As Winter nears, it must be time for a Barolo

Well it looks like the winter weather is upon us earlier than expected. With this cold snap we have started to open some of our favourite Barolo, from the most famous wine region in all of Italy. Situated in Piedmont in Northwest Italy, these 100% Nebbiolo wines are some of the finest and most long lived in the world.

Barolo Riserva, the highest classification level, requires a minimum of three years in oak, and five years of total aging before they can be released. We have three stunning producers to present, all of which have significantly older offerings than this. All of these wines are also from the heralded commune of Serralugna d’Alba, which is known for having the darkest and most structured wines in the region.

The first wines are the very traditional style from Mirafiore. This is the original name of the famed royal estate Fontanafredda, when it was first established in the 1870s. That historic name now graces a new range of wines sourced from those first vineyard plots and crafted in the original style with long macerations and wood aging in large oak.

Mirafiore Barolo Riserva DOCG 2007

Whilst legally a Riserva must be kept for 4 years, Mirafiore takes it a bit further of course with 5 yesrs ageing. The best of the best is put aside for the Riserva, which is only made in exceptional years, of which 07 was most clearly. Complex aromas, perfrumed and fragrant with lively acidity. Still youthful in character though with aged characters and complexity evident. The finish long, lingering and inspiring. A wonderful wine.

Mirafiore Barolo Riserva DOCG 2005

What a complete wine; whilst definitely showing its age, it does so with such grace and finesse. There’s many more years ahead of this wine. Wonderful, an absolutely amazing wine. Whilst legally a Riserva must be kept for 4 years, Mirafiore takes it a bit further of course with 5 yesrs ageing. The best of the best is put aside for the Riserva, which is only made in exceptional years.

 

Also from this commune is the Tenuta Cucco Estate. This sits near the 14th Century castle that dominates the area.  They have produced here since 1967 and have moved towards being fully biodynamic since 2015. Their Riserva is made entirely from the highest plots of the Cerrati Cru, one of the greatest vineyards in Serralunga d’Alba.  With 36 months in French Oak barriques, this is a more modern style of Barolo.

Tenuta Cucco Barolo Vigna Cucco Riserva DOCG 2007

Cerrati and Cucco are linked arm in arm, the only producer to produce this cru. This then their Riserva from the gorgeous 2007 vintage. Bright ruby red colour with slight orange hues greets you and a complex enveloping bouquet with hints of wild rose, cocoa, tobacco and spices. Sensational Barolo, showing some evolution though with plenty of life ahead.

Tenuta Cucco Barolo Vigna Cucco Riserva DOCG 2010

92/100 | Wine Spectator / Bruce Sanderson: “This is fresh, with a beam of submerged cherry and strawberry fruit. Earth and tobacco flavors add depth. Has all the elements in the right proportions, but the tannins gain the upper hand for now. Just needs time. Best from 2020 through 2036. 400 cases made. – BS”

Finally we have the legendary Barolo Riserva 2011 from Bruno Giacosa. The Falleto vineyard has been a mono cru of the Giacosa family since 1980 , and this special version is from the Falletto Vigna Le Rocche subplot.  For many, a Giacosa Red label is the equal of any red wine made in the world. Produced only a few times a decade, these red labels are not only fantastically complex, rich, powerful wines capable of decades of development, they are also endowed with that rare and magical extra dimension found only in the greatest wines. Those who attended our Barolo tasting last winter will attest that this is one of the finest wines they have ever drunk.

Bruno Giacosa Falleto Rocche Barolo Riserva DOCG 2011

A Giacosa wine with a red label signals that it is the best from that year, something truly special. Rare and highly sought after. Vine age 38-40year old vines, natural yeast, 33 months in large oak and then 27 in bottle. 8,000 bottles made, 1000 magnums. The nose is sensational, dried red fruits, exotic and captivating. The palate is super concentrated, rich and with very ripe fruit, amazing balance; the tannins fine, persistent and elegant all at the same time. There’s a vibrancy and brightness to this that drives right through the long finish.

Westmere Wine Club: Rockburn with Rebecca Poynter

Last night we held our April Wine Club at the Glengarry Westmere store and were delighted to host Rebecca from Rockburn who presented a fantastic line up. Everyone was pleasantly surprised by the Sauvignon Blanc, stunned by the Tigermoth Riesling (which we learnt has an interesting naming history) and the favourite of the night was Rockburn’s delicious Seven Barrels Pinot Noir. The night also included many entertaining stories of the wine industry from over the years, from both Rebecca and our customers! Thank you to everyone for coming along and braving the Auckland weather for a wonderful night of wine, cheese and stories. We look forward to seeing you at the next one!

