Think New Zealand red, think Pinot Noir but there’s more to New Zealand red wine than one variety: some of the best reds I’ve reviewed over the past 12 months reflect New Zealand’s ability to produce classy Bordeaux styles as well as sexy Syrah, particularly in the warmer climes of Hawke’s Bay.
When Stone’s Ginger Wine sits in the New Zealand Syrah section of the supermarket, there is something sadly amiss.
No matter how much the local and international wine media extol the grape’s Rhone-like wines, the variety sells like lukewarm cakes. The selection of Kiwi Syrah occupies a lonely corner of the wine section next to …
I attended a tomato tasting last week. Or, so my colleague thought. It seems that my pronunciation of Hawke’s Bay winery Te Mata and tomato are very similar. Or, that could be my north-east accent getting lost in translation in a foreign land.
Heirlooms and pomodoros weren’t on the menu; Te Mata’s 2013 Estate range and …
Oz Clarke was quoted in Marlborough’s local rag last year, telling growers to plant Syrah. Whether that was quite what he meant or his words were slightly misconstrued is up for debate but his advice is being heeded.
Biodynamic grower Seresin is getting in on the act – although I’m sure an article in …
Wind farms, landfill sites and television masts? Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) thank you very much.
But what if your back yard was one of the most revered Syrah vineyards in the world. Yep, you’d be pissed off.
That’s why I got an email this week from Caroline Frey, owner and winemaker of producer Paul Jaboulet Aîné, calling for help in the fight against a second (yes, a second) telecommunications mast that is due to be erected above the renowned La Chapelle vineyard in the village of Hermitage.
The pylon is to be located at the very heart of La Chapelle vineyard – only 50-meters away from Hermitage Hill’s famed Chapel of St. Christophe (La Chapelle), which has been owned by Domaines Paul Jaboulet Aîné for almost 100 years.
Caroline Frey, owner and winemaker of Paul Jaboulet, together with prominent Rhône Valley producers, are seeking the help of the courts to protect the signature landscape of La Chapelle; which, is the Rhône Valley’s oldest and “most sacred vineyard” says Frey.
The pylon construction will also compromise Hermitage Hill’s on-going application for recognition as a nationally-protected site – the final step before it can achieve UNESCO Heritage Status.
“Hermitage Hill, and especially La Chapelle, is a historically significant location which deserves protection of its unique heritage and landscape,” says Caroline. “Every year, thousands of visitors from all over the world come to pay homage to this original home of the Syrah grape and this tourism is a major part of our local economy.”
Caroline and her team at Paul Jaboulet are asking for our support in protecting the heritage of La Chapelle and Hermitage Hill.
To send an email of your protest directly to ITAS TIM, email firstname.lastname@example.org and copy email@example.com.
William Hoare, GM of Fromm in Marlborough, takes a break from the 2011 vintage and has his turn on Unfiltered. Why are they making Syrah in Marlborough and what is his fascination with Martinborough winemaker Larry McKenna?!
New Zealand’s winemakers descend on Lord’s cricket ground to show their wares today. While their countrymen are getting trounced on the field by Pakistan, the wine industry is in slightly better health with 33% growth in sales in the past year (Nielsen, MAT to October 2010). The average bottle price has dipped below £6 but it still boasts the highest price per bottle out of any country in the world.
If you are heading off to the tasting today, have a plan of action or you’ll be wasting valuable time. You might already have cherry-picked the tables you’ll be visiting but if not, here’s a few producers you ought to visit.
Table 9: Elephant Hill, Hawke’s Bay
Under German ownership and with a restrained Old World character to the wines, be sure to have a taste of the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Syrah.
Table 10: Schubert, Martinborough
Er, another German owner. There seems to be a theme emerging here. Kai Schubert’s Sauvignon Blanc and Decanter trophy-winning Pinot Noirs will be available to taste. Worth the shuffle to the table, I promise.
Table 14: Felton Road, Central Otago
A British owner this time – Nigel Greening. In all honesty, Felton Road doesn’t need any introduction. Its wines are the bees knees and everybody knows it, particularly its Pinot Noirs – Cornish Point, Calvert Road, Block 5 and Block 3. Its Riesling with 45g/l residual sugar is also attractive. Get your elbows out and get your glass to the front of the queue.
Table 25: Framingham, Marlborough
Geordie winemaker Andrew Hedley will be in town to talk you through his delicious wines. It’s difficult to fault them. They’re all classy and restrained (strange, considering they’re made by someone from grotty Gateshead), particularly the Riesling and an interesting new addition to the range – a Montepulciano Rosato. If you’re bored of discussing residual sugar and tannin, talk cricket with Hedley – he was at the Gabba for the Ashes. Lucky sod.
Table 31: Man O’War, Waiheke
With Germans and Brits in the room, we shouldn’t really mention the war. Nevertheless, the Man O’War wines show Waiheke at its best. Just 40 minutes by ferry from Auckland central, my favourite wine of the moment from this vineyard is the 2010 Gravestone Sauvignon/Semillon blend although the Dreadnought Syrah receives the most rave reviews.
Table 32: Pegasus Bay, Waipara
Finally a Kiwi family running a Kiwi winery. Fellow MW student Lynnette Hudson and her party animal husband Matt Donaldson make the wine. If Matt is in town watch out for him and Matthew Jukes – they’ll likely be painting the town red and all hell will have broken loose! The Rieslings are the stars but its Sauvignon/Semillon blends also attract interest for their sulphidey style.
Ok, there are heaps of others I could recommend but I’d be here all day. Let me know how the wines perform – better than their cricket team, I hope…
Phil Laffer is retiring after 50 years in the wine biz and handing over the Jacob’s Creek reins to Bernard Hickin (this episode’s cameraman – cheers, Bernie!). At the changing of the guard, Phil gets his 60 seconds (well, a bit more actually) to talk about where who’s going to win the Ashes and where he’s off next…
New Zealand is still a bit shaky with another aftershock in Christchurch yesterday. So, you can understand why I felt a little uneasy walking through the vineyards of Murdoch James Estate after being told the estate sits on a fault line.
Unlike many of Martinborough’s vineyards, Murdoch James at 17ha is not an allotment-sized plot in the centre of Martinborough. It sits 7km outside the rural town and some of the vines are even planted… on a hill! They really are living outside the box as well as on two tectonic plates.
Nicola Belsham, sales and marketing manager, says: ‘I guess Martinborough is very small. The vineyards all concentrated on the square and it’s only in the last 10 years people have moved out of Martinborough because of land prices.’ Indeed, owner Roger Fraser bought his first six acres of land in central Martinborough for $36,000 in 1986 and sold it for $1.3 million. Not a bad return on investment.
Roger comes from Paeroa (as in the drink Lemon & Paeroa…mmm, I lurve the dry L&P) but his beverage of choice is certainly not a carbonated drink. He was the first to plant Syrah in Martinborough and people thought he was mad but the proof is in the pudding. The 2008 Saleyards Syrah is lean and delicate with just 13% alchol and a peppery spice to the fruit.
While the wines all show a delicacy and balance, the star of the tasting is the 2001 Cabernet Franc. Their take on the Loire’s red variety is exceptional with jalapeno pepper, herbal notes and HB pencil lead aromas. It is still incredibly youthful and dances lightly across the palate with ripe structured tannins. It’s a great example proving New World wines aren’t just for drinking young.