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 www.wineshow.co.nz 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
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
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
Brightwater Vineyards Pinot Noir 2014
Spiegelau International Wine Competition
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
Brightside (by Kaimria Estate) Nelson Sauvignon Blanc
Kahurangi Estate Mt Arthur Reserve Chardonnay 2014
Trout Valley (by Kahurangi Estate) Pinot Gris 2015