Ever wanted to buy Bordeaux, but not sure where to start?

The 2017 vintage is about to be sold En Primeur, which is a great way to start your collection. We have put together an introduction to En Primeur which can be found here. This introduction and our knowledge will not only ensure you the best Bordeaux in your cellar, you can purchase with complete confidence from Glengarry.

Glengarry have sold fine wines via the En Primeur system since 1983; our first offering was in fact the super 1982 vintage, an auspicious starting point.  Selling En Primeur certainly went hand-in-hand with the importation of wine into New Zealand, but it was not until the early 1980s that wine could legitimately enter New Zealand from elsewhere. Glengarry was the first to get involved with selecting fine wines from around the world and bringing that world to the palates of New Zealanders.

With our longstanding relationships and our experience honed over 30-odd years, we are old hands at this, and once again we made the commitment to ensure you the best service and advice, I will be in Bordeaux to taste the 2017 vintage next week . Follow me on Twitter (@lizziewine) or our Facebook and this blog.

We have a dedicated En Primeur website – www.enprimeur.co.nz. Register there to get regular updates, offers and information. Once registered you can also prepare a wish list of wines you are interested in.

Introducing Smith & Sheth

We are very excited to be the first in New Zealand to present the stunning Smith & Sheth wines.

You are likely to recognise the first name, Steve Smith MW who was instrumental in founding Craggy Range Winery. He has now left there to pursue other ventures in collaboration with Brian Sheth. Together they have made a number of high profile vineyard purchases recently, but these are the special CRU wines from their personal project.

The idea behind the CRU collection is for Smith & Sheth to work as contemporary negociants, using their over 35 years of experience with the best growers in the country.

Steadfast relationships with the land, growers and makers who form the DNA of the CRU.

Exceptional vineyard parcels from around New Zealand have been hand selected and nurtured. Each wine has the Maori designation that relates to its whenua (land) origins.  The beautiful labels have a unique design embossed within that represent the genomes sequence of the grape varieties we are working with. This is the DNA that is natural to the vine and vineyard ecosystem, that is reflected in each and every wine they make. These are wines of real class and pedigree, exceptional offerings from their respective sub regions.

This is the first time these wines have been offered to the public, with the first showing yesterday at Didas Wine Lounge. They are produced in extremely small quantities. The names Steve Smith and Brian Sheth are the assurance of a wine that will share the inordinate pleasure, culture and craft of their passion. Be the first in the country to get your hand on these special offerings.

Watch  Steve Smith MW present the new label here:

Watch our ‘Quick Fire Five’ interview with Steve Smith MW here:

Syrah. Rhodanien Treasure.

Syrah and Shiraz: are they the same? Yes, they are indeed, but you know how it is with wine: one person’s lean and refined Loire Sauvignon Blanc bears little resemblance to the tastebud-tingling fruit-bombs that emanate from Marlborough. However, we digress; we’re meant to be talking here about the legendary red grape, Syrah.

Many grape varieties and their wines have a spiritual home, and Syrah’s benchmark location is the Hermitage appellation in France’s northern Rhône Valley. The famed Hermitage hill, complete with iconic chapel atop its crest, sits as a backdrop to the village of Tain l’Hermitage, the home of Valrhona chocolate. Indeed, a session involving well-matured Syrah and Valrhona chocolate is not easily forgotten. Around the globe, winemakers pay homage to the legendary Syrahs of Hermitage, for they are indeed the world’s greatest. Lavish and haunting aromatics accompany intricate, smoky layers of blackberry, black currant, liquorice and coffee interwoven in a near-perfect union.

New Zealand’s Syrahs have far more in common with those from the northern Rhône than they do with our Australian neighbours and their ubiquitous Shiraz wines. The Aussie version of Syrah tends to conjure up an abundance of warm, juicy red fruits, voluptous tannins and a rich, creamy palate, descriptors that are far from what New Zealand’s expressions are all about. American wine critic Stephen Tanzer categorizes our Syrah wines thus: ‘In weight and level of ripeness, think of Crozes-Hermitage or Saint-Joseph rather than Côte-Rôtie or Hermitage … fresh, firm and food-friendly.’

