If there was ever a living icon in the wine industry, the title would surely have to go to Joe Babich. Joe joined the family business in 1958 and has achieved much over his career – he was awarded Winemaker of the Year in1994 and in 2014 both Peter and Joe were awarded the Sir George Fistonich Medal in recognition for services to the New Zealand wine industry. Babich is still a family-run company and are currently celebrating their 100th year anniversary. To celebrate this achievement Babich have been running a number of tastings with us, including the Irongate vertical tasting we had here at Hutt Road with Joe.
Irongate Chardonnay has been produced from the Gimblett Gravels since 1985 and for this tasting Joe decided to treat us to four vintages of this fabulous wine. It was extremely interesting to see the development of this wine over several vintages. The 2002, although still an elegant wine, was starting to show signs of attenuation; the 2008 was my favourite – this was pungent and rich and had a fabulous silken texture; the 2011 was more restrained but had beautiful balance and incredible length. The current vintage, 2014, was also elegant but a little more closed and tight; this is a wine to put away for a short time (3-5 years) and will reward handsomely.
Following on from the Chardonnay we did four Irongate Reds. These wines are composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc – the Cabernet content stays pretty much the same but the Merlot and Franc varies slightly depending on vintage. For this tasting we went from the youngest wine to the oldest wine. The first off the starting block was the 2014 and what a little charmer this wine was – lifted florals and mulberry on the nose, the palate was voluptuous and rich, it had a lovely sweetness, and deserved some time to rest before consuming. Following the 2014 we had the 2013; another stunning vintage from the region. This was every bit as good as the 2014 but surprisingly different in character – it had deep rich black fruits and was a little more closed at this stage in its life. The 2008 was drinking well right now! It was dark and showed dried fruits and spices, and finely integrated tannins. The 1990 was a treat and was older than three of our staff members that attended the tasting! It had a very old nose and was the a bricky colour, but remarkably the wine was holding incredibly well and had excellent length. It was more on the savoury side now as most of the obvious fruit had fallen away but it still retained a freshness and its life was by no means over.
The tasting was an absolute treat and it was an honour to meet Joe Babich, a man that has contributed so much to the New Zealand wine industry. Here’s to the next 100 years!
Posted by Meredith Parkin | Fine Wine Account Manager, Glengarry Hutt Road, Wellington.