Sunday, 15 May 2011

Special releases from Hawke’s Bay Royalty

Tom McDonald (far left) towering over his vineyard workers
In late 2009, ten years after the release of the iconic Bordeaux blend TOM, Church Road Winery put a new stake in the ground with the release of a white counterpart – Church Road TOM Chardonnay 2006. The wine became a benchmark for serious New Zealand Burgundian-style whites just as the original TOM did for Bordeaux style reds.
Produced in exceptional years, the second release of Church Road winery’s meticulously crafted; prestige chardonnay is definitely a big event.
“Church Road TOM Chardonnay is our flagship chardonnay named in honour of the late Tom McDonald, an early pioneer of quality wine production in Hawke’s Bay and the patriarch of the Church Road winery for over 50 years”, said Chris Scott, senior winemaker for Church Road.  “The wine is a barrel by barrel selection of the very best hand-harvested Chardonnay parcels, blended to produce a wine of great depth and character. Only the very lowest cropping blocks are considered for this wine, which in combination with gentle, low-intervention winemaking techniques produces wines with complexity, power and elegance,” says Chris.  Each bottle of Church Road TOM Chardonnay 2009 is individually numbered and hand finished.
Brother Cyprian Huchet
Also New Zealand’s oldest winery, Mission Estate has announced the inaugural release of Huchet, a tribute to one of the Missions founding fathers Brother Cyprian Huchet.  Over one hundred and seventy years ago, a small, brave group of French missionaries sailed to New Zealand, bringing little more than their faith, their generations of winemaking experience and a few precious vine cuttings.  Cyprian, the son of a winemaker from the Loire followed them and later rose to the position of Mission Estate Cellar Master and guided the brothers toward commercial production. 
Fast forward to 2011, the Huchet Syrah represents the epitome of winemaking prowess for Mission winemaker Paul Mooney and his team.  The Mission have been somewhat of a sensation in recent years for releasing incredible value-for-money sleepers like their Estate Syrah  and Chardonnay at around $18 a bottle, but I’d been wondering if they’d stashed away anything secretly magnificent down in the cellar and now the mystery is solved.
New World Wine Awards Chairman
of Judges Jim Harre
New World Wine Awards Call for Entries
Nowadays the road to becoming a successful small winery (or even a half-flash large one) is littered with obstacles.  Our high dollar inhibiting export prospects, an oversupply issue creating a lake of cheap wine being lapped up by consumers and of course being at the mercy of Mother Nature at every turn in the winemaking cycle is enough to turn anyone prematurely grey and fragile.  Combine those issues with the age-old chestnut of finding national distribution and you’re really in trouble. 
But here’s where wine producers could get lucky.  Entries are now open for the 2011 New World Wine Awards, and in addition to the distinction of an award, the competition guarantees winning winemakers national distribution and extensive brand exposure which will drive sales.
“The awards are a key channel for reaching discerning consumers who enjoy high quality, affordable wine. The rigour of the judging process and the strong impact success has on sales means that winemakers value the competition very highly,” said Jim Harré, Chair of the judging panel.
Over 210,000 bottles of Top 50 wines valued at $2.8 million were sold at New World stores nationally within six weeks of the 2010 awards. The extensive programme of marketing activity associated with the awards – including advertising, in-store promotion, direct marketing to shoppers and a strong online presence – also means that winning winemakers benefit from brand-building over the long-term. 
The awards are the premier consumer-focused awards competition in New Zealand because affordability and availability of the wines are key criteria for entry. Wines entered into the competition must retail for below $25 per bottle, and there must be at least 500 cases of each wine available for sale. So there you go, it’s a no-brainer – but you’ve got to be in it to win it and entries close on June 3rd.
Turanga Creek Vineyard Manager Margaret Boswell

Turanga Creek Certified Organic!

I love finding out that another winery has been certified organic and this week it’s Auckland’s turn.  The team at Turanga Creek are fizzing with the news that their vineyards out in Whitford are now officially organic, and they’re full-steam ahead toward Bio-dynamic production.
“We have been in conversion to organics for years and are now fully certified with Biogro as of March 2011, being the first vineyard in the Auckland Region to do this” says owner Mandy Allen. “It’s been a fascinating journey with many trials and tribulations.  The last year has seen many changes, the planting of vegetable gardens and orchard block, growing bio-dynamic preparations and learning how to implement them.  We've built our cow pat pit, so we're on our way!”
More information can be found at and 2011 will be their first fully certified organic vintage.


Mission Estate Huchet Syrah 2007 $100 êêêêê
Only 1657 bottles were produced of this wine, which was 5 years in the making and blended from two parcels of fruit from targeted vines in Mission Estate’s Mere Road vineyard in the famed Gimblett Gravels district in Hawke’s Bay. Impenetrable and glossy in the glass, the elegantly spicy aromas of dark chocolate, pepper, rose and sweet smoke are followed by ripe plum and berryfruit flavours and an addictive velvety texture.  It’s an incredibly sexy, saucy syrah (I feel weird describing a wine named after a missionary that way, but it’s true).   I’ll bet the pleasure you’ll get by owning a bottle of this will beat the pants off the last thing you spend $100 on. 

Church Road TOM Chardonnay 2009 $70 êêêêê
Chardonnay lovers rejoice!  The second coming of the lord of the lees has produced a wine with sublime elegance, power and intensity and best of all, certain longevity.  Intoxicating aromas of stonefruit and citrus lead to fig and toasted nut flavours followed by layers of tangy, tropical fruit.  Clean and beautifully balanced, it’s simply stunning. Available from select fine wine retailers and restaurants alternatively contact the winery

Devils Staircase Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010 $24 êêê½
Produced by the talented team at Rockburn Wines, the Devil's Staircase grapes were grown in Rockburn's Gibbston and Parkburn Vineyards and the name is inspired by the scary descent on the road from Queenstown to Kingston, along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. But there’s nothing scary in the drinking with lush cherry, berry and plum notes and a gentle, smooth juiciness on the finish.  Better still you can find it in supermarkets everywhere.

Valkyrie Brynhild Golden Ale $6.49 500ml
Promoted as ‘beer for more than mere mortals’ this golden ale definitely has a touch of otherworldliness about it.  Modelled on the story of a famous Valkyrie, Brynhild, this first beer of Valkyrie Brewing Co has a tasty, nutty aroma and its full-bodied, malty, hoppy flavour is fleshed out with a special addition of Hokey Pokey (or “sponge toffee”). Love it! To buy email
Mission Estate Gewurztraminer 2010 $14 êêêê
A snappy little aromatic with real character and representing fantastic value for money.  Lovely lychee, ginger and exotic spices merge with crisp tropical notes, a round, ripe mouthfeel and tangy length of flavour.  Great stuff, and widely available.

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