Spy Valley Wines on the right path
DEBORAH WALTON-DERRY AND PETER MORICE
A couple of weeks ago we had the good fortune to be invited to a tasting of Spy Valley Wines' new releases. This company has gone from strength to strength over the years and the wines we sampled ticked all the right boxes.
Spy Valley produces wines under two labels, "Spy Valley" and "Envoy". Both are really good value at their price point. At the tasting we found the Spy Valley 2012 gewurztraminer was shaping up nicely - still incredibly young but already displaying good depth of flavour and an exotic aroma that will only improve over the next few years; it's definitely one to try.
The Spy Valley Echelon Marlborough Methode Traditionelle also proved to be a secret worth discovering. With its fine, busy bead and yeasty, complex taste - citrusy and nutty with some delicious crispness at the finish, it will be a perfect choice for the Christmas season ahead.
Finally, a word about Spy Valley Envoy pinot noir. Wines made under the Envoy label are small batch wines made with extra care and attention to detail. I bought a bottle of the 2010 and it is deeply coloured with rich, ripe, fruit flavours, fine integrated oak detail and it has a voluptuousness about it that can't be faulted.
At the tasting we met an enterprising couple, Kiley and Donna Nepia, who have set up Maori Experiences, a company focusing on Maori tourism and development. Kiley and Donna have created a business that gives people an interesting and insightful look into Maori culture, history and traditions with a definite focus on Marlborough.
Maori Experiences introduces New Zealanders and international tourists to the history of Marlborough Maori, who have 800 years of unbroken history and tradition within the region.
They design tours that retrace the footsteps of Maori ancestors, share the rich history of local Maori and explain how the new generation weave traditional values into contemporary lifestyles.
All of which brings us to wine. In 2011 I saw a Maori Experiences choreographed event at the official opening of the beautiful Brancott Estate Heritage Centre; it was a corporate welcome where the guest speaker was Prime Minister John Key.
Maori Experiences have an Aroha Marlborough afternoon tour that takes in a tasting of Haysley MacDonald's award-winning te Pa Wine, made from grapes grown at the Wairau Bar, a place that has been home to the MacDonald family for more than 800 years. It is in places like this where we can see the weaving of traditional values with contemporary life and business.
Haysley MacDonald says the land that grows fruit for te Pa wines has been put to good use over many centuries, but more recently for growing crops, dairy or beef. Today a drive to the Bar provides ample evidence of the latest use of some of the land - orderly vineyards abound, but there are still cattle grazing in some paddocks and milking sheds are easily seen from the road.
Te Pa has been awarded five stars in Cuisine's New Zealand sauvignon blanc top 10 tasting (December 2011) and won a Blue Gold at the Sydney International Wine Competition, as well as being selected for the top 100 made on the basis of wine and food matches.
A trip to Spy Valley Wines for a sampling of its latest releases turned into a fabulous opportunity to enjoy some excellent wines and do some not-so-undercover work for a wine column. We wish Kiley and Donna all the best with their Maori Experiences business.
Churton Marlborough Pinot Noir 2010 ($44)
A magnificent looking wine, with a garnet on a black background. It has an intense aroma that combines dark berry-fruit notes with boot polish, green herbs and a hint of boronia.
Chewy tannins and ripe fruitiness combine with sweet, earthy and woody notes. Some green herbal flavour towards the finish keeps this wine perfectly poised. One worth cellaring for even greater rewards.
Churton Marlborough Viognier 2011 ($37)
The combination of fruit and creaminess makes the palate sing. Ginger spice, oily, floral aromatics, some flint and crisper green gauge plum fruitiness all have their place in this weighty wine, which finishes on a slightly savoury note that doesn't overwhelm the crispness.
A distinctive wine - complex, textured and exciting.
Gladstone Vineyard Rose 2012 ($25)
Beautiful rose gold in the glass with an aroma full of raspberry and toffee notes.
The palate is satin smooth with some gentle green herb notes creating the perfect foil for the summer berry-fruit flavours. The clean, crisp finish has some sweet, crisp capsicum in it and the overall impression is of a crisp, fruity, dry rose that is best served chilled.
Gladstone wines come from a distinct sub-region in Wairarapa and are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are actually heading north over Christmas and the New Year, we recommend a visit to this gorgeous spot not far from Martinborough.
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