Wine Discovery New Zealand 2010

The Great Wine Capitals Global Network (GWCGN) is a network of  nine major global cities in both the northern and southern hemispheres, which share a key economic and cultural asset, namely their internationally renowned wine regions. The 9 cities are; Bilbao | Rioja, Spain – Bordeaux | FranceCape Town | South AfricaFirenze | ItalyMainz | Rheinhessen, GermanyMendoza | ArgentinaPorto | PortugalSan Francisco |Napa Valley, USA


Christchurch | South Island, New ZealandYes my hometown for over 50(ish) years has been selected as one of the Great Wine Capitals of the world. The Nelson, Marlborough, Waipara, Canterbury and Central Otago wine regions are all within easy travelling distance from Christchurch and the quality of the wines coming from each region over the last few years has been amazing with many producers providing us with world class wine from our own backyard.

Between 31 October to 4 November this year, The GWCGN hosted the Wine Discovery New Zealand 2010 – International Conference

On offer were a huge range of stimulating and relevant programmes for both the local and international wine delegates in wine business, research and media, as well as entertaining events such as the Great Wine Capital’s iconic International Wine Tasting. Rather than held at the one venue there were number of events that took delegates on mini day trips to the five South Island wine regions so they could discover for themselves the people places and secrets behind our fantastic wines.

I didn’t get te attend the Conference proper but was lucky enough to attend the International Wine Tasting at the Town Hall – there were 36 Wine producers from the international GWCGN and 38 from the 5 South Islands wine regions.

It was great to catch up with many of the NZ producers whom I have met over the years and recently at the COPNCO and Nelson Wine Art tastings all held in CHCH. I spent a lot of time standing in lines and groups of attendees trying to get close to the international table to sample some of the wines from our overseas friends – didn’t want to appear rude and push in so in the end managed to taste 5 wines

Lindwe Merlot 2006 (Cape Town)
Bodega Faraon Oaked Chardonnay 2008 (Mendoza)
Bodega Faraon Oaked Malbec 2008 (Mendoza)
Chateau La Pointe AOC Pomerol 2004 (Bordeaux)
Miguel Merino Vinas Jovenes 2007 (Rioja)
Castello Di Vicchiomaggio “Agostini Petri” Chianti Classico DOCG 2007 (Firenze)

Beautiful well-made interesting wines which were quite a change for my my predominantly Kiwi / Ozzie trained wine palate. Here are the wines from the NZ selection available that I tasted – was great catching up with all the NZ Wine makers and reps too especially my Twitter and Facebook wine friends from all over NZ…

Started in the Canterbury / Waipara Corner with Black Estate Riesling 2009 – have always loved Black Estate wines – especially the Pinot noir – top class Waipara producer… Met Alessandro and Wilma from Cracroft and tasted their Cracroft Chase Wood’s Edge  Pinot Gris 2007 and Grey Pearl Pinot Gris 2009 – was lucky to have been there at the launch of their first release on the vineyard back in 2006? Lovely wines made in the Italian Pinot Grigio style.

Next I met with the lovely Di at Fancrest Estate and tasted Di’s Pinot Noir 2007 and the
Fancrest Estate Pinot Noir 2008 – really nice wines made organically although Di did mention she tried bio-dynamics for some years before reverting to organics.. Nice Wines Di..

The Giesen “The Brothers” Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 was lovely although I am starting to look for something a little different now than the big grassy Marl Savvies…

Good to catch up with Angela from Greystone Wines too and tasted the Pinot Gris 2010 – Had some of their 08 Pinot Gris recently so was nice to compare 2 vintages – both delish… and as for the Greystone Wines Feather Star Riesling 2010 – yumm… Waipara Riesling – what can  say? Angela send me some and I’ll review it… LOL.

On to Hurunui River Wines – had been out twice in the last year while passing thru canterbury from the coast and back – but alas no-one home both times we visited – will ring first next time – Two savvies tried – 2009 and 2008 with a bit of Oak age – liked them both but preferred the oak treatment – nice textural elements.

