Tasting New Zealand Pinot Noir and Riesling

These notes accompany a in-depth report from New Zealand. Please also see Regional report: New Zealand: a focus on Pinot Noir and Riesling.


bottles A broad cross-section of wines and styles was shown in this regional tasting, and the sheer number of oak-influenced Sauvignons and other grapes varieties compared to the “traditional” Marlborough Sauvignon styles shows the direction in which the industry is going. Some indicative prices and UK importers were given and these are quoted below, but there is also a wine-searcher link to stockists of the wines.

Pinot Gris

Half of the Pinot Gris was in Burgundy bottles, half in Alsace-style flutes. Does that say something about a failure to yet identify a Marlborough style for the wine inside?

Greywacke Pinot Gris 2009
Southern Valleys. 14.5%. Kevin Judd’s Pinot Gris has an attractively aromatic nose with a touch of dried apricot and a slight yeastiness, with a lime peel freshness and some spice too. The palate is just off dry, with lots of juicy, lemony, orange and citrus punch that really punches through to leave it dry and savoury, tangy and really appetising. 90/100. wine-searcher.

Saint Clair Godfrey’s Creek Reserve Pinot Gris 2009
Wairau Valley. 14.0%. Very fresh, with ripe apple and ripe pear aromas, a touch of creamy, richer character that is almost tropical. The palate is just off dry, with a deliciously full fruit, but a certain lift and lightness through the clear acidity. Deliciously tangy, lots of orange against the peachy sweetness. 90/100. wine-searcher.

Seresin Pinot Gris 2009
Regional . 14.5%. Biodynamic wine, whole bunch pressed and spending six months in French oak with battonage. Deep colour, rich, nutty nose, a touch of vanilla and a glimpse of bruised apple. The fruit comes through beautifully on the palate, with a lot of tropical, rich, vibrant fruit that has a sweet edge, but huge concentration too. The tang and decisive concentration of the finish means it needs food, but what a mouthful of wine. 91-92/100. £18.40 Armit. wine-searcher.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Gris 2010
Awatere. There’s a lovely pear fragrance to this: fresh pears, but also a hint of a pear tart, pastry note, with a lift of almost spearminty brightness. The palate is pretty dry and relatively lean compared to a wine like the Saint Clair, with shimmering acidity set against tropical fruit tones of guava and mango – a more obvious nod to Marlborough Sauvignon style, but has lovely weight and definition. 89-90/100. £9.99 Hatch Mansfield. wine-searcher.

Two Rivers Wairau Selection Pinot Gris 2010
13.5%. Less expressive than the Villa Maria aromatically, with apple and melon notes and a hint of something herbal. On the palate this is in the same, leaner style as the Villa Maria, with a scything cut of lemony acidity and plenty of mineral crunch to offset the mid-palate fruit sweetness. 90/100. wine-searcher.

Whitehaven Pinot Gris 2009
14.%,. Quite rich, seems quite leesy and creamy with ripe pear and melon fruit and a slick of creaminess. The palate is quite full and rich, off-dry with lovely luscious fruit and great pear and apple pie ripeness and zest. There’s a spice and pepperiness too, as well as charming residual sweetness and good balance. 90/100. wine-searcher.


Whitehaven Marlborough Gewürztraminer 2009
Wairau Valley. 14%. Lovely Gewurz nose, with lots of lychee and spice and an expressive toastiness. The palate has luscious weight and is perhaps just off dry, with that full, sweet fruit set against nice acidity and a delicious, if relatively simple balance. A terrific, balanced, beautifully made wine. 89/100. wine-searcher.

Johanneshof Cellars Gewürztraminer 2010
13.5%. Wairau Valley. DIAM cork. Masses of spices and exotic fruits in an open and very expressive wine. Palate is medium-dry, with a beautifully composed palate of sweet, peach and exotic fruit and that terrific tension of that lime and mineral acidity that focuses this through into a very long finish. 91/100. wine-searcher.

Grüner Veltliner

Forrest The Doctors Grüner Veltliner 2010
13.5%. Gorgeous nose – bright and aromatic with a lovely but discreet floral lift and fine peppery and nectarine and tropical notes. The palate has lovely focus, the fruit very pure and fresh, notes of lime and peach combine to give a lush but fresh character and the finish has great brightness and food-friendly zest and zing. 92/100. £15. Adnams. wine-searcher.

