Being the middle of winter, it was quite different to the last Marlborough wine trail we did. I was really glad that my sweetie could join us on this trip, after missing out on the last two. We generally found that the hospitality on this trip was better than our girls' wine trail to Martinborough last year. It might have been because there were fewer people around (due to the weather), but we noticed that all the presentations and displays at all the wineries we visited were beautifully presented, oozing charm and class. Stump Creek Lodge was our home for the weekend. Naturally, I chose the purple bedroom.
We visited six wineries in total and I worked out that we would have sampled around 45 different wines, so here's a round up of the places we visited and my thoughts about the wines I liked.
|Our tasting session at Cloudy Bay|
|Cloudy Bay bottles|
- Pelorus NV (non-vintage) - 70% chardonnay, 30% pinot noir. The non-vintage is actually a blend of three vintages from about 3 years ago: predominantly 2007, with smaller amounts of 2006 and 2008. It is a classic, fruity bubbly - great for special occasions.
- 2009 Sauvignon Blanc - a very light, subtle sav with a stony fruit flavour. It is machine harvested at 2 am to ensure the grapes are kept cold. Looking back at my notes from 2008, this was my pick of all the Cloudy Bay wines.
- 2008 Pinot Gris - somewhere between a sauvignon blanc and a chardonnay, it is a half barrel half stainless steel combination.
Cosy fireplace at Cloudy Bay
|Montana wine display|
The tour was interesting. We learned that most vineyard rows in Marlborough are planted north to south to maximise all day sun. However, some vineyards plant east to west, essentially producing two different varieties on the same vine. Their pinot noir hall is impressive, as was their sparkling wine press, the first one of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Montana also produce some organic wines. Companion rows are planted in between the rows of wines, attracting the bugs and keeping the nasties at bay. This reduces, or eliminates, the need for sprays; it they are needed at all, organic sprays are used.
|Montana pinot noir cellar hall|
- 2009 Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – a light, dry wine with a passionfruit taste.
|Wither Hills entrance|
|Wither Hills cellar|
- 2009 Sauvignon Blanc - their flagship wine. This is a blend of grapes from twelve vineyards in the Wairau Valley. It has a subtle, fruity flavour and was my pick from the whole tour.
- 2009 Chardonnay - mild and lightly oaked. The flavour wasn't too sharp - my favourite chardonnay of the tour.
- 2007 Riesling - I'm surprised to see a riesling making it onto this list, but this was quite different to any other I've tasted. While there wasn't a very distinct flavour, it also wasn't overly sweet like other rieslings I've tried. However, I probably still couldn't be convinced to buy a bottle.
|Wither Hills selection|
Despite their reputation for riesling, Framingham's sauvignon blanc still came out tops for me:
- 2009 Sauvignon Blanc - this had a big, fruity aroma and went down easily.
- 2008 Pinot Gris - a subtle apple and pear flavour which was also easy to drink.
|Framingham wine tasting|
- 2009 Pioneer Block Sauvignon Blanc Snap Block 18 - this had a full-on, fruity aroma and a passionfruit taste. I loved it!
- 2009 Reserve Pinot Gris - hand picked with a soft, spicy pear flavour. A delicate drink.
|Saint Clair tasting table|
|Hunter's gift packs|
- 2008 Chardonnay - aged in oak for just 6 months (instead of 9 months), this had a light and creamy flavour. I've decided that I prefer unoaked chardonnay and this was the closest to unoaked that we got to sample on this trip.
- 2009 Riesling - surprisingly not too strong or sweet, this was a dry riesling with lime and citrus flavours.
- MiruMiru Non Vintage - Maori for 'bubbles'. 58% chardonnay, 33% pinot noir and 9% pinot meunier (the secret ingredient in bubbly wine) with peach and citrus aromas - this was absolutely delicious! We bought a bottle of this as a birthday present for my sweetie's mother.