(2017) From a specially selected block of the grape variety Bacchus, this particularly ripe fruit was isolated for this special release. Quite pungent with talcum, elderflower and fresh grapefruit aromas, there's a hint of lychee too onto a bone-dry palate where that exotic fruit - mango, Ogen melon, more fresh lychee - is sliced through by the citrus acidity. Another very convincing wine from Lyme Bay, which will so appeal to the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc fans.
(2017) A particularly nice Sauvignon Blanc this from the Seifried family of Nelson, on the northern tip of the South Island. Bursting with grapefruit, passion fruit and gooseberry, there's a touch of elderflower, but no real 'green' character. That ripeness continues onto the palate, lots of peach and nectarine, but that zesty, fresh grapefruit zing of acidity powers the finish to a pleasing dryiness. Very nicely done. Price is around £12 - £14, but UK stockists at time of review are still on the 2015 vintage.
(2017) Despite bearing the legend "The botanical soft drink for wine lovers," do not expect this to taste like a de-alcoholised wine: it's very much its own thing, a lightly sparkling, herbal, bone-dry drink made from herbs, minerals, vitamins and amino acids that is certainly something of an acquired taste. On first sniff I found it aromatically off-putting, a particularly pungent nettle, ginseng and chamomile 'high' floral and herb character, clove like and medicinal, that to be honest is still not 100% convincing. However I did grow to appreciate the fact that this is no weak wine substitute, but a fairly intriguing and grown-up alcohol-free alternative that has an under-ripe pear and citrus dryness and does keep you coming back for one more sip, even just in an effort to understand it. Certainly no shortage of character.
(2017) Vidal sources its Sauvignon Blanc fruit from Marlborough, from both estate-owned and contracted vineyards, primarily in the Wairau Valley "with a little Awatere fruit to give a little more tropical spectrum," says Hugh. Delicious nose, with lots of punchy passion fruit and tropical, lychee notes, plenty of peachy ripeness, and then the palate shimmers with acidity and so much intensity of flavour.
(2017) The reserve has a higher percentage of Awatre fruit, and comes from the best vineyards, "and the same plots every year," according to Hugh. A rich, figgy character, with more orange and more of an asparagus lift, but a lovely racing palate, loads of lime and citrus Awatare purity and zip.
(2017) Hugh didn't bring this to our tasting, but was so keen that I should try it that he sent me a bottle within days of our meeting. And I can absolutely see why: it may not come from the Legacy 'Grand Cru' vineyards, but what a terrific Chardonnay, the nose glittering with Chablis-like gunflint minerality, a lime precision and ripe apple beneath. The palate has surprising squirt of tropical, mango-like fruit ripeness, very juicy grapefruit too, then the mineral acidity starts to kick in, and a little creamy component, to give this texture and mouth-feel, the finish long and tapering in a most elegant way.
(2017) Hugh describes this wine as coming from "In effect, our grand cru vineyards," the fruit from three distinct Legacy vineyards pressed straight to French oak barrel, a small proportion new, where it spends 10 months. The barrels are then blind tasted to ensure Legacy quality. In this year 16 barriques made it as Legacy, though some years as few as 12 qualify. It is made with natural yeasts, and is not inoculated for malolactic. Fine complex sulphide flintiness, the oak toasty, and the clean, apple fruit and the flint and salt minerality. The palate has a fine juiciness, lots of crunchy apple and citrus, this is really fine, the acid so crunchy and mineral salty, great length and vibrant, punchy and vivacious
(2017) Only five barrels of this were produced. All red wines from 'Reserve' level upward are from Gimblett Gravels fruit, in this case two specific vineyards. It spends 20 months in French oak and is “Made like a Pinot Noir,” according to Hugh, hand-plunged, with a fair bit of post-ferment maceration for up to 40 days in total before pressing. "That gives plenty of tannin, but finer," says Hugh. A rounded, quite plush and compact nose, tight black and blue fruits, there’s a rich damson and graphite nose, an earthiness, not peppery but has a little floral lift. The palate has a cloak of dustiness, a really savoury meaty character, the tannins soft but present and the acidity giving it a long, tapering finish.
(2017) Not all Gimblett Gravels fruit, so labelled 'Hawkes Bay'. The blend is 72% Merlot, 18% CS and "little bits of Malbec and Cabernet Franc." What a nice, attractive nose from an outstanding vintage, a “Vintage of a generation”, according to Hugh, that was "Phenomenally long, dry and warm, with no pressure" Lots of graphite, lots of light and gentle smokiness, medium-bodied, plenty of juicy cherry and orange, elegance and freshness and finesse into the long, textured finish.
(2017) The Legacy blend is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Merlot, and this wine was the first release in the Legacy series (which was not made again until conditions where right in 2013). The blend changes, and some vintages have been 100% Cabernet. Only 13 barrels, produced, the wine spending 20 months in French oak, around 50% new. Big, rich nose, immediately more plummy, with plenty of spice and tobacco, a gentle earth and leather note, but not dry, the fruit is there and the chocolate depth and plum comes through. Fine tannins, soft and with a raspberry ripple edge of creaminess, but fine acids and balance. This should still age nicely for a few more years too.