Konrad Grüner Veltliner 2010
Southern Valleys. 14%. Vineyard planted after comparing the Waihopai and Kremstal regions according to the back label. Much leaner and more mineral than the Forrest, with lime and a certain peppery, spicy character coming through. The palate has an uncompromising dryness, with great verve and authority, the dry, herby, mineral finish long and savoury. I’d love to see how this develops over a few years. 89/100. £9.00 Bin Cellar. wine-searcher.

Tinpot Hut Grüner Veltliner 2010
13.5%. Wairau Valley. Nicely aromatic and spicy, with some floral and peach down aromas joining spices and a touch of white pepper. There’s plenty of interest here, touching on an almost Sauvignon-like pungency. The palate has the same picture of juicy clarity and grapefruity punch of fruit and acidity, into a long, tangy finish. 91/100. £14.99, Liberty Wines. wine-searcher.

Sauvignon Blanc – Awatere Valley

Astrolabe Discovery Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Fabulously capsicum pepper nose, masses of spice and intense, sparky green herb and pepper qualities. The palate has a lovely salty minerality too that carries through with lots of sourness and savoury quality of preserved lemons and limes and a terrific sense of verve and precision. Slaty and stony, and has terrific clarity. 92/100. £15, Ellis of Richmond. wine-searcher.

Matua Paretai Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Nice pyrozene nose, with herbs and pepper and a lovely pungency. The palate has fine, racy fruit too and a delicious dryness, with a long, balanced finish and plenty of tang. 89-90/100. £11.99, Treasury Wine Estates. wine-searcher.

Te Whare Ra Sauvignon Blanc 2010
13.5%. Capsicum and leafy green herbs. A touch of gooseberry, and a fairly restrained, peppery style. The palate has a real leanness and savoury, dry, lemon and lime character, with terrific . Precision and length. There is roundness and weight here, but also a gorgeous core of finesse and minerality. 91/100. £16, Hallowed Ground. wine-searcher.

Sauvignon Blanc – Southern Valley

Brancott Estate Letter Series ‘B’ Brancott Sauvignon Blanc 2010
13%. Subdued spice and pepper nose, with some green bean and pepper, but all the fruit nicely focused and pure. The palate has a nice salty lick of minerality and that forma a nice, lean framework for the peachier, riper fruit to hang off of. A nice, well-tempered wine. 89/100. £11.99, Pernod Ricard UK. wine-searcher.

ToiToi Marlborough Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010
13%. Lifted, perfumed, slightly talcum nose with bright gooseberry fruit if a slightly tight impression as it hits the palate. Certainly more restrained and tight than some here, and that impression of tight, fine, focused mineral and lemon fruit drives this into a long, clear finish. 90/100. wine-searcher.

Sauvignon Blanc – Wairau Valley

Goldwater Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Nice green fruit notes on the nose, with a limey freshness and touches of passionfruit and greengage in a typical but delightful Marlborough style. The palate has great zest and life too, lots of punch and thrust and a lean, taut sense of precision in the finish. Terrific stuff. 90/100. £7.99 – £9.99 D and D Wines. wine-searcher.

Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Deliciously punchy stuff, with a touch of that sweaty character, but not too much as it has plenty of green, bright, herby aromas too and the palate displays masses of tropical fruit and richness, set against a big pithy core of lemon and grapefruit acidity. In many ways the most ‘typical’ so far of the classic Marlborough style, but extremely well done. 90/100. wine-searcher.

Wairau River Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010
A touch of the sweaty, elderflower nose here too with lots of lift and pungency, and deliciously tangy lime flavours. The palate has all the tang you could ask for, but also a clean, fresh, dry and savoury finish. 90/100. £13.99, Ellis of Richmond. wine-searcher.

Sauvignon Blanc – Regional Blends

Mount Riley Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Flat and insipid with barely discernable fruit. Very poor, dilute and a travesty of the style. 79/100. £7.50, Patriarche Wine Agencies. wine-searcher.

Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Nicely punchy, lots of verve though in the end a little bit too text book and safe. Balanced. 87/100. wine-searcher.

