Rare treat for wine buyers

JOHN EDENS
Last updated 05:00 10/12/2012

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Central Otago wine normally unavailable to the public was on sale at the Kawarau Village market near Queenstown yesterday.

The Christmas market on the lakefront at the Hilton Queenstown precinct featured regional produce, deli-style food, wine, crafts and entertainment.

Many of the wines on offer were shipped directly to restaurants and suppliers or exported and were normally unavailable to the general public or retailers.

Gate 20 Two run by Pauline and Nigel McKinlay is a family estate winery in Felton Rd, Bannockburn, and one of the smaller producers in Central Otago with 5ha of pinot noir and pinot gris.

Mrs McKinlay said the vineyard was on a steep north-facing and sheltered slope and was not prone to frost, eliminating the costly and occasionally disastrous impact on the crops during Central Otago cold snaps.

Grapes were hand-picked by winemaker Matt Dicey, the pinot noir was fermented in burgundy and oak barrels while the pinot gris was cold fermented at 11 degrees Celcius for a month to retain its aromatic qualities.

"Our soils are a really fine mix, our wines are quite different," she said.

Terra Sancta in Bannockburn was rebranded and redeveloped by Sarah Eliott and former NZX chief executive Mark Weldon after they bought the Olssens vineyard.

Ms Eliott said the vines were some of the oldest in Central Otago, planted in 1991, and the Bannockburn Felton Rd area was now fully planted with no more room for any new vines.

The firm was planning to open its tasting room this month and build a winery at the vineyard.

"We've brought in our own viticulture team which is unusual for a winery of our size. It's amazing terroir, it's hot, it's dry and all of our wines are linked to provenance. We're trying to create consistency."

Terra Sancta 2012 vintage rose won a gold award at this year's New Zealand International Wine Show.

Misha and Andy Wilkinson's wine at Misha's Vineyard is exported to 21 countries and distributed to restaurants in New Zealand.

Their vineyard on an old Chinese gold-mining site near Bendigo was planted in 2004.

"We face the afternoon sun but that hot position on the schist slopes means the aromatics have a minerality that really comes through," Mrs Wilkinson said.

The vineyard is one of several Central Otago producers making sauvignon blanc, a market dominated by Marlborough producers.

Food was on offer from regional producers including Waitaki ham and bacon, and produce from the European Bakery in Queenstown and Whitestone Cheese.

john.edens@stl.co.nz

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