There are many delightful vineyards in New Zealand, some with magnificent facilities, some in stunning locations and others where the natural beauty of a site is enhanced by sympathetic development.
Fossil Ridge’s vineyard, cellar door and cafe are located at the end of Hart Road in the Richmond foothills and falls firmly into the last category.
The tasting room and café is perched on the edge of a pond that supports a range of wildlife and is surrounded by little dining areas. Add to this the delightful decks that give space to sample the wines and enjoy super food in the shade.
Of course they also sell wine. Fossil Ridge has six wines available and you can taste them by buying a tasting plate that includes four wines, a bowl of nuts and a bowl of estate grown olives. What a delightful way to relax and sample a range of wines.
Fossil Ridge wines are aged before being released (other than their rose which is from the current 2010 vintage) so you get to enjoy wines that have had time to develop complexities that only come from bottle age. As an example their 2007 Riesling ($20) has fresh citrus aromas with a hint of richness in the background while the flavours are packed with zesty lemon citrus flavours held together with powdery minerality. The wine is just starting to show deep honey characters and there is enough fruit and acidity to ensure it will continue to live for a long time yet (sealed with a screwcap).
Unlike many others on the market Fossil Ridge 2010 Pinot Noir Rose ($22.50) is made in a dry style so works exceptionally well with food. With a delicate pale salmon pink colour and crisp, clean raspberry and red berryfruit flavours this is vibrant and fresh rather than sweet and creamy.
When you visit Fossil Ridge you can’t help but notice the manicured vineyards and the huge effort that goes into maintaining the vineyards in the best possible condition is one reason owners Darryl and Tranja Fry are able to produce a very good wine from the very fickle gewurztraminer grape. The current release is 2008 ($22.50) and everything about this wine reflects the effort in the vineyard – from the sparkling pale lemon gold colour with a blush of pink to the sweet Turkish delight and rose petal aromas followed by flavours of turkish delight and slightly honeyed lychees and a lush texture in the mouth this is a delightful anytime wine.
Fossil Ridge are open from Wednesday to Sunday each week but will be closed on Waitangi Day.
I have been drinking
Neudorf 2010 Nelson Chardonnay ($29 at the cellar door)
This used to be the little brother to the renowned Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay but it now stands as a fantastic in its own right. Rather than having layers of flavour the characters in this wine are already in complete harmony. The powdery mineral texture to flavours of subtle peach with a twist of lemon and delicate toasty oak come together to make a complete wine. This is another delight from Neudorf Vineyards.
Woollaston Estates 2010 Pinot Gris (about $20)
Made in the same very popular elegant style Woollaston’s have produced for a number of years this is off-dry and packed with flavour – ripe pears, a touch of ginger, soft nectarine and plenty of stony minerality. A beautiful pinot gris with flavour and character.