An advocate for the region's wines

DEBORAH WALTON-DERRY & PETER MORICE
Last updated 10:37 19/04/2012
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In October last year, one of our wine columns was headlined, What we need is a wine-tasting centre. Our argument was that the smaller wine-producing regions of Central Otago and Martinborough did a far better job of promoting their wines than Marlborough does.

We need a specialist wine centre dedicated to showcasing as many local wines as possible.

While this has yet to happen, the arrival of Wino's is a breath of fresh air, focusing as it does on fine and Old-World wines.

Owners David Clouston and Clive MacFarlane have introduced regular in-store tastings, and for those who want to do a little bargain-hunting, there are regular specials.

The focus on the diverse departments of wines, whiskies and boutique beers limits choices a little, and maybe the focus should be more squarely on the wines and Marlborough craft beers.

As whisky drinkers, we are aware of the extraordinary range of whiskies available in New Zealand. A trip to Christchurch's Whisky Galore promptly opens one's eyes to the diversity and quality of what is available.

Unless Wino's can do something stellar with the whiskies and other premium spirits department, it might be best left to the bottle stores. Time will tell.

This said, we hope Wino's will establish itself as the place to go for Marlborough wines and craft beers, so they will need all the space they have and more to accommodate those departments adequately.

Congratulations to the Wino's team. It's good to see some exciting wines on the shelf that are there because they have merit, not simply because a buyer elsewhere in the country was able to screw down a good deal to the detriment of the industry.

At the official launch-night function, the team was serving William Fevre Chablis, Dog Point Pinot Noir and Argentinian Auka Syrah, there was a big crowd and it wasn't an early night from reports that have filtered through the grapevine.

Trying the Auka Syrah was a bonus – the night before the Wino's opening, we had the opportunity to try Auka Malbec 2008 at a wine tasting with Sheena Thomson, of Macvine International.

Retailing at about $25 a bottle, this malbec is worth seeking out. Deep garnet red on a black background, it has a full, nicely rounded aroma of cherries, very ripe plums, smoke, wet earth and tobacco.

The palate is generous and mouth-filling, with flavours of liquorice, sweet, ripe fruit and spice. The tannins are slightly furry and the finish generous.

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The Auka is interesting and is no mere marketing department creation.

It represents the story of the Auka, the first Indians who lived in Mendoza's southern region of San Carols.

The Auka created a system of canals for channelling water from the melting snow in the Andes mountains to the arid desert lands of Mendoza.

This irrigation allowed them to grow fruits and vegetables in the fertile sandy, loamy soils.

Saint Clair Family Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($21.50)

Powerful varietal characters leap from the glass. The classic grass and gooseberry notes team up with some pungent savoury, sweaty notes, while soft, tropical fruitiness takes away some of the initial prickliness.

Surprisingly soft on the palate, it has a smooth blend of gooseberry, lemon and soda.

Sweet fruitiness mid-palate makes for an easy drinking wine that, although not particularly complex, is very easy to enjoy.

Nautilus Marlborough Chardonnay 2010 ($35)

The full, ripe and rounded aroma is finely detailed. Marmalade and toast, bran, biscuit and apricot mingle with some sweet floral notes.

The palate is warming, with tingling, crisp acidity, while rich, ripe and appealing flavours of cashew, marmalade, spice and apple roll across the palate.

This lively wine is youthful yet complex, with superb depth of flavour, while some lovely creamy characters are beginning to get into their stride. The finish and aftertaste are textured, rewarding and persistent.There is much to enjoy in this wine, and for those who can wait, cellaring will deliver ample rewards. Highly recommended.

Go to the cellar door or nautilusestate.com to buy.

Tohu Rore Reserve Pinot Noir 2010 ($38.95)

Deep garnet red and slightly opaque this pinot noir has an aroma that is soft and perfumed, with cherry, plum, smoky oak and blackberry pie aromas, complemented by a subtle earthiness.

The palate is silky and bursting with sweet, ripe fruitiness. Spicy with firm tannins, the taste of ripe mixed berries and marzipan is concentrated and attractive.

Some leafy forest floor notes and delicate smoky oak round out the wine, and there's a fresh and rewardingly fruity aftertaste.

It is a big, yet beautifully proportioned wine from start to finish.

- The Marlborough Express

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