Cultural cache with Tohu wine

DEBORAH WALTON-DERRY AND PETER MORICE
Last updated 15:39 10/01/2013

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Tohu wines often crop up in our wine reviews and it's a brand that has gone from strength to strength in recent years, in terms of quality and reliability.

Consistent quality from one vintage to the next depends on a number of variables and this brand has it sussed from vineyard to what leaves the winery. Kono beverages, an associated business of Wakatu Incorporation, is the home of Tohu Wines. In an important strategic move late last year, Kono Beverages bought a winery in the Awatere valley.

The seven-year-old winery has consent to process 6000 tonnes of fruit and the purchase included a four-hectare pinot noir vineyard.

Kono intends to expand the winery to meet its own needs and allow for some third-party winemaking. The new winery adds to existing infrastructure of two Marlborough vineyards, a Nelson vineyard, the Tohu wine brand and Kono export wine brand.

Kono Beverages also handles the domestic distribution of Australian-owned Buller Wines, which we reviewed favourably a while back and Central Otago boutique wine producer, Coal Pit.

Next month a single-vineyard Nelson brand is due to be launched, so watch this space.

Tohu produced its first sauvignon blanc vintage in 1998. The release of this wine was an important moment in the collaborative union of three Maori entities: Wakatu Incorporation, Ngati Rarua Atiawa Iwi Trust and Wi Pere Trust.

Tohu means "signature" in English and is particularly appropriate for a wine company now making its mark on the world by producing a uniquely branded wine. This indigenous wine company has a thoroughly modern way of celebrating Maori culture in New Zealand and overseas.

With an impressive haul of 12 gold medals in 2012, Tohu has a positive eye on its future and this is good for the wider industry as well.

Tohu Nelson Single Vineyard Pinot Rose 2012 ($21.95)

Deep rose pink with lifted vanilla and summer berry fruit aromas; fresh and appealing.

Ripe, rich and fruity on the palate with vanilla creaminess and some sweet, raisin-like flavour. The dried herb and sweet, ripe berry fruit flavours are checked by some crisp acid tingle, and a hint of stalky tannin aids in keeping the balance just right. Rounded, mouth filling, rich and quite delightful.

Peter Yealands Sauvignoir 2012 ($18.95)

Sauvignoir, pronounced soh-vin-nwar, is a blended wine, the combination of sauvignon blanc grown in Yealands Estate vineyards and teinturier, a red variety grown in Chile.

Raspberry red in the glass, sauvignoir smells like a Marlborough sauvignon blanc, quite sweaty but with some sweet berryfruit/winegum notes.

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The wine tastes like it smells and we felt that although novel, sauvignoir is something of an acquired taste.

Peter Yealands says this new blend has been 12 months in development and has been produced to meet a growing consumer demand for innovative sauvignon blanc wine styles. It's certainly different.

Osawa Hawke's Bay Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2011 ($28)

Golden in the glass with a lush vanilla and Turkish delight aroma.

Silky and sweet as it dances across the palate, this wine's gentle vanilla, lychee and powdery rose petal flavours are complemented by the rich taste of mandarin.

Sweet, perfumed and very enjoyable.

Seresin limited release Marlborough Reserve Chardonnay 2009 ($40)

Pale gold in the glass with a powerful, completely integrated aroma that's fruity with gentle oak undertones. We teased out nectarine, pastry and toffee notes.

Lively fruit and gingery spice flavours are complemented by some classic creaminess.

Peachy with rich marmalade and subtle bran biscuit notes, this wine has concentrated flavours that are mouth-filling and nicely balanced. The finish is intense and lingering - lovely.

Saint Clair Marlborough Premium Merlot 2010 ($21.50)

A deep, slightly opaque shade of garnet in the glass.

Plums, smoky oak, leather and tobacco with spicy green notes create a tempting, sweet scented aroma.

The palate has a big, bold flavour profile - here's a great example of what Marlborough merlot can taste like. Pepper, dark cherry and plum notes combine with some supple, savoury oak in this luscious wine.

Smooth and easy drinking - this is rewarding red wine from a very reliable label.

- The Marlborough Express

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