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New release Nelson wines – Nelson Mail 06.10.15

Labour Weekend is the time wineries that have been closed or open for reduced hours during the winter months fling the doors wide open and invite all of us to enjoy the vinous fruits of their labours.

Even though that is a couple few weeks away now is the time to plan the first holiday weekend of spring. To help you with that I have been doing some wine sampling on your behalf, trying as many new release wines as I can and looking for those special treats that will add some quality and interest to your summer wine drinking.

Wine Nelson recently held its annual new release tasting and this year 22 wineries had a combined 150 plus wines to taste. Even for a taster with my experience getting through the entire line-up was a daunting challenge, one I learned a long time ago not to take up, so I selected two varieties or styles of wine and tried each one on offer; this year it was new release Sauvignon Blancs and Roses.

My overall impression of the 2015 vintage Sauvignon Blancs is that all of the wines have clean, precise flavours with ripe acidity. When I say ripe acidity I mean acidity that makes your mouth water rather than unripe or green acidity that can be mouth-puckeringly harsh; ripe acidity is a good thing. While I didn’t taste any wines not worthy of a place in your shopping basket a couple that caught my attention were the Brightside Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (RRP $18) produced by Kaimira Estate and the Kina Cliffs Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (RRP $22).

The 2014 vintage Sauvignon Blancs being released now tend to be those that winemakers have produced with the intention of doing something just a little different, either some time maturing in old oak barrels or just some time resting in bottles before being released. I love these wines because they offer more than just a lovely fresh, fruity wine.

A great example is the Greenhough Vineyards Hope Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (RRP $28), this is a wine that will make you rethink what Sauvignon Blanc can be. Winemaker Andrew Greenhough set out to make a more complex style using a wide range of techniques to create a number of different elements which all became part of a blend, building a wine from the ground up to create a different expression of the variety. The wine was made by leaving 30% of the hand-picked fruit to soak for 36 hours before being pressed. The other 70% was whole bunched pressed and the wine was fermented in French oak barrels, 25% of which was new oak.

To ferment the wine Greenhough and his team created a vineyard yeast starter to inoculate the barrels for ferment. This ferment starter was created by culturing wild yeasts that exist in the vineyard. After fermentation the wine spent six months lazing around on yeast lees in barrels before being bottled.

Using a high volume of solids in the ferment rather than just freshly-pressed juice has resulted in a wine that as Greenhough says “has a degree of aromatic corruption” with distinct sulphide characters and a luscious mouthfeel.

This wine is a wine-lovers wine to be enjoyed with food, and not for those who just like a glass of fresh Sauvignon Blanc late in the afternoon.

When it comes to 2015 Rose wines there have been some true delights produced in the Nelson region.

The new winemaker at Mahana Estates (formerly Woollaston Estates), Michael Glover, has produced a wine that is quite different to their normal strawberries and cream style rose. The 2015 version is dry and complex, a serious rose packed with complex flavours and perfect with summer barbecue foods.

Te Mania Rose 2015 (RRP $21) is packed with bright, fresh flavours and while strawberries and cream characters dominate the flavours the wine has a long, lingering dry finish.

When you are looking for great examples of a particular wine variety a good place to start is to look at the results from various wine show awards and Nelson wines have been performing well on the national and international stage this year.

For most show results in one place check out where you will find all sorts of information about the various shows and lists of the trophy and medal winning wines.

Here are some of the top results for Nelson wines at recent wine competitions and let’s not forget Neudorf Vineyards being awarded Bob Campbell’s first ever 100 points for their Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay 2014.

Colin Harrison Memorial Trophy for Nelson’s best Chardonnay

Aronui Chardonnay 2014

New Zealand International Wine Show

Gold medals

Seifried Estate Nelson Chardonnay 2014

Milcrest Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2014

Aotea by Siefried Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Middle earth Pinot Meunier Rose 2015

Royal Easter Wine Show

Trophy and Gold Medal

Aronui Single Vineyard Pinot Gris 2014

Gold Medals

Waimea Estates Spinyback Riesling 2013

Sea Level Home Block Pinot Gris 2014

Waimea Estates Viognier 2014

Bragato Wine Awards

Trophy and Gold Medal

Blackenbrook Nelson Gewurztraminer 2014

Gold Medals

Brightwater Vineyards Pinot Noir 2014

Spiegelau International Wine Competition

Gold Medals

Aotea Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Seifried Nelson Chardonnay 2014

Seifried Nelson Winemaker’s Collection Sweet Agnes Riesling 2015

Brightwater Vineyards Nelson Pinot Noir 2014

New World Wine Awards (for wines under $25) – Top 50

Gold medals

Brightside (by Kaimria Estate) Nelson Sauvignon Blanc

Kahurangi Estate Mt Arthur Reserve Chardonnay 2014

Trout Valley (by Kahurangi Estate) Pinot Gris 2015


I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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