Featured Reviews




Vavasour 2017 Whites and 2015 Pinot Noir, and 2016 Single Vineyard Releases

07 November,2017
Vavasour is the pioneer of Awatere Valley, Marlborough winegrowers, established by the long-time Vavasour farming family in 1986 when they planted vines in the Dashwood, Lower Awatere Valley. Their first vintage of 1989 drew critical acclaim for the wines, and set off a wave of vine planting which continues today. Vavasour later became part of the N.Z. Wine Fund, which was purchased by Foley Family Wines in 2009, the buy including the winery, substantial vineyard holdings and Vavasour, Dashwood, Goldwater, Clifford Bay and associated brands. Despite initial scepticism, Vavasour, as with all the Family Foley wineries, have flourished with investment in vineyards and plant, as well as a sharing of resources and co-ordinated management.

Chief winemaker Stu Marfell is the public face of Vavasour, with the company since 2002. He has the assistance of the very experienced Susan van der Pol and Hamish Smith in the winery, and Mat Duncan who oversees the viticulture of the 60 ha of estate vines yielding for Vavasour. The wines under the stewardship of Stu have been excellent. But Stu cites the valuable of input of Alastair Maling MW, who joined Foley Family Wines in 2015 as a major influence in the most recent progression of quality and style in the wines. Stu oversees all of the Marlborough winemaking for Foley Family Wines, and welcomes the arrival of Greg Lane from the Adelaide Hills who has assumed the Grove Mill winemaker role. It’s exciting times for the company. Here, I review a selection of Vavasour 2017 whites, and the 2015 Pinot Noir, along with the single vineyard bottlings of 2016 ‘Anna’s’ Chardonnay and ‘Felix’s’ Pinot Noir. The Vavasour label is reserved for Awatere-only wines. www.vavasour.com

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW



Dashwood Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Marlborough

17.5/20

Bright, very pale straw colour with slight green hues, near colourless on the edge. The nose is softly fresh with elegantly concentrated aromas of passionfruit and tropical fruits, along with subtle notes of fresh herbs and nettle elements. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has fresh, bright and lively flavours of passionfruit and tropical fruit with fresh herbs, nettles and cut grass flavours. The mouthfeel is brisk with fresh acidity enhancing the cut. The wine flows with good drive along a fine-textured line, leading to a lingering finish of passionfruit, nettles and cut grass. This is a bright and vibrant Sauvignon Blanc with flavours of passionfruit, nettles and cut grass on a crisp and lively palate with good linearity. Serve with salads and vegetables, and Mediterranean fare over the next 2 years. A blend of 60% Awatere Valley and 40% Wairau Valley fruit, cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 12.5% alc. and 4.25 g/L RS. 17.5/20 Nov 2017 RRP $15.00

Brilliant, pale straw-yellow with green hues. This has a full, upfront and softly packed, but very accessible nose of ripe tropical fruits, in the refreshing cooler spectrum, with notes of fresh herbs and snow peas, and a little thiol passionfruit, all harmonious and quite complete in expression. Dry to taste, this is bright and lively on the palate with sweet fruit flavours, hinting luscious, with passionfruit and gooseberries, unfolding nettle and cut grass notes. The flavours are presented with lovely balance and harmony, quite up-front and totally accessible. The phenolic handling is very fine, and zesty acidity carries the flavours to a positive finish. This has it all here, and drinking well already. A blend of 60% Awatere and 40% Wairau fruit. 12.5% alc. 17.5/20 Aug 2017 RRP $15.00

Vavasour Awatere Valley Marlborough Rosé 2017

Rose from New Zealand – Marlborough

18+/20
Bright strawberry-pink colour with some depth and slight purple tints on the rim, lighter edged. The nose is soft and fully packed with deep aromas of strawberries and cream, and fragrant red florals and nuances of pomegranate. The aromatics unfold to show lifted confectionary elements. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has soft and well-concentrated flavours of strawberries and cream and aromatic red florals, along with pomegranate and quince. The fruit is fragrant and forms a soft-textured heart with plenty of mouthfeel and presence. The phenolics and crisp acidity lend the mouthfeel a thirst-quenching dryness, and the wine flows with good energy, carrying to a long, lingering finish, unveiling confectionary notes. This is a softly rich and flavoursome dry rosé with strawberries and cream, floral and pomegranate fruit with a thirst-quenching palate. Serve with tapas and dim sum over the next 2 years. Clone 777 Pinot Noir fruit grown for the rosé style, going direct to press and cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 13.0% alc. and 5.9 g/L RS. 18.0+/20 Nov 2017 RRP $23.00

Vavasour Awatere Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Marlborough

18.5/20
Bright pale straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, lighter edged. The nose is fresh with vibrant aromas of tropical fruits, passionfruit and gooseberries, unfolding an array of fresh herbs, snow peas, nettles, cut grass, and floral detail with mineral elements. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has intense and penetrating flavours of passionfruit and gooseberries, herbs and snow peas, with nettle notes. The fruit forms a tight and well-concentrated core, and flows along a fine-textured line enlivened by brisk, mouthwatering acidity. This has depth and detail. The wine carries to a very long, lingering, softly concentrated finish of passionfruit, herbs and nettles. This is a fresh and vibrant Sauvignon Blanc with intensely penetrating and detailed flavours of passionfruit, tropical fruits, herbs and cut grass on fine, mouthwatering palate. Match with Pacific Rim fare over the next 2 years. Awatere Valley fruit cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 12.5% alc. and 4 g/L RS. 18.5/20 Nov 2017 RRP $22.00

