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Featured Reviews




Kono, Aronui and Tohu New Releases from 2018 - 2015

01 October,2018

Kono is a vertically integrated, family owned Maori food and beverage producer, making and exporting artisan award-winning wine, cider, seafood, fruit among other products. Based in Nelson and Marlborough, Kono farms over 530 ha of land and sea, and has a global reach. The original wine brand ‘Tohu’ was established in 1998 and has come to focus on wines from the company’s vineyards in the Awatere Valley, supplemented with fruit from other regions. The newer ‘Aronui’ label was established to represent the company’s wines from Nelson, which predominantly come from the ‘Whenua Matua’ vineyard in the Upper Moutere. The newest range is ‘Kono’, which are wines that are more accessible and fruit-focussed with the expression of the Marlborough and Nelson regions. Originally, 3,200 cases of wine were made, but in 2018, over 220,000 cases were produced. Bruce Taylor is the chief winemaker, and works from the company’s modern winery in the Awatere Valley in Marlborough. I have seen the overall standard of the wines rise over the years, as the vines gain in maturity, the vineyard teams become more sensitive to the land and plants, and Bruce and his team come to a greater understanding of the fruit. There have been a number of sensational wines made, and bottled under the ‘Reserve’ label, offering excellent character and style. I can only see this continue in the future. Here, I review a large selection of new and current releases under the ‘Kono’, ‘Aronui’ and ‘Tohu’ labels. www.kono.co.nz www.aronuiwines.co.nz www.tohuwines.co.nz

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW



Kono Nelson Pinot Rosé 2018

Rose from New Zealand – Nelson

16.5-/20

Very pale salmon-pink colour with some depth, lighter on the edge. The nose is softly fresh with lifted aromas of strawberries and cream with confectionary elements, red florals and fresh fermentation esters. This has balance. Dry to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate has slightly savoury strawberries and cream, and quince flavours, with lifted red florals, some confectionary notes and fresh ferment esters. The flavours are up-front and the mouthfeel is enlivened by fresh acidity. The mouthfeel is smooth and the wine flows easily to a light, aromatic finish. This is an up-front, dry rosé with savoury strawberry and cream, confectionary and esters flavours on a smooth palate. Serve as an aperitif and antipasto over the next 18 months to 2 years. Pinot Noir fruit from the ‘Whenua Matua’ vineyard, given 3 hours skin contact and cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 12.0% alc. and 4.9 g/L RS. 16.5-/20 Oct 2018 RRP $17.95

Kono Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Marlborough

16.5/20

Very pale straw colour with slight green hues, near colourless on the rim. The nose is elegant in proportion and tightly bound with fragrant aromas of white florals, cut-grass and nettles, unveiling some pungent passionfruit with subtle mineral elements. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has an elegant core with light flavours of passionfruit, nettles and cut-grass with floral elements. The wine is slender in presentation with a light-textured line and fresh acidity providing a brisk mouthfeel, carrying to a light, slippery finish. This is an elegant and light Sauvignon Blanc with a slender core of passionfruit, nettles and cut-grass with a brisk mouthfeel. Serve with salads and vegetables, and with seafood over the next 2 years. Marlborough fruit, 55% Waihopai, 35% Awatere and 10% Fairhall, cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 12.5% alc. and 3.3 g/L RS. 16.5/20 Oct 2018 RRP $17.95

Kono Nelson Pinot Gris 2018

Pinot Gris from New Zealand – Nelson

16.5+/20

Bright, pale straw-yellow colour, lighter on the rim. The nose is a little restrained in expression but shows vinosity and presence with softly packed and deep aromas of white and yellow stonefruits with nuances of exotic florals and some pear, honeysuckle and mineral notes. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has light and nuanced flavours of white and yellow stonefruits with exotic floras, pears and honey. The palate has good weight, with the flavours showing well on the front palate. As the wine flows, the flavours recede and carry to a softly nuanced finish with some length. This is a light-fruited but up-front dry Pinot Gris with weight and presence. Serve with Asian cuisine over the next 2 years. Fruit from the ‘Whenua Matua’ vineyard, fermented in stainless-steel to 13.0% alc. and 5 g/L RS, the wine aged on lees. 16.5+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $17.95

