Marlborough, New Zealand

Because we only had one day in Marlborough it was an early start; 9am at Lawson’s Dry Hills; Alabama Road, Blenheim; T 03 578 7674.  We tasted the range including what was probably the best 2009 Pinot Gris ($23) – clean fruit no oak. There was also a good value for money 2007 Pinot Noir ($26).

Wither Hills cellar door

Wither Hills cellar door with rows of almost every major cultivar of grape in the foreground

Next on our list was Wither Hills; New Renwick Road, Blenheim; T 03 520 8284.  Their 2009 Sauvignon Blanc ($18) was good; the single vineyard 2008 Rarangi ($25) was very good. We tried their Pinot Gris and Chardonnay which were ok.  2008 Pinot Noir ($32) was excellent. They had half bottles of Sav Blanc ($12.50).

The last vineyard on the south side of the valley that we visited was Spy Valley Wines; Waihopai Valley Road, Renwick; T 03 572 9480.  2009 Sauvignon Blanc was good.  The 2008 Gewurztraminer won awards but had too much rose petal and litchi for our taste.  The premium label (Envoy) 2007 was honeyed but not enough Gewurz flavours. We thought that the Pinot Noirs were ok.

View fron Seresin cellar door

View from Seresin cellar door northwards

We then headed for the north side of the valley but stopped off at Seresin Estate; Bedford Road, Renwick; T 03 572 9408.  They are moving towards Biodynamique. They oaked everything including Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris which is really not our taste as it hides the freshness one would expect. The 2008 Leah Pinot Noir was very good ($35). They will be doing half bottles of Sauvignon.

Wairau River cellar door

Wairau River cellar door and restaurant

We had lunch and then tasted the wines at Wairau River; Rapaura Rd, Renwick; T 03 572 9800.  We preferred the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc ($20) to their 2007 Home Block Sauvignon ($25) that won all the awards.  The 2009 Gewurztraminer ($25) we thought was the best that we tasted.  The 2008 Pinot Noir had the boiled sweets nose; the Home Block ($32) had great fruit and soft tannins.

After lunch it was back to the middle of the valley to Mahi; Terrace Rd, Renwick; T 03 572 8859.  The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc ($19) had good restrained fruit – our style of wine. The Alias Sauvignon Blanc was slightly oaked – not our style.  The 2008 chardonnay had good clean oak – fermented in older barrels ($34).  The 2008 Pinot Noirs were great – Marlborough ($29) had good fruit and soft tannins; the Rive ($45) was more earthy, one of the very few wines that I actually swallowed a mouthful. We bought the Rive as it is not available outside NZ.

Then north again to Forrest; Blicks Rd, Renwick; T 03 572 9084.  The 2009 The Doctor’s 9.5% Sauvignon Blanc was really good. The 2008 Forrest Sauvignon Blanc was nice and minerally. Both $19.  The Valleys Gewurztraminer ($22) was my idea of what a gewurz should be like in both nose and fruit.  The Pinot Noirs – Forrest 2008 ($24) had slightly boiled sweets nose but had good fruit; Forrest Brancott 2003 was very good ($39).  The Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2006 was why we visited Forrest and we were not disappointed ($65).

Our last visit of the day was to Herzog; Jeffries Rd, Blenheim; T 03 582 8770.  We were very disappointed. They oaked the Pinot Gris, Sur Lie–ed the sauvignon and destroyed both to our minds.  The 2008 Chardonnay and 2007 Pinot were ok to good. The 2002 Bordeaux blend had me wondering if the tannins would ever soften although the fruits were good. All the wines were very expensive relative to peers.