It’s officially spring and, with summer on the way, it is the perfect timing for the release of some spectacular new season wines and time to line up some stunning Pinots, two Pinot gris with very distinct characteristics – one from Hawkes Bay and the other from Waipara Valley, a lovely Pinot Rosé from Marlborough and for those of us that love a nice red – a very special little Pinot Noir that we discovered from Central Otago – we bring you some of the best we have tried over the last three weeks – perfect for the coming season. Think long hot days and balmy summer evenings sipping your favourite drop – here is what we recommend…
Mount Michael 2016 Bessies Block Pinot Noir (Bendigo, Central Otago)
Mount Michael winery only came onto my radar a few months ago. While they have been producing wine for more than 20 years, it has been a fairly closely guarded secret, only shared among a select few. Until now, I wasn’t overly familiar with the wine and I have really been missing out!
The winery is now owned and operated by Anna Robbie and at 28 years of age Anna is one of New Zealand’s youngest winery owners. In her short time at helm she has attracted a semicult following with the high quality wines they produce.
Situated in the heart of some of the best Pinot Noir growing region in the country in Bendigo, Central Otago, they have produced an outstanding Pinot Noir in Bessies Block Pinot Noir. the wine is named after a Fox terrier, an “employee” on the vineyard and a legendary rabbit hunter. It may be named after a dog but this wine is certainly no dog. It is a beautifully balanced and elegant wine, deep garnet in colour and distinctly Central Otago in style, with a bouquet of berries and the deep forest floor notes and dark berry flavours come through on the palate with refined tannins and lingering finish. But now the secret is out and you can buy it direct from the vineyard.
Opawa 2017 Pinot Rosé (Marlborough)
This winery is situated on the old river bed of the Opawa river. The name Opawa means ‘smokey river’ in Maori. Produced from grapes grown in the classic Rapaura gravels that absorb the sun’s warmth during the day, radiating back onto the grapes by moonlight, to create the highly aromatic flavours for which Marlborough is so highly reputed. They pick their grapes by moonlight to ensure they capture these pristine flavours to create an outstand mouthwatering Pinot Rosé.
This stunning wine is distinctly Marlborough, an area that is gaining a huge reputation for producing not just great Sav Blancs but also great Pinot Noirs too – and this wine is no exception.
Bright light salmon in colour it has a charming and vivacious nose of raspberries, floral notes and spices, leading into a mouth filling, smooth palate. The finish is fresh, clean and refreshing. Opawa Rosé is a dry wine that is a perfect aperitif or accompaniment to fresh summer cuisine.
Mills Reef Reserve 2016 Pinot Gris (Hawkes Bay)
You’ll regularly hear me talking about Mills Reef wines and it is little wonder considering this winery has so many awards for such a small winery. This particular wine is from their Reserve range produced from low yielding fruit, sourced from a single vineyard in the Maraekakaho sub-region of Hawkes Bay.
My wife’s family are from just up the valley in Kereru so I am very familiar with this sub-region and always intrigued by the wines that come out of here. The Pinot Gris grapes prefer the cooler climates and, being inland, the temperate climates here seem to suit the grapes very well. Not as oily, yet smooth in finish, with a lot more citrus notes coming through that weren’t present in the other Pinot Gris.
This luscious single-vineyard Pinot Gris brims with pear, lychee and lemon citrus notes, and ginger spice hints. The palate is succulent, yet refined, with a smooth and satisfyingly long finish. A beautifully balanced wine, for enjoyment on its own, or paired with food.
Waipara Hills Equinox 2015 Pinot Gris (Waipara Hills)
The equinox is of particular importance to winemakers with the Spring equinox marking the time that the vines finally start to bud after a the cold winter months have finally passed, with the Autumn equinox marking the time that grapes are getting ready for harvest after the long hot summer months. So it is appropriate that this wine from the Waipara Hills winery is called the Equinox.
The Waipara valley is one of leading regions in New Zealand for aromatic wines like Riesling and Pinot Gris. As one of the largest producers in the area, Waipara Hills winery is responsible for producing some of the best aromatic wines around. The vines exceeding 22 years of age, which is quite rare for Pinot Gris, are grown on the home block in Waipara valley.
Cool dry climate and a long growing season delivers intense flavour and complexity. The colour of pale yellow with aromas of fresh cut pears, red apple and touch of nutty oak. The palate is weighty and uncious, balanced with a fresh clean finish with flavours of ripe pear, nougat and quince.
Vidal legacy Chardonnay 2016 Hawkes Bay
I love a good Chardonnay and Hawkes Bay to me seems to be the best place in New Zealand to get some of the best Chardonnays around. This particular Chardonnay really captured our taste-buds and, it would seem, has appealed to quite a few of our top wine writers around the country too. Generating multiple 5 Star ratings and 90+/100 points from these wine writers and it is little wonder.
Produced in the 2015/2016 growing season, a season that was exceptionally hot and dry, from a vineyard that is further North and further inland than most Hawkes Bay vineyards has produced an excellent finely styled Chardonnay encapsulating concentration and restraint.
The colour is a lovely golden hue with fragrant flinty aromatics of citrus, pink grapefruit and roasted nuts on a finely styled, textured and seamless palate. Showing harmony and complexity this is a classic Hawkes Bay Chardonnay of one of the highest standards making it deserving of the title ‘legacy’.