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Tasting Reviews




Italian Varietal Wines from Coopers Creek


09-Nov-2018
Simon Nunns, winemaker at Coopers Creek in Huapai has a fascination with wines and varieties that are unusual, but being trialled in New Zealand. This partly stems from his own personal tastings and travels. Under the ‘Select Vineyards’ range he has made some very successful Gruner Veltliner, Arneis and Albarino wines, working with the Gisborne fruit grown by the adventurous Doug and Delwyn Bell. The Bells have worked closely with Riversun Nursery and have always been keen to give different varieties an opportunity to see if they perform well in New Zealand conditions.

A couple of weeks ago I talked to Simon about the Italian Fiano grape that he had made wine from, as with Jenny Dobson in Hawke’s Bay, who had sent bottles for me to taste (click here to see my reviews). That discussion led Simon to send a selection of Italian white and red varietal wines for me to assess. Some of these wines are experimental, and only tiny volumes have been made. The Vermentino has its Italian home in Sardinia, the Fiano in Campania, the Montepulciano in d’Abbruzzo, and Lagrein from Alto Adige.

My notes follow. I find that the Fiano has an ability to become richer with time in bottle. Montepulciano has a provided some serious wines in this country, including this example, but the Lagrein has divergence in style, possibly reflecting the growing seasons. www.cooperscreek.co.nz

Coopers Creek ‘Select Vineyards – Single Barrel’ Gisborne Vermentino 2017
Bright, very pale straw colour with slight green hues, near colourless on the rim. The nose is very fresh and finely proportioned with lifted white floral aromatics entwined with subtle notes of fresh herbs and mouthwatering minerals. This has delicacy and a degree of finesse with a little exoticism. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is taut and tightly bound with a sleek core of mouthwatering white stonefruits, florals and minerals, along with brisk acidity. The wine flows along a light-textured phenolic line with good energy and drive, and carries to a moderately concentrated finish unfolding floral nuances. This is a tightly bound dry Vermentino with a sleek core of white stonefruits, florals and thirst-quenching minerals. Serve as an aperitif and with seafood over the next 2 years. The first Coopers Creek Vermentino bottling, (though one made in 2014, but not bottled), fruit from the ‘Bell’ vineyard, Gisborne, from one row, yielding 604 kg, barrel-fermented to 13.0% alc. and 3 g/L RS, and aged 8 months in two seasoned oak barrels. 16.5+/20 Nov 2018 RRP $25.00

Coopers Creek ‘Select Vineyards – Single Barrel’ Gisborne Fiano 2017
Bright, pale straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, lighter on the edge. This has a firm and tightly bound nose with elegant, but well-concentrated aromas of white stonefruits and subtle nutty elements. The aromatics are fresh and youthful. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has good vinous presence and depth with a rounded and solid core with restrained flavours of white stonefruits, nuts and honey. The mouthfeel is softly-textured and the wine flows smoothly, with fine acid cut providing energy and drive. The wine leads to a light, nuanced finish. This is a smooth, rounded dry Fiano with good vinosity and mouthfeel. Match with antipasto, seafood and poultry over the next 3 years. From a single row from the ‘Bell’ vineyard, Gisborne, yielding 650 kg, barrel-fermented to 13.0% alc. and 3.7 g/L RS, the wine aged 10 months in two seasoned oak barrels. 17.0+/20 Nov 2018 RRP $25.00

Coopers Creek ‘Select Vineyards – Single Barrel’ Gisborne Fiano 2015
Brilliant, very pale straw colour with slight green hues, near colourless on the rim. The bouquet is softly full with good breadth and depth, showing rounded and concentrated aromas of ripe yellow stonefruits and nuances of herbs, honey and nutty elements. This is detailed with subtle layers of interest. Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate has fulsome flavours of ripe white and yellow stonefruits with an amalgam of herbs, nuts and honey, forming a positive, vinous core. The mouthfeel possesses good weight and light, lacy acidity lending freshness, and the wine carries to a moderately concentrated, sustained finish. Match with pork and veal dishes over the next 2-3 years. Fruit from a trial row from the ‘Bell’ vineyard, Gisborne, yielding 330 kg, fermented in one barrel (hence the name of the wine and its successors) to 13.5% alc. and 2.5 g/L RS, the wine aged 4 months in the seasoned barrel. 18.0-/20 Nov 2018 RRP $25.00

Coopers Creek ‘Select Vineyards – Guido in Velvet Pants’ Huapai Montepulciano 2016
Dark, deep, black-hued purple-red colour, a little lighter on the edge, youthful in appearance. The nose is well-proportioned with deep and concentrated aromas of ripe black berried fruits along with soft notes of savoury black plums and nuances of dark raspberries, entwined with dark herbs and some complexing earthiness. Medium-full bodied, the palate has deep and well-packed flavours of ripe blackberry fruit with savoury plums, dark herbs and earthy elements. This has fruit richness which is balanced by moderately grainy tannins providing structure and a slightly drying grip. The acidityis soft and the wine carries to a moderately long finish. This is a solid and deep Montepulciano with black berry and savoury plum flavours with earthy complexity on a well-structured palate. Match with roasted game meat and semi-hard cheeses over the next 5-6+ years. Fruit from the Coopers Creek ‘Home’ vineyard, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged one year in seasoned French oak with some new oak inputs. 18.0/20 Nov 2018 RRP $28.00

Coopers Creek ‘Select Vineyards – Single Barrel’ Gisborne Lagrein 2016
Pale purple-hued ruby-red colour with a little depth, lighter on the rim. The nose is fresh and elegant with fragrant aromas of red cherry fruit and aromatic red florals, along with subtle notes of fresh herbs and a little whole berry confectionary lift. The fragrance is the feature here. Light-medium bodied, the palate has juicy and lively, aromatic flavours of dark-red cherry fruit with nuances of raspberries, along with lifted red florals and a touch of confectionary. The flavours are enlivened by fresh, lacy acidity and guided by light, supple tannin extraction, leading to a light, refreshing finish. This is a juicy, lively and fragrant, medium-light bodied Lagrein with cherryish fruit on a supple, easy palate. Serve with antipasto, pasta and pizza over the next 2-3 years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Bell’ vineyard, Gisborne, yielding 511 kg, fermented to 12.0% alc., the wine aged 14 months in two seasoned Napa Demptos barrels. 497 bottles made. 16.5+/20 Nov 2018 RRP $28.00

Coopers Creek ‘Select Vineyards – Single Barrel’ Gisborne Lagrein 2014
Full, dark, deep black-hued ruby-red colour, lighter edged. The nose is elegantly packed and concentrated with aromas of ripe, dark-red and black-berried fruits, entwined with herbs and iron-earth black minerals, unfolding suggestions of spice and savoury, nutty oak. Medium-bodied, the palate has a solidly packed heart of ripe black-berried fruits with notes of black plums, dark herbs and savoury minerals. This is just beginning to show some secondary complexity. The fruit gives way to grainy tannin extraction providing a structured, dry mouthfeel with soft acidity. The wine carries to a rounded, dense finish. This is a solidly packed Lagrein with black fruit flavours and earthy secondary detail on a dry, grainy-textured palate. Match with casseroles and semi-hard cheeses over the next 5+ years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Bell’ vineyard, Gisborne, yielding 460 kg, fermented to 12.0% alc., the wine aged 13 months in a seasoned Saury barrique. 270 bottles made. 17.5+/20 Nov 2018 RRP $28.00
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