The women behind these two wines were best friends who had incredible parallels in their lives.

Archangel Wines were founded by Mary and Ian Zurakowski, who named their wines after their mothers – lifelong friends who met as teenagers in hard labour camps in northern Russia, under the Stalin regime.

 

Both Halina and Stefania were born in eastern Poland, then exiled to northern Russia in 1940 and to South Africa about a year later. Both applied to the RAF during World War II, in search of better lives. Both met and married pilots. Both their children married (Halina’s daughter married Stefania’s son).

Fast forward more than half a century and Archangel Wines was born as an 11 hectare vineyard and cellar door at Queensberry, Central Otago.

Like most Otago wineries, Archangel’s is devoted predominantly to Pinot Noir. That means 70 per cent of their grapes go into Pinot Noir production and guess what?

The 2015 Archangel Pinot Noir was one of my top 20 wines at this year’s Spring Release Pinot Noir Tasting, held at Felton Road Winery on 28 September this year (yesterday, at the time of writing).

The wines are made at VinPro by winemakers Pete Bartle and Phil Anderson from estate-grown fruit only, all of which comes from the 11 hectare Archangel vineyard at Queensberry.

It is a great Otago Pinot Noir with a long life ahead, if kept in good storage conditions (dark, temperature stable and all that jazz).

Sometimes it’s hard to believe Central Otago is more about red wine than white. Archangel’s Rieslings prove the point. Their flavours are a journey into the diverse world of Riesling; a trip worth making to the cellar door where the story is as chilling as the wines are delicious.

 

Archangel Wine highlights

2018 Archangel Stefania Riesling Central Otago 

Stefania which translates to ‘crowned in victory’ – an apt description for a dry, light bodied Riesling with moderate alcohol of 12.7%, 8-9 grams of residual sugar and pronounced flavours of green apples, intense limes and lemon zest. Very refreshing.

 

2018 Archangel Halina Riesling Central Otago

Halina translates to sun ray and this was the name of Mary’s mother, who had a sweet palate, hence the sweeter style of this wine, which has clean fresh flavours of lemon, a medium body and lingering flavours from start to finish.

 

2015 Archangel Central Otago Pinot Noir

Medium ruby colour, bright, intensely flavoursome with vibrant red berry flavours and lovely acidity driving freshness in every sip of this wine. It drinks well now and has good potential for aging.

The first vintage of Archangel wines was in 2008.