Hawke’s Bay’s great whites, October 2015 – The 2015 Hawke’s Bay A&P Regional Wine Show revealed interesting white wine trends

It all goes to Show

Posted 19 October 2015

It is impossible to visit Hawke’s Bay and leave thinking that this region is all sunshine and foreshore and heat filled days. Aside from two vastly different cities in Napier and Hastings, the Bay’s climate is one of New Zealand’s most diverse for growing the raw ingredients that go into a bottle of wine.
Snow capped Ruahine Ranges can tinge the sunniest of days with an unwelcome crispness, a reminder that the Bay (like most of New Zealand) has a maritime climate, which enables white grapes to retain their acidity. This tastes fresh in white wines, which came through at the 15th Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayley’s Wine Awards, which I judged last month. It still makes the mouth water remembering Ngatarawa Farmgate Chenin Blanc. The surprise factor was its deceptively pale colour and freshness; it was made in 2009. Chenin is thin on the ground in New Zealand but wow, it’s good. Esk Valley Chenin Blanc is another stunner. Fellow judges included North American Chuck Hayward and Hawke’s Bay winemaker Rod Easthope, who were equally  impressed by the chardonnays, chenins, a dessert riesling (one of the best in show, even if a hard sell) and verdelho. A bunch of unusual reds showed that it’s early days for tempranillo, grenache, malbec, cabernet franc, montepulciano, marzemino and sangiovese. Loved the marzemino (Church Road, cellar door sales only) but the whites shone brightest.

Wine of the week

What: 2013 Esk Valley Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay, $31-$32, 14% ABV

Where? Grapes from two vineyards; on Esk River and the banks of Ngaruroro River.
How? Barrel fermentation adds full bodied bells and creamy, nutty flavours. Tasty.