Oak influenced Sauvignon Blanc

Huia Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Fairly discreet, but has lovely bright acidity on the palate with clear apple and tropical tones, though it is a perhaps a little too discreet for its own good? 88/100. £12, Bibendum Wines. wine-searcher.

Blind River Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Fabulous smoky minerality, a lot of green bean and herby punch, very appealing. The palate has that ripeness and crunchy freshness, with delicious tang, real lime and grapefruit peel and zest and a long, shimmering finish. Deliciously moreish. 91/100. wine-searcher.

Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’ Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Huge brazil nut French oak nose with masses of green fig and bold, tropical fruit. The palate has that huge presence too, the super-sweet fruit set against a decisive core of minerality, hints of coffee and charry oak just adding a supporting layer beneath. 93/100. wine-searcher.

Astrolabe Experience Taihoa Kekerengu Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Full barrel fermented, wild yeast and lees-stirred recipe. More subtle oak than the Greywacke, with a lovely mealy richness and sense of precision to the wine – the oak definitely in the background. The palate has Graves-like poise and white fruit crispness, lovely length and a certain sense of minerality. 92/100. £29.95, Ellis of Richmond. wine-searcher.

Rock Ferry Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Fermented in French oak (70%) with wild yeast. Subtle mealiness to this, lovely sense of slightly herby, cabbagey, almost Burgundian aroma. That weird dislocation of place is somewhat dispelled on the palate, as this has the juicy verve of Sauvignon, with the green tones and pith acidity kicking in. Lovely stuff at a good price, and bone dry in the finish. 91/100. £12.99, Vintage Roots. wine-searcher.

Wither Hills Rarangi Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Wairau Valley. Complex, buttery, Brazil-nut nose with the ripe pineapple fruit beneath. Spearminty and bold. The palate has lots of verve and punch too, the minerality and taut, lemony acidity overpowering any more flamboyant tendency. A reserved, steely and decisive wine. 92/100. wine-searcher.

Dog Point Vineyard SECTION 94 Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Southern Valley. Natural cork. Lots of wild, yeasty, mineral and salty aromas. Ripe, slightly Burgundian character, with a certain vegetal character. Lovely Brazil nut oak and deliciously tangy, huge masses of lemon and orange fruit and acidity, but just tremendous length with such tang and life about it. 93/100. wine-searcher.

Auntsfield ‘Reserve’ Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Southern Valley. Fabulous cabbagey nose, with beautifully ripe tropical fruit powering through with huge ripeness. The wild, yeasty and creamy character set against the super sweet fruit on the palate and the huge, sour cherry and grapefruit acidity of the acidity powering through the finish. 92/100. £14.50 New Generation Wines. wine-searcher.


Rapaura Springs Chardonnay 2008
Quite a deep buttercup colour. Nicely wild and herby nose with some nutty notes and an open sense of generous, creamy character but the fruit staying quite tight and focused. Lovely palate, the fruit very precise, very refined, the acidity just kicking through beautifully with that sweet fruit constrained by fine, lemon and mineral acidity. 91/100. wine-searcher.

Jules Taylor Chardonnay 2009
Regional. Very restrained and composed (very Burgundian) with a nice balance of minerality and ripe cabbagey aromatics showing herb-tinged melon fruit. The palate is wonderfully tight, balanced but also has that ripe apple and pear opulence, just wrapped in a tight minerality that gives this huge class and a long, orange and grapefruit tang in to the finish. Fabulous stuff. 92/100. wine-searcher.

Vavasour Chardonnay 2009
Awatere . Nice chardonnay, with an orangey and lightly nutty character, though it undoubtedly lacks the concentration and verve of the best here. Great balance, and the lemony acidity and lime of this really is very beautifully balanced and offers an intelligent, delicious mouthful of balanced chardonnay at a great price. 89/100. £7.99 – £9.99 D and D Wines. wine-searcher.

O’Dwyers Creek Chardonnay 2010
Wairau Valley. Bright, focused, very lightly oaked wine with a decisive edge of acidity and bright fruit. Racy and fine, with lots of cutting edge, the acidity bright and focused and staying very refined and crunchy in the finish. 88/100. wine-searcher.

Pinot Noir

Vavasour Pinot Noir 2008
Awatere. Delicious, stalky, beetrooty freshness. Lovely fresh, crunchy palate too with lots of berry sweetness but also has a real edge of acidity. 89/100. £10.99-£12.99 D and D Wines. wine-searcher.

