Takatu wines from NZ

After the Austrian tasting, my tasting day was not yet over. A leisurely stop at Caffe Nero for a strong cup of joe, I caught the #11 bus to Chelsea for a New Zealand evening winetasting at the Bluebird. Penny had another boutique winery on tasting, this one from the Takatu peninsula from whence the winery gets its name. Takatu translates as “well prepared”  and the owners have done everything to ensure that their winery is well prepared to produce amazing wines. According to the website, “the topsoil was removed prior to planting in 2000, leaving only iron rich soils adding depth and opulence to the fruit. The vines are densely planted ( 4000 vines per hectare), no irrigation and extreme pruning ensure very low yields and other sustainable viticultural practices all ensure only the best wine is produced.”  They also use wild yeasts when possible. The winery  really is boutique, producing only 3 distinct wines. John Forsman, the owner and winemaker was on hand all the way from NZ to take us through the tasting. Luckily, he flies 747’s when he’s not making wine so coming to London just to do a tasting at the Bluebird was not too much of a stretch. We started with the ’07 Takatu pinot gris. The minerality of the soil really came jumped out of the glass. Stony fruits – apricots, pears, ripe pineapple on the nose. A  full, creamy palate with loads of fresh pears and tropical fruit rolling around my mouth. A pleasure to imbibe. The next two wines were reds. The ’06 Kawau Bay Merlot was a complex joy to drink. Loads of cherry, blackberries and spicy plums on the nose whilst the palate was nicely understated, all cigar box/cedar flavours against a backdrop of understated fruit, smooth and well structured. I could see having this with a nice hunk o’ meat. The last wine was their cuvee, the ‘ 05 Takatu Merlot Franc Malbec. This was one of the wines that was naturally fermented with wild yeasts.  An amazingly...

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Vidal Hawkes Bay Syrah ’06 of New Zealand

Last week was a busy week – 4 tastings and a London bloggers get-together – Whew! My liver tried to send out a little white flag at about the halfway point but she managed to make it through the week. This week isn’t as hectic, only 1 tasting, 2- tops! Two of the tastings I went to last week were for wineries from Down Under. Vidal winery from New Zealand on Monday at the Bluebird Wine shop and Katnook Estate from southwestern Australia on Tuesday. Australia and New Zealand. Two Antipodean  wine producers with vastly different profiles. One, a powerhouse of a producer, churning out millions of bottles a year.  The other a well known sauvignon blanc producer but gaining a reputation for its boutique wineries and wines that have not  been historically produced in that country. Monday night was a tasting of Vidal wines of Hawkes Bay, NZ where I had the opportunity to speak with Hugh Crichton, the winemaker of the Vidal Winery of Hawkes Bay, NZ. Tuesday night was the turn of Wayne Stebhens, winemaker of Katnook Estates in Coonawarra, southeast Australia to take me on a tasting tour of his wines. Both men were passionate and dedicated proponents of their wines but as my grandma used to say, the proof is in the pudding. Vidal is one of those boutique wineries with production limited to the low thousands, located in Hawkes Bay. They started out as a small family owned winery back in 1905 by Spanish immigrants and were one of the early pioneers of winemaking in NZ. Although they were bought out by Villa Maria some years ago, they strive to produce handcrafted wines which reflect both the terroir and Hugh’s skills as a winemaker. Hugh tries to retain as much of the purity of fruit as possible in his wines, not diluting it with too much oak or overextraction while at the same time pricing it reasonably. We tried a range of his wines but the one that...

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