Aronui ‘Single Vineyard’ Nelson Pinot Rosé 2018

Rose from New Zealand – Nelson

17+/20

Bright, very pale salmon-pink colour, very light on the rim. The nose is elegant in proportion with finely concentrated aromas of bright red florals with strawberries and cream, and a little confectionary. This has a taut core that will unfold with some time in bottle. Dry to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate has a soft but positively rounded core with lifted flavours of red florals, strawberries and cream, confectionary and some ferment esters. The mouthfeel is smooth-flowing with bright and lively, mouthwatering acidity which carries the wine to a lingering finish of strawberries and cream. This is a soft, but lively and mouthwatering dry rosé with red florals, strawberries and cream and confectionary flavours. Serve with dim sum and Asian fare over the next 2 years. Pinot Noir fruit from the ‘Whenua Matua’ vineyard, given 3 hours skin contact, direct to press and cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 12.0% alc., and 5 g/L RS. 17.0+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $19.75

Aronui Nelson Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Nelson

17.5+/20

Bright straw-yellow colour with light green-gold tints, paler edged. The nose is finely concentrated with a well-packed heart of yellow stonefruit and citrus fruit entwined with nutty and smoky oak, and complexing mealy detail. Some creamy barrel-ferment elements unfold to add interest. Medium-bodied, the palate has a moderately concentrated core of yellow stonefruits and citrus fruit harmoniously melded with subtle creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak with smoky and mealy elements. The flavours build in intensity as the wine flows along a lively palate line with the acidity lending energy to the mouthfeel. The wine carries to a lingering finish of citrus fruit and nuts. This is a moderately concentrated Chardonnay with stonefruit, citrus fruit and complexing smoky and nutty oak on a fresh palate. Match with grilled and roasted seafood, poultry and pork over the next 3+ years. Hand-picked fruit from Nelson, WBP and fermented in French oak barriques, a small portion by indigenous yeasts to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 11 months in new and seasoned oak, undergoing batonnage and MLF. 17.5+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $22.45

Aronui ‘Single Vineyard’ Nelson Pinot Noir 2016

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Nelson

16.5/20

Light garnet-red colour with some depth, paler edged. The nose is softly full with aromas of dark-red cherry and berry fruit entwined with dark and dried herbs, a little savoury secondary earthiness and subtle hints if nutty oak, unfolding red floral elements. This has a firmness and friendly rusticity. Medium-full bodied, the palate has light flavours of sweet cherry and berry fruit along with notes of dark and dried herbs, nutty notes and a little earth. The flavours are integrated and harmonious and form a rounded, smooth flowing palate with light, supple tannin extraction and fresh acidity, lending energy to the mouthfeel. This is a light cherry and berry fruited Pinot Noir with subtle secondary herb and earthy notes on a smooth palate with supple tannins. Serve with tapas and poultry dishes over the next 3 years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Whenua Matua’ vineyard, destemmed and fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in French oak barriques. 16.5/20 Oct 2018 RRP $25.00

Tohu ‘Rewa’ Marlborough Methode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blancs 2015

Sparkling Wine from New Zealand – Marlborough

18+/20

Bright, lemon-hued straw-yellow colour with some depth, lighter on the rim, the bubbles fine and persistent. The nose is refined and elegant with very good intensity and penetration, showing white florals and stonefruits and subtle citrus fruit nuances, and a fine thread of bready-yeasty autolysis with a little mouthwatering minerality. This is taut and youthfully bound. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is tightly bound and refined in expression with a taut core of white stonefruits and florals, subtle bready-yeasty autolysis providing a complexing line. The mouthfeel is bright and lively with creamy effervescence and a mouthwatering mouthfeel from the crisp acidity. The flavours recede a little as the wine leads to a delicate finish. This is a crisp, taut and refined blanc de blancs methode traditionnelle with floral and stonefruit flavours and delicate autolysis on a thirst-quenching palate. Serve as an aperitif, with canapés and seafood over the next 3 years. 100% Chardonnay fruit from Rapaura, fermented in tank with 12 months on lees and MLF to 12.0% alc. and 6.2 g/L RS, the wine aged 27 months on lees with disgorgement in June 2018. 18.0+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $30.55

