Another great evening with nice wines and an informative presenter. John Loughlin was a pleasure to deal with and kept the meeting running to time. A good level of orders resulted. But that all our tastings were as easy to organize as this one was. John says he would be more than happy to come back and has some interesting wines that we haven’t yet tried. We will keep this in mind.
The wines tasted included; Askerne Sauv Blanc / Sauv Gris / Semillon 2018 as the quaffer; followed by; Askerne Reserve Chardonnay 2016; Askerne Viognier 2018; Askerne Gewürztraminer 2016; Askerne Syrah 2015; Askerne Merlot Cab Franc Cab Sauv Malbec 2015; Askerne 2016 Cabernet Franc; rounded off with the Askerne Dessert Cabernet 2018.
Turning vision into reality – a business strategy for Hawke’s Bay Wine
Ngaruroro WCO – cautious optimism
In every issue we profile Hawke’s Bay Wine companies and personalities, wine from our region and associated sectors. We offer up a number of informed viewpoints, cover the news and present a range of wine-related feature stories.
We were finding that working too far ahead occasionally left us in trouble with late cancellations so your committee decided to arrange tastings a little closer to the time. This does not seem to be working out so well and we are in repair mode over the April tasting. Rest assured though that something will be arranged that will meet the usual high standard of our events.
Summer romance tasting
At the February summer romance tasting, I mentioned that the Lansdowne wines could be purchased. The offer was not taken up at the time but is still on the table. Lansdowne produces three wines and they are of a very high quality. There was some really good feedback on the Pinot Gris on the night. The wines have been bottle aged but will all cellar well. The Pinot Gris is $19.55 while their Pinot Noir and Syrah are more expensive at $38.25. These prices include a 15% but are only available through me. Let me know if you are interested.
Wine of Australia
Shows the value of reading the label fully. The Montana Wines mentioned will say “Wine of Australia” on the back. Clearly to be avoided if you want to be sure you are drinking NZ wines.
In breaking news (well, breaking for you, we’ve had it on hold for a couple of weeks now…), we can tell you that our little old Quarter Acre 2015 Syrah has just taken out the trophy for the Best International Syrah in London at the International Wine Challenge (IWC). Not only that, but it also went and won the trophies for best New Zealand Syrah, Best New Zealand Red and Best Hawke’s Bay Syrah. A magnificent four-trophy-haul, with the Best NZ Red and Best International being a particularly big deal by my way of thinking.
The IWC is as prestigious as it gets, it’s a truly international competition that’s meticulously judged blind by some of the best in the business. Apparently the Quarter Acre was up against 1200 plus other gold medal winning wines across the four categories, and it took out all four trophies. Hard to fathom.
This is the biggest award I’ve ever won and it’s a really big deal for us. But it’s also a big win for New Zealand on a vast international stage, so we’re all pretty stoked, proud, amazed and grateful. One person doesn’t make the wine alone, we all know that, and although it’s my name on the bottle we’ve a small bunch of committed wine people here at RMW who all work their butts off, taking risks, crafting, wrangling, organising and grafting away all towards the same goal of making the best bloody wine we can. As risky as it may seem at the time, these awards are a real-life confirmation that we’re doing something right and this is what people want to see more of…wines that have quality at their core, but have enough personality to shine in a room full of top notch wines.
Thanks to those of you who return to buy our wine time and time (and time!) again. You grease the machine and allow us to continue. Hand on heart, thank you.
That’s all for now. I’m in China at the moment on a New Zealand Wine and Hawke’s Bay Wine trade tour, heading home in a week, but for now I may just have to go and have a couple of impressively large beers to celebrate!
The drought conditions of December through to mid-February had effectively “saved our bacon” in terms of how the grapes across Hawke’s Bay had weathered persistent and potentially damaging bouts of rain over the past six weeks.
However, there was likely to be a drop in overall volumes along with a drop in sugar levels and in individual cases a possible rise in the cost of harvesting, leading winemaker Rod McDonald said.
Bright, warm and dry days had seen the critical early development of grapes go extremely well, Mr McDonald said, adding that effectively created a good base for fruit protection when the rains did arrive.
