HWW Sample Offer

FEBRUARY

Craggy Range SophiaCraggy Range, 2013 Sophia, Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay
Grape: Merlot (62%), Cabernet Sauvignon (19%), Cabernet Franc (18%), Petit Verdot (1%)
Drink: 2018 – 2025

Late last year I tasted this wine at an event in Melbourne and was so impressed by it I wrote a short article about the wine and the region where it is produced – Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay. The excellent vintage conditions and the talent of winemaker Matt Stafford have together produced a wine of premium quality and significant ageing potential.

The wine is made using a classic Bordeaux blend, where the two main grapes are Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon together with Cabernet Franc for freshness and fragrance and a dash of spice from Petit Verdot. After tasting the 2010, 2013 and 2014 it was the 2013 that really stood out with a lifted aromatic profile of fruit, spice, dried herbs and floral notes, a silky mouthfeel and a powerful structure. This would make a welcome addition to any cellar and will drink well in the years to come – if you can keep your hands off it!

feb-17-arfion_smokestack_lightning_skin_contact_pinot_gris_2014_yarra_valley_victoria_australia_natural_wine-copy

Arfion, 2016 Smokestack Lightning, Yarra Valley
Grape: Pinot Grigio
Drink: Now or until 2019

I have written about Dave Mackintosh’s wines before and the Pinot Grigio continues to be an all time favourite of mine. I finished my last bottle of the 2015 last weekend and am so glad the 2016 has just been released.

Dave uses the Smokestack Lightning label for his small batch wines. For the Pinot Grigio he uses 100% whole bunch fermentation to extract colour and texture from these copper tinged berries. The whole bunch method of fermentation enhances the flavour and aroma characteristics of the wine with further complexity added by the texture derived from leaving the fermenting juice in contact with the skins.

The final result is aromas and flavours of summer red fruits, zingy tangerine citrus and hints of purple flowers wound around a structure of good palate weight and refreshing acidity – more importantly this is one easy wine to drink!

feb-17-quartz_reef_methode_traditionnelle_brut_nv_bottle_image_1Quartz Reef, Brut NV, Central Otago
Grape: Pinot Noir (64%), Chardonnay (36%)
Drink: Now or until 2020

Produced using biodynamic principles this sparkling wine employs the traditional method of production most closely associated with the Champagne region. Originally from Austria, winemaker Rudi Bauer was one of the early advocates of biodynamic viticulture in New Zealand.

The term Brut is used to signify a dry sparkling wine and Methode Traditionelle indicates that the secondary fermentation that produced the bubbles occurred in bottle and that the sparkling wine was aged on its lees (dead yeast cells). This imparts toasty, brioche notes to the wine.

Rudi riddles and disgorges the wine by hand and for this batch it was done from Autumn 2016 onwards. For a quick run down on how sparkling wine is made take a look at the latter part of this article.

feb-17-neudorf-pg-copyNeudorf Vineyards, 2015 Moutere Pinot Gris, Nelson
Grape: Pinot Gris
Drink: Now or until 2018

Located in the Moutere region of Nelson, the wines from Neudorf are known for their quality and the Pinot Gris is no exception. I tasted this wine at the cellar door in January with one of the owners, Judy Finn.

This wine would match well with a variety of food due to its aromatics, palate weight and refreshing acidity. The review below by highly respected Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas says it all …

“Fragrant, fresh and distinctive bouquet of ripe white fleshed fruits, lush, floral and with a layer of minerality and gentle white spice. On the palate – soft and lightly creamy then when the acidity kicks in the palate embraces and new mix of flavours including sweet citrus, pear and apple fruit, a hint of spice and sweetness; beautifully balanced with a lengthy finish. A lovely example.” Cameron Douglas MSom, 2015 Vintage

feb-17-craggy-range-te-muna-rd-pinot-noirCraggy Range, 2014 Te Muna Road Pinot Noir, Martinborough
Grape: Pinot Noir
Drink: Now or until 2020

Fruit for this wine was harvested entirely by hand with the majority being destemmed prior to fermentation – a small amount (15%) of bunches retained their stalks for added aromatic intensity.

I tasted this wine in January at the cellar door and was immediately struck by the restrained structure of the wine. Medium in body with a fine and supple tannin structure this wine showed delicious classic Pinot notes of red fruits, dried herbs and pretty floral notes. It is drinking well now and has the potential to show nice development over the next 3 – 4 years.

Stonecroft Serine SyrahStonecroft Wines, 2013 Serine, Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay
Grape: Syrah
Drink: Now or until 2019

Stonecroft Wines are certified organic and produce Syrah from the oldest vines in New Zealand. They were the first winery established in the Gimblett Gravels area and have a traditional approach to producing their wines.

Another red wine from the outstanding 2013 vintage, the Serine Syrah shows enticing restraint in style yet all the hallmarks of a quality expression – fine tannin structure, red and black fruits with savoury meat and black pepper notes. The fruit for the Serine was hand harvested and the wine matured for 18 months in French oak barrels, 25% of which were new. To read more about this wine click here.

Happy Drinking!