Coopers Creek and Heart of Gold Albarino 2012
If there one region in the country keen to trial new varieties, it must be Gisborne. This is no doubt due in part to the importing work of new clones and varieties by Riversun nursery based in Gisborne, but also the willingness of the local growers to experiment with the new material. The Gisborne region has undergone significant changes to its grapegrowing and winemaking infrastructure over the last decade and a half, with some loss of direction and identity. While the production of bulk wine remains an important part of the industry in Gisborne, and Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer are expressed in premium terms, the region has not had the excitement of something new in recent times, apart from Viognier, which it shares honours with Hawke's Bay.
It is very pleasing to see the likes of Gruner Veltliner and now Albarino making a good show from Gisborne. These varieties are in the ground in the district. Winemakers such as Simon Nunns of Coopers Creek, Kim Crawford who has long-time ties with the region, and local doyen Steve Voysey with his Spade Oak and Heart of Gold label have been at the forefront of showcasing the new arrivals. Albarino is the unique variety most widely recognised as coming from Rias Baixas in Galicia, north-west Spain. The wine has a pronounced aromatic, floral expression and elevated levels of acidity which commentators find similar to Riesling or Viognier, though there is no connection between these varieties. It is planted in Portugal and the U.S.A., but little seen elsewhere. Thought to have been established in 1989 in Australia, genetic research has found the vines to be Savagnin Blanc.
Plantings were established recently in New Zealand in Gisborne, in Nelson with Te Mania and Marlborough. Coopers Creek and Heart of Gold in Gisborne have just released their second vintages of the Albarino variety from 2012. The latest news is that the Coopers Creek wine has just been awarded a gold medal and trophy for Champion Other White Variety at the 2012 Bragato Wine Awards. This is the first top award for Albarino in this country. I review the two wines here. www.cooperscreek.co.nz www.spadeoak.co.nz