While Syrah only constitutes 0.5% of the total wine produced in New Zealand, it is creating a bigger name for itself than that volume might suggest. If you’re a Syrah grape residing here, Hawkes Bay is the place to be, with 70% of the plantings found there. Excellent wines, though, are also coming out of Waiheke Island, and Marlborough’s Fromm winery is leading a resilient if somewhat solitary charge in those parts. While Syrah is not new to our shores, the international reputation our expressions are amassing and a recent string of brilliant vintages means there has never been a better time to jump on in and try them.

Our top picks for April:

New Zealand

International

Rosé. It’s in the Pink.

The oh-so trendy rosé that seems, at the moment, to be imparting a breezy pink haze over everything, is not quite as shiny and new as you might think. In fact, the woman who drop-kicked champagne into the next century – the Widow Clicquot – made what is believed to be the first rosé champagne a lengthy 200 years ago. And she was born in 1777, so there you go. Not a new thing at all. However, the volume of rosé in general being consumed these days is somewhat off the charts, and we in New Zealand are valiantly doing our bit to contribute to that record-breaking effort.

Let’s consider what makes a great rosé. Basing your choices on colour alone is not all that useful. For instance, the pale pink, almost washed-out hues to be found in the French Côtes de Provence rosés might suggest that they have little weight, but nothing could be further from the truth. Having said that, beware the wash of cheaper Provençal offerings; it’s a very large area, and they are a minefield of inconsistency. The overall quality has increased of late, in part thanks to a new wave of producers, led by the likes of La Mascaronne’s Tom Bove, and the best of the Côtes de Provence rosés are some of the world’s finest expressions, displaying delicate hues, stunning aromatics and sublime textures.

New Zealand is experiencing its own surge in excellence, with a veritable horde of new rosé options coming onto the market as our winemakers have come to the realisation that this is a legitimate and highly popular category that requires serious commitment. The various regions, too, from Marlborough to Central Otago, Hawkes Bay to Waiheke Island, have channeled the distinctive characteristics of their terroir to put their own distinctive stamp on the pink drink. Magnums and 3-litre bottles are also increasingly sought after.

These things are always subjective, and what works for you is what you should drink. For us, a good rosé will have an attractive aromatic nose: some pretty florals with a touch of herbal spice. On the palate, we would hope to find fresh fruit flavours, lively acidity and a full mid-palate, with plenty of texture and interest. Ideally, the finish will tend towards dry and be very refreshing.

Our top picks for April:

International

New Zealand

Sparkling

Alvaro Palacios – Rioja & Priorat

Last week our general Manager Liz Wheadon, and Fine Wine Manager Regan McCaffery, hosted a special tasting of the wines of Alvaro Palacios. The host of innovative winemakers operating within Spain has been a significant factor in the country’s success in recent years, hardy individuals unafraid to challenge centuries-old tradition, or preserve it where there is benefit in doing so. Leading the pack has been the charismatic and talented Alvaro Palacios, a perfectionist with a boundless energy for both retaining the knowledge of the past, and forging new vinous pathways.

Alvaro was Decanter Magazine Man of the Year in 2015, and the recipient of the 2016 Winemakers’ Winemaker Award. The latter is awarded by the Institute of Masters of Wine and The Drinks Business; bestowed upon someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of winemaking. The winner is chosen by a panel of winemaking peers including all winemaking Masters of Wine as well as past winners of the prestigious award. Previous winners include Peter Sisseck of Dominio de Pingus (2011), Peter Gago of Penfolds (2012), Paul Draper of Ridge (2013), the late Anne-Claude Leflaive of Domaine Leflaive (2014) and Egon Müller from Egon Müller Scharzhof (2015).

Alvaro’s family were the owners of Palacios Remondo in Rioja and he was one of nine children. He was brought up working with the vines, and by the age of ten was selling flagons to passing truck drivers. His father sent him to Bordeaux to study Oenology, and he worked at the famed Chateau Petrus under Jean Pierre Moueix. His father always expected him to eventually return home and continue with Palacios Remondo, but instead he chose to head out on his own in the obscure region of Priorat. Here he began to apply his winemaking knowledge to revive the largely abandoned, ancient vineyards in the mountains inland from Barcelona. He bought his first vineyard (Finca Dofi) in 1990, and in 1993 he identified a very special Garnacha (Grenache) vineyard on well-drained schist that was planted between 1900 and 1940. Palacios named it L’Ermita, and it’s now regarded as one of the finest and most expensive wines of Spain.

