Though “The Ned” has slightly different conotations for a Glaswegian like myself, it is in fact a reference to the highest peak of the Marlborough region of new Zealand. The man behind The Ned label is Brent Marris, one of the region’s best known names who for many years was proprietor and winemaker for Wither Hills, which he sold to the Lion Nathan group in 2002. His next project was based around a 268 hectare vineyard on ancient river bed terraces on the banks of the Waihopai River in his native Marlborough. From this property, named Marisco Vineyards, Brent produces The Ned, and he has quickly established a reputation for his wines including winning a Decanter Awards trophy for his 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. As well as the Sauvignon Blanc, The Ned range includes the Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio featured here, and when conditions are right, a Noble Sauvignon Blanc made from botrytised grapes. The wines are quite widely available, in supermarkets and larger off-licence chains, as well as through independent merchants. Please note that both vintages tasted here are in transition, and though you will still find both on the shelves, the subsequent vintage may have superseded these in some retail outlets.
The Ned is imported into the UK by Legacy Wines and Georges Barbier, and stockists for one or more of the wines include Majestic, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and The Co-operative.
The Ned, Pinot Grigio 2012, New Zealand
Pinot Grigio has become the by-the-glass wine for so many bars, pubs and restaurants that it can seem like an anonymous, generic white wine. But Pinot Grigio (aka Pinot Gris) can take on a more substantial form, and some producers are making striking examples. We are seeing more and more emanating from New Zealand with more flavour, texture and personality than more anodyne examples. This has a hint of pink to the colour (the skins of the Pinot Grigio grape become quite a deep red as they ripen late into the autumn) and the nose is deliciously inviting: it’s like opening a can of tinned pears, with fruit and syrup notes, and a lovely feeling of freshness. In the mouth this is a wine with weight and texture. It is perhaps just off-dry, making it so easy to sip on its own, but also giving it broad food-matching potential. The price of £9.99 is good for this quality, but it is on offer in Majestic at £7.99 through until the start of February 2014. 88/100. See all stockists on wine-searcher.
The Ned, Pinot Noir 2011, New Zealand
From the cooler Southern Valleys of the Marlborough region, this wine was made in open fermenters and aged in large, 500-litre French oak barrels for nine months. It has a nicely transparent ruby colour, and very appealing aromatics combining fresh, juicy cherry, a touch of autumnal, underbrush and mushroom and a sheen of creamy oak. On the palate the sweet and ripe fruit hints at strawberry, a real abundance of ripe and open summery fruit flavour, before toast and chocolate fill in. It remains light and fresh, though medium-bodied, its gentle tannins and tart acidity doing enough to dry and add some bite to the finish. The price for this wine is £13.99, but again it is on offer in Majestic at £9.99 through until the start of February 2014. 88-89/100. See all stockists on wine-searcher.