One of the things that I love about working around wine in New Zealand is the huge diversity of labels, wine varieties, regions and personalities that make up our wine industry. This month I have six wines to talk about – three pairs of wines, from three very different producers.
First up, Pleasant Valley Wines from Auckland’s historic Henderson wine region. They claim to be the oldest winery in NZ – founded in 1895 by Stipan Jelich (later anglicised to Steven Yelas). Winemaker Lee Winston is now stepping out with a new concept – blended wines.
Next, Main Divide, the second tier label from North Canterbury’s Pegasus Bay winery. Owned by the extensive Donaldson family, Pegasus Bay is the local star in Waipara, with both their wines and superb restaurant having won many awards. Founder Ivan Donaldson is a professor of neurology, wine writer and wine judge. Son Mathew is in charge of winemaking.
In 1979 Neil and Dawn McCallum planted a vineyard a few kilometres from Dyerville in the very dry, gravely and free-draining Martinborough region, an hour north of Wellington. They named the enterprise Dry River, and in short order became a high end producer of premium wines. There have been changes of ownership and winemakers over the years. Current winemaker is the very talented Wilco Lam. Great wines and not very easy to find outside the winery website.
Untitled White Blend $NZ 25
Untitled Wines is a project by Lee Winston, winemaker at Pleasant Valley Wines. His approach is to make an assemblage from wines of different years, and regions to produce a unique blend. This wine has aromas of citrus and floral with a whiff of minerality. It has a clean, crisp palate of clear apple juice, jasmine and stone fruit, with a dry finish.
Untitled Pink Blend Rosé $NZ 20
Crisp, fresh and dry, with aromas of red apple skin. In the mouth there’s a hint of candy floss, with cherry, and strawberry jam. (By entering the code on the back label into your search engine, you can discover the wines that go into each of Lee’s wines.)
Main Divide North Canterbury Gewürztraminer 2018 $NZ 21
Definitely has the wow factor. Intense aromas of lychee fruit and pink sticky pink Turkish delight. Rich and lengthy oily and medium sweet palate of ginger in syrup, lychee, marmalade and jasmine.
Main Divide North Canterbury Pinot Gris 2016 $NZ 21
Lovely full-flavoured style of pinot gris from Pegasus Bay’s second label. Aromas of poached pear and ripe grapefruit. Unctuous and generous palate of beeswax, quince, grapefruit marmalade and a hint of spice. Finishes dry after a total party in your mouth!
Dry River The Twelve Spies Martinborough 2017 $NZ 65
Something new for Dry River, a blend: pinot noir, tempranillo, syrah and viognier. Aromas of cherry and spice and fruitcake. Palate of ripe black cherry, black pepper, poached tamarillo and black olive. One to keep for a few more years.
Dry River Martinborough Pinot Noir 2017 $94 This new release is an opulent and ripe pinot with a firm backbone of acidity. Funky aromas give way to pot pourri, cigar box and black berry fruits. Silky tannins support a rich complex and juicy ripe palate of cassis, blackberry and a hint of spice. Gorgeous wine that will reward cellaring.