“There was good early flavour development during the start of the season – they [grapes] may be down on sugars but the flavours are there.”
Location had been a factor in which vineyards saw reduced volumes, he said, although the overall drop was unlikely to be major.
Of the three vineyards which sourced Rod McDonald Wines one would be down on volumes as a result of the rain belts but the other two were actually slightly ahead of their initial estimates.
“It depends where you were to find the effects where rain hit.”
He said coastal areas like Te Awanga came through well.
“We’ve got some amazing chardonnay and perfect ripeness out of there.”
Rain often created extra costs due to stopping and starting of harvesting – “darting back and forth” – as well as the need for selected picking plans.
“But you’ve just got to suck it up.”
Mr McDonald said he was at a wine tasting in Auckland about a month ago and was asked what effect rain would have on the grape harvest and how damaging could it be.
He replied that despite Hawke’s Bay’s dry reputation everyone in the industry had a wet weather plan and were always prepared for such an eventuality.
“If you don’t then you’re dreaming.”
Part of his plan was to go with “discretion rather than valour” and carry out an earlier than usual harvest of some Syrah and Merlot so as not to put them through any more rain.
“You have to ask yourself ‘do I pull the pin now and bank it or push on through?”
But he still has some Syrah out, along with Cabernet “and they are in great shape”.
Having a damp end to the season was always a threat and simply “one of those things you have to deal with”.
Mission Estate winemaker Paul Mooney took the same stance.
“We have had a remarkable amount of rainfall over the past six or seven weeks and that is not ideal for grape growing but we have worked around it.”
Mr Mooney said there had been some grape loss.
“There have been one or two blocks we’ve had to leave.”
While volumes would be down it would not be major and he agreed with Mr MacDonald that the hot, dry start for the season had put things on the right path.
“It just hasn’t been ideal in the way it has finished,” he said.
He also agreed that while sugar levels were down flavours would still be very good.
On 13 March 2017, Bob Campbell MW spent the afternoon in Hawke’s Bay, blind tasting his way through a sea of 2014 vintage Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay, Syrah and Merlot Cabernet blends concealed in brown paper bags. Mr Campbell then selected the top 12 2014 vintage wines to represent Hawke’s Bay, only finding out himself on Wednesday which wines he had selected.
Bob Campbell was the second New Zealander, and is one of just over 300 people in the world to hold the Master of Wine qualification. Mr Campbell is an internationally acclaimed wine judge and is widely regarded as the New Zealand’s foremost wine educator.
Melisa Beight, Executive Officer of Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association Inc. said that the boards and members were thrilled that Bob Campbell MW had agreed to judge the 2014 Hawke’s Bay Vintage Collection. “This is the first year we have produced a Hawke’s Bay Vintage Collection and it marks a real milestone for the region. The Hawke’s Bay Vintage Collection will be judged by Bob Campbell every year from now on, with the top 12 wines representing the best of Hawke’s Bay being sent out to global key opinion leaders, so that they can make their own assessment.”
“The overall standard was very high indeed” declared Bob Campbell MW. “Clearly 2014 was a truly top vintage. A range of different Chardonnay styles added extra interest, and a degree of difficulty in choosing the ultimate winners. Syrah was stylistically more consistent as well as being the highest performer of the three classes. Blended reds were a pleasure to judge – all of the entries merited selection.”
The 2014 Hawke’s Bay Vintage Collection (in no particular order):
Vidal Legacy Chardonnay 2014
Te Awa Single Estate Chardonnay 2014
Bilancia Chardonnay 2014
Church Road Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2014
Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2014
Te Awa Single Estate Merlot Cabernet 2014
Craggy Range Te Kahu, Gimblett Gravels Vineyard, Hawke’s Bay 2014
Church Road McDonald Series Merlot 2014
Vidal Legacy Syrah 2014
Church Road Grand Reserve Syrah 2014
Sacred Hill Deerstalkers Syrah 2014
Craggy Range Syrah, Gimblett Gravels Vineyard, Hawke’s Bay 2014
About Hawke’s Bay Wine: Founded in 2006, Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association Inc. represents all wineries and growers in the region and its mission is to achieve international recognition as one of the great wine regions of the world.
