Sari (my partner) and I organise a fundraising dinner each year for The Suter Art Gallery and for my sins she auctions me off to the highest bidder; that is she auctions my services as a tour guide.
Arranging tours of wineries is not something I normally do, in fact this is the only one I do each year as there are commercial operators out there who do a fine job catering for tour groups.
Each year I make sure the tour has a focus on something in particular and this year it was aromatic style wines. First stop was Te Mania Wines and Richmond Plains where David Holmes introduced us to a white wine made from red grapes (Richmond Plains Blanc de Noir made from pinot noir fruit) and talked about organic production.
I thought 10am might be a bit early to be tasting wines but not for this heroic bunch, they approached the task with gusto as David lead them through a tasting of finished wines and tank samples. The tank samples proved just how good the last harvest was with all of the wines bursting with clean, pure varietal flavours.
Back in the van at 11am and off to Blackenbrook Wines at Tasman where co-owner and winemaker Daniel Schwarzenbach showed us around his winery, talked about how he makes wine and let my bunch of wine lovers taste some of his product, comparing finished wines with new season tank samples. The group were astounded at Daniel’s passion and dedication to quality in everything he does. For me Blackenbrook’s 2007 reserve gewürztraminer was the best match with the still warm home baked bread Ursula produced for us.
12.30pm meant arrival at Neudorf Vineyards for lunch and a wine tasting and chat with Tim and Judy Finn. Tim is widely regarded as one of the country’s premiere winemakers who has an affinity with the environment that contributes so much to the flavours and textures delivered in every bottle of Neudorf wine and for this group the chance to sit down over lunch (in the sun believe it or not) and chat with him about his winemaking philosophy, the continual search for new techniques, technologies and research to help improve his product was a unique opportunity.
By 3pm we were driving through bitterly cold pouring rain heading to Seifried Estate to meet Chris Seifried who not only talked with passion and a deep understanding of the things that make Seifried Estate the success they are but he simply couldn’t resist pouring ‘just one more’ tank or barrel sample. Learning about the almost extreme lengths they go to in making Sweet Agnes Riesling in an ice wine style showed us how even a large winery puts huge effort into creating something very special.
5.15pm and my tour group was tucked up in the warmth of their homes and I got to put my feet up for another year.
I have been drinking
Golden Hills 2009 Dolcetto - $34.90 from the winery
I have been following this wine for a couple of years and I am just as impressed with the latest release as I have been with previous versions. Medium to full palate weight and packed with elegant cherry and aniseed flavours. A delight
Morton Estate ‘The Regent of Morton’ 2002 - $54.99 but on special for $21.99 at Freshchoice Nelson City
This eight year old blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc is a beauty. The age means the flavours have had time to get to know one another, the tannins are still firm but are nicely integrated into the refined mouthfeel and to top it off you can save $33. Fantastic wine at a fantastic price.