When his father died in 2000, Alvaro returned to Rioja to finally take over the family winery, situated in Rioja Baja. The area of Rioja is very hot, and was known for big alcoholic woody wines made primarily from Tempranillo, often mixed into regional blends. One of Alvaro’s first steps was to begin painstakingly grafting over it all to Garnacha, as he thinks it is much better suited to the climate and soil there, retaining more acidity and freshness. Traditionally Garnacha was the major variety in the region, but the advent of commercial irrigation in the 1970s allowed Tempranillo to be planted en masse on the flats. Alvaro refers to them as “industrial and artificial wines”.   Like his vineyards in Priorat, Alvaro’s plots are dry farmed organically as bush vines and ploughed by horse.

We tasted four wines from Rioja and four from Priorat; the quality across the entire range is simply outstanding. Alavaro Palacios is one of the world’s great winemakers, able to elicit emotion and capture great finesse and elegance, right across the price range. The $25 La Montesa Rioja is a perfect example of this, regularly receiving scores in the mid 90s from some of the world’s top wine critics.

The highlights of this tasting though were his new premium releases, two extremely rare wines that are highly sought after in Europe. From Rioja we tried the 2015 ‘Quinon de Valmira’. Only 2045 bottles were made from this 3ha vineyard planted high above the village of Alfaro in 1985 at 615m. This is pushing the limits of where Garnacha can ripen. The soil is extremely thin here, just 20cm of red clay over a hard limestone base. It is also the location of an 11th Cistercian monk settlement, the first in the Iberian peninsula. The grapes from this special site had previously gone into his ‘Propiedad’ Rioja, but he had been experimenting with a single vineyard wine for a decade. Almost 100% Garnacha (there is a small % of Tinto Velasco planted); this was raised in 600L Oak casks called bocoyes for 20 months. We tried this after 8 hours of air, and it is like no Rioja you have ever tried. It’s hard to describe the extreme elegance of this wine, so incredibly light and delicate with no signs of wood, like drinking a fine old grand Cru Burgundy. At $500 this is also one of the most expensive Rioja available; we received a mere 12 bottles for New Zealand.

From Priorat his new wine is the fantastic 2015 ‘Les Aubaguetes’. This is another example of Alvaro’s ability to identify some incredibly special vineyards. This sits between Dofi and L’Ermita in quality and price at $390. The grapes for this first vintage come off a north facing, steep plot with a shady exposition.  ‘Les Aubaguetes’ literally means ‘the shadiest’. The tiny 1.34ha vineyard is located near the village of Bellmunt and has exceptionally old vines, planted in 1901. This vineyard always produced the greatest fruit of all the vineyards that formed the purchased component of his ‘Les Terrasses’ blend. After the grower retired, Alavro was able to finally buy the site himself in 2013. Composed of 80% Garnacha, it also contains Samso (Carignan) and 1% white grapes. This again shows the hallmarks of Alavro’s light hand; it has beautiful elegance and finesse, but with much darker and deeper structured fruit than the Rioja. The yields from these old vines are very small, only 1200 bottles of this exceptional wine were produced. We are extremely lucky to have a small allocation here.

Chilean Fine Wine

The history of the Chilean wine industry does remind me a little of our own and, in fact, I do ponder whether Chilean wine recognition is set to grow beyond expectations in the not so distant future. This is certainly what drove me to visit in February, and to say I was excited with what I saw is an understatement. My visit did also highlight for me one of the biggest challenges that Chilean wine has to overcome; that being the perception of Chilean wine, particularly Chilean Fine Wine. In discussing with friends where I was heading, the most common response was, ‘there’s great value wine made in Chile’, which there certainly is, but what has me excited are the fine wines, the diversity of grape varieties being grown there and the focus on microclimates. Chile is a very long country with an extensive range of climates. Historically it was the central Maipo where most of the attention was focused. There’s still great wines coming from there, as there should be; without phylloxera, Chile has some exceptionally old vines. The viticultural extremes in the south, north and at altitude are now being explored and championed, which adds many dimensions to Chilean wine.

