A trio of new wines from one of Nelson’s oldest winery made their way into my tasting glass this week. Here are my reviews on Seifried Estate’s latest bunch, all incredibly affordable drops which retail for less than $20. The winemaking is by Anna Seifried, whose siblings run the winery and whose parents founded it – Hermann and Agnes Seifried. It’s a rare New Zealand winery, which remains in family hands with a second generation at the helm.
2020 Seifried Sauvignon Blanc Nelson $16
This wine is made with grapes grown on two vineyards in Nelson, both 1.5 kilometres from the coast, which provides the cooling influence of its sea breeze. This is good for vine health and the resulting wine made from those grapes. The two vineyards, Rabbit Island and Queen Victoria, are both estate owned, which provides the winery with a greater degree of quality control than if they bought grapes from contract growers. This comes through in this fresh new wine release, which is drinking well now with its outgoing personality of forward tropical fruit flavours, nicely balanced by refreshing acidity. It was fermented at cool temperatures in stainless steel tanks to preserve its bright fruit character.
2020 Seifried Old Coach Road Gewurztraminer Nelson $14
Seifried Estate has a long held reputation for making great Gewurztraminers and this wine ticks the box again, gaining a silver medal from me; no mean feat for a cool, affordable $14.
An unirrigated vineyard planted on a gently sloping north facing clay site is home to the grapes that went into making this medium dry Gewurztraminer, which contains 14 grams per litre of residual sugar, which lifts its powerful aromas of rose, lychees and Turkish Delight, all classic scents of the distinctive Gewurztraminer grape. The grapes in this wine were given a period of skin contact prior to pressing to lift the floral flavour notes in the wine, which was then cool fermentated in stainless steel. The 12.5% ABV is relatively modest for Gewurztraminer and makes this wine taste refreshing as well as full of personality.
2019 Seifried Pinot Noir Nelson $18
It’s a high bronze medal from me for this spicy, fruit driven Pinot Noir made from grapes grown on two vineyards in Nelson at the tip of the South Island. The Seifried Brightwater Vineyard and and the Rabbit Island Vineyard are home to the Pinot grapes that went into this wine, which was harvested at 23.9 brix in March 2019. All grapes were destemmed and macerated briefly prior to fermentation, during which they were plunged twice daily and the finished wine was then aged in a combination of new and one to two year old French oak barriques for less than a year. The wine was bottled in late 2019. It’s a smooth, ripe, spicy Pinot Noir, which makes for approachable, refreshing drinking now or over the next two to three years.
- All three wines are suitable for vegans and vegetarians to enjoy because no animal products were used in making them.
Many people are happy to have a job in these increasingly uncertain, global pandemic times, but for those who feel heavily invested in their work, the first wine of this week will ring a few bells. Its name is a clever play on words.
Where did the name Skin in the Game come from? I asked winemaker Tony Bish this question over a glass of wine a couple of weeks ago and the reply was: “It’s mandatory when you’re a winemaker to have some skin in the game.”
He has forged a bit of a reputation as New Zealand’s king of Chardonnay, specialising in a grape and wine he loves by exploring and experimenting with many different styles, including this, the second vintage of the newest kid on his Chardonnay block – the 2019 Skin in the Game. A cheeky and clever play on words and available from specialist wine stores or directly online from tonybishwines.co.nz
2019 Skin in the Game Chardonnay $30
Chardonnay grapes were hand harvested from the Skeetfield Vineyard in Fernhill, Hawke’s Bay, to make this dry, medium bodied and interestingly different take on a skin contact wine. It’s recognisably Chardonnay with its creamy, savoury flavours and nutty nuances. It’s made from 100% dry farmed grapes which can reduce yields and increase concentration. It was gently destemmed and foot crushed then open top fermented and hand plunged. Overall, that’s a lot of hand work for a Chardonnay at this price, which may be next level for many but which offers very good value for money for an interesting new take on the world’s most popular white wine.
2019 Fat & Sassy $19.99
Speaking of the world’s most popular white wine, this full bodied Chardonnay is citrusy, dry and fresh with buttery flavours from its barrel fermentation but it’s the nutty, lightly savoury flavours that really drive this wine’s appeal for me. Fat & Sassy does live up to its name but it’s also got a fine thread of balanced adicity adding an edge so there’s more than purely creamy appeal here.
The 2020 vintage may have been one of the most challenging in the history of the modern New Zealand wine industry, but the quality of these two fresh new whites shows that it will also go down as one of the best.
These two mid week white wines are very different styles from two vastly different regions, which share the same vintage freshness, concentration and zesty characters.
2020 Nga Waka Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough $19-$21, 18.5/20
Winemaker Roger Parkinson, brix at harvest 21.3, 12.5% ABV, RS less than 1g/l, ph 3.1
Nga Waka Sauvignon Blanc is a small Martinborough winery whose winemaker Roger Parkinson produces this Sauvignon Blanc from grapes grown on the Pirinoa Block in the township. It’s fermented to dryness in stainless steel at cool temperatures to preserve freshness and zingy characteristics. It has bright noticeable acidity and a flinty dry flavour profile.
2020 Seifried Sauvignon Blanc Nelson $19.99, 18.5/20
This is a dry, refreshing new release from the 2020 vintage. It’s pale in colour with pronounced vibrant tropical fruit aromas of passionfruit, white peach and grapefruit all intermingling in a lush, delicious dry Sauvignon from the northernmost tip of the South Island.
Seifried Estate is one of Nelson’s oldest wineries and now run by the second generation of winemakers, namely, the children of founders Hermann and Agnes Seifried. The family specialise in aromatic white wines as well as a range of reds, including cool climate red grapes from Austria, such as Zweigelt, which is made in small quantities.