A really good turnout for this meeting. A major problem, which led to some disappointment, was that Gavin was quite softly spoken and he did not use the sound system available. The result was that many members had difficulty in hearing much of what was being said. We will need to be more insistent that the sound system is used.
Despite this, the wines presented were great and much enjoyed by those present. On the amusing side, we were getting a little worried about Gavin’s arrival as time moved on. A search of the Community Centre found him trying to get access to Peter Dunne’s electoral office where a local election meeting was being held. The arrival of a couple of cases of wine might well have held more joy than council election issues.
Wines tasted included: The Chatterer – Chardonnay 2015; The Chatterer – Syrah 2014, PINK – Rosé 2016; Counting Crows – Chardonnay 2015; The Gravels – Syrah 2014; The Nest – Merlot 2013; and the Stoned Crow – Syrah 2013.
Wine experts have settled on a list of close to 50 wines, some costing more than $100 a bottle, for Air New Zealand to select from for its business class passengers.
Six of the nation’s leading independent wine experts have selected “The Fine Wines of New Zealand” – to serve in planes from September.
A selection panel comprising Masters of Wine Alastair Maling, Michael Brajkovich, Sam Harrop, Simon Nash and Steve Smith along with Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas has agreed on the list for 2016 which includes 47 wines representing seven varietals.
One of the key criteria was consistency, with a wine having had to have been produced to an ”exceptional standard” for a minimum of five consecutive years.
Air New Zealand chief operations officer Bruce Parton says the airline had been a longstanding supporter of New Zealand’s wine industry.
It spends about $6 million a year on wine for passengers throughout aircraft.
“We believe we can help further build awareness and appreciation of these world class wines with international travellers and propel leading New Zealand wineries to even greater commercial success,” Parton said.
The wines would be promoted through its inflight entertainment system, at offshore events and using contacts internationally to help open up key export markets for the wineries should they need this support.
The airline’s specialist inflight wine consultants, who are based in New Zealand, China and the United States, will select wines from the list for serving in business premier cabins. Not all on the list of 47 would make it on board as some do not react well to high altitudes or are available in sufficient quantities.
Parton said it was important that the wines were selected independently of its existing wine programme.
”We look forward to working closely with the wine masters in the coming years to compile this list annually.”
In 2014 Air New Zealand moved to a three-year deal with a single supplier, Villa Maria, in its economy section which upset some in the wine industry, but which the airline said had been part of simplifying the supply chain.
The Fine Wines of New Zealand for 2016:
Aromatics Felton Road Dry Riesling 2014 Felton Road Block 1 Riesling 2015 Framingham F series Riesling Kabinett 2015 Johanneshof Cellars Gewürztraminer 2014 Stonecroft Gewürztraminer 2015 Te Whare Ra Toru SV5182 2014 Millton Vineyards Clos de Ste Anne Chenin Blanc 2014 Prophet’s Rock Pinot Gris 2014 Dry River Pinot Gris 2014
Pinot Noir Felton Road Block 3 2013 Burn Cottage 2014 Valli Bannockburn 2014 Rippon Vineyards Tinkers Field 2012 Bell Hill 2012 Ata Rangi 2013 Dry River 2013 Craggy Range Aroha 2013 Kusuda 2013
Bordeaux style Te Mata Coleraine 2014 Craggy Range Sophia 2013 Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013 Esk Valley The Terraces 2013 Stonyridge Vineyard Larose 2014 Church Road Tom 2013
Sauvignon Blanc Cloudy Bay Te Koko 2011 Astrolabe Province 2015 Dog Point 2015 Greywacke 2015 Saint Clair Reserve Wairau 2015 Vavasour 2015
Chardonnay Kumeu River Mate’s Vineyard 2014 Neudorf Moutere 2011 Sacred Hill Riflemans 2014 Dog Point 2013 Felton Road Block 2 2010 Villa Maria Keltern Vineyard 2014
A note from our friends at Stonecroft who last visited March 2012. Let us know if it’s about time you want them back.
