'Chiaroscuro' reflects subtleties

21:41, Nov 23 2011

Seresin has come up with one or two interesting names for its premium wines. I'm thinking of the Sun and Moon Pinot Noir and more particularly, Chiaroscuro, a blend of Marlborough chardonnay, pinot gris and riesling.

Chiaroscuro (pronounced "ky-a-ro-skoo-ro") refers to the treatment of light and dark in painting or photography, the light and shade effects found in nature, the luminosity and shadow that add depth and volume to any composition.

As far as wine is concerned, various grape varieties can work like shades within a spectrum – there's the structure of chardonnay, the texture of pinot gris and the fruity acidity of riesling.

Seresin isn't the first company to do such a blend. We enjoyed Te Whare Ra's Toru ("three" in Maori), which is a blend of gewurztraminer, riesling and pinot gris and displays exceptional depth of flavour, texture and aromatic punch in a particularly appealing full-bodied wine style.

Our biggest concern with chiaroscuro is its name: people shy away from gewurztraminer because it's hard to pronounce. This one's no easier until you come to grips with it, but when one considers the meaning and the wine company's background (Michael Seresin is a cinematographer), it's also very appropriate.

Seresin Chiaroscuro 2009 limited release ($65): This pale-gold wine has a captivating aroma – lifted, rich and toasty with buttery pastry, stonefruit and spice notes.


The palate is complex – spicy, ripe with a crisp edge. It has plenty of body and texture.

The peachy spiciness of the wine is offset by some more elegant pear, mineral and lemon flavour towards the crisp finish.

A mouth-filling, well-rounded wine showing plenty of promise, it opened up in the glass and as such, hinted at good cellaring potential.

If the budget can stretch to buying one and cellaring one, there should be ample reward down the track.

To buy, see seresin.co.nz.

Two Rivers Marlborough Convergence Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($22): A rich, ripe tropical aroma underscored with some typical, prickly notes and a hint of mineral.

The palate is smooth, rich, ripe and fleshy.

The fat, juicy mid-palate is stunning and those tropical fruit flavours are perfectly balanced by some crisp acidity and light minerality on the finish.

Concentrated, intense and absolutely delightful, it is of superb quality and a bargain at the price. To buy, see tworivers.co.nz.

Seresin Marlborough Viognier 2009 ($55): There's so much to enjoy in a well-crafted viognier. Here the aroma is rich and ripe, loaded with apricot and sweet floral notes, cream and nougat with subtle oak and some flinty backbone.

The palate is spicy, peachy and creamy with most of the fruit-driven flavour front of palate. Towards the finish the wine becomes gentler, more textural and ends on a dryer, crisper, ripe citrus note. To buy, see seresin.co.nz.

Sacred Hill Hawke's Bay The Wine Thief Chardonnay 2010 ($33.99): The aroma is soft, subtle and refreshing, with ripe apple, citrus, peach, floral and malo notes creating an attractive combination.

The palate is beautifully balanced. Fruity flavours of ripe citrus and stonefruit combine with spice and rich, creamy caramel notes, almond nuttiness and a hint of mineral. Some crisp acidity adds elegance towards the finish.

The dry, lingering finish wraps up a delightful wine that will go well with food. To buy, see sacredhill.com.

Vidal Reserve Series Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2009 ($29.99): This 100 per cent syrah is a very deep crimson and looks velvety in the glass.

The aroma is scented, with floral notes combining with spicy pepper, plums and some crisper green notes.

The palate is an extension of the aroma, fruit forward with plenty of plum and peppery spice character. The tannins are fine, the oak nicely integrated and the sweet fruit finish wraps up in a dry tannin aftertaste. This is a well-proportioned wine that combines intensity and generosity with refinement. A charming wine, it is worth seeking out. To buy, see vidal.co.nz.

Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2007: Full marks here – Lawsons released this 2007 chardonnay earlier this year, giving people the opportunity to buy wine with some bottle age.

The aroma is a rich amalgam of nutty, buttery grapefruit and butterscotch notes. Adding to the allure is some ripe stonefruit tucked away in the background.

The palate is integrated and smooth, with rich citrus notes and some crisp acidity. This wine shows off full-bodied creamy, spicy flavour. Integrated to the point of seamlessness, the fruit, oak and malo characters become one fabulous wine delivering exceptional enjoyment right out to the finish and lingering aftertaste.

Complete in every way, it is at its peak. Enjoy now. To buy, see lawsonsdryhills.co.nz.

The Marlborough Express