Winter is here, the days are shorter and the temprature has dropped and our minds naturally turn to delicious red wines on those chilly nights. However it’s important not to forget about the rich, spicy, textural and luscious white wines that are also perfect winter warmers! I‘m very excited about these wines, with a focus on texture and complexity and a brilliant new wine that’s about to hit the market I hope you seek them out and enjoy them as much as I did.
Mills Reef Reserve Chardonnay 2017
Established in 1989 by the Preston family, Mills Reef Winery is now a must see Tauranga destination. Dedicated to making high quality wines from the Hawke’s Bay, the winemaking team led by Tim Preston and Paul Dawick are dedicated to the philosophy of achieving “balance” in their wines.
The fruit for the Reserve Chardonnay comes from low yielding vines in the Bridge Pa vineyard, ensuring the finished product has intense and concentrated flavours and aromas. Aged in a mixture of French and American oak barrels of which 50% are new, the Chardonnay spends 10 months on fine lees to develop the creamy texture and complexity Mills Reef wines are known for.
A beautiful golden hue, the aromas of toasty oak and stone fruit jump from the glass. Chardonnay lovers rejoice! This wine has all your bases covered, intense ripe fruit flavours, a soft rounded mouth feel, toasted brioche and hints of vanilla from the oak and a splash of lifted acidity bringing structure and elegance.
Bellbird Spring Home Block White 2015
With a focus on food friendly wines, Bellbird Spring wines are interesting, textural and complex yet structured and elegant. Guy Porter, who gained his winemaking experience all over the world, has created sustainable, certified organic vineyards and uses old world techniques to produce his wines.
The Home Block with its stony gravel soils was planted in 2002. The four varieties Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat and Gewürztraminer, which are the Noble varieties of Alsace, are harvested together and co-fermented with indigenous yeasts in old oak barrels.
The pronouced aromatics of this wine literally made my mouth water! Red apple, ripe peach and apricot combined with honeysuckle, white blossom and spice are found on the nose and the palate. This medium bodied textural wine has a rounded mouth feel and the finish, which feels never ending, is fresh and full of spice and stone fruit.
Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Tempranillo 2018
Winemaker Natalie Christensen, who has been part of the winemaking team at Yealands since 2015, became Chief Winemaker earlier this year. Natalie’s winemaking philosophy is to make wines that reflect the site and the season and, of course, making wines that people will enjoy drinking!
When asked about the Yealands Single Vineyard range Natalie states her aim is to “Showcase the diversity and uniqueness of our Seaview Vineyard in the Awatere Valley. A beautiful coastal location – the wines we make off this site are very influenced by the proximity to the ocean and the conditions that come with that. We tend to have naturally lighter crops and smaller berries with thicker skins, which result in wines that have intensity and elegance.”
The aromas of this wine are intoxicating, red and dark plum combined with smokey oak and a variety of baking spices with hints of dried flowers. Clear ruby in colour, the lovely ripe fruit flavours entwine with warming oak, cinnamon, nutmeg and dried cranberries with dusty tannins and a lifted acidity drawing it all together to create a delicous wine.
Matawhero Church House Single Vineyard Malbec 2018
In 1975, the first Matawhero wines were produced and an important brand in New Zealands wine history was born. Current owners Kirsten and Richard Searle along with winemaker Kim Crawford, a legend in his own right, have spent the last several years revitalising the Matawhero brand and their hard work has definitely paid off!
The Malbec is taken from the low cropped vines in Paul Tietjen’s Vineyard in the “Golden Slope” region of Gisborne, the perfect spot for this variety to ripen fully. It is aged for ten months in oak barrels before bottling and is vegan and vegetarian friendly.
Dark purple in colour the dense and heady aromas of ripe plum, blackberry and cooked boysenberries fill the air as it is poured. The incredibly smooth and rounded texture of the wine delivers the intense fruit flavours, but the wine finishes with a lovely light freshness that leaves you wanting more.
