The Auckland region is home to quite a number of serious red winemakers who earnestly believe that their home region is capable of making world-class reds. Think of Destiny Bay, Stonyridge, Providence, Puriri Hills, Messenger, Passage Rock, Te Whau and Obsidean to name a few.
That list probably includes names that even the most enthusiastic Kiwi wine lover is unfamiliar with. All are relatively small while most have a close group of dedicated fans that buy their wines. You won’t find at least some of those names on retailers shelves or even on many wine lists.
Their wines are distinctive and often very, very good. Most are made from vines grown on hillside sites in clay soils that retain sufficient moisture to make irrigation unnecessary. They enjoy a long, temperate, maritime growing season which builds complexity, attractive textures and restrained flavours that are more aligned with Bordeaux than the punchier, fruitier wines of Hawke’s Bay.
A group of Auckland winemakers from Clevedon, Waiheke Island Matakana and Manukau have banded together to promote their best blended reds. Entry to the Auckland Bordeaux Blend Growers is at least a four-star status in Michael Cooper’s Buyers Guide.
They recently selected 19 of their best wines from the 2010 vintage, added three top 2009 Bordeaux reds (Vieux Chateau Certan, La Conseillante and Chateau Lascombes) and presented the 22-wine lineup at a blind tasting for an audience made up of mostly winemakers.
The wines were presented in three flights.
Seven Merlot-dominant wines, including Vieux Chateau Certan were tasted before a the audience voted for their favourite wine. Puriri Hills Pope from Clevedon was way out in front with more than three times the vote of Cliff Edge, a Merlot Cabernet Franc blend from a one-hectare vineyard on the Awhiti Peninsula overlooking the Manukau Harbour. The Bordeaux closely followed Cliff Edge.
The second flight was Cabernet Franc dominant wines including the Pomerol, La Conseillante. Top Wine was The Mesenger from Stillwater followed by Man O’War “Ironclad” from Waiheke Island and Coxhead Creek “Reserve” from Matakana. La Conseillante was in fourth place.
Chateau Lascombe was the clear winner in the Cabernet Sauvignon dominant class with Obsidean, Waiheke Island and Brick Bay “Pharos” from Matakana in second equal place while Waiheke’s Goldie was close behind.
It was an enlightening tasting that reinforced the quality and character of a group of wines that deserve to be taken more seriously.
From BobCampbell’s blog “Auckland’s Cool Blended Reds” on www.bobswinereviews.com om August 31st 2012