What a great evening with Mark and Susan. A nice blend of where they have come from and an outline of where the business is going now. Their business in Martinborough has taken an upturn with the introduction of platters at their tasting room. This has guided them into the tourism area and is looking very promising for them.
To recoup on the wines we started with the Rose 2017 as the quaffer. It is a dry style rose but with huge fruit sweetness and flavours of strawberries and raspberries. That was followed by the dry Pinot Gris and the two drier Gewurtztraminer’s. After a break we tasted the 2012 Pinot Noir, followed by the Reserve Pinot from 2013, which was a superb wine. It won a gold medal from the Air NZ Wine Awards. We then finished with the sweet Auslese Gewurztraminer 2013 (Pamela) that is a luscious wine.
Some good orders which was very pleasing for Susan and Mark. There were two things following from the evening. With harvest fast approaching there is often a need for pickers. If you are interested please let them know. Secondly, Haythornthwaite will give Club members a 10% discount at the tasting room. Give it a try, a trip to the Wairarapa, a platter and a tasting of some really nice wines. What more could you want?
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).
Being the first vineyard in Gladstone in 1986, Christine and David Kernohan took over the vineyard in 1996. Only 20km from Martinborough, GV soils exhibit similar properties probably due to its proximity to the old terrace riverbed of the Ruamahanga River.
With ideal soil conditions, free draining stony silt loam for growing vines, production has steadily stepped up over the past 20 years. Christine mentioned the wine growing area in Gladstone is in the process of identifying its own sub-region characteristics.
The wines from first impressions seemed to be a little flat. First impressions can be deceiving as they were in this case. The bouquet for most wines were on the light side but still clean and fresh.
The 2014 Viognier gave a hint on lemon peel and spice with a dry, ripe apricot finish. The GC Sauv. Blanc hinted at young pineapple and again a dry, crisp lingering (for more) finish. The Pinot Gris offered up fresh melons with off-dry ripe stonefruit to finish and the Rosé, made from Bordeaux-style grapes. strawberries and cream, beautiful and elegant.
Into the reds. The tasting notes were not wrong. What they don’t mention is their elegant subtle perfume and rich long finish. 12.000 Pinot Noir offered hints of blackberry and liquorice with a savoury finish.
Despite a wet few months before picking, the 2011 GV Pinot Noir displayed a warmth from the extra time on the vine allowing the tannins to build. This would go perfectly with lamb or pork infused with Asian-inspired flavours; star anise, dark soy, sugar and salt.
The club appreciates Christine’s time and wonderfully crafted wines. Now looking forward to how 2014 Pinot’s stack up.
Venue: Johnsonville Community Centre Hall, 30 Moorefield Rd, Johnsonville, Wellington 6037 – Directions
Christine is the chief winemaker at Gladstone, involved in all stages of winemaking and manages the business. One of only three Scottish women winemakers in the world (not being a common career aspiration where or when she grew up). Christine ‘fell’ into the wine industry after a happenstance visit to Gladstone Vineyard with David one spring weekend in 1995.
She previously worked in the computer industry in business analysis and project management and was also involved in social research and agriculture industry research. She has an MBA from Massey University and farming experience from involvement in a goat, sheep and beef farm at Hunterville.
Gladstone Vineyard was the opportunity to run her own business, bring together the rural life with business, and apply her scientific bent from way back.
David Kernohan is owner/taster, architect and former Associate Professor at the School of Architecture at Wellington’s Victoria University. He has been operating his own research and building heritage consultancy, Architecture Diagnostics, from the vineyard for the past eight years.
He is the author of five books on architecture including Wairarapa Buildings published in 2003. David is a Deputy Environment Commissioner, was co-author of the Hunn Report on the weather tightness of buildings that precipitated the Building Act 2004, and is a former Director of Wellington Waterfront Limited.
‘Quaffing wine’ – 12,000 Miles Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Move over Marlborough… try the ‘more grown up’, easy drinking summer Wairarapa SB. The wine shows excellent fruit purity and finishes long and attractive. At its best: now to 2017.” 4.5 Stars, Wine Orbit, Jan 2015
Gladstone Vineyard Viognier 2014 White peach and mandarin on the nose, echoed by orange blossom and subtle clove spice. An elegant, cool climate Viognier. 5 Stars 93/100. Wine Orbit; 4 Stars” Cameron Douglas MS
Gladstone Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2013 More serious, wonderful food wine. Careful batch selection and winemaking produce this textural elegant Sauvignon Blanc. Silver Medals, San Francisco and Canada, 91/100 Sam Kim.