Quick visit to Edward and Paul at Pegasus Bay for a the Sauvignon Semillion 2008 – always loved this wine sine I first tasted it back in 2003/4 – got something rich and lush about it compared to straight SB – can’t wait for th 2009.. Cheers for the advice on my 2006 Prima Donna Guys – will hang on a bit longer…

Caught up with Kirk Bray and Celia Bosman from Sandihurst had a chat and tried the 2007 Central Otago Pinot Noir – damn nice too – have their 2006 Canty Waiprara in the cellar so will be interesting to try this – Celia, Hennie and Kirk have really turned Sandihurst around since taking over in 2005 – fantastic wines – hat’s off to you guys…

Johnny Gibson then showed me 3 from his Southern Boundary portfolio – Waipara Downs Chardonnay 2007,  Bascand Estate Pinot Gris 2010 and Bascand Waipara Pinot Noir 2009 great wines and really good value for money too.

Both Mt Beautiful wines from the Teece family Vineyards were stunning – Mt Beautiful Cheviot Hills 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and 2009 Pinoy Noirhadn’t had the opportunity to taste these and was very impressed with both wine from so far noteh in the region – could be a new little sub-region staring up there in Cheviot eh?

Had to stop and have a chin wag with Kim and Maggie from Torlesse – always loved their wines and know them well having been there recently with our wine club. *note to self – must get some more port!) and last in Canty was Waipara West – 2009 Savvy a 2009 Pinot Noir 2009 and the 06 Ram Paddock Red Paddock Red – nice little number that….

Down to Central Otago now and a quick chat with Nigel from Felton Road with a taste of both the Bannockburn 2009 and Block 3 2009 Pinot Noirs – stunning as always…

Surveyor Thompson was my next stop where i sampled their 2006 and 2007 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir – a new producer whose wines i had not experienced before and I really liked both examples – a producer to follow me thinks! By this stage there wasn’t much time left of the two hours so I skipped a few Central Otago producers having spent a good few hours with them at the COPNL ChCh event in October. (apologies to Highgate, Kingsmill, Tarras and Two Paddocks – nice to see your faces there again though)

Marlborough was next with ARA 2009 Savvy and Composite 2008 Pinot Noir, Sophie showed me Astrolabe’s Discovery Kekerengu Coast Sauvignon Blanc (nice textured SB) and Brancott’s 2009 T series Pinot Noir and B Series Savvy 2010  -all great wines.

Anton from Marisco then poured me a Kings Favour 2010 SB and King’s Thorn Pinot Noir, both stunning wines from Brent Marris (The Ned) and MJ from Seresin Winemakers showed the Reserve 2008 Chardonnay and Marama 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (loving these aged oaked savvies – so much and texture and weight)

Terrace Heights Estate’s Steve Hammond showed me the 2009 THE Pinot Gris and 2009 THE Pinot Noir both fab wines – At the Villa Maria table I tried two fantastic reds – 2009 Cellar Selection Organic Merlot and 2007 Syrah and at Yealands Estate , the 2009 Pinot Noir and Reserve 2009 Sauvignon Blanc…

Before leaving leaving I had a brief catch up with the Nelson winemakers; a brief “gidday” to Patrick from Rimu Grove, Terry from Milcrest, Phillip from Woollaston and the Neudorf contingent all of whom I’d met at the Nelson Wineart tasting recently at The Issac Theatre Royal in Christchurch and tasted there…

I also met some international delegates at odd places – a brief introduction to Simon Zhou from Ruby Red Fine Wine (China) at the water jug, and as I was leaving stopped to see a friend Denise at the Town Hall front desk – while there I met Jual Pablo Garde from Bodeaga Faraon (Argentina), Bernardo Conticelli from Firenze, a group of Napa delegates on their way to dinner at Schwass and Murray and Eileen from Omarino Wine Park here in ChCh.

A fitting end to a fantastic month of wine tastings, meetings and other related wine events (God I hate this job – no I don’t!)

Cheers, JB…

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