Tag Archives: Hawkes Bay

Crossroads Wines, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

CrossroadsWines

My last Hawke’s Bay meet-up was hosted in a hip little pseudo-Mexican restaurant called Mamagita in Haverlock with Miles Dineen and assistant winemaker George Leete of Crossroads Wines. I appreciated the gear shift from a winery visit to a casual cantina, allowing me to feel like a normal human just hanging with a couple of winemaker buddies, casually tasting 20 serious wines with platters of guac and tacos. Nearly tempted to guzzle a margarita, I, rather, kept my eye on the prize — the flagship wine “Talisman” that we would be tasting at the end (called, un-poetically, RGF in America due to somebody’s lame claim to the name). Talisman is a secret proprietary blend of five or so grapes, one of which is not a Bordeaux grape nor one grown by anyone else in the region. Threatening to sneak through the vineyards at night plucking leaf samples for lab analysis, I had good fun trying to trip Miles up in revealing the formula; alas, he kept it tight.

About Miles, he has been the winemaker at Crossroads since 2004.  Born and bred in Hawke’s Bay, Miles’ first vintage was in 1996 as a cellar hand in New Zealand and then over in the US before completing a post-graduate diploma in viticulture and oenology at Lincoln University, Christchurch, in 2003. Miles chats about Mother Nature as a winemaker’s biggest challenge, compares Hawkes Bay to Sonoma, and wishes he could be traveling in the U.S.A.

I should also add a thank you to Miles (hopefully you read this one day) for transporting me to the Art Deco town of Napier to shoot photos. I would not have otherwise had a chance to see it, and am grateful for your hospitality in taking me. Thank you!

A little info from the Crossroads website:

Crossroads was started in 1987 with the aim to produce the best possible wine from an exceptional place in an exceptional country – Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand. To achieve this, it became clear we had to have total control of our winegrowing and winemaking from start to finish. To that end, Crossroads purposely sourced and developed more vineyards. Today, all our Hawke’s Bay wines come from our own vineyards. 

Signature Wines and Prices:

  • Talisman $48
  • Winemakers Collection $38
  • Milestone Series $26/20

What philosophy guides your viticulture and/or enology? Simplicity, respecting the earth and its fruit, making delicious wine that is a pleasure to drink.

What is your biggest challenge as a winemaker (e.g., volatility of Mother Nature, expense to income ratio, having to actually market your wine)? The weather is still the greatest human challenge.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of grape growing and winemaking in your region? Hawkes Bay is an awesome grape growing region for a whole range of varieties and wine styles due to our diverse soils and temperate climate. We are a long way from many major markets and trade blocs, but if anything, this makes us stronger as there is no room for complacency or bad wine.

Talisman

What excites you most about New Zealand wines right now? New Zealand is one of the most dynamic wine producers in the world with ongoing rapid evolution; standards are high and the wines just keep getting better.

How do you think Americans perceive NZ wines? New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is now well respected and widely distributed and is going well in the states. There is less familiarity with our other varieties, but Americans are generally open to trying new things and the future looks very exciting for our wines stateside.

What is your favorite non-kiwi wine region? Sonoma, California–it has many similarities to Hawkes Bay on a slightly warmer base. Least? They all have their appeal.

Which wine or grape (in the world) is the least understood or respected? Muller Thurgau, the light, fruity, low-alcohol white wine that has been with us all along.

What do you drink at home when relaxing? Preferably a different wine every time. I stay with a style or region to get a good feel for what is going on; I am just coming out of a Cotes du Rhone vs California phase .

How do you spend your free time (if you have any)? Hiking, hunting, and hanging out with my family.

If you could be traveling somewhere else right now, where would you be? U.S.A.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Crossroads Wines, New Zealand

Sileni Estates, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

LaurenandGrant

I spent the afternoon yesterday in Hawke’s Bay, tasting wine with Grant Edwards, Chief Winemaker at Sileni Estates. Prior to my arrival, Grant emailed back and forth with me about his time at the winery, his winemaking philosophy, and Semillon, the misunderstood grape.

A little info on the winery, from their website:

Sileni Estates is a major vineyard and winery development in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand’s oldest established vineyard area. The first vintage was in 1998 and since then the wines have won world wide acclaim.

Sileni Estates is named after the Sileni who featured in Roman mythology alongside Bacchus, the god of wine. They celebrated good wine, good food and good company.

Sileni boasts a state of the art winery designed to crush over 1500 tonnes of grapes. Our Winemaking Team have honed their winemaking skills in wineries around the world and we strive to maintain high standards in environmentally sustainable viticultural and winemaking practices. Sileni Estates produce hand crafted wines that reflect the unique characteristics of the vineyards.

