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Murray Almond's "From the Left Island"

Taste of New Zealand Wine Fair 2002 - Part 2
© Murray Almond
17 March 2002

In the last article I provided an overview of my impressions of the recent Taste of New Zealand Wine Fair when it passed through Melbourne. Here I'll provide my impressions from the individual wineries that I tasted during the two days I was there. All the prices shown are the suggested retail price in Australia in Australian dollars.

The Wineries tasted in this colum are

Alana Estate, Martinborough

The wines from Alana Estate come from 7 year old vines on the Estate.

2001 Alana Estate Sauvignon Blanc $26
Very Pale colour. Nice mineral and passionfruit on the nose. There's a touch of butter on the palate from extended lees contact. A very nice Sauvignon Blanc.

2000 Alana Estate Chardonnay $39.95
Quite nice fruit but shows the impact of 100% malolactic fermentation which prices quite a full buttery character. All this butter is not really my style as I feel it tends to masks the fruit quality. Lovers of the big fat style will like the wine.

2000 Alana Estate Pinot Noir $49.95
Nice earthy characters on the nose, with noticeable cool climate characters. Good plum/blackberry characters and a long finish. Very nice.

Vavasour Wines, Awatere Valley, Marlborough

2000 Vavasour Riesling $19.95
Off-dry style. Fruit driven without being too sweet. The bottle age prior to release has benefited the wine. Possibly overpriced against the Australian Riesling market.

2001 Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc $19.95
Quite grassy on the nose, the palate has a nice zingy lime style and decent finish. Good drinking.

1999 Vavasour Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc $33.95
Some oak characters coming through on the nose. The mouthfeel carries the characters with spritzy acid and a lifted mouthfeel. A step up in quality, drink within the next year.

1999 Vavasour Chardonnay $24.95
Slightly muted on the nose, and restrained-style wine with balanced oak and a good finish. A well-made Chardonnay.

2000 Vavasour Pinot Noir $25.95
Fruit/Plum with a slight touch of earth on the nose. Decent acid up front medium-light palate and a medium finish. Lightweight in style that should gain complexity with a couple of years in the cellar.

Konrad & Conrad Wines, Marlborough
Conrad wasn't there but I had a good discussion with Konrad. I've been quite a fan of their late harvest 'Sigrun' Riesling for a while, so it was interesting to look at the rest of the range.

2000 Konrad & Conrad Riesling np
Muted varietal nose. Lean style wine, lifted back palate and a good finish in the clean style. Should develop nicely with age.

2001 Konrad & Conrad Sauvignon Blanc $19.80
Quite grassy on the nose, and perhaps a touch on the green side. Full mouthfeel, a nicely rounded wine.

2000 Konrad & Conrad Merlot Hawkes Bay, $24.80
Very lean and green wine, seems to have struggled to get the grapes ripe.

Konrad then brought out a barrel sample of the 2001 late picked Riesling. This was a remarkable wine picked at 57 brix, the grapes having turned almost to raisins. It will get special labeling as it will be too rich for the Sigrun style. Luscious sweet nose, mouthfilling high quality sweetness and a finish to next Wednesday, a stunning wine and worth looking out for.

2000 Konrad & Conrad "Sigrun" Riesling $23.90 375ml
Good Botrytis nose, very nice balance, lifted [palate, and a medium long finish. Very nice and will age well.

Okahu Estate, Northland

Monty and Paula were behind the stand of Okahu Estate, which had a prominent "Distributor Wanted" sign displayed. While people were slipping past to get to the Montana stand they were missing some good wines from a less cold region of New Zealand. The marketing, presentation, pricing and style of the wines make for a highly approachable product, and good ambassadors for the region.

2000 Okahu Estate 'Shipwreck Bay' Chardonnay $17.95
Quite buttery character, lifted acid, nice long finish. Good quality commercial style Chardonnay.

2000 Okahu Estate "Clifton" Chardonnay $19.95
More obvious Chardonnay characters on the nose, good mouthfeel with intriguing ginger nut and spice characters showing, nice long finish. A Chardonnay with style.

