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Featured Reviews

Brightwater Vineyards 2017 Riesling, Pinot Gris, and 2016 and 2015 Chardonnays

29 January,2018

Brightwater Vineyards is one of the Nelson district’s high quality wine producers. Gary and Valley Neale established their venture when they planted 10 ha of vines near the village of Brightwater on the Hope Plains, releasing their first wines in 1999. Dale Springer tends the vines and the wines are made by Tony Southgate. The flagship ‘Lord Rutherford’ wines are named after nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford who was born in Brightwater. The Brightwater Vineyard wines consistently show well in the wine judging circuit. Here I review the new release 2017 Riesling and two Sauvignon Blancs, as well as two Chardonnays, a 2016 and a 2015.


Brightwater Vineyards Nelson Riesling 2017

Riesling from New Zealand – Nelson


Bright pale straw-yellow colour, lighter on the rim. The nose is softly concentrated with an elegant core comprising an amalgam of lime fruit, white stonefruits, subtle white floral elements and a layering of chalky minerals from the lees. This has delicacy. Off-dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has fresh and lively flavours of lime fruit, white stonefruits and florals, along with wet-stone and chalky minerals. The mouthfeel possesses a light grainy texture from the phenolics and fruit extraction, and is enlivened by brisk, lacy acidity. The wine flows along a firm, taut line leading to a lingering, dry textured finish. This is a taut and textured off-dry Riesling with lime and white stonefruit flavours complexed by a flinty, mineral overlay. Serve as an aperitif, with seafood, and Asian fare over the next 4+ years. Fruit from the ‘Home’ vineyard, cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 11.5% alc. and 10 g/L RS, the wine spending 4 months on lees. 17.5-/20 Jan 2018 RRP $22.00

Brightwater Vineyards Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Nelson


Brilliant straw-yellow colour with some depth, paler edged. The nose is softly fresh and elegantly presented with fine cool-spectrum aromas of cut grass and nettles, fresh herbs, and delicate nuances of gooseberries with lifted floral elements. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has elegantly concentrated cool-spectrum fruit flavours of nettles with gooseberries, fresh herbs and snow peas. The mouthfeel is refreshingly crisp and zesty with balanced, brisk acidity, and the wine flows along a fine-textured line, leading to a light, nuanced finish. This is an elegantly presented, refreshing cool-spectrum Sauvignon Blanc with cut-grass, nettle and gooseberry flavours and a fine-textured line. Serve with salads and vegetables, and Pacific Rim fare over the next 2 years. Fruit from the company’s ‘Sturkenboom’ and ‘Chisnall’ vineyards, cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 6 weeks on lees. 17.5-/20 Jan 2018 RRP $20.00

Brightwater Vineyards ‘Lord Rutherford’ Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Nelson


Bright, light straw-yellow colour, lighter on the rim. The nose is finely concentrated and packed with restrained aromas of greengages and gooseberries, along with a subtle array of green stonefruits melded with some nutty oak. Cut-grass, nettle and lifted florals emerge with aeration. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a gently concentrated and fine-textured heart with flavours of green stonefruits and gooseberries, with subtle nutty oak notes. The palate has building weight and presence, with the fruit interwoven with the phenolic textures and fresh acidity to give good mouthfeel. The wine has drive and linearity, and carries to a long and sustained finish. This is a well-weighted and finely-textured, oak-influenced Sauvignon Blanc with green stonefruit and gooseberry flavours and good drive and linearity. Match with herb-marinated poultry and pork dishes over the next 2-3 years. Fruit from old vines, 70% fermented in stainless-steel and aged 6 weeks on lees, and 30% barrel-fermented and aged 6 months on lees. 13.0% alc. 17.5+/20 Jan 2018 RRP $25.00

Brightwater Vineyards Nelson Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Nelson


Straw-yellow colour with light golden hues and some depth, paler edged. The nose is full and gently voluminous with well-packed aromas of white and yellow stonefruits along with nutty oak and hints of creamy barrel-ferment, and a layering of chalky minerals and flinty lees, unfolding hints of lemon-curd MLF. Full-bodied, the palate has a firmly concentrated heart with interwoven flavours of white and yellow stonefruits melded with subtle creamy and nutty oak, flinty minerals and lemon-curd. The palate has a strong core with fine, grainy phenolic textures and fresh underlying acidity lending good drive and energy, leading to a lingering, elegant finish. This is a fine and firmly concentrated Chardonnay with stonefruit, nutty oak and mineral notes with good drive and a textural line. Match with poultry and pork dishes over the next 4 years. Fruit from the ‘Home’ vineyard barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months on lees in 20% new French oak with full MLF. 18.0/20 Jan 2018 RRP $28.00

Brightwater Vineyards ‘Lord Rutherford’ Nelson Barrique Chardonnay 2015

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Nelson


Full, even straw-yellow colour with pale golden hues. This has a full, broad and concentrated nose with aromas of yellow stonefruits and citrus fruit, harmoniously layered with creamy barrel-ferment and nutty, toasty oak, and subtle flint and mineral complexities, unfolding lemon-curd and buttery MLF detail. Full-bodied, the palate is bold and fulsome with deep and rich flavours of ripe yellow stonefruits and citrus fruit entwined with nutty oak and creamy barrel-ferment. Nuances of oxidative complexities emerge along with butterscotch MLF. The flavours are mouthfilling and the wine has strong presence, breadth and depth. The wine has power and drive, and carries to a long and sustained finish. This is a fulsome and bold, deeply concentrated and weighty Chardonnay with stonefruit and citrus flavours, creamy and nutty oak and complex flinty notes. Match with roast pork and veal over the next 4+ years. Hand-picked clone 15 and Mendoza fruit, fully fermented in French oak barriques to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months on lees in 25% new oak with 100% MLF. 18.5+/20 Jan 2018 RRP $40.00

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