Viñedo Errázuriz barrel hall

Two of the most iconic Chilean Fine Wines are Almaviva and Seña, wines that we have just recently landed in New Zealand. Almaviva was launched in 1998, a joint venture between Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and Don Eduardo Guilisasti Tagle, Chairman of Viña Concha y Toro. The grapes are grown in the Puente Alto sub region of Maipo, which over 20 years ago now was acknowledged for its ability to produce world class Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s here that the 85 ha Almaviva vineyard is located. Almaviva is only one wine, a blend of classic Bordeaux varieties with Cabernet dominating. The name Almaviva comes from French literature: Count Almaviva is the hero of The Marriage of Figaro. The label pays homage to Chilean history, the image representing the design that appears on a ritual drum used by the Mapuche civilization. The word Almaviva on the label is in the Beaumarchais’ (who wrote the Marriage of Figaro) own handwriting. The label designed to symbolise the joining of two cultures, which is what Almaviva is all about; a French inspired wine from exceptional old vines in Chile.

The original house in the centre of the Almaviva vineyard

The vintage that has just arrived is the 2015 vintage: a blend of 69% Cabernet, 24% Carmenere (a variety rarely found in Bordeaux now, though is permitted), Cabernet Franc 5% and Petit Verdot 2%. This wine spent 18 months in new French oak. There’s an impressive bright red fruit and floral note on the nose, the palate is full of unctuous sweet red fruit with a firm tannic structure and a long fine elegant finish. It’s very youthful right now and has great ageing potential. I tried this alongside the 2007 for comparison at the winery. The 2007 was showing signs of ageing, with a lighter rim, though not a distinct change in colour. There were dried fruit characters on the nose and the tannins had integrated beautifully into the wine. The 2007 was gorgeous; this level of maturity was just right for Almaviva.

Almaviva Barrel hall

Seña is another joint venture, this time between Eduardo Chadwick and Robert Mondavi. Seña was Chile’s first international joint venture; Eduardo Chadwick, from Viña Errázuriz, joined together with the Napa Valley’s Robert Mondavi and in 1997 released Chile’s first Icon wine, the 1995 vintage of Seña. Whilst of excellent quality right from the beginning, Eduardo was frustrated that the international recognition was not as he thought it should be. So, in 2004 he held a tasting in Berlin, inspired by the 1976 Judgment of Paris which put Napa’s Cabernet’s against the best in the world. The tasting in Berlin involved a stellar line up of tasters, who produced this set of results:

1 – Viñedo Chadwick 2000

2 – Seña 2001

3 – Château Lafite-Rothschild 2000

4 – Seña 2000

4 – Château Margaux 2001

6 – Château Margaux 2000

6 – Château Latour 2000

6 – Viñedo Chadwick 2001

9 – Don Maximiano 2001

10 – Château Latour 2001

10 – Solaia 2000

Viñedo Chadwick in this line up is Eduardo Chadwick’s wine. Dom Maximiano is named after the founder of Viña Errázuriz, who established the impressive property in the Aconcagua Valley in 1870. So, essentially Viñedo Chadwick, Don Maximiano and Seña all sit together. We have Seña in stock now, with the other two wines due later in the year.

Since 2005 Seña has been converted to biodynamic farming; the resulting wines continue to be spectacular. The tasting first held in Berlin has been repeated with similar international benchmarks; each time, the results have been impressive.

Sena ageing at Viñedo Errázuriz

Just last week Eduardo Chadwick was named as Decanter Man of the Year for 2018, this story just the tip of the remarkable contribution he has made to the world of wine.

Viñedo Errázuriz winery

St Nesbit Vertical Tasting

On Tuesday night we were very privileged to host Dr Tony Molloy QC, and his son Sam for a spectacular vertical tasting of St Nesbit, one of New Zealand’s finest, and most interesting wines. The line-up spanned an impressive 11 vintages, from the inaugural 1984, through to the final 2011 vintage.

The vineyard was established in 1980 by Tony and his wife Petra, on 11 hectares of land on the Hingaia Peninsula. It lay in the shelter of the Drury Hills at Karaka about 30km south of Auckland City. Almost completed surrounded by an estuary of the Manukau Harbour and incredibly free draining, they originally found the site after a gilder pilot friend had said he couldn’t fly over due to the intense thermals.