2000 Okahu Estate "PCM" Pinotage Blend $18.95
A blend of Pinotage, Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Lifted nose, a lighter style wine, easy drinking and a soft finish.

2000 Okahu Estate "Ninety Mile" Cabernet/Cabernet Franc/ Merlot $24.95
Medium weight mouthfeel, good finish, very young yet, should develop nicely with age.

2000 Okahu Estate "Kaz" Shiraz $49.95
The top wine from Okahu Estate. Lovely broad nose of berry and spice. Good rich mouthfeel with full-bodied balance, lifted acid and a very long finish. The wine should develop nicely for many years. Delicious.

Wairau River Wines, Marlborough

2001 Wairau River Riesling $19.95
From Stelvin Cap. Nicely fruit driven wine, high acid profile. Very nice and a very good finish, cellar up to 5 years.

2001 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc $19.00
Very pale colour. Grassy nose with gooseberry, and tropical notes. Classical NZ Sauvignon Blanc in style, good finish. Nice drinking.

2000 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc np
More muted on the nose, good complexity on the palate and a good finish. Probably best now.

2000 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc Reserve $26.00
This wine spends some time in used oak. Quite closed on the nose. The palate opens with subtle complexity with some buttery characters underlying. It's a good wine for food.

1999 Wairau River Chardonnay $24.00
Melon on the nose, Full-on buttery style, fairly oaky and a long finish.

1999 Wairau River Reserve Chardonnay $28.00
Muted buttery melon on the nose, medium/short finish. Not good.

1999 Wairau River Botrytised Riesling Reserve $28
Burnt orange nose showing classic botrytis hallmarks. Full on luscious mouthfeel, nice acid, good natural sweetness and a long finish. A very good wine.

Te Kairanga, Martinborough

The visit to Te Kairanga was interesting, Managing Director Andrew Shackleton was most generous with his time and knowledge, and his enthusiasm for his product pervaded the entire stand.

2000 Te Kairanga Chardonnay $29.00
Fruit/acid on the palate, nice balance to subtle, good quality, oak, should cellar well.

2000 Te Kairanga Reserve Chardonnay $40.00
Muted nose, more intense on the palate than the 'standard'. Nice big acid kick and a long finish. Cellar 3-5 years.

2000 Te Kairanga Pinot Noir $38.00
The first bottle tasted muted to me, although Andrew confirmed that all bottles were checked before pouring. The wine didn't have the quality finish expected of a Te Kairanga. A fresh bottle opened showed significantly more style. Plums and black cherry, medium weight, slight hint of VA, nice balance and a good finish. Delicious.

2000 Te Kairanga Reserve Pinot Noir $50.00
I had been critical on the 1998 Te Kairanga Reserve as being too ripe and muscular, so I was interested to try the new release. This wine has a nice elegant nose, great balance on the palate. Great quality fruit and long finish. A great wine to cellar 4-8 years.

Mills Reef Wines, Gimlett Gravels, Hawkes Bay

Mills reef had a notice on their stand "Distributor Wanted". The have a NSW distributor but were looking for coverage in the southern states. The have three ranges of wines, there were presenting their top "Elspeth" range here.

2000 Mills Reef "Elspeth" Chardonnay $33.00
Good quality Chardonnay fruit, nice balance with fruit emphasis, good finish. Very nice

2000 Mills Reef "Elspeth" Syrah $48.00
Berry, dark plum and white pepper on the nose. Good medium-full weighted wine. 60% American of which 40% is new wood. To my taste the fruit was struggling to get over the oak. Pricey for the Australian market.

2000 Mills Reef "Elspeth" Merlot $48.00
Red-purple colour. Good berry with slight plum undertones, plenty of acid. Age 5-8 years.

2000 Mills Reef "Elspeth" Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot $48.00
Nice mouthfeel although a touch green, medium to full finish. Again pricey.

That takes me almost to the end of the first day of tasting.
More opinions in the notes from the second day of tasting.

From the Left Island


© Murray Almond
17 March 2002

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