Highfield Pinot Noir 2008
Regional Blend. Hugely leafy and fresh, with lots of earthy, mineral character and a delicious sense of earthy terroir. The palate has delicious ripeness and freshness, with a berry sweetness but also am undertow of mocha and fudge giving that lurking sense of depth and richness. 93/100. £23.95 Morgenrot in Manchester. wine-searcher.

Jackson Estate Gum Emperor Pinot Noir 2008
Well, no sign of ‘gum’ or eucalyptus which is a delight! Plenty of new oak here, with a shiny, ripe quality and a touch of coffee, lots of ripe berries and though it does not have the complexity of the Highfield, lovely wine. 90/100. wine-searcher.

Nautilus Pinot Noir 2009
Mellow, creamy, but has a delicious berry richness and rounded, sweet fruit quality. The palate has gorgeous richness and creamy, rounded fruitiness too, with the acidity staying very tight and the tannins adding a lovely bit of grip. The finish is extremely long, and this has fabulous style and elegance. 93/100. £17 – £19 Must Wines. wine-searcher.

Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir 2009
Regional Blend . Tight, quite a lot of minerality, with a touch of mint and plenty of briary, full, ripe red berries. But this retains its freshness and its focus, with lovely balance and a cherry ripeness, the classy, fresh character pushing through into a long, long finish. Delicious and fresh. 91/100. £15.99 Hatch Mansfield. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

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andrew I really enjoyed my visit to Framingham, not least because Gateshead-born winemaker Andrew Hedley (right) was so entertaining: an unreformed punk rocker, he launched his new ‘F-Series’ wines with posters that mimicked the iconic image from The Clash’s ‘White Riot’ tour from 1977, and his slogan is “No bullsh*t!” The Framingham story goes back to 1980. At that point the company was a grape grower, selling grapes to various well-known labels. In 1994 the first wine under the Framingham label appeared, appropriately enough a Riesling, the grape with which they have become most associated. By the end of the 1990s several other aromatic white wines joined the portfolio, and remain the main focus here. Whilst working in the Chemical industry as a scientist Andrew’s interest in wines developed, particularly German wines.

At age 33 he decided to follow his passion for wine, and made his first stop the London International Wine Trade Fair where he pounded the aisles making contacts in the wine industry. New Zealand emerged as the place that interested him most “I managed to get the New Zealand newspapers delivered in Gateshead,” he tells me, “and kept my eyes open for work, eventually landing a lab manager’s job.” After several years Andrew made the transition into winemaking “without ever attending a wine making course.” He says that is something he is very happy with: “It avoids the ‘accept’ or ‘reject’ mentality,” he says, where wines can be seen in too simplistic black and white terms. Andrew became senior winemaker at Framingham in 2002, though since then the company has changed hands a couple of times. It is now owned by the giant Portuguese wine group SOGRAPE. But Andrew says he has full autonomy in Framingham and has made many changes, including bringing in new styles of Riesling, getting rid of Cabernet and Merlot, and launching the innovate F-Series. “Riesling is still a tough, tough sell,” he says and despite the soaring reputation for Framingham’s Rieslings, they are a minority part of the business. But then he also says it is getting harder and harder to sell standard Sauvignon Blanc to sommeliers too: “The story is stale,” he concludes.

The wines

Framingham Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010
A little bit of barrel ferment. Very bright, focused, limey and clean with sherbetty tones, with lots of really crisp, lemony fruit and a lovely crispness and focus. Has lovely dryness and mineral, river-stone freshness. Lots of punch and currant dryness. 90. £10.99. Selfridges own-label.

