Well the day dawned with yet another glorious blue sky, the stars and moon bright in the eastern sky… Love it! Day two saw me heading off down New Renwick road to Wither Hills, Villa Maria and Fairhall Downs.
At Wither Hill I was greeted by Elaine and Denisse who were just great to chat with and provided me with some great wines to taste. Started with the 2010 Wither Hills Rarangi Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc was a stunner – herbs, citrus and melon nice ripe acid backbone, the Wither Hills 2010 Chardonnay, succulent, rich luscious fruit… a coupe of aromatics next: 2010 Pinot Gris, stone fruit spice and pears and a 2008 Gewurztraminer from the Kerseley vineyard, 15 year old vines, spicy, fragrant, lush in the mouth, great finish – only available at the Cellar Door. Lastly the Wither Hills 2009 Pinot Noir – savoury, cherry and plum fruit, very elegant Pinot… Excellent wines, a great venue and fabulous staff – thanks for making me so welcome… I’ll need to make an appointment with Sally to come back and have a guided tour of the winery etc…
Next stop was Villa Maria were I spent some time with Vince who was very helpful and guided me through a selection of wines from the “vast” Villa Maria portfolio, mostly from the Reserve range. I started with the 2010 Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc, concentrated citrus & gooseberry nice texture & mineral finish. A 2007 Reserve Marlborough Riesling up next showing age development with kero and honey notes (yum!) followed by 2009 Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay, stone fruit, yeasty/creamy / mealy – I love big meaty B/F chardonnays and this was delish!
Into the Reds and the Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir, either 2008 or 09 as I missed noting the vintage, but it was a nice example of classic Marlborough Pinot – cherries, smoky spice, elegant silky, Awatere and Wairau fruit. The 2008 Hawke’s Bay Syrah was a stunner too dark, peppery, juicy – loving NZ Syrah. Last up as a special treat Vince offered me a taste of the R&D range 2007 Pinot Noir which with 2 years in oak had melded together into a stunning wine – only available at the cellar door though. My thaks to Vince for taking the time to show me a selection of VIlla Maria Wines – Cheers!
Next I took a little side trip down Wrekin Road to Fairhall Downs, a family owned winery run by the Small and Smith families – they have a lovely cellar door and Yvonne was most welcoming, showing their range to me – even briefly met Stuart Smith for a quick introduction so that was nice too.
Fairhall Downs wines are made by Brian Bicknell of Mahi fame so the quality is very high – there are Sauvignon Blancs, the 2009 Fairhall Downs is a single vineyard wine with citrus and tropical characters supported by great texture and weight from a portion fermented in oak. On the other hand the Hugo 2008 savvy Barrique Fermented for 10 months is all stone fruit and spicy oak, with time on lees resulting in complex luscious mouth feel and great length (got one of these to take home!)
The 2009 Pinot Gris was quite dry with pears, citrus and nice textural elements and the Chardonnay with 10 Months B/F was all citrus and stone fruit, rich & buttery, great length – liked it much. The Fairhall Downs 2009 Pinot Noir was all dark berry fruits, savoury, earthy gritty tannins and will go a few years yet before it reaches it’s potential… Thanks Yvonne for some great wines and interesting that she is a distant relative of David Herd – a Pioneer in Marlborough wine growing having set up Auntsfield Estate back in the 1800s. All in all day 2 was another great day out… What shall I do on Day 3? Come back soon and you’ll find out…