Kiwis on an all time high

12 January, 2007

New Zealand Winegrowers is getting ready for its biggest London trade tasting yet, with

over 650 wines from more than 130 producers. Christine Boggis picks out some highlight

s

Two regional campaigns will make their debut at the annual New Zealand trade tasting - Central Otago Pinot Noir and Gimblett Gravels, from Hawkes Bay.

Central Otago is New Zealand's highest winegrowing region and the closest it comes to a continental climate, and COPN hopes to take the UK by storm with its spicy, cherry-scented Pinot Noirs. The organisation is hosting many wineries and winemakers, including new producer Prophet's Rock, Mount Michael, Akarua, Clotilde Chauvet and Rudi Bauer.

Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association represents wineries and winegrowers from the small, dry, deep gravel region which is making a name for itself with Bordeaux varieties and Syrah. At the

tasting it will show wines from member producers Esk Valley Estate, Hatton Estate, Matariki Wines, Sacred Hill, Southbank Estate, Squawking Magpie, Te Awa and Trinity Hill.

Pernod Ricard hopes to revisit the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc success story with new launch Montana Classic Pinot Grigio 2006 (£6.99). The 2006 vintage has limited fruit, but more is to come on stream for 2007. Pernod will also unveil Montana's Classic Pinot Noir 2006, part of a programme to produce different regional expressions of Pinot Noir from South Island. It blends fruit from Marlborough, Otago and Waipara, and Pernod Ricard will showcase wines from the individual regions to show the differences in terroir. It is also launching Montana Brut NV Chardonnay/Pinot Noir sparkling wine (£8.99) and Montana Terroir Series Rail Bridge Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (£9.99), from Awatere, the third in a trio of regional expressions of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

PLB is launching its first own New Zealand brands - Riversdale and Fairfields. Marlborough-based Riversdale has a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir rosé and Pinot Noir red priced at £6.99, while Fairfields is targeted at the on-trade. Marlborough's Winegrowers of Ara will be at PLB's stand to launch its Composite Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (rrp £8.99), which uses grapes grown in various parts of Ara.

Coopers Creek will introduce its Aqus brand of east coast varietals, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir (£5.99). It has also launched the Select Vineyards range highlighting specific vineyards, "something a little less commercial and more individual," according to managing director Andrew Hendry. The range includes what Coopers Creek says is New Zealand's first wine made from the Arneis grape, which originally comes from Piemonte in Italy.

Forrest Estate winemaker John Forrest will be showing his John Forrest Collection, which includes new blend The White. He says: "New Zealand has an enviable international reputation for single varietal white wines but to date, few winemakers have explored white blends. In my winemaking experience, I have found the whole is often greater than the sum of the parts, and The White is my expression of this belief." The wine blends grapes including Viognier from Gimblett Gravels, Pinot Gris from North Otago and Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough.

Family-owned winery Craggy Range Vineyards and its sister company Wild Rock Wine Company will be at Louis Latour's stand. Craggy Rock will be unveiling Glasnevin Gravels Riesling 2006 from Waipara (£12.99) alongside new vintages of Temuna Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2006 from Martinborough (£12.99) and Te Kahu Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 from Hawkes Bay (£14.99). Wild Rock will be launching new packaging which has won awards for its design. New launches in 2007 are a Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot/Malbec blend and Wild Rock Cupid's Arrow Pinot Noir 2006 from Central Otago (£9.99).

Hatch Mansfield will reveal new packaging across the Villa Maria range, as well as launching Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Noir 2005 (rrp £9.99), Cellar Selection Pinot Gris 2006 and Cellar Selection Gewürztraminer 2006. Vidal Wines, owned by Villa Maria founder George Fistonich, will show 2006 vintages produced by new winemaker Hugh Crichton, who joined the winery in 2006. Vidal Wines Viognier (£6.99) from Gimblett Gravels will be on taste for the first time. Hawkes Bay boutique winery Esk Valley has moved the fine print from its front labels to the back label to give a simpler look. Esk Valley Black Label Rosé 2006 and Reserve Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec 2004 will be on taste.

Liberty Wines will be showing the first vintage of Marlborough-based Tinpot Sauvignon Blanc 2006. Delta Vineyard's 2005 Pinot Noir, 2004 Hatters Hill Pinot Noir and 2006 Sauvignon Blanc will also be on taste, alongside Wild Earth Pinot Noir 2004 from Central Otago's Crown Range Wines and Kim Crawford's portfolio, including its traditional method sparkling wine Rory Brut. Liberty will also showcase the latest addition to the Ata Rangi range, Crimson Pinot Noir 2006, made from Ata Rangi's younger wine blocks and designed for drinking young. The wine is sold in support of conservation trust Project Crimson, which protects New Zealand's iconic red-flowering native trees, rata and pohutukawa.

Nobilo has added a Pinot Gris to its Regional Collection (£6.99), sourced from Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne. The Regional Collection range, complete with redesigned packaging, will be on taste - alongside Nobilo Five Fathoms Sauvignon Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay and rosé (£5.79).

McKinley Vintners has slimmed down the Alpha Domus single estate Bordeaux-style range from Hawkes Bay, and will be showcasing the latest vintage of flagship wine AD Aviator alongside The Navigator, Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.

Auntsfield, Marlborough's oldest colonial vineyard and winery, will be presenting some of its award-winning Pinot Noirs. This year, owner Graeme Cowley blended the 2005 Heritage Pinot Noir, which includes some wine from the last vintage ever made by the winery's founder, David Herd, in 1905. "We talk about the ghost of David Herd a lot," says Cowley. "I think he would have liked that we are continuing what he started."

