Boston US based trio and owners of Vela Wines, Arié and Beth Ann Dahan and Max Risman fell in love with the land and people of New Zealand when visiting, which lead them to coming back and purchasing a vineyard in Central Otago region of the South Island. The Wines are made by Antony Worch, a native Frenchman who now works full time in NZ and the Vineyard Manager Julien Alexandre. Read more about the Vela team here.
Their vineyard at the foot of the Pisa Range, in Central Otago at an altitude of 952 ft, and the Riesling and Pinot Noir vines are spread across eight distinctive blocks, all with differing soil profiles from alluvial to glacial schist soils and each block named after a state or region in the USA.
Why have they branded the wines “Twelfth Night? Well on the 12th night of their first visit to New Zealand, they visited the Mount John astronomical observatory Lake Tekapo and were blown away by the beauty of the sky. The very next day they found the vineyard which they eventually purchased.
“They vowed to give their future wine a name that would pay homage to the night sky and reflect the sense of adventure and exhilaration fitting of their exciting project into the world of New Zealand wine.”
Vela Wines are producing Riesling, Pinot Noir, a Pinot Rosé and a tiny bit of Gewerztraminer from their Central Otago grapes, and a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. The wines are currently only available in a few states in the USA, but may be available in New Zealand soon.
Here are my thoughts on 4 of the wines I recently had the pleasure of tasting. The winemaking & tasting notes for these vintages are not yet available on the Vela Wines Website, so I’m not able to provide information on the actual winemaking processes or technical details of the wines. Enjoy!
Vela Wines Twelfth Night Riesling Central Otago 2015
Bright lemon-straw in colour, with fragrant florals and citrus on the nose. Fresh crisp acidity with lemons, lime and grapefruit on the palate, intense juicy finish – very moreish!
Vela Wines Twelfth Night Dry Riesling Central Otago 2016
Pale straw lemon in colour, quite tropical with green limey- citrus in the nose. Again fresh tart acidity and lemony citrus fruit flavours across the palate, leading into a dry long puckering citrus finish – all about the citrus!
Vela Wines Twelfth Night Pinot Noir Central Otago 2013
Deep purple to black cherry in colour, with dark plum fruit, a hint of forest floor and vanilla oak on the nose. Wonderfully integrated palate with silky tannins, toasty soft oak and mouthfilling plum / black cherry flavours. Gorgeous long fruit finish, not as dry as I expected.
Vela Wines Twelfth Night Pinot Noir Central Otago 2014
Darker cherry-red coloured. Rich plum & blue berry notes in the nose, softer on the palate than the 2013, with more subtle oak, ample bodied with velvety tannins, tart acidity, medium length and a lingering persistant finish… 13.9% ABV
Four very well made quality wines – I do hope these will be available for purchase in New Zealand as I’m sure they will be well received by Cental Otago Riesling and Pinot Noir lovers across the country.