Framingham F-Series Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008
‘Our alternative take on Sauvignon, chasing away those green flavours’. From a single acre estate, all handpicked, no sulphur at the front end, wild ferment in old oak and small stainless steel barrels. Lees stirring for 10 months. Very wild and earthy, with real wild ferment character, leesiness, and a nutty, coffeeish quality. The palate has wonderfully sweet fruit at its core, with a lemony sweetness of peach fruit and herbs and a really long, umami flavours and terrific acidity. 93. £14.99

Framingham Marlborough Dry Riesling 2004
Has been in bottle for six years. Beautifully mineral nose, with exquisite stony and gently waxy aromas. Palate is filled with wonderfully punch fruit – apple and ripe, juicy creamy textured fruit with huge tang and verve but has such fabulous persistence and intensity. 90. £13.99 Harvey Nicholls

Framingham F-Series Marlborough Old Vine Riesling 2009
“alternative, not better”. Just under 9g/l , lovely savoury wild ferment character with a touch of oak, that umami nose with a meatiness and a core of such piercing, vital lime and apple fruit. Incredible freshness, stunning intense minerality but that touch of sweetness just emphasises the fruit and gives this fabulous clarity. 94. £16.99

Framingham Marlborough Classic Riesling 2009
The biggest Riesling blend and arguably the ‘flagship’ wine as the best known, with fruit from all three parcels of Riesling on the property. A blend of normal and late-picked. Peachy and ripe, lots of Gin & Tonic quality, the palate pin-sharp and focused, with delicious tang and vibrancy, but an intrinsic softness and ripeness, giving this delicious drinkability. Fabulous stuff. 90-91. 12%. £11.49

Framingham Marlborough Select Riesling 2009
A new wine Andrew introduced when he took over the winemaking. Fine sherbetty nose, lovely herby character and a touch of bruised apple. Has a grippy impression of stoniness too. The lime-streaked purity of the palate betrays the sweetness, the finish being all about minerality and stony freshness. Delightful and delicate, without the harsher acidity that makes some sweeter Rieslings seem dry. 91-92 £13.99

Framingham Marlborough Noble Riesling 2009
Deliciously toasty and deep, with lots of passionfruit and herbs and intriguing layers of complexity with honeyed notes and a delicate nuttiness. The palate has pristine fruit and an orchard fruit clarity – very tangy, with marmalade tang and fresh citrus acidity, lots of acidity keeping this flowing and not cloying. 7.5%. 91. £12.99 per half.

Framingham F-Series Marlborough Viognier 2009
First crop. All in 50cls – 450 bottles. Very cool climate, understated nose, with herbs and those earthy, mealy notes over cool pear fruit and apricot notes just subtly present. Fabulous acidity, streaking through with such concentration. Glowing, lip-smacking acidity and chicory bitterness. 89. £11.99

Framingham Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009
Old barrels, a portion wild fermented, handpicked and whole bunch pressed. Quite aromatic, with pear and a slightly toffee quality. Smooth, silky textured stuff on the palate with a flood of sweet fruit building on the mid [palate before a pithy grapefruit acidity take over, pushing this through into a long, dry but just off-dry sweetness with the old wood phenolic giving a little edge that suggests it is drier than its 9g/l. 90. £12.49 Framingham Marlborough Gewürztraminer 2009
Similar winemaking to the Pinot Gris. Fantastically aromatic nose, excellent expression of Gewurz, with smokiness and all the lychee and Turkish delight typicity, with an intense palate showing massive minerality, streaking through with grapefruit and lemon pith that gives the wild ferment umami complexity. Match with pork. £12.49

Framingham Marlborough Pinot Noir 2009
Delightful, silky, fragrant cranberry and beetrooty, but has a strawberry charm too. Soft background of oak. The fruit is beautifully sweet-edged, with fabulous coffee and earth background, but staying light and with great charm. Layered, but in some ways very straightforward and deliciously. 89. £13.49

Framingham F-Series Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008
Fantastically sweet, velvety, with a chocolate quality and bigger, more broad-shouldered, real density and depth of flavour. The palate has a slightly aggressive touch to the tannin, with a sweet fruit depth, but are the tannins a little aggressive. 90 £16.99

Framingham Marlborough Montepulciano 2008
Planted by Italianate original owners, but survived when Sangiovese didn’t. A nice touch of herbal quality, tobacco and charming savoury, leafy cherry fruit. The palate has lovely balance, with plenty acidity and plenty of herbs and that sour cherry savour. Delicious and hits the spot very nicely. 89-90. £13.79

See all Framingham wines on wine-searcher.