Signature Wines and Prices:

  • Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – RRP (NZ) $17
  • The Lodge Hawkes Bay Chardonnay – RRP (NZ) $30
  • The Triangle Hawkes Bay Merlot – RRP (NZ) $32

What philosophy guides your viticulture and/or enology? We want to make wines that are accessible and food-friendly.

What is your biggest challenge as a winemaker (e.g., volatility of Mother Nature, expense to income ratio, having to actually market your wine)? Getting consumer share of mind.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of grapegrowing and winemaking in your region? Benefits include high growing degree days, or GDD (esp. for reds), large areas of gravel based soils, well-established horticultural infrastructure, and a major port. Drawbacks include distance to main domestic consumption centres, weather volatility at harvest, and a small local population.

SileniVineyards

What excites you most about New Zealand wines right now? The fact that we are still one of the few growth categories in many world markets – much of the world still doesn’t know about us.

How do you think Americans (or the outside world in general) perceive NZ wines? I imagine there’s probably very little information available for them to base an opinion on. If anything, they might be surprised that we make wine, that we make good wine, that we make anything other than Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

What is your favorite non-kiwi wine region? Least? Tuscany. Champagne.

Which wine or grape (in the world) is the least understood or respected? Semillon. Makes great dry table wine if treated with
respect

What do you drink at home when relaxing? Sileni Semillon, Italian reds, GSM, and Merlot.

How do you spend your free time (if you have any)? Orienteering, reading, and gardening.

If you could be traveling somewhere else right now, where would you be? China.

Give one surprising fact about yourself. Raised two children and still have some hair…

Leave a comment

Filed under New Zealand, Sileni Estates

Te Mata Estate, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Te Mata Estate in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, was founded in 1896. The property was acquired by John and Wendy Buck in 1978, and is currently run by Nicholas Buck, the Estate Director, who has been with the winery, as he puts it, for “life”.   Fortunately, I met Nick in person today, since his answers to my Q&A (below) in advance of my trip, were terse and cheeky. Turns out, he’s a super affable guy surrounded by a lovely team of folks that treat each other like family. Winemaker Peter Cowley has been crafting their iconic Bordeaux blend Coleraine for the nearly 30 years of its production, and this afternoon, the fantastic Mr. Larry Morgan drove me around vineyard sites, and introduced me to the hardworking Czechs (not chicks, as I later found out) who help net the vines to prevent birds from nibbling grapes as they ripen.

A few words from the winery’s site:

Te Mata Estate was established in 1896, specialising in high-quality wines of classical style. All steps in the production of our wines are undertaken by us, from grape growing and pruning through to winemaking and bottling. Today, Te Mata Estate is recognized as one of New Zealand’s most iconic and prestigious wine producers, making nearly 40,000 cases a year of premium wine and exporting to over 40 countries.

Regarding the physical winery, horse stables, constructed in the 1870s, were converted into a winery by the Chambers family in the 1890s, and are today the centre of Te Mata Estate’s winemaking. The winery has since been updated in design, with the aim to create a modern wine-making complex that reflected the character of the landscape. Specializing in in-fill architecture and innovative modernist design, Athfield Architects created a series of buildings to reflect the art deco heritage of Hawke’s Bay and the art nouveau heritage of the original Chambers homestead.

Signature Wines and Prices:

  • Coleraine NZ$90
  • Awatea Cabernet/Merlot NZ$40
  • Bullnose Syrah NZ$50
  • Elston Chardonnay NZ$40
  • Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc NZ$30
  • Zara Viognier NZ$30

What philosophy guides your viticulture and/or enology? Maximising the potential of Te Mata Estate.

What is your biggest challenge as a winemaker (e.g., volatility of Mother Nature, expense to income ratio, having to actually market your wine)? Disrupting the wine world status quo.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of grapegrowing/winemaking in your region? Hawke’s bay’s ability to produce world leading wines across an array of wine styles.

What excites you most about New Zealand wines right now? The growing international recognition of the absolute quality of Hawke’s Bay’s best wines.

How do you think Americans perceive NZ wines? Source of widely available, inexpensive, reliable, good qpr, light-bodied, straight-forward, aromatic, fruity, white wines.

What is your favorite non-kiwi wine region? Least? Favorite = Sonoma; Least = Napa.

Which wine or grape (in the world) is the least understood or respected? Cabernet Sauvignon.

What do you drink at home when relaxing? Wine.

How do you spend your free time (if you have any)? Family.

If you could be traveling somewhere else right now, where would you be? Mars.

Give one surprising fact about yourself. Alternative career ambition was an astronaut.

 

1 Comment

Filed under New Zealand, Te Mata Estate