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Weekly wine news and top drops

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Weekly wine news and top wines of the week

Pyramid Valley vineyard in Waikari, North Canterbury

Pyramid Valley takes a new direction

The new owners of Pyramid Valley Vineyards in North Canterbury have announced that the winery will become a two-estate property, with vineyards in Canterbury and Central Otago.

Master of Wine Steve Smith and business partner Brian Sheth purchased Pyramid Valley in October 2017, setting up Aotearoa Fine Wine Estates (AONZ) at the same time .

Their aim is to produce North Canterbury and Central Otago wines, focusing on high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The original vineyard in Pyramid Valley Road will now be known as Waikari Estate, named after the eponymous nearby township. The second estate will be the original Lowburn Ferry property in Cromwell, Central Otago. This has been renamed Manata Estate, in homage to a local Maori legend. It’s a 26 hectare property, which will be fully planted over the next two years, mostly in Pinot Noir with smaller amounts of Chardonnay.

Both estates be fully biodynamic.

 

New identity for importer

Master of Wine Stephen Bennett announced the new name of his wine company this week as Mucho Gusto Wine Co.

The new identity took effect on 1 April and replaces the former name Bennett & Deller, which was the founding name of the business that he set up nearly 20 years ago with a former business partner.

His business focuses strongly on Spanish wines and other imports across wide range of prices.

 

Wines of the week

Here are this week’s three top drops – the wines that have most impressed me from daily tastings over the past seven days. I hope you enjoy them.

Bargain buy

4 stars

2017 Mud House The Narrows Pinot Noir $19.99, 13% ABV

How many Pinots under $20 taste as good as this? Rhetorical question.

This wine is made from grapes from the narrowing of Marlborough’s Upper Wairau Valley where north facing slopes aid ripening during Marlborough’s long, sunny autumns. Winemaker Cleighten Cornelius destemmed and cold soaked the grapes for a week then fermented them with indigenous yeasts and hand plunging to extract  moderate colour and tannins. He pressed the wine into new French oak barrels for less than a year and fined it prior to bottling.

It tastes dry, silky, lightly spicy with red fruit aromas and edgy acidity adding length to each sip.

 

Treat of the week

4.5 stars

2015 Guigal Cotes du Rhone $26.99

Talk about an alignment of the stars – Guigal Cotes du Rhone has always been good value when it comes to cheeky little French reds from the sunny southern Rhone, but this vintage is a noticeable step up in fruit concentration from the 2014 (which was also tasty).

The wine has improved immeasurably over the past decade. For good reason. It’s now aged at the family owned winery in Ampuis in the northern Rhone, which allows total control of the three year standard aging process prior to release for this stellar wine. It’s an interesting blend of 65% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre, which adds rich mocha and cocoa flavours, body and oomph to this exceptionally tasty red wine.

Velvety smooth, full bodied and fresh.

It is traditionally held back three years prior to release.

 

Reach for the stars

2017 Pegasus Bay Vergence Red $40

This is one of two edgy new wines from North Canterbury’s Pegasus Bay wines.

Vergence means the pupils of the eyes looking outward before they focus – a fitting name for an experimental wine, made 100% from Pinot Noir grapes from in Central Otago rather than North Canterbury. The grapes were 100% whole bunch fermented and sealed in a tank with a small amount of juice in an oxygen free environment where it went through intracellular fermentation (berries release CO2) during its initial week-long fermentation. Bunches were then softly foot pressed and primary fermentation continued, prior to a year’s aging French oak and bottling with no fining or filtration.

It tastes dry and full bodied with powerful  aromas of pepper, spice and dried herbs. Decanted, it drinks well now and can age for many years in correct cellaring conditions.

Top drops… Wines of the week

Rolling foothills in the Langhe region in Piemonte, north west Italy, are home to the Nebbiolo grape – the lone star in Barbaresco – this week’s top drop

This is the first weekly line up to suit all palates and pockets, no matter how shallow or deep. It’s modelled on my newspaper columns of old where I used to regularly write three wines of the week from the bargain buster to the Oscar Wilde-inspired ‘reaching for the stars’; the great man once said we’re all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars. So, without further ado, here they are.

This week’s trio of top drops.

