Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waimea Estates

In recent weeks we have had lots of news about award winning wines from this region but I think one in particular is quite special, not just because of the award but also because of the team behind the production of the wine.
When the general manager and winemaker left Waimea Estates a couple of years ago co-owner and the bloke in charge, Trevor Bolitho, offered the head winemakers job to the young assistant winemaker. There is nothing unusual in the fact she is a woman, there are plenty of female winemakers in New Zealand, but it is not very often we see an all female winemaking team. Winemaker Trudy Shields has stepped up to the challenge in a most successful way.

When I spent a couple of hours chatting with her and tasting some new releases it became obvious why Trevor has such faith in this woman, she credits everyone else for the success of the wines she produces but I detected a quiet, understated self-confidence in her ability.

Trudy told me that the wines produced before she took over had a great track record and that you don’t need to change a winning formula, she then went about telling me about some of the small changes she had made in producing the sauvignon blanc that has won the Regional Trophy at The Decanter World Wine Awards. They may have been very subtle changes and Trudy says the fruit was very good (again crediting someone else) but these small changes were quite insightful and the effect they had on the finished product was significant.

So what is so special about this award? Firstly these are international awards, judged on a regional basis with the regional winners going head-to-head to find the international winner so they are a big deal on the international wine competition scene. Secondly Marlborough is recognised as the home to the variety that has put New Zealand wine on the international stage and a winery from little old Nelson has beaten the big boys at their own game. Finally Waimea Estates 2010 Sauvignon Blanc is the first delivered by the new wine producing partnership of viticulturist Ben Bolitho and winemaker Trudy Shields. I think the skill of Ben in the vineyards and attention to detail of Trudy in the winery is a winemaking partnership worth keeping an eye on.

And anyone who can get Trevor Bolitho into a pink polo shirt obviously has his respect!

I have been drinking

Vidal Reserve Series Gimblett Gravels 2009 Syrah – RRP $29.99
The first release in a new tier of wines from Vidals is already flexing its muscles. Deep plum red in colour with aromas of black pepper, floral blackberry and soft spice backed up with intense fruit flavours, a lovely medium tannin structure and a nice twist of toasted coffee in the finish this is drinking well now and will cellar for five to six years.

Neudorf Vineyards
2010 Nelson Chardonnay – Cellar Door $29.20
The 2010 vintage in Nelson was outstanding and this wine proves the point nicely. Rich, luscious stonefruit with a touch of creaminess, a kiss of toasty oak and lashings of minerality add up to another great wine from the masters of chardonnay.

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