Babich will unveil the 2006 vintages of its Riesling and Pinot Gris. It will also reveal new packaging for its £8.99 to £9.99 Winemaker's Reserve range, aimed at specialist independent wholesalers. Two red wines from the range - Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 and Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 - will also be on taste.

H&H Bancroft will be launching the 2006 vintage of Cairnbrae Wild South, which includes Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; and Reserve Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. The Cairnbrae brand, from cool-climate specialist winemaker Christie Brown, was given a complete overhaul in 2005, when it was renamed Wild South.

The New Zealand Wine Company's award-winning Grove Mill Sauvignon Blanc and Grove Mill Riesling 2004 will be on show. The NZWC was recently certified carbon neutral.

Marlborough's Jackson Estate, distributed by HwCg, will show its whole portfolio at the tasting - including its first rosé, an unoaked Pinot Noir rosé sourced from the Wairau plain. It will also show 2006 Grey Ghost Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes for this wine are sourced from the Omaka Valley and 60 per cent of the juice is barrel fermented.

Stratford's Wine Agencies will be showing new vintages from Waiheke Island's Cable Bay Vineyards, including 2006 Pinot Gris which is new to the £7.99 Culley range. It is also showing new vintages from Lincoln Vineyard's £7.99 Lincoln range and its £8.99 Heritage Collection - including Lincoln Gisborne Chardonnay 2006, Heritage Collection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006 and Heritage Te Kauwhata Pinot Noir 2003.

Maori wine producer Tohu Wines will unveil its second varietal red - 2005 Tohu Gisborne Merlot (£9.99). Mugwi Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006, named after retired board member and ex-Maori All Blacks player "Mugwi" Macdonald, will also be available to taste ahead of its UK launch in spring.

Te Mata Estate's sales manager Nicholas Buck will be at Seckford Agencies' stand to show off a new look for its six wines from the Woodthorpe vineyard, redesigned to highlight the fact that it is a single vineyard. A Gamay Noir (£9.50) has been added to the range. Larry McKenna's Martinborough Estate Escarpment will be showing its Pinot Noir 2004.

Chalié Richards will showcase new vintages from Seifried Estate Winery's Seifried range, including Gewürztraminer 2004 and Pinot Noir 2005; and its Old Coach Road range Sauvignon Blanc 2006 and unoaked Chardonnay 2005.

Select Vineyards is making its debut at the tasting with wines from its own Clayvin vineyard in Marlborough, a joint venture from Lay & Wheeler and George Fromm, which makes Burgundy-style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It will also show Lawson's Dry Hills' Pinot Gris from Marlborough, alongside wines from Greenhough in Nelson and Quartz Reef in Central Otago.

Mission Estate Winery will exhibit its latest new releases - Reserve Viognier, Reserve Noble Semillon, Reserve Sauvignon Blanc and Estate Syrah. The estate is due to open a new winery building in May, and this month is set to host rocker Eric Clapton's only New Zealand concert.

Mentzendorff will be showing the full portfolio from Southbank Estate, including a brand new 2006 Pinot Grigio (£7.49) and its 2006 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (£7.99), which for the first time includes grapes from the Awatere Valley.

Hawkes Bay's Sileni Estates will be on Raisin Social's table and highlights will include Sileni Estate Selection "The Straits" Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (£12.99), a very "food-friendly" Sauvignon, according to chief winemaker Grant Edmonds, and Sileni Estate Selection "The Plateau" Pinot Noir 2005 (£12.99), which the company says is currently its best vintage yet of Pinot Noir.

Important diary dates

Where:

Lord's Cricket Ground

When:

Monday Jan 15, 11am-5pm

Tuesday Jan 16 10am-5pm

Tickets:

www.newzealandwineevents.co.uk

admin@nzwine.com

0207 973 8079

In brief

Gravitas is to launch a 2006 Pinot Noir rosé ... Cloudy Bay will show its full range, including new releases of Pelorus Non Vintage and Te Koko 2004 ... Ellis of Richmond will showcase wines from Mount Difficulty in Central Otago and Wairau River in Marlborough, and Simon Waghorn's award-winning Astrolabe wines ... Great Western Wine will exhibit wines from family-owned West Brook Winery ... Saint Clair winemaker Matt Thomson will be at Hallgarten's stand to talk about his latest vintages ... Matua Valley will show wines including Matua Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (£6.99) and Matua Valley Estate Pinot Noir 2005 (£12.99) ... Patriarche will show Mount Riley's estate and premium Seventeen Valley ranges, and Sauvignon Blanc, Savée ... Waimea Estates will be at the show looking for a UK distributor for its "ultra-premium" Spinyback range, including Nelson Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

What do you hope to see at the New Zealand annual trade tasting?

Barney Davis, category buyer for wine, the Co-operative Group: "We hope to see lots of exciting New Zealand Riesling, Pinot Gris, Syrah and Merlot wines."

Catherine Roffey, wine buyer, Morrisons: "Further innovation across a selection of grape varieties, not too much dominance of oak and the further development of Pinot Noir."

Emma Nichols, wine buyer, Oddbins: "I will be looking for wines that are interesting, show good varietal character and regionality while also offering good value for our customers."

Dee Blackstock, buyer, Waitrose: "More Syrah and new region Pinot Noir."

David Berry Green, Berry Bros & Rudd: "More producers pushing the envelope of high quality."




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