On Feb 19, 3:25*am, Mark Lipton <not...@eudrup.ude> wrote:
> In the Spring of 2001, talk began here on alt.food.wine about meeting in
> New Zealand for a tour of the local wineries hosted by St. Helier, our
> denizen on the ground there. *Plans were made, only to be thrown into
> complete chaos by the tragic incidents of 9/11. *In the end, 3 of us --
> Ian and Jacquie Hoare and I -- made the trip in 12/01, and a grand time
> we had with St. Helier. *For background, see:
> <http://groups.google.com/group/alt.food.wine/browse_thread/thread/9d9...>
> <http://groups.google.com/group/alt.food.wine/browse_thread/thread/f43...>
> This year, by chance, Ian, Jacquie and I all reconverged on New Zealand
> and so decided to continue our "field trip" of a decade ago. *To that
> end, today I traveled to Queenstown, where Ian and Jacquie met me and
> from where we commenced our two days of winery visits.
> First stop was Chard Farm Winery in Gibbston Valley, just outside of
> Queenstown. *Chard Farm was one of the first wineries established in
> Central Otago and is reached by means of a winding, gravel road that
> snakes through the hills overlooking the river gorge. *Ian regaled us
> with a recounting of their previous visit, in which he encountered a bus
> on the one-lane gravel road overlooking a treacherous precipice.
> Fortunately, this time there were no buses and a wider road. *We entered
> the small tasting room with 4 other people and were attentively looked
> after.
> 2008 Closeburn Chardonnay
> n: minerals, yeast, lemon
> p: good acidity, lactic acid
> This wine was aged in stainless steel and so saw no oak. *Quite like a
> Petit Chablis in character, it showcased the more mineral aspects of
> Chardonnay.
> 2009 Judge and Jury Chardonnay
> n: muted, with a hint of minerality
> p: decent acid, slight hint of lactic acid, structured
> This was their oak-aged Chardonnay, though the barrels used were all
> used French oak. *Overall, I found it a bit lacking and not as
> interesting as the INOX version.
> 2011 Pinot Gris (3.5 g/L sugar)
> n: spicy, stones
> p: medium body, moderate acidity
> Quite a lovely example of Pinot Gris, this was very restrained, just
> barely off-dry with a very aromatic nose.
> 2009 Gewürztraminer (15 g/L)
> n: muted, slightly spicy, lychee
> p: medium-light, off dry
> 2009 Riesling (16 g/L)
> n: petrol
> p: light, citrus, off dry, long finish
> 2010 Vipers Vineyard Riesling (38 g/L)
> n: slightly mineral
> p: white peach, off dry
> Both of the Rieslings were very well done, with the latter being heavier
> and riper smelling.
> 2010 River Run Pinot Noir
> n: slightly hot, light cherries
> p: dry, thin, bitter finish
> 2009 Mata-Au Pinot Noir
> n: cherries, rose petals
> p: decent acidity, a bit hollow mid-palate
> 2009 The Viper Pinot Noir
> n: cherries, hint of smoke
> p: firm acidity, deep fruit, tannic finish
> Of the three Pinot Noirs, only the last was really of serious interest.
> * The River Run was their "easy drinking" blend, but didn't have the
> depth of fruit to hold interest, whereas the Viper was the complete
> deal. *Overall, we left with the impression that they were more
> successful with white than red wines.
> After an abortive attempt to visit Gibbston Valley winery (too touristy
> and commercial) we had lunch at Wild Earth winery. *Ian and I shared an
> absolutely fabulous lunch of foods prepared by smoking over oak chips
> paired with Wild Earth wines.
