Nola and John Harvey, of Black Stilt, and Ken Wickham, of
Otiake, at a Waitaki wines tasting at Castle MacAdam's
Taste Merchants in Dunedin on Saturday. Photo by Charmian
Tasting several wines from a region together gives a good
overview of its strengths and characteristics, so it was with
much interest I braved the rugby crowds to go to a tasting of
Waitaki wines at Castle MacAdam's Taste Merchants on Saturday
It confirmed my opinion that aromatic varieties are the star
of this North Otago region. All the pinot gris I tasted on
Saturday were stunning, fragrant, mouth-filling, textural and
well balanced. Gewurztraminer, although it is rarer, tends to
be floral, textural, and elegant. It may be the cooler
climate and limestone soils of the Waitaki, but these two
varieties in this region stand out with their lovely balance,
whereas from vineyards further north they are often big,
blowsy and overblown.
The region is growing fast and besides the longer established
producers such as Pasquale, Ostler, Forrest and Valli, there
were three small producers, two of them showing their wines
for the first time, Ken Wickham of Otiake Estate, and John
and Nola Harvey of Black Stilt.
Wickham is a timber merchant in Whangarei, persuaded by
Antonio Pasquale to plant a vineyard. He now has three in the
area, and is releasing his first wines from his Malcolm Creek
vineyard in Otiake Rd: an intense, limey, zesty riesling
2010; a fragrant, lively, food-friendly, textural and elegant
gewurztraminer; a rich, full-bodied pinot gris; and a couple
of young pinot noirs.
The Harveys are from Auckland, although Nola grew up in
Otago. Their vineyard, planted with pinot gris and pinot
noir, is one of the highest in the valley and hence one of
the coolest and windiest.
However, their 2011 pint gris was delicious, fragrant,
creamy, textural and long - and well priced at about $20.
Peter Wurtz of Lone Hill, another small producer, had a pinot
gris redolent with fresh pears and zingy, delicate riesling.
email@example.comOstler's Lakeside vineyard, above the
shores of Lake Waitaki and warmer than those further down the
valley, continues to impress with a rich, fragrant riesling,
and a full-bodied pinot gris, almost unctuous, but intense,
textural and beautifully balanced, perhaps the best of the
pinot gris I tasted that day. Unlike the other vineyards in
the valley which are over limestone, the Lakeside vineyard is
alluvial greywacke with huge boulders that made it a demon to
plant, according to proprietor Jim Jerram.
Pasquale, probably the biggest producer in the region was
showing a mouth-filling, slightly nutty, textural pinot gris
2010 and a charmingly fragrant, concentrated beautifully
balanced gewurztraminer, perhaps the best of the variety on
Ostler also makes some stunning dessert wines, including
Plump, a botrytised pinot gris - see today's wine column for