 

Bargain buy red

4 stars

2015 Ulisse Montepulciano $21.99

Montepulciano is the second most planted indigenous grape variety in Italy so it grows far and wide from Abruzzo on central Italy’s east coast to Puglia in the south, across to Lazio, Marche and Tuscany as well as up to Emilia-Romagna.

It makes wines that are easy to love. Juicy, big, dark and powerful with smooth velvety flavours and wild berry aromas. It’s rarely given high amounts of oak, so this delicious drop is all about the grape’s ripe red plum and dark berry flavours in a smooth bodied, soft and tasty red.

Available from specialist wine stores or Sapori d’Italia.

 

Tasty (white) treat

4 stars

2015 Chateau Tahbilk Roussanne Marsanne Viognier $30-$32

A small quantity of 2012 Chateau Tahbilk’s RMV (this wine) was first released in 2013 as a trial and sold only through the winery’s club and cellar door. Both channels proved successful enough to increase production in 2014 to sell to a wider market.

This is a dry, full bodied white with ripe peach, citrus and nutty aromas, thanks to the trio of grapes in the wine; Roussanne 39%, Marsanne 35% and Viognier 26%. The Roussanne was aged in French oak for six months while the Marsanne and Viognier were fermented in stainless steel.

Tahbilk winery was established in 1860 in the Nagambie Lakes region of Victoria and was purchased by Reginald Purbrick in 1925 . Five generations of the Purbrick family have now actively made wine at Tahbilk.

The Marsanne component of this wine dates back to original plantings that have survived since first put in the ground in 1927. The Viognier and Roussanne were planted 15 and 25 years ago, respectively.

It drinks well now and can age.

 

Reach for the stars

4.5 stars

2011 Produttori del Barbaresco Muncagota DOCG $70-$82

Muncagota is my current pick of one of the single vineyard wines owned by shareholders in the vast Produttori del Barbaresco co-op, one of the highest quality cooperative wine companies in the world.

The wine is 100% Nebbiolo, in accordance with the appellation regulations in Barbaresco in north west Italy’s Piemonte region.

Collectively, shareholders of Produttori own approximately 200 hectares of land, which is nearly a third of the entire Barbaresco appellation (DOCG) in Piemonte.

This wine is dry, full bodied, powerful and paradoxically silky with gentle floral aromas and red fruit flavours. It’s intense but somehow light at the same time with a lingering finish.

To describe this wine as seductive doesn’t even begin to do these flavours justice.

Try it.

Wine news… Langton’s to distribute Misha’s Vineyard

Misha’s Vineyard from Central Otago has sealed a deal with Langton’s to be its sole representative in the Australian market.

“The name Langton’s is synonymous with fine wine so it’s a great honour that they have selected our brand to be part of their portfolio of producers” said Misha Wilkinson, owner and director of Misha’s Vineyard with her husband Andy.

Consumption of Pinot Noir has been growing steadily in Australia and Central Otago has become the Pinot Noir capital of New Zealand with 80% of the region’s vineyards devoted entirely to the Burgundian red grape.

Langton’s will offer Misha’s Vineyard cool-climate aromatic white wines, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

“Misha’s Vineyard wines are some of the most consistent and highly-rated wines in Central Otago, and we are proud to offer them exclusively in Australia,” said Florian Thoelke, Langton’s senior buyer.

Misha and Andy Wilkinson spent two years searching for vineyard land on which to establish their vines, which were planted in 2004. on a 57-hectare estate on the edge of Lake Dunstan in the Bendigo sub-region of Central Otago.

The focus for the first ten years was producing consistently high-quality wines and building a brand . Two years ago, the Misha’s Vineyard Tasting Room was opened in Cromwell signifying a new phase of growth for the company.

Langton’s began as a specialist wine auction house in 1988 and created a Classification of Fine Wine in 1991. The company is now owned by Woolworths and acquired a fine wine brokerage service to further enhance its position in the market, in 2011.

Misha’s Vineyard wines available through Langton’s includes Verismo Pinot Noir, The High Note Pinot Noir, Cantata Pinot Noir, Dress Circle Pinot Gris, Lyric Riesling, Limelight Riesling, The Gallery Gewürztraminer, The Cadenza Late Harvest Gewürztraminer.

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