Te Mata Alma Pinot Noir 2018
It’s not every day that an iconic brand like Te Mata add a new wine to their range and I am very excited to one of the first to taste it. This is the inaugural release of the Alma Pinot Noir whose name celebrates Dr James Thomson, forefather to the Te Mata Estate’s Buck family, who lost his life saving hundreds of others in the 1854 Battle of the Alma. The label features the medal he was awarded for this selfless act of valour.
Taken from the mature low cropped vines of Te Mata’s Woodthorpe Vineyards, the parcels of fruit were handpicked, 100% destemmed, were given extended skin contact and then aged in French oak for 11 months before being blended into the finished wine.
A beautiful crimson with a purple hue, the alluring aromas of red plum, juicy black cherry and strawberry are concentrated and pure. The dense palate is full of red and dark fruit flavours with smoky oak, fine grained tannins and spice rounding out the finish. This is a very young wine; I recommend buying it now and cellaring for 2-3 years, however the structure of the wine lends itself to much longer cellaring potential.
Millton Riverpoint Vineyard Viognier 2016
“For a wine to be great it must first be true..”
Millton, New Zealand’s first certified Organic and Biodynamic estate, was established in 1984 by owners James and Annie Millton. After working in France and Germany, they headed back to New Zealand and their own wine journey in Gisborne. Winner of the NZ Organic Wine Awards “Vintec Sustainable Vineyard of the Year” in 2018 and receiving numerous accolades for their wines, Millton have solidified their position as a premium New Zealand wine producer.
The Riverpoint Vineyard was planted with Viognier, a grape variety originally from the Rhone Valley in France, in 1997. The grapes are hand picked, wild yeast fermented and bottled unfined, this wine vegetarian and vegan friendly.
A meduim gold colour, the aromas of ripe pear, baked apple, camomile and savoury mineral notes are truly unique. The palate is a complex mixture of apple, white peaches with high impact spiciness and outstanding texture. The finish is surprisingly dry with a mineral salinity cutting through the richness and leaving the delicous spice behind.
Pegasus Bay Aria Late Picked Riesling 2016
Pegasus Bay is one of New Zealand’s most highly respected wine producers. Established by Ivan and Christine Donaldson in 1986, all four of their sons now work in different areas of the business, it is the epitome of a family run winery. The award-winning restaurant has a global reputation for exquisite food, and the dishes match perfectly with their wines. A must visit when in North Canterbury.
Taken from vines over 30 years old, this late picked Riesling is hand picked over several weeks ensuring the bunches are infected with the preferred level of Botyrtis (a form of fungus that causes the grapes to shrivel to intensify sugar and acid levels). The grapes are gently pressed and fermented at cool temperatures to retain the intense and lively varietal characters.
The high impact aromas of this wine made me swoon. Powerful lemon pith, lime, apple and honeysuckle overwhelm the senses. The luscious texture of the palate is full of mandarin, stone fruit and stewed apple with sweet honey. The wine finishes with a zinging fresh acidity that cleanses the palate and a long lingering finish that you hope never leaves your mouth.
Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2017
Since its inception, Craggy Range has had a reputation for producing high quality wines that are consistently well made throughout their distinctive collections. Terry and Mary Peabody’s commitment to a building family legacy has seen them focus on eco friendly systems. From recycling and reduction in plastic products, to planting native flora hoping to increase pollination options for local bees.
The fruit for this wine was taken from the stone and sand alluvial soils of the Gimblett Gravels. The fruit was handpicked, 100% destemmed, aged in French oak of which 18% were new for a period of 16 months before being bottled.
An incredible deep purple, this wine has ripe boysenberry, dark cherry and stewed Doris plum with lifted violets and peppery spice, a divine complexity that draws you in. The dense dark fruit continues onto the palate where it is joined by subtle oak, well integrated tannins and a long peppery finish.