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After acquiring ''the wine bug'' many years ago, it was a natural progression to visit winery cellar doors, Mark Henderson writes.
After all, sampling a range of wines in one place, while getting a feel for where and how they are grown and made is not only a fun thing to do, but also a great way to further your knowledge.
Since my first visit, meeting the delightful Kym and Jeanette Goldwater at Goldwater Estate on Waiheke Island, I've visited hundreds of wineries across the world, ranging from a table in the winery to some seriously swish facilities and meeting many amazingly passionate people along the way.
At smaller wineries, you might meet the owners/winemakers, which is an added bonus, but I've met wonderfully enthusiastic people across the gamut of cellar doors.
Wine tourism is becoming an increasingly important activity with cellar doors evolving to meet perceived needs, and in many cases, to better manage the numbers of visitors. Felton Road (in Bannockburn) and Ata Rangi (in Martinborough) now have an appointment-only model. Rather than look after visitors piecemeal throughout the day, they can maximise the use of their staff time, and closely engage with visitors to show them what they do.
Maude and Archangel wineries in Central Otago and Craggy Range in Hawke's Bay have moved to a curated, sit-down experience with staff on hand to take you through the wines. This avoids the scrum at the tasting counter, allowing time to relax and savour the wines.
Whichever way you visit a winery, owner/winemakers hope you will leave as a walking ambassador for their wines and their own special piece of dirt: long may that be the case!
Here are three that you may get to taste.
Delightful fragrance of lime and lemon, white flowers and wet stones that draws me back for more. Leads with a hint of Rose’s lime cordial, dry honey and citrus on a texturally rich palate. Powerful, bracing acidity at first, but excellent flavour intensity to balance as the wine builds in weight, richness and suppleness with aeration.
A lovely expression of dry riesling.
The nose immediately suggests power and weight, adding cashew nuts, spices and a little lime cordial. Powerful, creamy and rich entry with spiced fruits, weight without heaviness and a long, spicy finish. A zesty,almost sweet and sour note along with a salivatory chewiness leaves you wanting more.
This closes up a little with aeration, but time will see this blossom.
Rating: Excellent to outstanding
A fragrantly raspberry, cherry and wild herb scented nose is beautifully expressed. The deliciously silky palate echoes the nose, adding a floral top note, savoury elements and hints of stalk over time, the wild herbs coursing through its veins. While ripe, this never strays into over sweetness with a lovely dry finish and long carry.
Youthful, though already drinking superbly.