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Wine of the Week for week ending 7 September 2003
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Kaimira Estate Brightwater Riesling 2003
Nelson, New Zealand

It's the last day of winter as I write this note. It was a clear night last night and the morning dawned cool. Was that frost on the grass outside the window or just a heavy dew? I shivered a little when I opened the window and the cool air hit me. But it's going to be a sunny day and tomorrow is the first day of Spring. Already the first of the peach blossoms have burst on the tree outside the bedroom window and in the warmest climes of the country the early harvest grape varieties are sprouting away.

June Hamilton and Ian Miller in their vineyard, Kaimira Estate.

Spring leads to summer and the delights of summer wine - delicious white wines that take serious chilling yet still taste fantastically good. Wines like the gorgeously fruity Kaimira Estate Brightwater Riesling 2003 from Nelson that made a major impression to my taste buds after a serious bout of sauvignon blanc tasting earlier in the week.

There's limey hues to this light gold wine that smells a little chalky. Lovely ripe citrus, honey, honeysuckle, lemon blossom, and pollen scents on the nose carry through to the mouth where they combine with a warming, slightly viscous texture. It's a little earthy with a melon fleshiness joining the lemon and lime with riper orange notes lingering on the lime marmalade finish. Nice weight, seamless flow, terrific concentration, a touch of powder, floral ginger-like spice and a mouth-filling richness. An acidic, pithy dryness balances the ripe fruit and tropical flavours develop. The empty glass smells like passionfruit and limes. While simply yummy to drink now, cellar to develop further complexity.

It's 'just off-dry' according to the label and carries 12.5% alcohol by volume. It's sealed with a screwcap too.

I've long been a fan of Nelson Riesling and wines like this little beauty from Kaimira Estate confirms my passion for the grape. It's not surprising that some of the country's best Rieslings come from Nelson, the sunniest part of New Zealand at the top of the South Island, just over the ranges on the western side of Marlborough.

As I savour this wine and its myriad of citrus flavours my thoughts go back to November 2002 when I visited Kaimira Estate. The citrus trees lining the driveway were drooping with their weight of fruit. June Hamilton was out with her basket, picking the fallen ones from the ground where the bright yellow and orange colours make a striking contrast to the lush green grass they had fallen on.

June was going to make a citrus and chicken dish for dinner. That sounds like a terrific combo to this wine. It's also going to be beaut to accompany summer salads. I had it with some ham yesterday and the fruity richness combined well with the saltiness of the cured meat. A picnic with citrus chicken, ham and salad and Kaimira Estate Brightwater Riesling 2003. Sounds just yum.

Kaimira Estate is on the banks of the Wairoa River at Brightwater. As you drive towards Nelson from the south turn right after crossing the bridge over the river - or if heading south turn left just before the river.

June Hamilton and Ian Miller (pictured above) established their 7-hectare vineyard on the alluvial river soils in 1996. Riesling accounts for about 25% of the plantings with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Viognier, in decreasing order, the balance. The first vintage was 1999. They have an on-site winery and winemaker Jane Cooper makes the Kaimira Estate wines and a number of others here.

What does the name mean? Kai = food, Mira = mill, so Kaimira means food mill. Perhaps it is an old mill that houses the winery today?

Kaimira have a website - check it out at . The NZ distributor is Co-Pilot.

The wine will cost around $15 a bottle, which makes that fabulous value for my money in my book.

Stop Press
News has just come in that the Kaimira Estate Brightwater Riesling 2003 has just won gold at the 2003 Bragato Wine Awards presented in Martinborough at the Romeo Bragato Winegrowers Conference last night. In my opinion the judges got it absolutely right!

© Sue Courtney
31 August 2003

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