Day Two of the Marlborough Wine Weekend was always going to be a big one, with every event planned to be conducted on a grand scale. With at least 200 wines that could be tasted by every guest, it would be an impossible task to do justice to every wine. One either had to be selective and look closely at these wines, or look at a larger number but gaining impressions only. I took the latter path. Here are the highlights of Day Two for me:
While I tasted many of the wines, I also missed a number, no doubt worthy of mention. But I noted as interesting a spicy and complex Cloudy Bay ‘Mustang’ 2008, a firm, concentrated and ageworthy Fromm ‘Fromm’ 2009, a rich and succulent Giesen ‘Brothers’ 2009, a stylish, but serious Forrest ‘The Valleys’ 2010, a firm and oak-spiced Lake Chalice 2010, a richly textured Greywacke 2009, very concentrated, show-stopping Jackson Estate ‘Gum Emperor’ 2009, a beautifully subtle, but driven Highfield 2009, sweet-fruited, user-friendly Marisco ‘The Ned’ 2010, a crisp and tight Mud House ‘Caseys Road’ 2010, a firm and textured Nautilus ‘Four Barriques’ 2009, a savoury, complex and layered Seresin ‘Raupo’ 2008, up-front, fruit-featured, dense Spy Valley 2010, elegant and fine-featured Staete Landt ‘Paladin’ 2009, a focussed and precise TWR 2010, a refine and superbly concentrated and interestingly seasoned Vavasour 2010, classically lined and pure Villa Maria ‘SV Seddon’ 2009 and a rich, complete Wither Hills 2010.
The lessons learned here for me were the many excellent if not exceptional wines from the 2010 vintage coming on stream, and the strength of winemaker signature over regionality. I believe regionality and terroir exists, all things being equal. If anything, the wines from the Awatere Valley seemed more slim-line, pure and minerally, with crisper acidity.
There was insufficient time to do justice to all the wines on show, but the following made an impression on me. An ARA ‘Single Estate’ 2011 was complete and rounded, an Auntsfield ‘Reserve’ 2010 with great drive, length and subtle spicing, a Catalina Sounds 2011 elegant and gentle, a Clos Marguerite 2010 distinctively cool and racy, a Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’ rich, lush and robust, a refined, tight and cutting Lawson’s Dry Hills 2011, a textural, restrained Mahi ‘Boundary Farm’ 2009, a well-proportioned, textbook Mount Riley 2011, a flavour-packed and textured Marisco King’s Favour’ 2011, a seamless and decadent Seresin ‘Marama’ 2008, a pure and concentrated TWR 2011, a rounded, stylish and enriched Tin Pot Hut 2010, an exotically-fruited, sweetly lifted Tupari 2010, a densely concentrated and forceful, complex Vavasour ‘Claudia’s’ 2007, a wonderfully mouthfilling Villa Maria ‘Wairau Reserve’ 2011, a harmonious and balanced Wairau River 2011 and an intense and individual Wither Hills ‘Ranrangi’ 2010.
Many of the ‘Library’ wines were past their best, but still looking good, without undue development were the 2005 wines and 2007 vintage wines, of which the Nautilus was a standout. And as if to prove a point, a Lawson’s Dry Hills 2001 was also in excellent condition.
The conclusions I made were that in good, low-yield, well-ripened vintages, Sauvignon can age surprisingly well. While 2010 is seen as a standout vintage, 2011 offers wines with lovely soft, varietal aromatic characters that appeal enormously. Many of the 2009 wines, and older, if sensitively handled with oak and various winemaker inputs, can show very well. Regionality is a little clearer, and the established personalities of Rapaura, Brancott and Awatere and the like seem to be accepted.
- Lake Chalice ‘Raptor’ Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – restrained, but with layered oak spice complexities
- Staete Landt Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – elegant, tight, gooseberries, and subtle development
- Greywacke Riesling 2009 – savoury, complex, substantial and dry
- Spy Valley ‘Envoy’ Riesling 2009 – medium-dry, honey, toast and pleasing development
- Seresin Chardonnay 2008 – full, lush, citrus fruits with subtle oaking, lively and lush
- Seresin ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay 2008 – complex and intense mealy, flinty, nutty and concentrated
- Spy Valley ‘Envoy’ Chardonnay 2007 – packed, but layered, nutty, mealy and with power
- Staete Landt Chardonnay 2009 – refined with intensity and building complexities
- Fromm ‘Brancott’ Pinot Noir 2007 – Not tasted
- Seresin ‘Raupo Creek’ Pinot Noir 2007 – Not tasted
- Spy Valley ‘Envoy’ Pinot Noir 2009 – concentrated and fine with firm textures and rich spices
- Staete Landt Pinot Noir 2008 – Not tasted
- Cloudy Bay Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2009 – soft, subtle richness with honey and spices
- Marisco ‘Sticky End’ Noble Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – ripe stonefruits, honey, zesty and zingy
- Seresin Noble Riesling 2008 – concentrated lusciousness with honey, toast and nutty nuances
- Staete Landt Riesling Auslese 2009 – medium sweet, nutty with a fine drying thread