Welcome to our new form of newsletter. We understand that some of you have been missing out on our emails which is upsetting for us (but has probably gone unnoticed at your end). Hopefully this new system will work better for everyone…
In case you are one of those who has not been kept up-to-date (and otherwise apologies for duplicating), here are a few highlights from the last couple of months:
We recently released our 2015 Old Vine Chardonnay, see here for details.
Our 2014 reds have been getting some excellent reviews, including 5 stars from Bob Campbell for our Ruhanui, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve Syrah and The Original Syrah.
Supply of our Undressed Syrah and Chardonnay is now running low.
Dr. Gerald Atkinson has written an interesting piece on the origins of Syrah in NZ and how it was first planted at Stonecroft.
The cellar door will be open for Queen’s Birthday weekend and we will then be closed until spring, but please contact us if you would like to visit over the winter or you can purchase through our Online Shop.
If you do have any problems with this email format, please let us know.
Caleb Harris/Fairfax NZ | Last updated February 10, 2016.
After 113 years in a farmhouse cellar, a bottle of wine believed to be the oldest ever opened in New Zealand has astonished critics by still tasting great.
“It’s superb. Amazing, really … It’s still hanging on, shaking its fist at you out of the glass,” was how wine writer John Saker summed up the 1903 Landsdowne Claret opened in Wairarapa on Wednesday.
Early Wairarapa settler William Beetham made the wine on land the family owned in Masterton, after his homesick French wife Hermance planted vines.
The 1903 blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and syrah is poured at Brancepeth Station in Wairarapa.
The vineyard stopped producing around 1908, but some bottles have been cellared ever since in the Edwardian homestead at Brancepeth Station, east of Masterton, which Beetham’s descendants still own.
On Wednesday, Saker convened a panel of 12 other local and international wine writers at Brancepeth to sample the valuable vintage, a bottle of which once sold for $14,000.
Beetham’s Masterton vineyard was revived under new owner Derek Hagar in 2009 and won an international pinot noir award, so the tasters compared Beetham’s 1903 wine with a contemporary bottle produced by Hagar on the same land.
Brancepeth’s current custodian, Edward Beetham, said seeing his forebear’s pioneering role in Wairarapa winemaking acknowledged was “a great occasion”. “We’ve always sort of dreamt of doing this.”
Although called a claret, the wine is actually a blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and syrah.
Breaths were bated as the crumbling cork was pulled, but once the venerable wine was swished, sniffed and sipped, the consensus was that age had not wearied it.
“This wine is like … a 100-year-old human which is still not ready to die,” German sommelier Markus Berlinghof said.
“There was this sort of dried citrus-peel acidity that just made it feel alive, still, and that completely shocked me,” American wine writer Sara Schneider said.
Saker found the wine not only surprisingly fault-free for its age, but also redolent of an “Edwardian summer” at the dawn of New Zealand’s wine industry. “That’s what makes it wonderful.”
BETTER WITH AGE?
1. John Saker, Wine editor Cuisine magazine
Tasting notes: “Slight faded rose, a hint of reduction … that lovely elegant passage across the palate, just a suggestion of sweetness. This is a Wairarapa pinot to be proud of.”
What about compared with the 2009 Landsdowne wine? “I thought there was a family resemblance … both have a finer, lighter, red fruit notes and a steely acidity.”
Rating (1903): 5 out of 5
2. German sommelier Markus Berlinghof
Tasting notes: “A lot of dried fruit character, dried orange zest. Elegant, a very feminine mouth feel. The colour is still in very good condition, a deep garnet, very fresh.”
What about compared with the 2009 Landsdowne wine? “I wasn’t a friend of drinking the other wine afterward, I don’t want to compare them.”
Rating: Doesn’t believe in ratings, but in a word: “Superb”.
3. American wine writer Sara Schneider
Tasting notes: “That first red fruit is really gone by now, but has sort of turned into a dried fig character, kind of an earthy tang, with the tannin texture … dried rose petals … a terrific wine.”
What about compared with the 2009 Landsdowne wine? “There’s a wet loam, forest floor, mushroomy, savoury character in both wines.”
Rating: High 19 out of 20 (1903); low 19 out of 20 (2009).