The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2010

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NEW ZEALAND The Tradition of Tohu I by Rachel Burkons n the M¯ aori tradition, family, guardianship and the Earth Mother are guiding principles and a way of life. Tohu, New Zeland’s indigenous winery that pays homage to the M aori way of life in everything from farming to com- munity responsibility, is straddling the gap between ancient practices and modern winemaking at its fi nest. One of the most popular domestic wines in New Zealand, Tohu is fi nding incredible success stateside, thanks to not only its traditional roots, but also because of the fantastic fruit- driven nature of its wines. ¯ Tohu winemaker Bruce Taylor believes that the brand’s M aori roots and ¯ traditions are a large part of their success at home and abroad. Tohu’s Sauvignon Blanc leads the way for the portfolio, offering vibrant and expressive Marlborough fruit with minerally topicality and balanced acidity, refl ecting the Awatere Valley’s increasing reputation as a world-class grow- ing region for this variety. “Very exposed to the wind, the vineyard has low disease pressure and provides extremely clean fruit in naturally low yields,” attests Tohu winemaker Bruce Taylor. “The extreme climactic conditions of the vineyard make very concentrated, intense wines, which we handle with minimal intervention in the winery to retain the pristine fruit fl avors that our vineyard is providing.” All Tohu wines are single-vineyard produced, a fact to which Taylor attributes their success. “Our move to single-vineyard wines over the last few years has provided a purer expression of our terroir and captured something unique,” he says. Additionally, Taylor and his team are able to focus on achieving success with many new-to- New Zealand varieties, thanks to a true understanding of the terroir. “We are pushing the envelope on our Awatere vineyard with new plantings of Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay,” explains Taylor. “On our Nelson vineyard, we are pursuing some interesting new varieties, includ- ing Grüner Veltliner, Albariño and Gewürztraminer.” Currently, Tohu’s portfolio also includes bright, cherry-driven Pinot Noir, full-bodied Pinot Gris with lovely pear and peach fl avors, medium-dry and citrusy Riesling and unoaked Chardonnay, with a special barrel-fermented Kaum¯ a special barrel fermented Kaum¯ atua Reserve Sauvignon Blanc and a Merlot rolling out this year. While each bottle tells the story of the vineyard from whence it came, at Tohu, the ties to M aori tradition reign. “M aori culture infuses most things we do as a winery,” admits Taylor. “M aori believe that we are simply guardians of the land and have a responsibility to use the land sustainably for future generations to enjoy and utilize. This environmen- tal awareness and the long view of relationships and business is key to many of our practices, from the vineyard through to how we work with our importers and distributors.” atua Reserve ¯ ¯ ¯ Tohu is imported by Total Beverage Solution. 80 / the tasting panel / september 2010

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