The intention was to produce a Bordeaux style wine of a quality level well above anything seen in New Zealand at the time. Tony had no formal winemaking training, he was armed only with a 5000 page, multi volume winemaking guide in French, which he found in an old bookshop during a trip to Bordeaux.

Glengarry Wines St Nesbit Tasting

Right from the beginning they employed techniques unknown in New Zealand. Wide and short open topped fermenters that were cooled by bore water. Fermentation was entirely through indigenous yeasts. A wooden lattice grid was designed to keep the cap totally submerged, meaning no need to plunge the skins and reduced oxidation. Therefore he used no sulphur at all during the process, to the great surprise of other winemakers. An unheard of 100% new French Oak was employed, and extended time in barrel of 2-3yrs.  At the time they were the largest importer of new barrels in the country, with around 80 a year. Montana was the second biggest, with two barrels! This was at a time where most wineries were still using barrels that were brought over from Europe 40yrs prior.

They only made one wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend which Tony named after his late Grandfather, NZ cricket Captain Nesbit Sneddon.  As Tony explained, “In the canon law of the Catholic Church three miracles are required of a prospective saint. We got things a little back-to-front, in that we canonised Nesbit and then waited for the miracles to turn up by way of confirmation. They duly did as our first three vintages produced two gold medals plus the trophy for the top high-priced red wine at the Royal Easter Show.” Only around 3000 bottles were produced of each vintage, so it has always been a rare treat to come across one of these wines.

Glengarry Wines St Nesbit Tasting

The iconic label, with its picture of the family home, had its layout and typeface shamelessly stolen from Bordeaux Chateau Pontet-Canet. The classic design has stood the test of time and changed little over the years, something other NZ wineries should take note of. They also kept them back, not releasing a vintage until they felt it was starting to drink well.

We were lucky enough this evening to taste many of the wines from the original vineyard. 1984, 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991. The 1984 and 1987 were both well past their peak but still enjoyable, and would be lovely with dinner if you like mature wines. 1989 had more fruit remaining, interestingly this vintage was Merlot dominant. The 1990 and 1991 were drinking very well. None of the older vintages fell over and were still looking very nice at the end of the night.

Glengarry Wines St Nesbit Tasting

Unfortunately at this time leaf roll virus had spread across the vineyards, and they were forced to remove them entirely. Deciding that Cabernet Sauvignon was not the right variety for the site, they took the opportunity to replant with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. These were low vigour rootstock and planted in very high densities. St Nesbit was in fact the first to import Petit Verdot into New Zealand, an extremely frustrating and time consuming process dealing with government departments.

After a decade long hiatus, the first vintage from the new vines was the fabulous 2002. This was 60% Merlot, 25% Petit Verdot and 15% Cabernet Franc. For me this wine is now drinking fantastically but will continue to hold. It shows all the elements that makes St Nesbit so special, Soft and elegant with warm savoury fruit, beautiful texture, lots of complexity, and even more character.

Glengarry Wines St Nesbit Tasting

We also tried the 2003 which was never released by the family, as they didn’t think the quality was high enough. Yet in one of the mysteries of wine, this came around in the bottle years later and is now looking very good.  The final vintages tasted were the 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011. All were looking excellent, 2011 still needs plenty of time before I’d approach this for drinking at home. There is very little of the 2011 in the market as the family kept around half the production for their own future enjoyment.

They did make a 2010, which Sam described as being the greatest harvest they had ever seen. Having tasted it earlier this week, the wine is magnificent. With over three years in new oak it reminds me of a great Gran Riserva Rioja. It’s still a bit closed and the oak needs more time to integrate, so it will not be released until 2020 when it should really be hitting its stride. A fitting end to the St Nesbit story.

Glengarry Wines St Nesbit Tasting

Unfortunately urban sprawl had finally made its way to Karaka. For twenty five years the Molloy family were the third house from the motorway off ramp, now there are over 2000 in between. With neighbours who didn’t appreciate birdshot landing in their washing, and skyrocketing rates, it was unsustainable to continue. For those lucky enough to have vintages of St Nesbit in their cellars, these wines will thankfully continue to bring enjoyment for decades to come.

