Strictly speaking, Ārahi make premium grape juice rather than wine.
Kuratea (Māori for “reddish”) is a sparkling grape juice made with Merlot grapes. It’s this approach that distinguishes the Ārahi range from regular grape juice, the use of grape varieties normally used in wine, rather than a mix of lower quality grapes.
The results are surprising. Don’t expect so much of the Merlot character from this – the original sugars are still present. After all, wine grapes have been bred to ensure a high sugar content, as that is what is fermented down to produce the alcohol. The sugars that would have otherwise made a 12-13% alcohol from these grapes are present, resulting in a sweet but also complex sparkling juice.
The flavour is honey-like, almost to the point of being too sweet for my palate, but there’s some delicious warm flavours – hints of fruit and tannins – beneath that.
Based on the Kuratea, Ārahi is definitely a clear option for a celebration – a fantastic accompaniment to a Christmas or birthday dinner, or an anniversary hurrah. It’s a little bit special, and a lot delicious and we look forward to testing the Karera varieties (Sauvignon Blanc).
The biggest downside is that at about $15 a bottle, this brand is expensive for what it is. You can get decent Merlot for about that price, and that from producers who have had to ferment and age the wine, and then add the alcohol tax… there’s a bit of a premium here that doesn’t seem justified by the processing the product needs.
Style: Sparkling Red Grape Juice (Merlot grapes)
Origin: New Zealand
A very enjoyable sparking red – at the sweet end of my palate, but delicious
Where to Find
Available at Ārahi’s online shop
Can also be found at Moore Wilsons