Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Best Bubbles in the Country Is… Lindauer?! An Intrepid Journalist Investigates and Asks – Have We (Me) Been Too Harsh on NZ’s Favourite Tipple?

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Kelly Bertrand confronts her snobbery and gives the ‘best sparkling wine’ in the country a go for the first time since her awkward teen years – and yes, she’s surprised by what she finds.

I think I have to apologise to Lindauer.

It’s not a sentence I thought I would ever have to type – let alone think.

Hi, my name is Kelly and I’m a wine snob. Nice to meet you.

If you’ve ever spent more than five minutes on Capsule, you’ll know that I love a good tipple. But it’s always with a caveat.

Rosé? God yes. But only French (preferably from Côtes de Provence. Doesn’t it just sound like a magical mecca for us cheugy girls?)

Champagne? I’ll swim in the stuff. But make it Mumm.

Red? I mean, can you really go past a good Central Otago Pinot?

My wine snobbery is actually a weird source of pride – I think in my head, I equate it success and growing up. Like people with actual money do with cars and houses, offering a guest a bougie glass of vino makes me feel like a put-together successful woman. (Look, when you’re single, you don’t have kids and you laugh in the face of the fantasy of home ownership, you take what you can get.)

But I was really forced to stop and LOOK at myself last week when I read the results of New World’s annual wine awards.

For a second I thought someone had fun with Photoshop as I looked over the winners. The best bubbles in the country is… Lindauer?!

But there it was in black and white: the Lindauer Special Reserve Rosé – ROSÉ – had come up trumps with a huge 96/100.

“This crowd-pleasing sparkling wine has been around for decades, a go-to bubbly for so many of us, making it a great party addition perfect for birthday cheers and other festivities and celebrations,” enthused New World’s winner’s notes.

“Reminiscent of strawberries and cream, it’s sweetly ripe yet crisp-dry with a smooth rounded mouthfeel and a deliciously refreshing finish.”

Yes, for $16.99, you too can experience New Zealand’s best bubbles.

Kia ora I’m Kelly and I’m a wine snob.

Lindauer have been around for exactly 40 years, created by Montana and despite the previous 300 words on this page, is New Zealand’s most popular sparkling wine. It actually has a wonderfully Kiwi pedigree, having been created from Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay grapes in time for the Christmas of 1981 (are you imagining a 1981 Christmas in Gisborne right now because I AM and take me back, Marty.)

Even the name harks back to Aotearoa’s history, named after the famed painter Gottfried Lindauer, who became known for his portraits of 19th and early 20th century Māori.

Soon the bottles of bubbles were a fixture at every shindig across the nation and Lindauer revelled in its position as New Zealand’s most reliable glass of something special.

Fancier than an Asti Spumante but still affordable in the weekly shop amongst the potato pom poms and value slabs of mince, it was Aotearoa’s tipple and according to someone who was actually alive and of drinking age in the 80s and 90s – my mother – it was just the done thing.

I have vivid memories of Mum and my godmother chucking back a bottle while on one of their epic Scrabble afternoons – the absolute zenith of weekend entertainment in Howick, I’m sure.

So, why do I have such a snobbery about Lindauer!? When did I turn my back on my beloved heartland New Zealand – I spent 10 years writing for New Zealand Woman’s Weekly for God’s sake, the absolute peak celebration of heartland Kiwiness as you’ll ever get without a Topp Twin and mince and cheese pie.

Maybe it was my desire as a green, enthusiastic 18-year-old, out in the big bad world (read: Auckland City) for the first time and was as determined as possible to shrug off the cloak of suburbia and be a cultured journalism student (read: those plastic shots that have two sides to them and that come bulk in a plastic bucket.)

When I started my first job in the media at 20, my editor at the time taught me the wonders of Champagne – from how to pop a bottle properly with minimal wastage (we were still journalists after all) and took me to fancy resturants with fancy bottles and fancy people.

And here we are today – a snob who has forgotten her roots as just another middle class Kiwi who should be happy when someone offers her a glass with the question ‘Red or White?’

Which brings me back to Lindauer. You bet your sceptical ass I toddled up to the supermarket to part with a hard-earned $16.99 to test it for myself.

And damn it, the wine experts were right. Look, I’ll still take a nice chilled glass of Mumm over pretty much anything else, but if someone handed a flute of this at a BBQ I’d be grateful.

Not too sweet and not too dry, it’s a bubbles that will appeal to the masses. It’s fun. It’s fruity. It has alcohol in it.

And it tastes like home.

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