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02 December 2013

New Zealand: TerraVin, Lay of the Land, Rod Easthope

TerraVin was acquired by a partnership of "Pinot enthusiasts," as their blurb puts it, in 2011 including "several British businessmen." They humbly describe themselves as a "boutique Marlborough winery with a dedicated focus on growing and making world-class hillside Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc." My notes would suggest they're on the right track, by the way... This 29 hectare vineyard site was planted 10 years ago in "an isolated valley in the back of the Southern Wither Hills," and apparently was once an early Maori settlement prized for its sheltered location. The "gently sloping north-facing vineyard" runs from 130m to 200m elevation and enjoys a maritime micro-climate. Gordon Ritchie is winemaker here and keeps an eye on vineyards too.
TerraVin UK office: 020 8876 9656. Available from Clark Foyster Wines who sells to the London area on-trade and by the case. These posh eateries list them: Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Chelsea; The Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal; Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, Knightsbridge; Pied a Terre; Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, Mayfair; Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons; Hotel TerraVina, Gerard Basset's place in the New Forest, Hants. Elsewhere: L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Paris; Jacob Hotel, Hamburg; Jean-Georges, Shanghai; Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong; and also in Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, New York and Sydney. www.terravin.co.nz

2011 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (13% abv) - Some complex maturing notes adding a savoury touch - and "a portion is fermented in seasoned French oak barrels," according to the blurb, which probably partly explains these characters and its more rounded mouth-feel - to otherwise ripe greengage / gooseberry fruit, still quite lively (for a 2011) and intense with crisp acidity and green fruit vs that rounder and tasty savoury side. Good wine, better than, and different from, a lot of NZ Sauvignon... and dearer too at £12.75.
2011 Pinot Noir (13% abv) - made from "parcels of grapes from three low-yielding north-facing hillside vineyards in Marlborough's southern valleys," to be more precise. Quite complex developing nose, savoury and earthy vs 'sweet' dried red fruits, lightly toasted vanilla tones vs elegant perfumed floral characters and intriguing 'volatile' matured cheese edges. Quite silky and soft with a touch of freshness still vs weight, maturing and tasty 'sweet/savoury' fruit, elegant and delicious now actually yet with underlining subtle structure. Very good Pinot, seems fairly expensive at £21.75 although this isn't outrageous compared to other high-class NZ Pinots (link goes to PN report scribbled in May).

Lay of the Land
One of UK online specialist Naked Wine's 'Angel-funded projects' if you like, Lay of the Land was created by winemaker Mike Paterson (pic. above) who was "head winemaker for 10 years at a leading Marlborough winery..." as the story goes, before Naked and their customers helped him get his own thing off the ground, an understandably "beyond scary" prospect otherwise cash investment wise. This is apparently the thinking behind Naked Wines' pricing - Angels pay £20 a month, which you can spend any time (and presumably sits in Naked's bank account gathering interest in the meantime) getting "25% to 50% off" their 'normal' prices. Seems like a good idea perhaps, if you buy cases of exclusive-label wines fairly regularly, although, as I've said before, who would pay these 'normal' obviously inflated prices anyway? (Not unlike the big supermarkets' famous 'half-price' type offers). So it feels like you're paying them to buy wine at the price it's worth, although there's that added novelty factor of sort-of investing in new winemaking projects and 'part-owning' tailor-made wines...

2012 Ben Morven Farm Pinot Noir Marlborough (14% abv) - perfumed, quite sexy 'sweet/savoury' Pinot nose with lively berry and hints of chocolate/vanilla, lightly herbal side too (or 'reductive'? went away with air in any case) and intriguing 'volatile'/balsamic edges. Punchy palate vs fresh acidity too, bitter-sweet finish with a touch of grip vs silky perfumed 'sweet/savoury' fruit vs vanilla and coconut texture; smooth and "drink now" vs quite structured with oomph underneath, that vanilla oak coating is a tad 'sweet' perhaps but the wine has nice Pinot character and bite too. Second day: weirdly seems a bit more closed up and touch firmer and tighter perhaps vs lovely floral and spicy cherry fruit vs savoury earthy notes. Made using "organic wine-growing principles," which probably means it isn't 'officially' but is in philosophy and practice... Angels' price £12.99, 'normally' £18.99.
2012 Destination Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough (13%) - ripe gooseberry and asparagus with melon and grapefruit too, lively zingy and crisp still vs a rounder oilier side, similar fruit flavours as on the nose, 'chalky' acidity vs a bit of weight, quite concentrated and lively upfront style vs more elegant mouthwatering finish. Odd perhaps that they've shipped a 'premium' wine in bulk and bottled it in Germany. 'Normal' price £13.49, Angel £9.49.

Rod Easthope 2013 Pinot Gris Hawke's Bay (12% abv) - aromatic, almost Sauvignon/Semillon like nose and character to start, although has zingy Pinot Gris/Grigio style and flavour too with light crisp vs rounder off-dry palate; attractive quaffer with zesty 'chalky' and lightly peppery finish vs honeyed sweeter fruit. Nice but kinda dear - you can get similar Italian Pinot Grigio or simple Alsace Pinot Gris for less. Also bottled in Germany. £11.99 or £8.99 if you're a Naked Angel!

Much more on New Zealand HERE.

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.