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Archive for the ‘New Zealand Wines’ Category


Waiheke Island produces less than 1% of New Zealand’s production – so the odds are not good that you will find many here in the USA.  Waiheke is located a short 30 minute ferry ride from Auckland and is known for developing the classic Bordeaux (Cab and Merlot) varietals.  We were lucky enough to be in Auckland during a trade tasting event and tried wines from 15 wineries.

Cable Bay – while the bordeaux blend was nicely crafted, it was the 2008 reserve syrah that caught my attention.  Dark red in color with a slight orange ring to it, this was focused with dark fruits, tannins and acidity all in balance.  The 2008 Chardonnay is very nice as well. If you go to the island, I have been told to not miss their restaurant.

Destiny Bay – Loved their Bordeaux blends with Cabernet being the predominate varietal in the blend.  These are full-bodied wines that reminded me of some of the finer Napa Valley cab blends.  Turns out that Destiny bay has Eric Baugher of Ridge Monte Bello fame as their consulting winemaker! Both the 2006 Destinae and Mystae were great and highly recommended.

The Hay Paddock – 06 was the inaugural vintage which resulted in a “best in class” award.  Focused on cool climate syrah, each vintage we tried showed a 5 – 10 year aging potential.

Man O’ War – we enjoyed the sauvignon blanc but we were really impressed with the valhalla chardonnay.  Huge flavors, great balance w/oak and malolactic butters.  they are getting lots of press on their bordeaux blend and the syrah and deservedly so.

Passage Rock Wines – The coastal influence was obvious with the Pinot Gris.  While crisp, it had a creamy mouth-feel you don’t normal get with a Pinot Gris.  The Viognier also rocked.

Stonyridge vineyards – They were not pouring the highly acclaimed “Larose” (touted as one of the 1001 wines you must try before you die) but we were happy to get our paws on the Pilgram which is a GSM blend.  Like walking through the fruit section of a farmers market, this wine exhibited all the rip red fruit nose and taste.   The single vineyard malbec was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. If you go to the island, I have been told to not miss this vineyard.

Te Motu Vineyard – known for their bordeaux blends, this winery keeps the reserve in barrels for 30 months before bottling.We did a 3-year vertical of the Te Motu (04-06) and found lots of fruit flavors with a nice balance between the tannins and acid.

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Indie Winemakers attended a preview of the 2008 vintage and wines new to the USA market. Wines were arranged by variety, region and vintage.  The event was sponsored by the New Zealand wine and grape industry found at www.nzwine.com.  Featured Wineries included:
Allan Scott Family Winemakers, Amisfield Wine Company, Anchorage Wines, Artisan Wines, Babich Wines, Brancott Vineyards, Cape Campbell Wines, Carrick, Clos Henri Vineyard, Craggy Range, The Crater Rim, The Crossings, Dashwood, Drylands Wines, Eradus Wines, Fairhall Downs Estate Wines, Forrest Estate Winery, Framingham Wines, Giesen Wines, Gladstone Vineyard, Goldwater, Gunn Estate Wines, Hans Family Estate, Huia Vineyards, Invivo Wines, Isabel Estate Vineyard, Kemblefield Estate Winery, Kennedy Point Vineyard, Kim Crawford Wines, Lawson’s Dry Hills Wines, Man O’ War Vineyards, Matua Valley Wines, Monkey Bay, Mount Grey Estate, Mt Difficulty Wines, Mud House Wines, Nautilus Estate, Nobilo, Omaka Springs Estates, Oyster Bay New Zealand, Palliser Estate Wines of Martinborough, Prophets Rock, Rapaura Springs, Saint Clair Family Estate, Seifried, Spy Valley Wines, Staete Landt Vineyard, Stoneleigh, Surveyor Thomson Wines, Te Mania, Terrace Heights Estate, Trinity Hill, Vavasour, Villa Maria Estate, Vinoptima Estate, Waipara Springs Wines, Wild Earth Wines, Winegrowers of Ara, Wither Hills Vineyards Marlborough and Woollaston Estates.

Here’s a bit about the viticultural areas of New Zealand and the varietals that we found to be best of that region (South Island to North Island):

Central Otago – Great Pinot Noir
Canterbury/Waipara – Pino Noir and Reisling
Nelson – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir
Marlborough – King of Sauvignon Blanc, nice Pinots as well
Wairarapa – Pinot Noir
Hawkes Bay – Bordeaux style, Rhone style and Syrah
Gisborne – Gewurztraminer
Waiheke Island – Syrah

Man O War – no US distribution, yet.  Keep an eye out for their wines, they are big yet very well balanced. The Chardonnay was fermented and matured in new french oak.  Fresh citrus of lemmon and melon with enough acid backbone to provide a clean taste.  Definite cedar notes on the nose and mid-palatte.  The Cab Franc was deep ruby in color, deep blackberry fruit, clean, big monster, youthful, very ripe, pleasant cherry fruit flavors, dominated by tannins; long finish.

Saint Clair – had several vineyard designated Sauvignon Blancs to try.  Most of these wines do not make it to the States.  My favorite was the 2008 Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc. Very pale green, bright; sweet, ripe, grassy, lemony, gooseberry, grapefruit-citric aromas with a faint hint of mineral; big, sweet, ripe, grapefruit, grassy, somewhat rich flavors; slightly tart, crisp balance; long finish.

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