edited by Sue Courtney
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Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Cruising around Hawkes Bay through some of the back roads found us purposely in the Dartmoor Valley where beside the river is the appropriately named 'Riverside'. We had made the trek up this hidden valley that was somewhat off the beaten wine trail, in pursuit of a Pinotage and knew we were nearing the winery when we saw the yards of vines with colourful scarecrows towering above them.
Although it was the holiday Monday of Easter Weekend it was fairly early and we were the only visitors, which was a relief, as I hate crowded tasting rooms.
Our most hospitable host invited us to try the whole range of wines. There was the fruity and refreshing Riverside Dartmoor Sauvignon Blanc 2001 and the equally fruity and refreshing Riverside Dartmoor Unoaked Chardonnay 2001. There was the rich mealy and mouthfilling Riverside Stirling Reserve Chardonnay 1999 and then a trio of reds that were well made and palatable though did nothing to make me sing.
And lastly the wine I wanted to try, the Riverside Stirling Reserve Pinotage 2000.
I was certainly not disappointed with the earthy gamey meaty leathery complexities of this flavoursome wine and bought two bottles, carefully packing them under the seat for the long journey home.
We found the occasion to open one of the bottles yesterday.
There's a lovely spicy depth and bright richness to this crimson violet wine that flashes ruby hues. On the nose there's smoky charcoal - though very subdued - and a fragrance that suggests meat, cedar and musk laced with spiced berry fruit.
It's a mouthfilling wine with creamy vanillin oak, musk, strawberry and cherries - and the more the wine sits in the glass and opens up, the cherries seem like those of the glazed variety while there's a hint of plum there too.
And the more I muse over the wine the more I like the complexity and the soft ripe tannins, the sweet fruit that integrates with the citric savoury meatiness and the musky game and earthy flavours that emerge and linger on lengthy creamy finish.
Six hundred bottles of the Riverside Stirling Reserve Pinotage 2000 were made - that's the equivalent of two barrels of wine - in this case a combination of new and used of the French variety.
It has 12.9% alcohol according to the label, which also informs me the website address - www.riversidewines.co.nz. The website has more info on the wine.
"It's almost sold out" we were told, so be quick if you want some.
The price at the winery is $22 a bottle although expect to pay more in retail - if you can find it that is. I saw some on the shelf at Scenic Cellars in Taupo, one of the best wine shops in New Zealand and a compulsory stop for any wine lover passing through the central North Island. It should also be available in the Eastern States of the US through AV Imports in Maryland.
Riverside Wines will release the 2001 Pinotage at Labour Weekend - that's at the end of October.
© Sue Courtney
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