de Turckheim, the hefty alcohol of this wine is brilliantly handled, with no flabby belch of ethanol to trouble your quaffing. This is a pedigree Gewurtztraminer — exhibiting all the classic characteristics of the breed. Its honeyed — almost candyflossed — greeting mellows to an unctuous, gobfilling equilibrium. Deliciously inert. And there’s some raisiny depth (and a distant bite of gooseberry) there too, in case this is all sounding a bit too flimsy and high-note for you.
Almost indecently drinkable, then. I could get through bottles of the stuff.
So beware, Old Parn: maybe she’s not so different from her brother after all.
Price £10.95 from The Wine Society (no longer in stock), though I got it in the January sale for a delicious £9.50. They still have it though (for £12.49) at Majestic, and their current deal on New Zealand wines potentially brings that down to £9.99. At that price, I would. Wouldn’t you?