Toasting white wines from New Zealand
By Agnes Yu
Members of the New Zealand community in Seoul were eager to celebrate a Kiwi vintage winning the best white wine trophy at the Korea Wine Challenge 2012.
The Woven Stone Sauvignon Blanc 2011 produced by the Ohau Wine Group earned the special distinction out of some 700 wines in a competition that was held from June 11-22.
At an event titled “Pure New Zealand Night” held at Fox Wine Bistro in the Seokyodong neighborhood near Hongik University, local wine connoisseurs, Kiwi expats and their friends enjoyed the winning white wine along with three others, a pinot gris, rosé and pinot noir from Ohau Gravels vineyards. The wines were paired with a specially prepared New Zealand themed menu of salmon, mussels, lamb skewers, beef sliders and panna cotta with raspberries and mint.
For New Zealand wine importers it was an occasion to celebrate success in Korea’s tough and highly competitive wine market. New Zealand Trade Commissioner Graeme Solloway said, "I am delighted that Ohau Gravels Woven Stone Sauvignon Blanc has won the top award for white wine at the Korea Wine Challenge. Sauvignon Blanc is becoming very popular and New Zealand is recognized around the world for this variety.”
The Korea Wine Challenge was first held in 2005 and the yearly event aims to select the best wines for Korean palates and offer a platform to expand the local wine market as well as correspondingly develop a distinct wine culture in Korea. Visit www.koreawinechallenge.com for more information.
Fox Wine Bistro has a selection of over 400 wines with at least 10 from New Zealand. The food menu offers a range of bistro cuisine including oysters, lobster, beef kebabs, pasta and premium hamburgers. In particular a set menu of oysters from the Tongyong coastal region paired with the winning sauvignon blanc is available for a limited time.
New Zealand wines work well with Korean cuisine, says Joshua Hall, a Kiwi wine writer based in Seoul. “Because of its brilliant acidity and wonderful freshness, sauvignon blanc pairs well with Korean dishes such as tofu kimchi and barbecued shellfish. Pinot gris is a perfect match for haemul pajeon, a Korean seafood pancake that is pan-fried.”
Solloway also points out New Zealand has more to offer than just sauvignon blanc. “New Zealand pinot gris white wines and pinot noir red wines are also known for their outstanding fruit-driven quality. Pinot gris is a more full-bodied white wine of an aromatic style that partners well with many Korean dishes and cuisine, while New Zealand is now recognized alongside Burgundy as one of the very best places for the classic pinot noir. We hope to see these varieties join our sauvignon blanc in popularity in Korea."
Offering a cozy setting with English speaking staff, Fox Wine Bistro was opened in 2008 by Lee Su Yeon, a former public relations executive who wanted to exit the corporate world and follow her passion for wine. The bistro organizes tastings and parties each month highlighting wines from different countries. For more information, visit www.foxwinebistro.com or call 02) 3143-7191.
Ohau Gravels Woven Stone wines are imported by Winell, an independent importer of premium wines from Italy, France, Spain, Australia and New Zealand that started in 2008. It is a young company that has achieved success by importing wines that more adequately match Korean taste buds. Woven Stone wines can be bought at private wine shops and directly from Winell. For more information, call 02) 325-3008 or visit www.winell.co.kr.