Taking a chance sparkles
Vilagrad winemaker Jacob Nooyen's brother's laughed at him when he said he was going to dip his toes into the sparkling wine pool with their famous Vilagrad charminer, but sales so far reveal the joke was on him.
In a market where big wineries are turning out sparkling sauvignon blancs like there's no tomorrow, Vilagrad has taken a chance on their unique and popular Waikato variety charminer - a blend of chardonnay and gewurtz traminer.
Winemaker Jacob Nooyen said his decision had paid off.
"There's a real buzz around," he said. "It's just flying out the door".
The winery released the sparkling charminer in local supermarkets and liquor outlets just over a week ago and has been fending off requests for more of the fruity bubbles, which Mr Nooyen put down to local support.
"The charminer has such a great following," he said.
"We've enjoyed such success with charminer and the Waikato support has been amazing."
Mr Nooyen believes the wine is so popular because of the unique blend of 55 per cent chardonnay and 45 per cent gewurtz traminer, which means drinkers get pineapple and peach flavours on the palate, followed by a touch of the aromatic and sweet gewurz traminer.
The 106-year-old vineyard has been producing the still charminer for 16 years. Customers, friends and family have been nagging Mr Nooyen to release the sparkling variety for a long time, but this is the first year the vineyard has done so.
The sparkling charminer is not Vilagrad's first venture into sparkling wine - they also produce a dry bubbles which they started to make for weddings held at their vineyard venue. "You can't have a wedding without cracking a bottle," Mr Nooyen said.
He also said that the sparkling charminer was a great icebreaker for those awkward family Christmas gatherings - everyone has more fun when they've got a glass of bubbles in hand.