Monday, 13 May 2013

Visiting Cloudy Bay and Hunter's

I drank the wine in front of those infamous hills a couple of weeks ago and now it was time to go and visit the winery. Through my winemaking friends in Marlborough I managed to get a behind-the-scenes tour with winemaker Sarah Burton. At the entrance, the sign with the iconic Cloudy Bay label dominates the drive and creates a wonderful air of excitement. 
The cellars are well hidden behind firstly vineyards and then by the large trees. The beautiful cellar door has a long tasting table, real fire and a long glass window looking onto the barrel store. I was met by Sarah and taken out into the still very busy winery but a great organised and logical set up. We started by tasting the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from barrel, so young so good. The 2012 was next: a year in barrel and there it is; that classic amazing aroma and palate, I love it! 

Te Koko ‘12 and ’13 from barrel was next: extraordinary wines but need so much time. I just loved the Chardonnay. Within the winemaker scene here in Blenheim, it’s all the rage and the young winemakers seem to be making it with extra special attention! My lovely surprise of the day was a taste of the Pelorous 2013 base wine from barrel followed by some bottled vintages and wow, this is some seriously good fizz! 

I also met with senior Cloudy Bay winemaker Tim Heath who has been and will be going back to India at the same time as me! We had a brief chat about India and our winemaking experiences there so far. Just proves India has potential and Laithwaites are right there too! Watch this space for when we release our wines.
For lunch and my last in Marlborough I went to see my friend James MacDonald, the nephew and young winemaker of the amazing Jane Hunter at Hunter’s.  

Tony has been buying this incredible wine since the eighties and they have developed into the modern-day beautifully. They maintain a stunning quality of wine, helped by senior winemaker Gary Duke over the last 25 years. I first met Gary back in Bordeaux last year when he was visiting with Jane; both on the top of their game and such great people.

Before lunch at the Hunter’s cellar door restaurant, James gave me a taste of the 2013 Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Pinot Noir from barrel, followed by some back vintages. Hunter’s ages so well – both red and white – and I loved the 2010 Pinot Noir so much for lunch James pulled out a 2005 – a first under screw cap – for lunch. It’s still very-much alive and terrific with the fresh snapper.

James also let me try their Riesling, their Gewurztraminer and the delightful sparkler Miru Miru, all available to buy online. And if you'd like to try something a little unusual, go for their oak-aged anniversary edition.

It’s not often you get to visit the winemaker of two great wineries back-to-back and my advice is simply buy these wines. They are so good: drink some now and put a couple away. Even the Cloudy Bay Cellar door in Marlborough doesn’t have magnums for sale!

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