12,000 Miles Pinot Gris 2014 A lovely bouquet of yellow peach, loquat and nectarine opens up to a musky floral and cinnamon spice nose. The palate is rich and rounded with a soft, mealy character from the extended lees contact. Silver Medal NZ International Wine Show 2014
Gladstone Vineyard Rose 2014 THINK PINK! A perfect ‘all year round’ rose. The nose is all summery desserts with strawberry, raspberry and pannacotta with hints of spice. Creamy and generous entry with a juicy fruit core and a clean finish. Made from Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes.
12,000 Miles Pinot Noir 2013 New release, dark berry flavours are balanced with subtle spice, chocolate, earth and savoury characteristics that enhance and lengthen the palate. Pure Gold Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2014, Gold Melbourne International Wine Competition 2014
Gladstone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 “Light ruby-red with purple hues, fresh and fragrant with lifted red cherry and berry fruit aromas and a little savoury interest. Attractively elegant”. Silver Medal International Wine Challenge 2013, & Decanter World Wine Awards 2013, International Wine Challenge 2013
Note: Every case purchased goes into the draw to win a magnum of Gladstone Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir 09.
We know for sure that there are about 700 wineries in New Zealand, but no-one would have a clue as to how many different brands there are out there. Thousands probably, many completely unknown to you and me.
Not that it really matters. Labels are sometimes nothing more than commercial punts with a butterfly’s life span. Big companies will create a new brand at the merest whiff of a new market segment, then just as quickly snuff it out if expectations aren’t met.
Those New Zealand brands you discover for the first time when you visit an Aussie supermarket are another example of pop-up labels. They are usually the result of bulk wine purchases that are bottled across the ditch.
Then there are the personal, limited-release labels you’ll never see in shops and only at the right parties – the Prime Minister’s annual ‘JK’ Central Otago pinot noir comes to mind.
But also hovering under the radar are some wonderful surprises – off-off-Broadway labels with wines that are lovingly made and every bit as authentic as the best of their mainstream cousins.
Often they’re from tiny estates that haven’t tried very hard to broaden distribution. Or maybe they’re just starting out. Here are three whose wines are worth tracking down:
Despite the fact it came from nowhere to win the coveted Bouchard Finlayson Trophy for its 2010 pinot noir at last year’s IWSC (International Wine and Spirit Competition) in London, this Wairarapa label has remained enigmatically incognito.
The grapes are grown near Masterton on the site of the region’s very first vineyard, planted by William Beetham in the late 19th century. The vineyard is not irrigated, yields are kept low and a non-interventionist winemaking approach is taken.
The 2010 pinot noir is no longer available but the 2011 pinot noir is delightful and fine-boned, while the panna-cotta-infused 2011 pinot gris has real depth and sophistication.
After leaving Craggy Range, talented winemaker Rod Easthope embarked on a solo career that has seen him make wines for a UK-based online retailer as well as establish his own local label with his wife Emma.
The first wine they produced is an outstanding Wairarapa-made pinot (see below), but also look out for a soon-to-be released 2014 Hawke’s Bay syrah.
The Mouat family founded the magnificent Mangaorapa Station in southern Hawke’s Bay in the mid-20th century. The recent decision to grow grapes has paid off.
Conditions more often identified with the Wairarapa than Hawke’s Bay have helped produce beautifully scented pinot noir, wild honey-laced sauvignons and enticing pinot gris. The wines are all made off-site by Warren Gibson at Trinity Hill.
Easthope Family Winegrowers Pinot Noir Te Muna Road 2013, $65 Pure sweet berry flavours harmonise with brown tea and minerally savoury elements, against a fine, taut structure. Lovely, lengthy pinot worth cellaring. Buy at easthope.co.nz
Mangaorapa Estate Southern Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2011, $30 The central triumph of this pinot gris is its mouth-coating, caressing texture. Off-dry in style, with mellowing apple and pear notes, it is aging beautifully. Buy at mangaorapa.co.nz