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jane hunter I met up with Jane Hunter in her low-key, relaxed restaurant (which serves terrific fish and chips) to taste through the Hunter’s range along with winemaker Inus van der Westhuizen and General Manager Peter Macdonald. Founded in 1979, Hunter’s is a very proudly family-owned and run company (Peter is Jane’s brother-in-law). Jane took over the helm when her husband Ernie died in a motor accident in 1986. Today, Jane Hunter O.B.E. is one of New Zealand’s leading wine producers and ambassadors. Ernie Hunter was a true pioneer when he arrived from Ireland and planted Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Müller Thurgau, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and, most significantly, Sauvignon Blanc in 1979. Today the vineyards have expanded to almost three times their original size and winemaking is shared between Gary Duke and Inus van der Westhuizen. Inus is bright-eyed, very focused young winemaker from South Africa, where he made wines at the excellent Cape Chamonix and spent five years working in the Pfalz area of Germany. His secret passion is for sparkling wine, which is a potential area for growth in the Hunter’s portfolio. This is a really good, solid range of wines at very affordable prices. It does not scale the heights of what Marlborough is doing, but delivers a lot of drinking enjoyment and bangs per buck.

The wines

Hunter’s Miru Miru NV
Champagne method made from 55% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Meunier. Lovely yeasty nose, with very fine baked apple aromas, lots of soft, rolling bubbles and very nice body and richness. Soft and attractive with lots of fruit and very good length. 89/100. £12.99, Laithwaites.

Hunter’s Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Gently peachy fruit, good fruit with not much of the herbaceous fireworks character. The palate has very god acidity and lots of lemon zest elegance and freshness. Very good balance. 87-88/100. £10.99, Wine Society and Laithwaites.

Hunter’s Stoneburn Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Mostly in the on the on-trade. More upfront fruit, a slightly more dilute character than the Sauvignon, but not quite the balance or finesse. Though lots of upfront charm and freshness. 86/100. £7.99, Wine Society,

Hunter’s Kaho Roa Winemaker’s Selection 2009
Barrel-fermented with some lees contact. Nice toffee, honeyed, edge, with, a sense of richness beneath the clean citrus and stone fruit flavours and aromas. Lots of zest and crunch and a really nice, racy finish. 89/100.

Hunter’s Riesling 2010
Lovely stony and mineral nose, with lots of lime and lemon peel zestiness, gently aromatic with a touch of waxiness, then a mouth-watering lemony palate with huge length. 90/100.

Hunter’s Riesling 2009
Nicely developed slightly more waxy, Riesling nose. The palate has lovely fruit and freshness and still has masses of mouth-watering acidity and delicious length and shimmering clarity. 89/100

Hunter’s Gewürztraminer 2010
Nice leafy, geranium and gently lychee nose, with some herby characters and that Turkish delight Gewurz character. Very fresh and bright on the palate, with a luscious background and really nice balance and weight. Tangy and full, with lots of balance and luscious ripeness. 90/100. Sunday Times Wine Club, Layton’s

Stoneburn Pinot Noir 2009
Nice beetrooty aromatics, lots of vegetal character and dry, cranberry and rhubarb fruit. Terrific fruit sweetness on the palate, with nice balance and delicious Good length and just enough earthy, briary oak coming through. Long and deliciously focused. 88/100.

Hunter’s Pinot Noir 2009
Lovely sense of creaminess and strawberry richness to this, a little more sweet fruit than the Stoneburn, and a little more coffeeish oak underpinning too. More extraction that the Stoneburn, but not at all over-extracted. Long, juicy finish with the creaminess of the tannins and a fine, tangy, long finish. 90/100. £12.00 Wine Society, Sunday Times Wine Club.

Hunter’s Pinot Noir 2008
More vegetal, warming, charming charry and earthy quality. Oak is savoury and coffeeish but has a lovely earthy darkness too. Has plenty of sweetness and an open-knit quality that is very attractive, soft and sweet, with lots of berry freshness. Tangy and orangy, with fine structure. 91/100.

See all Hunter’s wines on wine-searcher.

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kevin judd Kevin Judd is probably the most famous winemaker in New Zealand, not just as the man who built the reputation of Cloudy Bay, but as an internationally-renowned wine and vineyard photographer. We met up in Gibb’s vineyard restaurant on a balmy February evening, a regular haunt of all Marlborough’s winemakers for its terrific food and home to a permanent exhibition of Kevin’s photography. Just a few days after our get-together I was shocked to read that Gibb’s had burned to the ground in a fire started by a faulty motor in a refrigerator. Kevin tells me: “Naturally the fire led to a considerable loss, both in terms of losing our best restaurant and about NZ$5000 worth of framed photos and canvases.” On a happier note, Kevin launched Greywacke to huge critical acclaim in 2010, though in fact he had registered the name in 1993, describing the project as “the fulfilment of a long held dream.”