Tohu ‘Rewa’ Marlborough Methode Traditionnelle Rosé 2015

Sparkling Wine from New Zealand – Marlborough

17.5/20

Bright, pale salmon-pink colour with slight peach hues and some depth with a lighter edge, the bubbles moderately fine and very persistent. The nose is soft with a gentle core showing some depth of strawberry fruit and red florals intermixed with mineral notes, unfolding toasty aldehyde elements melded with subtle bready-yeasty autolysis. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a rounded core of savoury strawberry fruit entwined with some toasty notes and subtle bready-yeasty autolysis. The flavours are up-front, showing good weight and presence, and the wine flows smoothly with some creaminess from the mousse, leading to a soft, gentle finish with background acidity providing energy. This is a soft and rounded rosé method traditionnelle, with strawberry and toast flavours and delicate autolysis on a smooth palate. Serve with antipasto and tapas over the next 2-3 years. 100% Pinot Noir from the Awatere Valley, fermented in tank and aged on lees with MLF to 12.0% alc. and 5.6 g/L RS, the wine aged 24 months on lees, with disgorgement in March 2018. 17.5/20 Oct 2018 RRP $40.00

Tohu Nelson Pinot Rosé 2018

Rose from New Zealand – Nelson

17.5-/20

Bright, pale candy-floss pink with some depth, lighter on the rim. The nose is softly full and harmonious with aromas of strawberries and cream entwined with fragrant red florals and a little confectionary lift. This has delicacy and freshness with balanced componentry. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has light, mouthwatering flavours of strawberries and cream, with red florals, some confectionary and subtle mineral elements. The flavours form an elegant core with soft, rounded textures, the mouthfeel enlivened by fresh acidity. The wine has a slippery flow and leads to a light, lingering, aromatic finish. This is a light, smooth and slippery dry rosé with light, mouthfilling flavours of strawberries and cream, florals and confectionary and an aromatic finish. Serve as an aperitif, with canapés and antipasto over the next 2 years. Pinot Noir fruit from the ‘Whenua Matua’ vineyard, Upper Moutere, given 3 hours skin contact and cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 12.0% alc. and 4.8 g/L RS. 17.5-/20 Oct 2018 RRP $18.00

Tohu Awatere Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Marlborough

17.5/20

Bright, very pale straw colour with green hues, near colourless on the rim. The nose is fine in presentation with soft, but tightly bound aromas of pungent passionfruit with subtle notes of tropical fruit, fresh herbs and snow peas, along with white florals and some mineral nuances. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a moderately rich heart of pungent passionfruit, savoury herbs along with tropical fruits and green stonefruits. The palate is full and smooth-flowing and the wine carries along a soft-textured line with underlying slippery acidity. The finish is elegant and lingers. This is a moderately concentrated Sauvignon Blanc with savoury, pungent passionfruit, tropical fruit and herb flavours on a fine line with a slippery flow. Serve with Pacific Rim fare over the next 2 years. Fruit from the Awatere Valley, cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 13.0% alc. and 3.8 g/L RS, the wine given a short period of maturation on lees. 17.5/20 Oct 2018 RRP $18.00

Tohu ‘Hemi Reserve’ Marlborough Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Marlborough

