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Top drops under $20 (and over) and wine news from Joelle Thomson

Category: News… (page 1 of 2)

New steel matrix sculpture lands on NZ’s biggest vineyard

Meet Marlborough’s massive new giant wine rack… The 8 metre high sculpture was officially unveiled yesterday along with two new high priced wines with labels that reflect the design by New York based Dror Benshetrit, who has been working on the project for the past 18 months.

The sculpture was craned onto Brancott Estate Vineyard last week as an interlocking concertina frame, comprised of 52 individual components, which locked into place once the flat matrix was unfolded. It’s welded to the ground and is a permanent fixture on the vast vineyard.

Dror also designed a mini version of the matrix as a wine rack (available from Brancott Estate’s Heritage Centre in Marlborough for purchase for $350) and the wine labels for the new Reflection wines.

Form and function combine in the mini version of the Understanding sculpture; a wine rack, pictured above.

The 8 metre high sculpture is titled Under/standing and the wines are called Reflection; a reference to both the sculpture and the wines, says Pernod Ricard chief winemaker Patrick Materman, who worked with Dror on the logistics of the new artwork – and the labels.

Great wine can be a reflection of the vineyard on which their grapes grew, which was the inspiration for the name and represents what he wants to achieve in these wines.

Reflection… Two new wines with labels which reflect the giant wine rack sculpture by Dror and also reflect the country’s largest wine region’s two major strengths – dry white Sauvignon and full bodied Pinot Noir.

Here are my notes on the new Reflection wines

2016 Brancott Estate Reflection $60

Here it is… and it’s tasty stuff too. This first new Brancott Estate Reflection white is a blend of 52% Sauvignon Blanc and 48% Sauvignon Gris (a natural mutation of Sauvignon Blanc, only grassier in taste). The aim was to make something that had some oak shining through, tastes good with food and can age, which meant the winemaking process was a few-expenses-spared process from hand picking the grapes to raging the wine in 4000 litre oak ‘fuder’ barrels. The result is a dry, full bodied white with flavours of lemon grass, grapefruit and notes of smoky complexity; it’s delicious but restrained rather than out there when it comes to fruit flavour, and its zesty acidity adds a long finish. A stunner.

How much was made? About 100-150 cases.

What does it taste like? Smoky and oaky on the nose but in a pretty restrained style. It tastes of fresh citrusy lemon grass and a touch of green apple and it’s dry, zesty, full bodied

What type of oak was used? Large 4000 litre oak fuder for fermentation and maturation, post ferment. The wine spent the best part of a year in that oak sitting on its lees – the decomposing yeast cells left over after fermentation, which protects wine from oxidation and also adds yeasty complex flavours.

What are the links between the wine and the sculpture? “The steel plates on the sculpture go in two different directions on the sculpture and together they form a structure and strength; the same is true of the two different grapes in the wine, which work together,” says chief winemaker Patrick Materman.

Will it be made again? It’s an ongoing brand which will sell only at the cellar door.

And it’s available… in standard 750ml bottles for $60 and magnums (1500 mls) for $130.

2015 Brancott Reflections Dror Pinot Noir $80

This is a powerful statement of a wine with bold, powerful aromas of cloves, orange peel and dried cherries; it’s 14.5% ABV, so it’s not shy on the alcohol front but this is nicely balanced by intense red cherry, plum and smoky flavours. It’s a blend of the best components of Pinot Noir from hand selected barrels, says Materman.

News: Craggy Range begins major refurb today

Craggy Range Winery began a major refurbishment of its cellar door today in a project destined to last through winter 2018.

The first stage is the cellar door of the Giant’s Winery, which is being replaced temporarily with a pop-up cellar door.

“The pop up cellar door will be a really fun experience, which will show one of our winery spaces – the Chardonnay cellar – that is usually behind the scenes and not available for the public to view,” says Craggy Range cellar door manager Michael Bancks

The refurbishment project is led by Paul Izzard, from Izzard Design; one of the guest judges on The Block NZ.

Fact file…

Craggy Range Giant’s Winery cellar door is shut from 16 October and the pop up cellar door within the Chardonnay Cellar will be open from Thursday 19 October to Tuesday 22 November.

The  new cellar door is scheduled to be open from Wednesday 22 November.

The Giant’s Winery restaurant, Terroir, will be refurbished during the winter season 2018.

NZ wine’s free hotline

It’s the gift that keeps on giving from now until Friday 6 January 2017.  It is free wine advice at the end of the  #VillaMariaHelpline to answer New Zealanders’ wine queries.

The large, family owned New Zealand wine company launched its helpline to ease what chief winemaker Nick Picone describes as festive fear about buying wines that are special or celebratory.

“We put a lot of effort into the Christmas season and unless we’re wine specialists, it can be daunting finding that perfect wine to gift or match with food. The Villa Maria Helpline was designed to support New Zealanders with their decision making and ease stress over the festive season,” says Picone, who is among those specialists on the other end of the hotline.

To call the new wine hotline, tag #VillaMariaHelpline with a wine related question via a personal Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account and a Villa Maria wine specialist will respond.

The #VillaMariaHelpline service runs for four weeks from Friday 9 December 2016 to Friday 6 January 2017.

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