Sunday, 12 July 2015

Clearview Estate wine tasting

Clearview Estate in Hawkes Bay is a winery that started as a bare plot of land 30 years ago. It's proximity to the coast means that the sea breeze prevents rot and mildew from forming so fruit can stay on vines longer, resulting in fuller flavoured product as the fruit is riper. This also translates to a higher alcohol content.

Owner Tim Turvey, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Elton John, is easily the most entertaining wine tasting host whose company we've had the pleasure of. He has a story for every occasion - plus a few more - and some great advice to live by. For example, "Wine should be drunk morning, noon and night." Also, his key message for the night: cellar your wine. It's easy to do: just buy more than you drink. You can even start by stowing a few bottles in a box under your bed. In a few years' time, you'll have a lovely surprise once you find the bottles and discover the treasures they've become. Apparently 92% of wine sold in New Zealand is consumed within 8 hours of purchase, but cellared wine will grow and develop in flavour over time, yielding very different results.

We had been advised in advanced to take cabs home as there would be plenty of tastings - and there certainly were. Eleven different samples were on the tasting menu, meriting several more additions to our growing wine list.

2014 Black Reef Blush. This smooth, dry style rosé is served slightly chilled but was actually too overpowering for my taste buds. Tim advises always keeping a bottle of rosé in the fridge next to the milk so that it's ready to drink at any time.

2014 Gewurztraminer. This spicy aromatic wine had strong ginger undertones and a dry finish. It was easily my favourite wine of the evening.

2014 Te Awanga Sauvignon Gris. Sauvignon gris is a new blend for me. It is barrel fermented, has a strong pear flavour and can age for 8-10 years. It was bottled for the first time in late April 2015, has 14% alcohol and a low acid finish. I'm intrigued by this wine; it's a maybe for the wine list.

2014 Te Awanga Chardonnay. Hand picked and tank fermented for 8 weeks, I was looking forward to this unoaked chardonnay. However, its overbearing sweetness put it onto my no list.

2014 Reserve Chardonnay. An interesting fact about this chardonnay: it was fermented in 60% new oak from French oak trees that were 200 years old. 200 years! This resulted in a deeper, rich colour but I couldn't get past the overpowering oakiness. I'm glad I don't have expensive taste as this chardonnay was twice the price of the Te Awanga chardonnay.

2014 Cape Kidnappers Syrah. I'm come to learn that syrah is really not my grape, even though it results in a beautiful, deep red colour. Very fruity and smoother than I expected, it's still too strong for me.

2014 Cape Kidnappers Merlot Malbec. This 60% merlot 40% malbec blend was pretty smooth. I preferred it to the syrah but it's still a no for me.

2013 Two Pinnacles Malbec (Reserve). Way. Too. Heavy. For. Me.

2013 Old Olive Block (Reserve). This wine was an interesting combination of varietals, mixing merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and malbec. I wasn't the first one at our table to notice how much it resembled a heavy cough syrup. Ahem.

Sea Red NV. This sea red was the first ever red dessert wine made in New Zealand. Apparently it goes well with blue cheese and chocolate cake, which would have been nice to test out. I still don't quite know what to make of a red dessert wine.

I'm now really keen to visit Clearview Estate Restaurant for lunch next time I'm in Hawkes Bay

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