Marlborough Pinot Noir Safari 2018

The Marlborough Pinot Safari is a collaboration event by 10 wineries in Marlborough whose focus is Pinot Noir. These winemakers and wineries all have very similar ethos and winemaking practices, whilst producing an array of differing styles of Pinot Noir. Marlborough is so well known for the Sauvignon Blanc produced in the area, and while all these wineries produce Sauvignon Blanc, their primary focus and for lack of a better word, passion, is Pinot Noir. The wineries involved in this event were Auntsfield, Churton, Dog Point Vineyard, Fromm Winery, Greywacke, Terravin, Nautilus Estate, Seresin, Spy Valley and Villa Maria Wines. The aim of the game is to show a different side of Marlborough Pinot Noir and how the sub regions can produce such different wines stylistically. Glengarry Wines‘ Hannah Beaumont writes about her experience.

Glengarry Wines Marlborough Pinot Safari 4

The Safari

Our day started at 9am with a glass of Seresin Moana Zero Dosage Methode at the top of Calrossie Vineyard which houses the vines for Terravin Pinot Noir. From here we all piled into the convoy of 4 wheel drive utes, and started our off road journey. Travelling first towards the Awatere Valley, through the back of vineyards, travelling down to the Nautilus Awatere River vineyard. This was stop number two for a wine tasting:

  • Terravin Pinot Noir 2012
  • Terravin Pinot Noir 2015
  • Villa Maria Taylors Pass Pinot Noir 2015
  • Nautilus Awatere Pinot Noir 2015

Glengarry Wines Marlborough Pinot Safari

 

After this we headed down to the Awatere River to have a good look at the riverbank, this put a great image to the words the winemakers were saying when talking about the soil type in the Awatere, the layers of loess (silty sediment) and deep free draining gravel.

Glengarry Wines Marlborough Pinot Safari

After this pit stop it was onwards towards the Wairau Valley, via the windy roads of Taylors Pass (you would not want to come across a logging truck on this road!) travelling through Fairhall to Auntsfield. Here we stopped again, greeted by Sammy the vineyard dog, ready for another wine tasting. Set up in the Auntsfield barn we were here to try another 3 wines:

  • Auntsfield SV Southern Valleys Pinot Noir 2015
  • Auntsfield Hawk Hill Pinot Noir 2015
  • Villa Maria SV ‘The Attorney’ Pinot Noir

Glengarry Wines Marlborough Pinot Safari

 

Carrying on from here, we travelled through Brancott Valley, passing through the Greywacke vineyards, and a quick pit stop at Clayvin vineyard. Clayvin vineyard was Marlborough’s first significant hillside vineyard, organically run, clay soils and 24 year old vines produce fruit with high concentration, structure and tannin. Now owned by Giesen wines and used by Te Whare Ra and Fromm also. Pressing on, we then went back roads through vineyards and ended up at the Dog Point property. Beautifully laid out and abundant with fruit trees and exotic foliage, vineyards littered around the property and well spaced out, they are all about the look and feel of the property, they’re not trying to cram in as much as possible. Here we stopped in at the Bell Tower for another tasting and lunch (shout out to The Burleigh and your incredible pies!) Wines were:

  • Greywacke Pinot Noir 2015
  • Greywacke Pinot Noir 2012
  • Dog Point Pinot Noir 2015
  • Dog Point Pinot Noir 2012
  • Fromm Pinot Noir Fromm Vineyard 2016

After leaving Dog Point we headed off in the direction of Spy Valley’s Outpost Vineyard. Making a quick stop at the famous Seresin vineyard site of Sun and Moon (I was massively fangirling by now) Rapou, Leah and Rachael, then on to Spy Valley to try some more wines:

What a treat.

Glengarry Wines Marlborough Pinot Safari

We rounded off the day by with the final leg of the journey, heading west, over the Omaka river and finishing off at Churton in the Waihopai Valley for our last tasting. Perched atop a slope overlooking a majority of the Churton vineyards (cleverly named after cuts of a cow), certified organic wines and biodynamically farmed.

Wines we tried here:

  • Fromm Clayvin Pinot Noir 2012
  • Fromm Clayvin Pinot Noir 2015
  • Churton Pinot Noir 2015
  • Churton Pinot Noir 2013

Glengarry Wines Marlborough Pinot Safari

The day was incredibly well thought out, educational and well integrated. It was like having a backstage pass to the Marlborough Pinot Noir scene. It was such an eye opener for me, and being someone who has always had a soft spot for Marlborough Pinot Noir, it was like a wine nerd’s dream day out. Go on, try some Marlborough Pinot!

Glengarry Wines Marlborough Pinot Safari