The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2011

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Page 40 of 128

NEW ZEALAND Next Stop: Marlborough M arlborough, at the top of the South Island, was first planted in 1973. Known for intense flavors, distinct aromas and balanced acidity, it's one of the sunniest and driest climates in New Zealand, with heat balanced by sea breezes, resulting in a cool climate similar to northern Burgundy. Its three sub-regions—Wairau Valley, Southern Valleys and Awatere Valley—are best known for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir but also produce Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. WE CONTINUE OUR TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND WINE REGIONS Sam Weaver was a U.K. wine merchant with a microbiol- ogy background when he moved to New Zealand in 1988. After working as an assistant winemaker at Cloudy Bay, Hunters and Montana, and later chief winemaker at Stoneleigh, Sam began Churton while continuing to consult. In 1997, he was the first to plant at a high altitude (over 600 feet above sea level) where the wind-blown hills provide denser soils. Practicing biodynamic winemaking, Churton today produces 10,000 cases from 55 planted acres. Winemaker Clive Dougall and his dog Gemma sit overlooking the organically and biodynamically grown vineyards of Seresin Estate. Owned by cinematographer Michael Seresin, Seresin Wines are hand-tended and hand-picked, and the artisan style of winemaker represents the winery's philoso- phy of working with nature to express the true character of Marlborough. Managing Director Sue White and winemaker Sam Smail stand at the entrance of the Whitehaven winemaking facility. Sue White and her late husband Greg moved to Marlborough in 1995. The distinguished Simon Waghorn was winemaker from the inception until 2000, when Snail took over. Today, with 300,000 cases produced, Whitehaven is the largest family-owned boutique winery in the region. Simon Waghorn and his wife Jane Forrest (pictured with Allison Levine, center) established Astrolabe in 1996, naming it after a 19th-century French ship that explored the Marlborough Coast. With 50,000 cases produced, Simon demonstrates the uniqueness of Marlborough sub-regions by making three different labels: The Voyage range are blends of the three areas, the Discovery range are region-specific and the Experience range are vineyard-specific. 40 / the tasting panel / october 201 1 Winemaker Stu Marfell began working at Vavasour during the summers when he was nine. After university, he joined the winemaking team and in 2007 took over as head winemaker. Vavasour has been producing wine since 1989, when Peter Vavasour identified the Awatere Valley, with its ancient, low-fertility soils, as the new frontier for NZ wine. Purchased by American businessman Bill Foley in 2009, Vavasour produces 300,000 cases, of which 80% is exported. Paul Bourgeois came to Marlborough from Christchurch because he wanted to make wine in the heart of New Zealand wine country. As chief winemaker at Spy Valley, named for its proximity to an international satellite communications monitoring station, Paul produces 150,000 cases of aromatic whites and Pinot Noirs from 400 certified sustainable acres. Planted in 1993 by the Johnson family, Spy Valley was one of the first wineries in Marlborough's lower Waihopai Valley.

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