Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Down on the Farm

It’s not everyday you get to try a trophy-winning wine down at your local farmers market, but for visitors to the Hastings Farmers Market (held every Sunday morning) that’s all about to change. You see the Trophy for Best Dessert Wine at the 2009 Air New Zealand Awards went to Farmgate Wines (regular farmer’s market fixtures) for their Noble Harvest Riesling 2007,
FARMGATE winemaker and poetry fan, Peter Gough, has long had a penchant for making dessert wine.
“I love Keats description of Autumn” Peter says “as the “season of mist and mellow fruitfulness.”
It’s those autumn mists in our Riesling vineyard that encourage the botrytis infection
(or noble rot) which is the start of the process of producing a dessert wine.”

At a hip-swelling 280g/l of residual sugar Peter describe’s Farmgate Noble Harvest Riesling 2007 as being “…decadent with aromas of apricot, honey and marmalade – a rich unctuous palate
with stonefruit, orange and mandarin – balanced with a pineappley acid cut.” So if you’re planning a stay in the ‘Bay make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to taste before it’s all gone.

Everyone’s a Winner

Occasionally I receive press releases that don’t actually make me want to scoop my own eyeballs out with a spoon and this is one of them.
Early Learning Centre Country Kids, in the Moutere Valley and Tasman School near Nelson have both been presented with donations by Blackenbrook Vineyard after a successful first-time fund-raising initiative.
Parents and staff at Country Kids and Tasman School were able to buy heavily reduced bottles of Blackenbrook wine with proceeds going back into the daycare and school. Co-owner of Blackenbrook, Ursula Schwarzenbach says as her children have both been to Country Kids and her son now goes to Tasman, they were delighted to be able to give something back.
“It’s not easy for these places to raise funds, so as a local business we were happy to help out. We also like the fact that we get the chance to thank the people who buy local wine by donating back to help our community’s children,” she says. Country Kids Manager Nickie Hodgkinson says the wine idea was a winner.
“It was hugely popular with parents and staff alike. It was just such easy fundraising and we’re really thrilled that Blackenbrook came up with the idea and were prepared to donate these funds. The money raised will be spent on new bulldozers for the sandpit,” she says. Schwarzenbach says the concept was so successful they’ll definitely look at doing it again in the future.
I love the idea that buying wine might help put more bulldozers in sandpits, as well as encouraging more New Zealanders to buy wine locally, and I hope more wineries give this idea some thought. To find out more about how it was done, contact Blackenbrook at

Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Moscato $13

This recently picked up the Trophy for Best Apéritif-Style Australian Sparkling Wine at the Sydney International Wine Competition and also scooped Top 100 status and a Blue-Gold medal – but shiny medals aside, this is one fabulous little fizz with summer written all over it. It’s compulsory to serve it super-cold to enjoy the delicious tropical pineapple and peach flavours and crisp, spritzy acidity. Light but so lovely. Widely available.
Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2009 $35
Marlborough’s big guns just keep firing from the 2009 sauvignon blanc vintage, and Saint Clair have proved once again that their flagship, the Wairau Reserve is no short-range missile. Boasting pungent aromas of white-flesh nectarine, passionfruit, lemon-verbena and lawn clippings followed by a heart-stopping burst of classic gooseberry, pineapple and lime-laden lusciousness on the palate. Stunning stuff that can be found in good wine stores or via
Montana ‘P’ Patutahi Gewurztraminer 2008 $36
This is one of my favourite gewürztraminers because it’s always so fresh, exotically spicy, floral and fabulous. In the 2008 version expect dense concentration of lychee, rose petal, guava and citrus flavours, bold complexity and beautiful length on the finish. Find it in good wine stores nationwide.
Full Circle Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 $16
The latest offering from green-guru’s Yealands Estate is grassy and classy but definitely not glassy. Locked inside this lightweight plastic squeezy bottle is a lean, limey, fresh and frisky sauvignon which carries some classic capsicum and herbal characters to round out all that citrus. It might be certified carbon-zero but it’s definitely full-emission where flavour’s concerned. Find it at wine stores and supermarkets everywhere. To find out more visit
The Ned Waihopai River Sauvignon Blanc 2009 $18
Don’t be fooled by the soft, pillowy nose because this wine positively erupts with punchy pineapple, passionfruit and lime-driven flavours. Clean and minerally to finish, it’s a sure-fire hit with seafood of any description. Good wine stores and supermarkets will stock this or visit
Sacred Hill HALO Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2008 $26
Heavenly aromas of hotcross buns, Christmas pudding, pickled walnuts and pepper numb the nostrils while the tastebuds are coated with warm, plump and plummy flavours which leave a lovely, clinging finish. Dangerously easy to drink and perfect with old-fashioned leg of lamb studded with rosemary and garlic. Widely available

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