What are the best wineries to visit in the Marlborough wine region?
Nestled in the north of New Zealand’s south island, the Marlborough boasts of being the home of wines incomparable to anywhere else in the world.
The climate, soil and passion for growing the ultimate grape has driven the region to produce a wonderful collection of stylish wines which express extraordinary purity and intensity in flavours to truly represent the land in which they are grown.
So The Wine Pig took to it’s bike (provided by winetoursbybike.co.nz) to pay a visit to some of the cellar doors that the Marlborough wine trail in order find out more about what the area has to offer.
Here were our highlights.
FRAMINGHAM WINES Framingham Wines is home to some of the oldest Riesling vines in Marlborough. The boutique biodynamic and organic vineyard has warm, well-drained stony soils, producing individual small batch wines which merge together the complexity of old world wines and innovation of new world wines.
Framingham Wines produces a range of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and even their own take on the European Montepulciano.
Greeted by the wonderfully friendly Mary Jo at the smart and wonderfully established cellar door, The Wine Pig was lucky enough to sample through the delicious range on offer and even visit the basement cellar for a nose around. A truly beautiful beginning to its Marlborough wine journey.
The Wine Pig highlights:
2014 Framingham Classic Riesling: With some of the region’s oldest vines, it came as no surprise for The Wine Pig to be blown away by Framingham’s classic New Zealand off-dry Riesling. The rich fruitiness and hint of sweetness is wonderfully offset by the juicy acidity. The complex structure of the Riesling brings a twist of minerality while also championing the typical citrus, peach and mandarin flavours typical of this wonderful varietal.
2014 Framingham Pinot Noir: Grown solely from Framingham’s Wairau estate, it’s medium bodied and deliciously juicy pinot noir is simply stunning. It’s strong dark cherry flavours and blueberry tones are brought to life by the refined smooth finish.
ww.framingham.co.nz TE WHARE RA VINEYARD & WINERY Te Whare Ra (te-fari-ra) is memorable for a number of reasons – it’s very welcoming cellar door, beautiful plot, hard-to-pronounce name and last but by no means least, it’s wonderful wines.
The small, quality-focused family-run vineyard is unique in that you’re greeted at the cellar door by the winemakers themselves – Anna and Jason. The couple took over the vineyard, which is one of the region’s oldest, 12 years ago and has adopted the philosophy of centred around making great wines which “speak of somewhere-ness rather than of same-ness”.
The Wine Pig had the pleasure of being talked through TWR’s whole range of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling D, Riesling M, Pinot Gris, Toru, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
The Wine Pig highlights:
Toru: Maori for ‘blend of three’ TWR’s Toru is a field blend of three (unsurprisingly) different grapes – Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling – which have come together to make a wine which offers something refreshingly different.
Syrah: A blend of two different clones of grapes, this wine has been matured in French oak for 12 months. While the Marlborough region isn’t famous for it’s Shiraz, Te Whare Re’s version is deliciously velvety smooth while still maintaining the full cherry fruit, medium bodied robustness for which the varietal is famous.
www.twrwines.co.nz NO.1 FAMILY ESTATE The family-run wine producer, headed up by award-winning champagne maker Daniel Le Brun, continually strive – and succeed – to produce New Zealand’s best sparkling wine.
Pioneering the traditional method of champagne production in Marlborough, the company has a very strict winemaking method which begins at hand-picking the grapes and ends with aging each wine on its lees, in the bottle, for a minimum of two years in order to make the yeast fully develop and resulting in the classic and accurate champagne-style characteristics achieved.
The Winery focuses on six varieties – Cuvée No.1, No.1 Assemblé, No.1 Rose, No.1 Rosé, No.1 Reserve, 70 Calibre Cuvée and a Virginie Cuvée.
The Wine Pig highlight:
Cuvée No.1: The rich and creamy 100% Chardonnay NV blanc de blancs was certainly a standout for The Wine Pig. The tiny but consistent bubbles and typical complex champagne-like character make the sparkling varietal an absolute pleasure to drink and a must for a celebration (like Christmas Day for The Wine Pig). It also boasts elegance and style owing to its intense fruity flavour. A beautiful wine.
www.no1familyestate.co.nz NAUTILUS ESTATE A small, family run and owned winery, Nautilus is named after the nautilus shell – the shape of which represents the natural beauty and mathematical perfection which it uses as inspiration to create its collection of clean, cool and diverse wine collection.
The bright airy cellar door is extremely welcoming and warm while also being extremely efficient with the staff wonderfully able to negotiate talking through the wines while welcoming a stream of happy wine samplers through its door.
Nautilus has a brilliant range of wines on offer, with something to suit just about anyone – from its vintage rose to a Cuvée, Sauvignon Blanc or creamy Chardonnay, with of course a wonderful Pinot Noir to round off the collection.
The Wine Pig highlights:
Chardonnay Marlborough 2014: It’s no secret that The Wing Pig is partial to a wonderful well-made Chardonnay, so it was very happy to stumble across this one. Pale straw in colour, Nautilus’s version has a complex range of aromas including the classic peach but with a hint of something different, toasted almonds. The creamy lovliness has a great depth in its flavour with a freshness and minerality quickly learnt to be typical of the region.
Pinot Noir Marlborough 2013: This wonderfully elegant Pinot Noir has a great intensity but with a smooth and lengthy finish. It’s bright cherry in flavour but more medium-bodied in density and has great whiffs of spice and dark juicy fruit.
www.nautilusestate.com GIBSON BRIDGE VINEYARD Gibson Bridge’s owner-operated boutique family vineyard prides itself in being a Pinot Gris specialist. Of it’s 11 wines on offer for tasting, eight are differing versions and vintages of Pinot Gris – if you’re a Pinot Gris lover, this is certainly the place for you!! The cute and homely cellar door – dubbed the ‘tasting room’ – is extremely welcoming and run by winemakers Howard and Julie themselves. The polished floors and concrete walls are scattered with candles and mirrors. It’s an old garage/workshop, part of the original home, which makes a wonderful location for sampling some great wine.
The Wine Pig highlights:
Pinot Gris 2013 Barrique Ferment: The hand harvested Pinot Gris grapes have been aged for two years in French oak barrels, giving a deliciously creamy but dry finish to the fruity Pinot Gris. The hints of orange and stonefruit are wonderfully complemented by subtle oak and extended lees contact. This is a fantastic wine for those looking for something a little different.
Sweet 16 Botrytis Pinot Gris: The Wine Pig’s trawl around the Marlborough area wouldn’t be complete without a great desert wine, and here, Gibson Bridge is onto a winner. 16 rows of its Pinot Gris grapes were left on the vine before being harvested and cool fermented. The sweet sticky wine looks like liquid gold and has wonderfully concentrated peach and apricot flavours. Delicious.