Experts fizz over wine innovation

03:00, Jan 28 2013
Jeni Port
Wine talk: Australian wine writers Andrea Frost, left, and Jeni Port enjoy a drop of Marlborough’s finest at D’Urville Restaurant in Blenheim ahead of Pinot Noir 2013 in Wellington, a three-yearly wine event that attracts wine lovers and experts from around the world.

Visiting wine writers have been surprised at Marlborough's forward-thinking character, especially in relation to sauvignon blanc, the variety that has lifted the nation to the height of wine acclaim.

Melbourne-based wine writer Jeni Port, who contributes to publications including The Age and Winestate magazine, said she was "struck", but at the same time intrigued, to hear discussions about ageing sauvignon blanc, a wine that traditionally should not be left to cellar.

"You get a maturity coming through - you can see the difference in someone as a 15-year-old, as a 20-year-old - and by the age of 35 there's a real personality, a real character coming through, and I think that's what we'll be seeing in these savs," she said.

Oz Clarke
Oz Clarke

Wine Marlborough and wineries around the region hosted Ms Port, Andrea Frost, who writes for the Melbourne Review and Delicious magazine, as well as internationally renowned British wine journalist Oz Clarke, ahead of Pinot Noir 2013 in Wellington.

Their hosts led them around to sample some of Marlborough's finest wine and food, and meet industry personalities.

Ms Port was pleased to learn that many of the region's winemakers seemed to portray a willingness to experiment and produce alternatives or creative variations on traditional varieties.


Variations included a "less clean" sauvignon blanc than the sharp, clean and crisp flavours the region was known for.

Marlborough's pinot noirs were also distinctly alternative, medium-bodied, lower-alcohol and generally more "drinkable", she said.

"That's what consumers love - they don't want a PhD with their drinking experience, they want to drink it and enjoy it."

Marlborough was making its mark for its own style of pinot noir, quite separate from those produced in Central Otago or Martinborough. Ms Port also noted that the region's winemakers were identifying sub-regional differences, which was significant in exploring what the land could achieve in further developing the flavour profiles of varieties.

Mr Clarke reiterated his earlier comments about syrah to the Marlborough Express.

Wine producers in Marlborough needed to look further afield and experiment with other cool-climate grape varieties such as syrah, instead of focusing on sauvignon blanc alone, Mr Clarke said.

Marlborough was a very adaptable place to grow grapes and had more potential than most credited it with, he said.

Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens said their guests and those of other wineries involved in Pinot Noir 2013 would bring plenty of beneficial international attention to Marlborough.

Bringing key people to the region was the best way to tell the story of Marlborough wine and explain why the wine region was considered one of the world's best, he said.

Pinot Noir NZ 2013 began in Wellington today and ends on Thursday. About 37 Marlborough wineries are participating in the event.

The Marlborough Express