> Our aperitif was:
> 2009 Riesling (13 g/L)
> n: slight hint of petrol
> p: crisp acidity, peachy fruit, minerals
> With hot smoked salmon on a celery root/apple salad:
> 2011 Pinot Noir Rosé
> n: strawberries and dusty rock
> p: light, bright berry fruit
> With smoked green lip mussels with a prawn aioli:
> 2010 "Chelsea" Riesling (46 g/L)
> n: muted
> p: one dimensional, simple, sweet
> With chili-seasoned chicken on a wild thyme stick:
> 2011 Pinot Gris (9 g/L)
> n: spicy, earthy
> p: medium body, off dry
> With lamb with mushroom and caramelized onion:
> 2009 Pinot Noir
> n: lactic acid, spice, dark fruit
> p: medium body
> With ground venison with tomato sauce, mushrooms and caramelized onion:
> 2009 Pinot Noir "Deep Cove"
> n: minerals, cranberries, tart cherries
> p: firm acidity, deep fruit, great focus
> As an added bonus:
> 2009 Pinot Noir Reserve "Earth and Sky"
> n: deep, dark sappy fruit
> p: vivid acidity, tight, deep fruit, tannic finish
> Across the board, the wines were very impressive and the food matches
> with lunch were well chosen and at times inspired (the rosé with the
> smoked salmon was a highlight). *The trio of Pinot Noirs were all good
> (astute readers may note that the '09 Pinot Noir was the wine we served
> Ian and Jacquie at our home) but the Deep Cove and the Earth and Sky
> were standouts. *For near term drinking, I'll take the Deep Cove, but
> the Reserve is a wine that'll reward 5-10 years of age.
> After lunch, we headed to Bannockburn where we visited two more
> wineries. *First on the list was Bannock Brae.
> 2009 Dry Riesling (8.5 g/L)
> n: hint of petrol
> p: crisp acidity, citrus, mineral finish
> 2010 Cathy's Rosé (Pinot Noir)
> n: strawberry
> p: moderate acidity, candied fruit, slightly sweet finish
> 2009 Goldfields Pinot Noir
> n: candied cherries
> p: straightforward, foursquare Pinot Noir
> 2009 Barrel Selection Pinot Noir
> n: sappy, dark cherry
> p: decent acidity, cherries, slightly lactic, moderately tannic finish
> A small mom-and-pop operation run by a very nice couple, the winery is
> situated in a lovely corner of Central Otago. *The wines, alas, were
> uninspiring for the most part, though competently made.
> Our final stop of the day was next foor at Akarua.
> 2010 Chardonnay
> n: minerals, citrusy fruit
> p: slightly oaky, decent acidity
> 2011 Riesling
> n: hint of petrol, stone fruit
> p: light, refreshing, off dry
> The vines for this wine are only 4 years old (they replaced Shiraz vines
> that never ripened) and the wine refelected that youth in being light,
> friendly and uncomplicated. *The wine was varietally correct, though.
> 2010 Pinot Gris
> n: spice, minerals
> p: crisp acidity, juicy fruit, medium-light body
> 2011 Pinot Noir Rosé (13.5% ABV)
> n: strawberries, stones
> p: juicy acidity, gooseberry
> 2011 Pinot Noir "Rua"
> n: not much there
> p: decent acidity, moderate fruit
> 2009 Pinot Noir Reserve
> n: intense, sappy, deep cherry fruit
> p: good acidity, cherry, cranberry, tannic finish
> All the wines here were well made and varietally correct. *Of the Pinot
> Noirs, the Reserve bottling was the clear standout.
> With a light dinner, we had two wines from Rippon Vineyards in Wanaka.
> 2011 Sauvignon Blanc
> n: grassy, grapefruit
> p: medium body, firm acidity, long finish
> 2009 Pinot Noir
> n: red cherries, rose petals
> p: velvety smooth, medium body, balanced acidity
> Both wines were quite nice, reflecting the cooler climate found at Lake
> Wanaka.
> Overall, a very fun day of wine and food in Central Otago. *Ian and
> Jacquie, who had visited here 10 years ago, found the wines much
> improved over their earlier encounter. *All of the wines we tried were
> well-made, usually from vines that were 10 years or older. *Tomorrow
> we'll try the wines of Cromwell and Bannockburn.
> Mark Lipton

Love to see the total itinerary as we will be making the same trip in
2013. Good tasting Mark.