It is a négociant operation, with winery space borrowed from Dog Point Vineyards for now. He wants to grow sales of all of his seven wines, though says he has “a certain limit in mind where I knows he wants to stop.” From a standing start, he is already in 12 markets. Kevin was born in England and grew up in Australia where he studied winemaking at Roseworthy College and first made wine at Reynella. He moved to New Zealand in 1983 and soon became the founding winemaker at Cloudy Bay, a pivotal role during which he directed the company’s first 25 vintages. He is proud of his history, but I wonder if, like a famous musician revered for an early album but wanting to move on, he ever feels that it holds him back. But he is pragmatic and knows that is an enviable calling card that not only opens doors, but generates enormous goodwill with the industry and wine drinking public. A wry smile crosses his face fleetingly when he says “With all the press Greywacke has had, I have only had one review so far where the words ‘Cloudy Bay’ did not appear. I’m happy being reviewed in context or comparison with Cloudy Bay, but just pleased to see Greywacke standing on its own feet.”

The wines

Greywacke, Sauvignon Blanc 2010
A terrific expression of Marlborough Sauvignon, with huge intensity on the nose and palate. Aromas of fresh cut limes and leafy green herbs precede a palate that is hugely concentrated, with a deal of mid-palate weight and texture, but the vibrantly expressive flavours powering through. Acidity is intense too, leaving this clean and dry and with real persistence. 90/100.

Greywacke, Wild Sauvignon 2009
Wild fermented with native years, 100% in barrel. Kevin says this one took a year to finish fermentation. Huge brazil nut French oak nose with masses of green fig and bold, tropical fruit. The palate has that huge presence too, the super-sweet fruit set against a decisive core of minerality, hints of coffee and charry oak just adding a supporting layer beneath. 93/100.

Greywacke, Riesling 2009
With a modest 11.5% ABV this delicate Riesling from a single vineyard is made in a just off-dry style. It has a peach down softness on the nose, but a touch of flint too and a hint of sweet pepper. On the palate the teasing sweetness is scythed through by lemony, zesty fruit and acidity into a moderately long finish. 89/100.

Greywacke, Pinot Gris 2009
An attractively aromatic nose with a touch of dried apricot and a slight yeastiness, with a lime peel freshness and some spice too. The palate is just off dry, with lots of juicy, lemony, orange and citrus brightness that really punches through to leave it dry and savoury, tangy and really appetising. 90/100.

Greywacke, Pinot Noir 2009
Primarily from around Brancott, handpicked, sorted, partial whole bunch, wild yeast ferment and 100% new oak. Beautifully ripe and sweet, with density and chocolaty and coffee aromas, but not heavy or charry. Deliciously silky on the palate too, with long, sweet fruit and good acidity, tannins fine. 91/100.

Greywacke, Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2009
Made from fruit Kevin discovered hanging late in a vineyard he was driving past, this is only 12.5% ABV, and has 90g/l of residual sugar. Great smoky bacon glimpse on this, some lychee and grapefruity freshness too, but this is about spice and luscious apricot on the palate, a lovely mouth-feel and really fresh and orangy. 92/100. 12.5% Greywacke is imported into the UK by Liberty.

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fiona turner Launched in 2006, Tinpot Hut is the solo venture of winemaker Fiona Turner (right), who has collaborated for a number of years with winemaker Matt Thomson in the production of some of New Zealand’s most highly-regarded wines. The name Tinpot Hut is derived from the old sheep mustering huts in the remote hills between the Wairau and Awatere Valleys. Fiona has worked in Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Waipara, Central Otago and in the United States, and for Tinpot Hut she uses fruit from her own vineyards at Blind River in Marlborough’s Awatere Valley, but will continue to source from other regions to make the styles of line she likes: “I love Syrah from the Northern Rhône, so I look to Hawkes Bay for aromatics in the plum and spice spectrum.” she cites as one example. Currently the range comprises a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough Pinot Gris, Marlborough Grüner Veltliner and a Hawkes Bay Syrah. “I try to make wines that I would like to drink,” she says, “so from Marlborough I’m aiming for a Sauvignon Blanc with a subtle Awatere Valley mineral influence.” The wines are already exported to the Europe, Australia, Hong Kong and Canada, but there’s a special UK connection (apart from the six months Fiona spent behind the counter in Oddbins in the 90s), as the company is jointly owned by Fiona Turner and Matt Thomson, in partnership with Liberty Wines UK, represented by David Gleave, M.W.

