Thursday, May 12, 2011


The 2011 grape harvest was looking like one of the best for many years until Mother Nature stuck her nose in and delivered rain at just the wrong time for some growers. Those whose crop was ready to harvest early have been lucky enough to beat the rain with Blackenbrook Vineyards, Seifried Estates and Waimea Estates among those to celebrate but for growers in areas where ripening is a little slower the news is not so great; not a disaster but a good vintage rather than a classic vintage and some varieties have been effected more than others.
One producer who has had a bit of a baptism by fire since they entered the industry is Milcrest Wines. Not only was their very first vintage in 2008 (another wet vintage) but they have launched a new label when there has been a glut of wine in the market place, further compounded by the economic downturn.
But Terry Milton just chuckles, says ‘what can you do about it’ and he and Christine Cook have instead focussed on the future. Having established their vineyard they are now working hard on establishing the Milcrest Estate label in the market place. Early results from this fledgling operation are not only promising but they are quite exciting.
Having picked up a handful of silver and bronze medals, almost sold out of some wines and with a couple of beauties from the 2010 vintage yet to be released things are looking good. And to top it off their fruit has not been impacted too much by the rain this year. The location of the Milcrest vineyard in Haycock Road (at the bottom of the Hope foothills) has proved to be perfect for growing grapes. Plenty of sun, a slight elevation, exposure to a gentle breeze and protection from the hills means they have a little micro-climate that helps deal with any rain. Hard work in the vineyard managing the leaf canopy also helps.
Among the wines on offer are an dry, rich and spicy 2009 pinot gris ($22.50) that is outstanding with seafood – try it with sushi at Sachi Sushi in New St. With silver and 2 bronze medals in its very first vintage I think these guys are on to a winner with this style of wine.
Chardonnay has been a little out of favour with wine drinkers in recent years so Terry and Christine only made 150 cases but it has been so popular they only have a few cases of their Reserve Chardonnay ($26.50) left. This is a bright, lively wine that has a luscious texture and beautifully balanced flavours of peach, subtle burnt cream and a touch of spicy oak.
They have an award winning pinot noir ($25.50) and another not yet released that I am sure will add to the Milcrest medal tally. A 5 star quality (in my opinion) cool climate Syrah ($34.95) is a cracker - full, ripe and succulent with plum, pepper and subtle herb flavours.
Visit the cellar door at Milcrest Estate in Haycock Road and check out their website ( to find out more.

I have been drinking

Running With Bulls 2009 Tempranillo - $19.99 at FreshChoice
With cooler days we start looking for warming wines and this powerful brut from the Barossa fits the bill perfectly. Deep, rich plum red in colour with big spicy blackberry, tamarillo and cigar box flavours to match. Without being sweet and jammy this delivers on both flavour and great value for money.

Sacred Hill 2010 Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet - $21.99 (RRP)
This very young red wine with elegant, complex flavours already has a silver medal under its belt. Plum, red berry fruit, liquorice and a floral touch in the palate with firm tannins and a touch of juicy acidity make it the ideal early winter warmer.

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