Vavasour Awatere Valley Marlborough Pinot Gris 2017

Pinot Gris from New Zealand – Marlborough

17.5/20
Bright straw-yellow colour with a little depth, pale on the rim. The nose is soft and somewhat restrained, with gentle aromas of white and yellow stonefruits harmoniously interwoven with honeysuckle and exotic floral notes. The aromatics grow in intensity with aeration. Dryish to taste and medium-bodied. the palate has an elegant core with tightly bound flavours of white and yellow stonefruits softly interwoven with some honey and fragrant floral elements. The palate has good drive, and carries along a soft-textured, smooth-flowing line, with integrated acidity. The wine carries to a soft, smooth, subtly nuanced finish. This is a dryish Pinot Gris with restrained flavours of stonefruits with honied and floral detail on a smooth-flowing, soft palate. Serve with Asian cuisine over the next 3+ years. 100% Awatere Valley fruit, cool-fermented in stainless-steel, with 10% in seasoned French oak to 13.0% alc. and 6.1 g/L RS. 17.5/20 Nov 2017 RRP $22.00

Vavasour Awatere Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Marlborough

18/20

Ruby-red colour with some depth and slight purple hues, lighter on the rim. The nose is elegantly concentrated with good volume of ripe, dark-red berry and cherry fruit with raspberry notes, and a fine thread of dark herbs and subtle whole bunch stalk, unfolding a little savoury earthiness. Medium-full bodied, the palate is well-proportioned with good depth of dark-red berry fruit entwined with black cherry notes and suggestions of herbs and whole bunch stalk complexities. The fruit is rich with moderate depth, fine concentration and balanced, fine-grained tannin structure and soft acidity. As the wine flows, nuances of spice and savoury earth emerge and carry to a soft, ethereal finish. This is an elegant and well-proportioned Pinot Noir with dark-red berry and cherry fruit, fine herbal and spicy-earthy notes on a fine-textured palate. Match with pork, veal and beef dishes over the next 5-6 years. 100% Awatere Valley fruit, clones 115, 667, 5, 113 and 777, hand-picked, given a 10 day cold soak and fermented with 20% whole bunches to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 20% new French oak. 18.0+/20 Nov 2017 RRP $30.00

Dark, even ruby-red colour with light purple hues and some depth, lighter edged. This has an elegantly concentrated nose with aromas of ripe dark-red and black-berried fruit along with spicy dark herbs and notes of liquorice and nutty oak. The nose has good intensity and unfolds some subtle resinous oak detail. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a richly concentrated core of dark-red berry and black cherry fruit entwined with liquorice, plum and dark herb notes, along with some nutty oak. The fruit is supported by fine-grained tannin structure that forms a refined lime with integrated acidity. The wine flows with positive energy to a restrained, but lingering finish of dark-red and black fruits and flavours of liquorice. This is a well-concentrated, rich Pinot Noir with dark-red and black fruits on a fine-grained palate with good drive and energy. Match with duck and pork, and beef and lamb dishes over the next 5-6 years. Clones 115, 777, 5, 114 and 667 from the Awatere Valley, the fruit hand-picked and fermented with approx. 20% whole bunches to 14.0% alc., the wine spending 5-10 days on skins post ferment and aged10 months in 20% new French oak barriques. 18.0/20 May 2017 RRP $31.00

Vavasour ‘Anna’s Vineyard’ Awatere Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Marlborough

19/20
Bright straw-yellow colour with some depth, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is firmly concentrated with deep and layered aromas of sweetly ripe white stonefruits and citrus fruit along with a harmonious amalgam of creamy barrel-ferment, with nutty oak and rich lemon-curd and buttery MLF. Medium-full bodied, the palate is elegant in proportion with firm and tightly bound flavours of white and yellow stonefruits with citrus fruit notes. The fruit intermingles with creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak, along with a suggestion of flint, and lemon-curd and buttery MLF. The mouthfeel is fresh with good acid vitality, and the wine carries along a fine-textured line of tannins, leading to a taut, dry finish. This is an elegant and firmly concentrated Chardonnay with vibrant stonefruit and citrus fruit melded with complexing creamy and nutty oak, with MLF richness on a crisp, driven palate. Match with creamy seafood, poultry and roasted pork over the next 5+ years. 100% Awatere Valley fruit, hand-picked Mendoza and clone 95, fully indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 14 months in 18% new French oak barriques, undergoing batonnage and 80% MLF. 19.0/20 Nov 2017 RRP $41.00

Vavasour ‘Felix’s Vineyard’ Awatere Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Marlborough

19/20
Even, dark ruby-red colour with purple hues, a little lighter on the edge, youthful in appearance. This has an elegantly concentrated, firmly packed and intense nose with harmoniously melded aromas of dark-red berry fruits along with black cherries, nutty and spicy oak and subtle herb and whole bunch detail, unfolding violet florals. Medium-full bodied, the palate has finely concentrated and deeply packed, sweet flavours of ripe, dark-red berry fruit with black fruit notes and violet florals. Subtle herb and whole bunch stalk detail adds complexity, and the palate shows spices and liquorice. The mouthfeel is rich and vibrant with plenty of energy, and the fruit is supported by fine-grained, balanced tannin structure. The wine carries to a sustained finish. This is a rich, concentrated and complex layered and detailed Pinot Noir with ripe dark-red fruits with herb and whole bunch notes, violets and spices on a fine-structured palate of vitality. Serve with wild duck and pork over the next 6+ years. 100% Awatere Valley fruit, clones 115 and 5, hand-picked, given a 10 day cold soak and fermented with 20% whole bunches to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 14 months in 25% new French oak. 19.0/20 Nov 2017 RRP $41.00
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