Tuesday, 7 May 2013

More Marlborough

Plenty of wineries to visit in Marlborough, so I continued with my tour starting from Wairau River Wines, as recommended for a good simple lunch. And I wasn’t disappointed.  The old single-storey, mud brick, colonial-style building houses the cellar door and restaurant. And on a glorious day like today the lawn is perfect for a light lunch and a glass of chilled white.  

The cellar door is light and airy and once again, really friendly. I tasted through the range of wines and the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc is very good; so good, in fact, I chose a glass to have with lunch. Viognier and Pinot Gris aren’t really working for me here in Marlborough, but the 2010 reserve Chardonnay was excellent and well priced. Lunch on the lawn was superb; nice big king prawns in a light tempura batter with a coriander salad is certainly a food match I would use for Marlborough Sauvignon. 

Over the road is Giesen cellar door. Their winery is in the Springlands industrial estate along with many others, but the cellar door is quaint and friendly. The wines were less aromatic than what I have been used to, but I thought the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc was very clever and the peachy character reminded more of Pessac back in France than of Marlborough. 

I was intrigued by signs pointing to Hans Herzog Estate so followed them until I found a little cellar door and restaurant backing right onto the Wairau River. I learnt that the Swiss owners had quit their two star Michelin restaurant and vineyard near Zurich to find the perfect place to make wine and they settled here in 
 Marlborough. On the 11-hectare single site, Hans has planted a whole range of varietals from Swiss native grape Zweiglt to Grenache and Montepulciano.  I was charged to taste the standard wine range only and unable to taste the ‘different’ varietals which seemed to be kept for the restaurant tasting menu. Shame; they sounded interesting.

I have already spoken about the Awatere Valley and Yealands Estate’s heavy investment here, but my word, it is a stunning place. The 100 hectares of rolling vineyards make it the single biggest privately owned winery in NZ.  Environmental sustainability and the effort on carbon zero footprints is admirable and the winery is beautifully incorporated into the landscape. However the wines seemed to lack the punch I was expecting, although I did like the GrĂ¼ner Veltliner and all the wines are reasonably priced.

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