L arranged tickets for us to attend a showcase for Kiwi and Australian winemakers at the Michael Fowler Centre last Thursday, arranged by Negociants. I didn’t know what expect, but when we arrived in the room, and I saw the stalls of 20-odd producers spread around the walls, it felt like a adults version of a kids candy store. I didn’t know which wines to try first…
well, that indecision didn’t last long…first up was Mt Beautiful, from north of Cheviot in North Canterbury. I enjoyed the quality and poise of their noted Riesling ( I didn’t take any notes as we toured the room, so I can’t really confirm any vintages or scores), and rated their Pinot Noir a contender. We then took in Brokenwood from the Hunter Valley in Australia and I just loved the Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz they were showing – the 2010 was outstanding, dense and complex and mouth filling.
L being Australian, she was keen to press on and try some D’Arenberg Shiraz’s from Mclaren Vale, but the crush and clamour around their table drove me away, tho I did come back later and try the Laughing Magpie Shiraz and The Dead Arm Shiraz, neither of which struck me as anything but functional.
I was drawn to Martinborough’s Dry River stall. Now I rarely, and I mean rarely, have the Fistful of Dollars in my pocket that is required to buy their bottles. So I was pleased to have the chance to try first their latest Riesling – delicious – and their Chardonnay which appealed for its purity and restraint (no malo), but what I was there to try was their famous Pinot Noir: and it didn’t disappoint, tho it seemed more like the Brokenwood Shiraz than a Pinot due to its power and peppery spicy density. Quite peculiar in its way, but thought-provoking.
From there to Fromm, from Marlborough. Heh. I loved the previous release of their Brancott Vineyard Pinot Noir and was keen to try this years model. Not as intensely aromatic as last years, but still showed florality and fruit weight and black cherries.
Things were now getting a bit more Partytime in the room than serious Wine Judge-y. After the crowd had all tried a few wines and settled down a bit, we all then noticed all the people we each knew in the hall, and the conversation levels went up in volume. And I started to lose a bit of my attention span. I did tip a lot of my wine out, but I also swallowed a bit by then as well, and that stuff has a cumulative effect…
Luckily I was still compos mentis when I came across two of the highlights of the evening:
I was fortunate to meet Kevin Judd, winemaker of Greywacke (ex-Cloudy Bay winemaker), and taste his collection of Marlborough wines. My sister gave me a coffee table book of NZ wine terrior photos that was co-authored by Kevin. The wines confirmed to me why he is so well regarded. His wild ferment Sauvignon Blanc was outstanding – uniquely flavoursome, sensitively oaked, with restraint and punch, if you can have such a combination. Then I tried his Chardonnay. Stinky. Wonderful. Again outstanding fruit flavours and palate weight. Finally his Pinot Noir, and it was floral, great intensity of fruit, red cherries, balanced, long, delicious. My Pinot of the night, or so I thought…
Next stall over from them was Langmeil wines of the Barossa Valley. We all know where that is. Their Jackomans Cabernet and Valley Floor Shiraz were just wonderful, and wonderful: Rich. Deep. Cocoa. Pepper and plums. Mouthcoating. Savoury. Yum. Buy. I wish.
We followed that stellar effort up with a nice gewurtz from Vinoptima, out of Gisborne. Soft, spicy, sweet, rich, fruitful.
I had to try a pinot noir from Rippon, who are blessed with one of the world’s best vineyard outlooks, over Lake Wanaka and Ruby Island. Very Central with light, herbaceous, spicy characters.
I then had my pinot, and wine, of the night, care of Allan Johnson of Palliser Estate. Their latest 2013? Pinot Noir was just outstanding. Intense, flavoursome, poised, all the aromatics going on that I love. Would drink this all. the. time.
What a good night! A sweet shop for grown-ups. Thanks L!