Richard and Kirsten Searle run Brunton Road and the Matawhero labels in Gisborne, and wines from both portfolios are in the modern and accessible camp that is easily appreciated. Comparing the Brunton Road Merlot 2009 and Matawhero Merlot 2011, both shared excellent aromatics, prettiness and freshness with primary fruit the focus, along with soft mouthfeel.
I managed to have an in-depth catch up with Kate Radburnd with her Pask Winery Gimblett Gravels wines at an earlier lunch (click here to read). Exciting things are in the works, and her move to join Hancocks as their distributor as of 1 October is part of the plan. I had a quick run-through the widely seen ‘Roys Hill’ range and the new ‘Kate Radburnd’ wines which offer consistent presence in all sectors of the market.
Ken Small was showing the Fairhall Downs wines from Marlborough. I was interested in the Sauvignon Blanc 2012 and sure enough it had fresh pungency and richness, with good acidity, typical of a great year. The Torea wine was being poured by Stuart Smith, Ken’s son-in-law, and the Oystercatcher Chardonnay 2011 successfully shows the marriage of stainless-steel and oak-influenced components with its texture and tight citrussy notes.
The charmingly feisty Jules Taylor had a full Marlborough range, and I elected to taste the Gruner Veltliner 2011, distinctly aromatic and beautifully textured. The gold medal winning Sauvignon Blanc 2012 is also fine and soft in mouthfeel with elegant passionfruit flavours, a seamless wine with class.
Ever friendly, Patrick Stowe bubbles over with enthusiasm, which makes you look forward to tasting his Rimu Grove from Nelson. The Riesling 2011 has soft talc and peach aromas and flavours with lovely delicacy.
An emerging label is that of Tupari in the Awatere. Veteran winemaker Glenn Thomas and his partner have this vineyard with the Turnbulls, and already the wines have had excellent show results. The Pinot Noir 2011 combines attractively up-front fruit with a seriousness in the underlying structure.
Riesling was on the agenda to taste with Simon McGeorge of Waipara Hills. It’s all about style with the Waipara Hills ‘Equinox’ and regular Waipara Hills Rieslings from 2011. Both share the exotic jasmine florals, the Equinox richer and with more depth, making it more character, but then the regular wine more classical with its acidity and linearity,
From the other overseas wines, I looked at the Chakana wines from Argentina, the ‘Reserve’ Malbec 2010 quite mild but varietal, without the excesses that can come out. Also exemplary in varietal expression was the ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, and these two deliver. From Spain, I tasted tradition with the Marques de Caceres Rioja Gran Riserva 2007, a wine with powerful structure underlying complex fruit and extended oak aging flavours. Far more contemporary was the ‘MC’ 2005, with its focus on ripe Tempranillo fruit and the more restrained use of oak.
A must visit were the Champagne stands. Piper Heidsieck is typically elegant and freshly accessible, and the Vintage 2004 is that, but carries a beautifully fine line and length. Charles Heidsieck is always richer, and the ‘Brut Reserve’ NV showed toasty softness that blossomed on palate. It was the Charles Heidsieck Millesime 2000 that impressed me with its fullness, age and layers of soft, bready, yeasty, savoury mouthfilling flavours and creamy textures, all poised on restrained mousse. Then onto one of my favourites, Pol Roger. On tasting was the new Rose 2004, a little more forceful and bold than the sublime 2002, but it has wonderfully judged textural finesse. It will no doubt become closer to the beauty that the earlier release possesses with time.