Wine of the week, new vintage, new brand, old varietal

Wine of the week – new release today

This wine of the week is suffering from an interminable hangover. That hangover is called image and it comes from a time when many  insipid wines that were not Riesling were labelled as if they were. This misrepresented all the incredible variety of styles and flavours that the world of Riesling can offer. Riesling has naturally high acidity and naturally intense aromas, which offer all the variety of life a wine lover could ask for. These flavours span the gamut of zesty green citrus through to ripe intense peach, each one an expression of the climate in which the grapes are grown. I’d go so far as to say that Riesling can express a greater range of different flavours and styles than any other white wine in the world but I’m always open to try new things.

We can’t undo the misrepresentation and misunderstandings of the past but we can open our minds (and, in this case, our mouths) to try something new – a modern, dry Riesling that highlights great flavours without pretence, without oak, without over the top sweetness… but with outstanding depth and purity.

So, without further ado, this wine of the week comes from a cool climate, namely Martinborough at the southern tip of the North Island. Here it is.

Wine of the week

19/20

2021 Butterworth Dry Riesling RRP $35

Martinborough is one of New Zealand’s smallest wine regions and home to some of the country’s highest quality dry Rieslings. This fresh new wine is officially released onto the market in New Zealand today and is an outstanding expression of Riesling from a climate that ideally suits the stunning purity of this great white grape. Flavours here span the gamut of freshness and complexity  with notes of lime zest, green apple and white peach.

Fermentation was in stainless steel tanks to preserve fruit purity and was stopped at 6 grams of residual sugar to retain balance. The wine was bottled unfined with a light filtration. It is vegan friendly.

It is made from hand picked grapes grown on Te Muna Road, six kilometres from Martinborough village on a vineyard originally established by Wym Julicher and now owned by Brad and Warren Butterworth.

I love Riesling because it is the essence of wine without pretence.

butterworthestate.co.nz

Wine talk with Kirk Bray

Weekly wine talk is published every Friday and the occasional Monday

Kirk Bray is the founder, owner, winemaker and creator of the Georges Road Wine brand in the Waipara Valley, North Canterbury. A region where the late ripening Syrah grape can be as impressive as the great Rieslings for which the valley is best known.

Bray began his professional life as a chartered accountant, which helps with filing GST returns. He woke up one day wondering why would he would continue his career in accountancy so he changed tack to study a year-long post graduate course in winemaking and viticulture at Lincoln University. With a head full of ideas and no experience, he worked his first vintage in the Waipara Valley, which he followed by stint in the United States, in the Pfalz region of Germany and then, circuitously, returned to where it all began – North Canterbury.

“I went to Germany initially to find out what the secrets to making Riesling were all about and quickly realised that wasn’t what it’s about at all. It just makes itself once you’ve got the best raw material.

Meet Kirk Bray of Georges Road Wines

This is the 12th interview on this website based on the famous Proust questionnaire, which originated in 1886 – find out more here.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

It’s not fully achieved yet but the continuing evolution of Georges Road Wines is definitely the most satisfying thing for me. I worked in Germany as a winemaker prior to starting Georges Road Wines and the thing that struck me there were the small family owned wineries where they knew everything about their own operation. It’s exciting and enormously satisfying to be able to speak from the heart about every single wine. The first vines went into the ground in 2005. Our first vintage was 2009.

What is your current state of mind?

Nervous but hopeful. Most of my wine sells through restaurants and the cellar door. Those channels were turned off for a while so it’s been more challenging with Covid but we’ve got to put everything in perspective. We’re only making wine. As great as that is to me. We’re not living in a war zone.

What is your favourite part of being involved in winemaking?

The very last tasting sample before bottling the wine.

Do you have a most treasured wine?

The first vintage of Georges Road wine was a 2009 Syrah and I’ve still got a bottle of it. Two years ago a customer brought me some 2009 Syrahs which were dug up from her cellar underground in Christchurch where a digger brought them up after they were buried in the ground from the earthquakes.

Where is your favourite wine region?

It’s too hard to have one because all wine regions are in beautiful places. I guess Europe is where I think of when asked that question but I can’t go past North Canterbury because it’s at the start of its journey; small but growing. It’s very exciting to be a part of it.

When and where are you at your happiest?

On holiday with my family, preferably exploring somewhere new and interesting and it’s lunchtime. That’s my ideal day.

What do you most dislike in wine?

Mass produced cheap wine brands. They are the antithesis of what I know and love about wine. Mass produced brands are just alcohol to me; shame on those who use that stuff as a loss leader and on us for buying it. Wineries of my size can’t even grow grapes for that price. I get people overseas asking us if we can land wine in China for $30 a dozen. It’s just ridiculous.

What is your greatest fear?

Hard question. That the world will end without anyone knowing of a band I love called Trashcan Sinatras.

What is your greatest extravagance?

If I had money I would spend it on travel.

What is your greatest regret?

I’m a glass half full person and that glass is Riesling and it won’t be half full for long.

What talent would you most like to have?

I can’t sing, I can’t play an instrument and I can’t draw. Any of those would be a bonus.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

The helplessness that some people find themselves in through no fault of their own; being a refugee and unable to find hope or a solution to such a dire situation.

