Waipara – the other Kiwi hotspot
I’ve been digging through some old notes this week and chanced upon a file I thought I’d lost. A file of tasting notes actually, compiled during a very brief look at some great wines during a very brief trip to NZ South Island hotspot Waipara last year.
|The stunning Pyramid Valley vineyard. Classic Waipara landscape|
Whilst these notes are hardly comprehensive, and were compiled rather hastily (from a blind tasting), what they do mention is a few of the goodies that were uncovered during my trip. A memory jolt, if you may, of the fragrant and textural off-dry/worked/interesting Rieslings and aromatics, of the long and wild Chardonnays and the minerally, yet powerful, Pinot Noirs.
To be completely honest I spent more time consuming and thinking about these wines than actually taking notes, spending a few days kicking the – limestone rich – dirt and looking at close planted young Pinot vineyards on mid slopes. I even had a curious lamb liver based dessert (matched to the glorious 09 Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir) just to smack my senses in the face. All of which pointed to the fact that this is one seriously exciting wine region. There is variability, there are oddities, but gee it is exciting.
Suffice to say I can’t wait to get back to this part of the wine world…
(These notes were all written blind. Extra bits in italics I’ve added for context. Scores are lowish – they will be much higher if you drink them the proper way with food and friends).
Dancing Water Oneuku Riesling 2009 (NZ$32)
Sourced from a certified organic vineyard planted on clay soils. A dry style, this was whole bunch pressed, fermented wild and spent 6 months in old oak. Current release methinks.
Lifted orange blossom. Not quite the cut through on the palate which looks a bit broad and rotund, but some vibrancy and lift. Would it be better if released younger I wonder? Lovely clean and vibrant finish. Just a fraction more intensity and composure would make this a star. 17.3/90
Mountford Pure Riesling 2010 (NZ $29.95)
Off-dry, 9.5% alcohol and 56g/L residual. Super ripe yet looks more late picked than botrytised.
Pure, deep, sherbety and overt. The middle is rich, the finish long and juicy. That sweetness and acidity lingers through the finish. Long and juicy finish. A fraction fat and sweet? Still luscious wine indeed. Nice. 18/93
Mountford Hommage A’ L’Alsace 2010 (NZ$45)
A blend of Gewurtz, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Muscat, all picked late and fermented dry.
Textural dynamo. Long, luscious and generous, Finish is not quite up to the task though, looking jumbled and broadish. May well improve in the bottle. Hot and bumbling. 16.3/87
Alan McCorkindale Gewurtztraminer 2009 (NZ $28)
Concentrated musk and beeswax nose. Off dry palate starts with some lovely texture but the phenolics dry up the finish. Very spicy though. Divisive wine! Lots of warm, fruit musk fruit and excellent length but is it drinkable? Perhaps too overt. Wild wine! 17.5/91
Black Estate Chardonnay 2010 (NZ$35)
The tenth release of the Black Estate Chardonnay, this is very representative of the Black Estate style. I actually snuck in a look at the Black Estate vineyard and they are planting more Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on their ideally situated vineyard as we speak. What is so intriguing about this wine is that, despite its weight, it actually holds up rather well over the years (I had a squizz at some older wines whilst I was there). Always rich, always bony always creamy and full. I like ’em.
Barrels. Lots of barrels. Nougat and toasty richness with big round flavours. Lots of punch. Musky and quite an expansive finish. Intriguing and full and wild. 17.5/91
Mountford Chardonnay 2008 (NZ$49.95)
Barrel fermented. One third new oak. Interesting that this is the current release.
Really sexy oak. Mealy, concentrated. Intriguing oak character at the least. Slightly blunt flavours don’t quite flow after it. Big and heavy on the winemaking. Some style to that winemaking though. 17.7/92
Omihi Road SVR Rayner Pinot Noir 2007 (NZ$50)
Drawn from the Rayner vineyard this saw 20 days of skin contact and 14 months in 1-6yr old oak. 8-10yr old vines.
Big and raw. An extractive and powerful Pinot, warm finish. Raw and hard really but has power. Needs more vibrancy though. Bound to improve with more bottle age. 16.5/88+
Mountford Estate Pinot Noir 2008 (NZ$60)
They make quite a big deal about barrels in the notes about this wine, including noting that 2 Laurent ‘magic’ barrels (championed by Torbreck to justify the price of the Laird) were used in the production. Stylish wine regardless.
Another big style. Meaty roasted beef nose. Extractive and full. Lively, textural and long, chalky finish. Really firm and extractive but with such length. Woah. A biggun but style in its veins. 18.4/94
|The Black Estate range. Coming to Australia too apparently|
Alan McCorkindale ‘Chalky’ vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 (NZ$50)
Super sexy nose, really limestone rich and lifted. Palate looks good too, that spiced fruit cake plummy regional thing working well. The only problem is the slight hole in the back. Almost there. 16.8
Crater Rim Lot 7 Pinot Noir 2009 (NZ$49.90)
Sourced from a close planted vineyard in the Omihi Hills. Spent 11 months in oak.
Choc cherry oak sweetened nose. Sweet choc cherry palate. Short finish. Slightly overripe and oaky but has some appeal. Pretty simple wine ultimately. 16.5
Black Estate Pinot Noir 2009 (NZ$45)
I think the 10’s are better than the 09s for Black Estate though I much preferred a second look at this wine. That limestone buzz goes all through the wines.
Very ripe, slightly simple, glace fruit style, is very sweet and chocolatey. Nice limestone buzz through the finish carries if just a little underpowered. 16.5/88
Fancrest Estate Di’s Pinot Noir 2010 (NZ $38)
I retried this at dinner later in the night and liked it again. Sourced from an organic vineyard with one of the more difficult to navigate wine websites I’ve seen. The wine was really good though.
Black fruit sitting in readiness. Deep and black palate, firm tannins. Excellent length and structure here. Hero proportions, just needs some time. Good. 18.3/93+
Black Estate Omihi Series Pinot Noir 2010 (NZ $40)
Soured from the Omihi vineyard and built slightly more fleshy than the estate wine.
Rather sweet, black and blue fruits. Obvious oak and quite abrupt. Very serious and adolescent style with chalky acidity to finish. A baby and quite raw. Needs time. Raw finish. 17/90
Bellbird Spring River Terrace Pinot 2010 (NZ$37)
Grown at 3 sites around Waipara this is nicely approachable in context.
Nice glacé plum fruit character on the nose. Licorice too. Glace fruit palate looks fine, peppery and juicy too. Light and flowing. Like this juiciness. Good. 17.5/91