Legend has it that the hills were formed by three canoes of the famed Polynesian explorer Kupe, which were carried inland by a huge earthquake and came to rest in the valley behind Martinborough. Nga Waka A Kupe (The Canoes of Kupe) is where the name came from.
Nga Waka was established in 1988, one of the early pioneer wineries in Martinborough. In 2015, experience growers Jay Short and Peggy Dupeg bought the winery, the pair own vineyards in Northern California , Adelaide Hills and a coffee plantation in Hawaii. The vineyard area has grown from 10 to 20 hectares since.
They have seven small vineyards scattered around the village of Martinborough, mainly producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; also small amounts of Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé and Riesling.
The success of Nga Waka lies in their very experienced long-term staff, Roger Parkinson, the winemaker has made every wine since the first vintage in 1993. Vineyard Manager, Mike Kershaw has tended the vines since 1996. The consistency and depth of local knowledge enable them to produce consistent and elegant style of wine year after year.
I recently tasted the below range, the consistency across the range is evidence. Textural, elegant with restrained fruit, and the ability to age.
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Nga Waka Sauvignon Blanc 2020, MartinboroughSauvignon Blanc from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 29-Jan-2021Bright, pale-yellow, even colour throughout. The nose is soft and growing in volume, nuances of gooseberries, melded with discreet passionfruit, lime flower, lemongrass and a hint of wet stone. Light-bodied, the tranquil aromas of gooseberries, lemongrass enriched by a touch of wet stone. Intensity grows on the palate, added lime peels and sweet floral scent. Refreshing acidity flows with good energy, along a chalky thread, fine-textured phenolic line. This is an inconspicuous Sauvignon Blanc with refreshing flavours and persistence on a fine-textured palate. Match with scallops and clams over the next 2-3 years. Cool-fermented in stainless steel to 12.5% alc, <1 g/l RS. 18+/20 pts (91 pts) Jan 2021 RRP $20
Nga Waka Chardonnay 2019, MartinboroughChardonnay from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 29-Jan-2021Bright, light-yellow with a gold hue, slightly lighter edged. The nose is gently full, nuances of stonefruit, lemon sherbet entwined with buttery scent and subtle spices. Medium-full bodied, the palate is packed-full with aromas of ripe stonefruit interweave blanched almonds, buttery creaminess and subtle spices, linger with lemon sherbet and a hint of toffee on the finish. The ripe fruit is in harmony with the buttery palate and provides the body. The wine possessed an elegant, lacy acidity balance along a chalky phenolic line, leaves a satisfying finish. This is a harmonious Chardonnay with ripe stonefruit flavours, balanced lacy acid and a creamy mouthfeel. Match with fried chicken and sausage casserole over the next 5 years. 100% barrel fermented in French oak barriques to 13.3% alc, regular lees-stirred, aged 10 months in barrels, 20% new. 18.5/20 pts (93 pts) Jan 2021 RRP $26
Nga Waka Home Block Chardonnay 2018, MartinboroughChardonnay from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 29-Jan-2021Bright, medium gold-yellow, lighter on the rim. The nose is elegantly-presented and open, aromas of ripe stonefruit entwined with warm butter, sutle spices, popcorns and hazelnuts. Full-bodied, voluminous nuance of ripe nectarines and peaches interweave roasted hazelnuts and butter popcorns; delicate spices lingers to a long sustained finish. The ripe fruit withstands the barrique elements marvellously, both contribute to a full-body and allow the complexity build-up. The smooth, creamy palate flows with good energy, carrying spices, nuts and toffee across the palate and leaves a rouned, buttery finish. This is an opulent Chardonnay with full-body and barrel-fermented complexity. Match with peanut butter chicken and strong hard cheeses over the next 6+ years. 100% barrel-fermented in tight-grain French oak barriques, 33% new. Full MLF, regular lees-stirred, aged in barrels for 10 months. 18.5+/20 pts (94 pts) Jan 2021 RRP $35
Nga Waka Rosé 2020, MartinboroughRosé from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 29-Jan-2021Bright, salmon-pink with some depth, lighter on the rim. The nose is softly full and lush, packed full with aromas of strawberries, melded with basil and wet stone. Medium-light bodied, dry to taste, flavours of strawberries accompanied by raspberries lemonade, faint herbs linger to a lightly spicy finish. The fruit is bright with good intensity. The mouthfeel is delicate with a fine-textured chalky phenolic line, mouthwatering acidity flow to a refreshing, dry, crisp finish. Match with tuna crudo and sushi over the next 2-3 years. Grape pressed with minimal skin contact, cool-fermented to 13.5% alc, 0 g/l RS. 18.5/20 pts (93 pts) Jan 2021 RRP $20
Nga Waka Pinot Noir 2018, MartinboroughPinot Noir from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 29-Jan-2021Clear, deep ruby-red with good transparency, lighter on edge. The nose is softly full; intense perfume fills the glass, lavender nuances, dried rose petals melded with black cherries, red berries, plums, barrel spices, and aromatic herbs. Medium-bodied, nuances are growing in intensity as it opens up to the palate; aromas of dried cherries, plums interweave floral perfume, unveiling a touch of savoury earth and baking spices. Lingering delicate spices supported by fluid acidity and refined powdery tannin lends a pleasing, long finish. This is an alluring red-fruited Pinot Noir with perfume and elegant details on a silky tannin palate. Match with lamb shabu-shabu and cured venison over the next 5+ years. 10% whole bunch, fermented to 14% alc, aged in tight-grain French oak barriques for 22 months, 20% new. Unfined, unfiltered. 18.5+/20 pts (94 pts) Jan 2021 RRP $35
Nga Waka Lease Block Pinot Noir 2018, MartinboroughPinot Noir from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 29-Jan-2021Deepish, dark ruby-red with some transparency, lighter edged. The nose is dark and broody, seductive black cherries and plums' nuances entwined with dark herbs, deep florals underlying earthy minerals. Medium-full bodied, concentrated aromas of black cherries, plums intermixed red berries, thyme; violet and spices unfold liquorice and earth. The mouthfeel is dense, layered by fruit, spices and fine-grained tannin extractions. The tannin is fine with a velvety coating, added texture; melded with integrated acidity, flow effortlessly. The is a structured, sweet-fruited Pinot Noir with concentration and velvety tannin extraction. Match with wild boar and hare over the next 6+ years. 15% whole bunch, fermented to 13.5% alc, aged in tight-grained French oak barriques for 20 months, 33% new. Unfined, unfiltered. 18.5+/20 pts (94 pts) Jan 2020 RRP $45