What is the trait that you most deplore in yourself?

Stubbornness but usually I’ll never admit to it.

What do you most value in your friends?

Shared connection and history. Fun times.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

When I’m in the tasting room talking to people, I find myself repeating the same stories. They don’t know it but I have told certain stories thousands of times.

I also love a good comedy catchphrase.

What is your favourite meal?

I love spice. It’s not always wine friendly but I love it. And who doesn’t love Italian food? My favourite meal is a simple ethnic meal with a whole bunch of friends at the table.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing what do you think it would be?

The world doesn’t need another person and I don’t aspire to be anyone other than myself.

If I could imagine a great thing to be, I would come back as the Taj Mahal. I would get a lot of visitors.

Weekly wine talk with Nik Mavromatis – nature in a bottle

Weekly wine talk is published every Friday on this site – and the occasional Monday too.

Nik Mavromatis is a chef turned sales and marketing manager and lover of Barolo. A man who understands that tannic wines are best left alone for a while and that marketing is as important to the success of great wines as the process of winemaking. Not that he would ever say that, of his own role in the process. Mavromatis is part of the team at Greystone Wines in the Waipara Valley, North Canterbury.

He loves wine, he says, because, unlike beer or other alcoholic drinks, wine offers a singular snapshot each year, which cannot be altered.

“The best, most authentic outcome for wine is to see it as a snapshot of its place and time. If you’re trying to use too much oak or too much of anything, then you should probably make beer. You’d probably make more money,” says the man many refer to as Mav.

Meet Nik Mavromatis of Greystone Wines

This is the eleventh interview on this website based on the famous Proust questionnaire, which originated in 1886 – find out more here.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Raising our two children, Marco and Loukas because I think it changes your life and makes you realise you’re more human and less part of the machine.

What is your current state of mind?

Anxious. The state of the world and dealing with people internationally makes me think that we New Zealanders don’t realise how good we have it, compared to the UK, the US and other places.

The definition of the word anxiety in Greek actually means that your mind is being pulled in two directions and that’s a fairly good description of how I feel right now. I’m living with my wife and kids and the sun is shining but the constant negativity feed from around the world makes me wonder if I should be constantly in a state of worry or is that just a thing put on by the world media? Do we need to know how crazy things are in other places, especially when there are things we can’t change?

What is your favourite part of being involved in winemaking?

I’m more around the consumer front so it’s more around wine and food pairings. I think wine is a great representation of nature in a bottle. If we can make that work with food that is similarly reflective of the place and prepared with care, then that is how we can best show our place in the world.

Do you have a most treasured wine?

There are ones there is an emotional attachment. A bottle of Aldo Conterno Barbera that made my wife and I realise that we loved each other. Then there was a 1995 Roc de Cambes Cotes de Bourg and I was trying to impress a girl when I was a young chef, so went to buy a bottle and spent a lot more than I was intending to. We went out to dinner and thought it was amazing. If I tried it now I would probably think it was horribly over ripe but at the time it seemed amazing.

Where is your favourite wine region?

To visit would be the Southern Rhone. To drink would be Piemonte. The Piemonte food is amazing but I like the pretty relaxed attitude in the Southern Rhone. A late autumn day, eating figs and goat cheese, discovering things like red Beaumes de Venise. I remember going to a café in Tavel and rosé being served by the litre. I think it was 10 Euros for a three course lunch and a litre of rosé. The first course was sun ripened tomatoes with sardines on them with a little green salad and a crusty bread.

When and where are you at your happiest?

Throwing clay on my wheel. I’m quite process driven. I like making things and I like the process.

What do you most dislike in wine?

Oak. You might as well add strawberry flavouring as far as I’m concerned. I like barrels and the fermentation thing but that new oak flavour is something I don’t understand. I don’t understand how someone can bang on about terroir then throw lots of oak at a wine.

What is your greatest fear?

Lots of things. I don’t like holding poultry. Not a big fan of it. Public nudity is another fear.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Food. I think you have to love food to love wine. Food is both physical and cultural; it nourishes us, both body and soul.

What is your greatest regret?

Not believing in myself more when I was younger. I had more opportunities than I thought and often took the safer one. You don’t realise when you’re young and free that you should push things as far as you can. You’ve got pretty much nothing to lose when you’re 21.

What talent would you most like to have?

To be able to sing in tune.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Corked wine. I brought back a bottle of my birth year 1978 Cesare Barolo from Italy and opened it on a special birthday for me and it was corked. That was pretty sad.

What is the trait that you most deplore in yourself?

My flat feet.

What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Um. I should learn to use it a lot less.

What is your favourite meal?

Avgolemono. Greek egg and lemon soup. It literally means egg and lemon and it’s got a little bit of rice with left over chicken and you just thicken it with lemon and egg yolks. It’s absolutely fantastic. An  absolute chicken soup for the soul, which evokes childhood memories for me. I think that food tastes richer when it brings us memories of love than having a chef prepare something weird and wacky.

Food has a place in our soul that’s more important than something bright and shiny.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing what do you think it would be?

A bottle of Barolo. Tannic and best left alone for a while.

www.greystonewines.co.nz