18.5/20

Bright straw-yellow colour with lemon-green hues, lighter on the edge. The nose is rich and well-concentrated with complex layered aromas of ripe white and yellow stonefruits harmoniously melded with subtle notes of creamy barrel-ferment, and nutty and toasty oak. The aromatics retain a degree of elegance and finesse, revealing some mineral nuances. Medium-bodied, the palate has rich flavours of stonefruits and citrus fruits entwined with creamy and nutty oak and lees, harmoniously integrated with some butterscotch MLF and toastiness. The flavours form a finely concentrated core and the palate has some underlying power. The mouthfeel is fresh with lacy acidity providing good balance and fresh cut, and the wine carries to a long and sustained finish. This is an elegant but richly layered and complex Chardonnay with stonefruit and citrus fruit flavours, creamy, nutty oak with buttery hints, and some underlying power. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Awa’ block, Awatere Valley, WBP and fully barrel-fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 11 months in seasoned French oak, undergoing batonnage and MLF. 18.5/20 Oct 2018 RRP $38.00

Tohu Awatere Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Marlborough

17+/20

Even ruby-red colour, lighter on the rim with slight purple hues. The nose is elegant and tightly bound with penetrating aromas of dark-red cherry and berry fruit, hints of raspberries, red liquorice unfoldinf red florals, dark herbs and a little minerally reduction. Medium-bodied the palate has a fresh and moderately firm, and concentrated core of bright and vibrant dark-red cherry and berry fruit, with hints of raspberries and dark herbs. The fruit is supported by light, grainy tannin structure with fresh acidity providing plenty of energy and tension. A little minerally reduction shows. The wine carries to a lingering, taut and firm finish of cherries. This is a fresh, finely concentrated Pinot Noir with bright cherry fruit with some dark herbs and a little reduction, with fine palate grip and fresh acidity. Match with poultry and pork over the next 3+ years. Hand-picked fruit from the Awatere Valley, destemmed and fermented, partially by indigenous yeasts to 12.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in new and seasoned French oak barriques. 17.0+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $25.00

Tohu ‘Rore Reserve’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Marlborough

18.5-/20

Full, even, dark ruby-red colour, a little lighter edged with slight purple tints. The nose is initially restrained in expression, but well-packed with dense aromas of ripe, dark-red berry fruit with hints of plums and spices, unfolding some dark herb and dark-red floral notes. This is harmonious and integrated. Medium bodied, the palate is rich and luscious with soft, ripe fruit flavours of dark-red berry fruit with notes of plums entwined with spices, herbs and earth. The fruit has very good depth and presence and is supported by fine-grained tannin structure and flowery grip, with soft acidity in the background. This has good proportion and carries to a soft, lingering, nuanced finish. This is a soft and layered Pinot Noir with gently expressed flavours of berryfruit and plums, with spices and herbs on a fine-structured palate. Match with lamb, beef and venison over the next 5 years. A single vineyard wine, hand-picked fruit from the Awatere Valley, destemmed and fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 13 months in 20% new French oak barriques. 18.5-/20 Oct 2018 RRP $35.05

Tohu ‘Raiha Reserve’ Marlborough Noble Riesling 2016

Sweet Wine from New Zealand – Marlborough

18.5+/20

Bright, deep gold colour, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is softly packed and concentrated with deep an dense layered aromas of ripe tropical fruit and citrus fruit entwined with honey, nuances of marmalade and musky botrytis, along with a little lift. This is opulent and decadent. Very sweet to taste and light-bodied, the palate has rich and succulent, vibrant flavours of ripe tropical fruit, citrus fruit, wld honey, marmalade and caramel and musk. The mouthfeel balances unctuousness with acid freshness, and the wine flows along a rich line with good energy to a rich and opulent finish. This is a beautifully rich, opulent and vibrant Noble Riesling with tropical fruit and citrus fruit, along with honey, nectar and musk on an unctuous, but fresh palate. Match with fruit and baked desserts and crème caramel over the next 4 years. Hand-picked botrytis affected fruit from the Awatere Valley, fermented in stainless-steel to 11.0% alc. and 155 g/l RS, TA 7.8 g/L and pH 3.4. (375 ml) 18.5+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $25.15

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