The wines

Tin Pot Hut, Pinot Gris 2010
From Awatere vines planted in 2006. Quite delicate nose, with stone fruit aromas and a touch of orange peel. The palate has an off-dry character, with a lovely lemon rind snap and good, dry apple fruit. Very nice balance with a little spice and phenolic grip in the finish. 89/100.

Tin Pot Hut, Sauvignon Blanc 2010
A blend of Awatere (Blind River) and Wairau fruit from heavier silt soils. Very peppery and crunchy, with a touch of herby, soft green leaves and lemon grass. The palate broadens nicely, with a hint of juicy, almost tropical fruit on the mid-palate but then that searing core of mineral, dry acidity fine length and lots of finesse here. 91/100.

Tinpot Hut, Grüner Veltliner 2010
From the Wairau Valley. Nicely aromatic and spicy, with some floral and peach down aromas joining spices and a touch of white pepper. There’s plenty of interest here, touching on an almost Sauvignon-like pungency. The palate has the same picture of juicy clarity and grapefruity punch of fruit and acidity, into a long, tangy finish. 91/100.

Tin Pot Hut, Syrah 2007
Only 10% of this goes into new oak, from a single vineyard in Hawkes Bay. It has a lovely smoky bacon, game and cool climate herb and bloody nose. Very bold fruit. Delicious fruit sweetness, with a redcurranty, racy fruit quality. The wine has a beautifully silky mouth-feel and it finishes with length and harmony. A terrific Syrah. 92/100.

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fiona turner Like Tinpot Hut, Delta Vineyards is another joint partnership between winemaker Matt Thomson (right of picture) and David Gleave, M.W of Liberty Wines UK. Matt consults for Saint Clair, Mudhouse and other New Zealand wineries, but is also active in Italy making wine in Verona, Friuli and Piemonte. Matt and David Gleave met in Italy in 1994 (before Liberty wines was formed) but the idea for their project came to life when Matt found the Delta vineyard site in 2000. At that time it was operating as a sheep farm, but Matt planted it through 2001 and 2002, exclusively to Pinot Noir. Some Sauvignon Blanc is produced under the label, but from other vineyards. Around 45% of the Delta vineyard, which is on heavy clay soils, is on the ‘flats’ and is principally used for the Delta Vineyard Pinot label, whilst the ‘hills’ comprising 55% of the vineyard rises to 175 metres and is the main source for the Hatter’s Hill wine. Though their first releases were only in 2004, Delta Vineyards hit the ground running, their 2005 Pinot Noir winning both the Pinot Noir Trophy and the Champion Wine of Show at the 2006 Air New Zealand Wine Awards. “The combination of low vigour clay soils and the best of the new Dijon clones gives us superb fruit, some of the best Pinot I’ve ever worked with in Marlborough,” says Matt Thomson.

The wines

Delta Vineyards, Pinot Noir 2009
Lovely delicate colour with a fine, sweet, soft strawberry aroma and an engaging touch of herbal quality and some briary, chocolaty notes. It has a fine palate too, plenty of lemony acidity and it has good finesse, the fruit having a keen raspberry edge and a long, pure finish. 90/100.

Delta Vineyards, Hatters Hill Pinot Noir 2008
This wine spends one year in bottle before release. It is a barrel selection from the 100% Dijon clone vineyard, some whole bunches go into the fermentation tank and the wine is aged in around 40% new oak. Beautiful Pinot Noir nose, with a nice open freshness, a touch of blueberry depth and gloss. Nice little floral note and hints of sweet strawberry fruit. The palate has delightful fruit and balance and a gently charry underpinning. 92/100. Delta Vineyards is imported into the UK by Liberty.

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part II: Waipara, Canterbury & Central Otago

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