The Nelson wine region may be one of the smallest in the country but it produces some of the most exciting, high quality wines New Zealand has to offer. Over the years Nelson winegrowers have produced many award winning and highly acclaimed world class wines that are exported around the globe.
The 2014 vintage was very kind to Nelson producers with new release aromatic wines delivering bright, clean, fresh flavours that exhibit the best each variety has to offer.
You will find three wine sub-regions in Nelson. While the Moutere Hills and Waimea Plains are long-established wine producing areas it is the coastal locales of Tasman and Kina that are emerging as the latest serious sub-region with names like Blackenbrook, Kina Beach, Kina Cliffs and Sea Level winning awards and being noticed in the market place. In fact Blackenbrook Wines, Kina Beach Vineyard and Sea level Wines have all won gold medals with their pinot gris; Blackenbrook turned theirs into a trophy at the recent Bragato Wine Awards. A pretty good result for a small wine producing sub-region.
When it comes to Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough is by far New Zealand’s largest producing region but the sophisticated Sauvignon Blanc drinkers who have enjoyed the bright, vibrant Marlborough style for so long are starting to look for styles of Sauvignon Blanc that have those same intense flavours but with slightly softer acidity and more complexity; that is where Nelson wines deliver the goods. Nelson auvignon Blancs from the 2014 vintage are packed with delicious, ripe fruit flavours and have beautifully balanced ripe acidity.
Riesling is a variety capable of delivering a huge range of flavours, from flinty, bone dry examples to succulent sweet dessert wines and everything in between. There are two masters of sweet Riesling in this region, Andrew Greenhough at Greenhough Vineyards and Heidi Seifried at Seifried Estate. The Greenhough Apple Valley Riesling is lower alcohol in style but with bright clean flavours and beautifully balanced acidity so it doesn’t seem as sweet as it really is.
Seifried Estate Sweet Agnes Riesling is nectar of the Gods. Over the last six years or so it has been named as the world’s best sweet wine at the Decanter International Wine Awards in London no less than four times, three of those in consecutive years. Taking the award ahead of some of the world’s most famous dessert wines that cost hundreds of dollars a bottle this very classy dessert wine treat made right here in Nelson and it costs less than $40 a bottle.
Another style becoming very popular is rosé. Rather than making rosé wine with some left over fruit Nelson winemakers have set out to make the very best wine they can. While producers like Woollaston Estates, Neudorf Vineyards, Kahurangi Estates, Waimea Estates and Blackenbrook Vineyard have been making a rosé for several years Aronui Wines and Brightwater Vineyards now have a rosé available.
In the case of Brightwater Vineyards they have produced their first rosé in 2014 and it has a little residual sugar giving the wine a luscious texture. It has also been awarded a gold medal at the first wine show it was entered into, not a bad start!
If you love Chardonnay you know about the incredibly high standard Neudorf Vineyards set for the production of the variety, not just in Nelson but world-wide it is a benchmark many aim for. Tim & Judy Finn from Neudorf have shared the knowledge they have gained over the last 30 or so years to help producers in Nelson, and other regions around the country, make some of New Zealand’s finest Chardonnays. Names like Brightwater Vineyards, Rimu Grove, Te Mania, Kahurangi Estate, Kina Beach, Seifried Estate and Waimea Estate are some producing very good examples locally.
As far as red wines are concerned the dominant variety in Nelson is Pinot Noir with most wineries in the region making it. Pinot Noir is one variety that expresses its sense of place, or where it is grown and the best examples have layers of flavour that entice you to want ‘just another glass please’.
Again Neudorf Vineyards have set the bar very high with the production of Pinot Noir and their Neudorf Vineyards Home Block Pinot Noir is always a five star wine and regarded as one of the best in New Zealand.
During the last winter break Woollaston Estates expanded their cellar door indoors seating area so even on not-so-nice days or if you need to get out of the sun you can sit there and enjoy the stunning vineyard views while you enjoy a glass of wine and sample the treats from their also expanded cellar door tasting menu.
If you want fine dining close to Richmond on a Friday or Saturday evening (or any lunch time during the week) then the place to go is the restaurant at Waimea Estates. Again it has a lovely vineyard setting with food designed to match the wines.
This summer make sure you take some time out to visit Nelson wineries. Go to www.winenelson.co.nz and download the winery map, plan your day (or days) and get out there and enjoy yourself but remember New Zealand’s drink-drive rules have changed so make sure you have a sober driver.