Friday, 7 September 2012

Wines of New Zealand - James Milton Poverty Bay

New Zealand at it’s best is fresh, innovative, approachable, surprising, beautiful, uniquely stylish, understated and excellence that speaks for itself.  The same can be said for it’s wines.  

I caught up with New Zealand wine grower James Milton recently when he visited Manchester and tasted some of his wines with him.  I was so impressed that I determined to share the experience with our wine club.  Four out of five wines of the wines reviewed here today are from his vineyards.  Since meeting James he has been named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours.  A well deserved honour, he was awarded the MNZM in recognition for his services to the wine industry.

Poverty Bay, on the North East coast of the North island, is a major grape-growing region, where the main centre of Gisborne was the first part of New Zealand sighted by Cook's expedition in 1769. Finding little, other than the wary local Maori, he named it Poverty Bay and sailed south .  

In 1984 James and Annie Millton established their winery on the banks of the Te Arai River near Manutuke where the early settlers first planted grapevines in 1871. This region is situated on the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand in the winegrowing region of Gisborne. Originally Annie's father, Mr John Clark, had developed vineyards on his estate at 'Opou' in Manutuke during the late 1960's. 

James and Annie returned to Gisborne after experience gained in the famous wine regions of France and Germany including Champagne Bollinger, Maison Sichel in Bordeaux and Weingut Kurstner in Rheinhessen. By 1983 they had extensively researched and replanted major parts of the families’ grape growing business at the Opou Vineyard and Riverpoint Vineyard before, in 1984, establishing the winemaking and barrel aging facility in the present Te Arai Vineyard.  Further plantings were established on the river plateaus at either end of this vineyard. Clos Monique and Clos Samuel

1.  Opou Chardonnay
Strong in flavour, crisp in the initial taste and lingers seamlessly on the palate. The taste is soft and dry giving impressions of almond and acacia honey. Very well integrated fruit tannins balance the acid. The prolonged oak ageing has contributed fragrance of fresh bread and nougat.  This wine has the ability to go on developing in the bottle for at least another 5 years developing greater complexity with more honeyed characters. Listed in Oz Clarke’s Top 250 Wines for 2011.

2.  Riverpoint Viognier 
The Viognier was harvested by hand, fermented in small stainless steel tanks and old French oak barrels. The aromatic delight of Viognier is enhanced by partnering with foods high in Umami flavours, which also give a perceived impression of ‘saltiness’. A fine thread of residual sweetness intensifies the overall appeal as an aperitif with aged white cheeses. Air New Zealand ‘Best Other White Category’ Winner 2011.

3. La Cote Pinot Noir
A very Burgundian style of Pinot Noir, with beautiful earthy, mushroom, cherry and freshly-picked strawberry flavours that dance on the palate. The fruit is ably supported by fine tannins and the light spice and richness that oak ageing has brought to the wine. Lip-smackingly good Pinot Noir with the class to mature further in bottle.

4.  Crazy by Nature ‘Cosmo’ malbec/ shiraz/ viognier
Convivial, buoyantly fruity red that's like 'a bouncy redhead in a summer dress'! So says winemaker, James Millton. It shows notes of dark chocolate and booze-soaked maraschino cherries with a hint of cigar and spice. A great fun wine that offers something a bit different from New Zealand. Soil Association Best Product Award 2010.

5.  Rock Ferry Late Harvest Riesling 37.5 cl
The only non Milton wine this evening.  An opulent dessert wine that has layers of ginger, summer orchard fruit, citrus and vanilla beautifully woven through this wine. As with all great sweet wines it has fresh acidity too that keeps all that sweet fruit neatly in place. Refreshingly sweet. Decanter World Wine Awards Gold Medal 2011.

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