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Wine of the Week for week ending 24 April 2005
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Grove Mill 'The Diversion' 2004
Marlborough, New Zealand

Diversion label


"a digression into irrelevant details";
"a turning aside (of your course or attention or concern)";
"a diversion from the main highway";
"wandering from the main part of the journey";
"a deflection from the goal";
"an art gallery in Marlborough";
"a painting by J.S. Parker";
"a river of inspiration";
"a wine by Grove Mill".

I love J.S. Parker's paintings. I even thought about buying one once, but the one I wanted was far too big to fit anywhere in my house, and of course it was far too expensive for me, back then. Though what an investment it would have been.

There is something special about J.S. Parker's abstract paintings. Look at them from a distance, from a long way away. It looks like the artist has simply painted a series of stripes, or has divided the canvas into squares and rectangles, or painted a series of little squares on a plain painted background. But get close and you will see the form, the texture, the life, the light and the multitude of colour.

I have a postcard-sized picture of my favourite J.S. Parker painting. It came on an invitation to a preview of an exhibition he held at the Judith Anderson Gallery in Auckland in 1996. I'm looking at the invitation now. It says ....

J.S. Parker

together with a selection
of Grove Mill Wines
from Marlborough

Invites you to preview the Exhibition

'7 Paintings'

J.S. Parker, Auckland-born and Dunedin-raised, eventually moved to Marlborough, a place that inspired his work. It was here he formed his association with Grove Mill Wines, an association that continues today. In fact he painted the artwork for the label of Grove Mill's new limited edition wine - a blend of pinot gris and pinot blanc - called The Diversion.

Grove Mill The Diversion Pinot Gris / Pinot Blanc 2004 is a wine of form and texture. It's a pale lemon colour with a lustrous hue and lightly floral in its delicate perfume with apple blossom, pears and a spicy mealiness to the scent. Delicate pear and spiced apple flavours float across the lightly creamy, oily textured palate. It is a dry wine with sweet ripe fruit, like juice over custard, and has the body, balance and length of a chardonnay, though is far more neutral. A bright lemon bread flavour comes through to linger on the lifted spicy finish with a hint of apricot and there's a suggestion of fennel pollen (spice of the angels), as it lingers. A fantastic wine to accompany food, though I also thoroughly enjoyed it just on its own.

Winemaker Dave Pearce says this is an experimental wine, a wine that utilises Grove Mill's first harvest of pinot blanc grapes from their Seventeen Valley vineyard, where the pinot gris grows too. The grapes were harvested in May 2004 for fermentation in French oak barriques and part of the wine also underwent malolactic fermentation. The wine was left on its lees through to September, when it was bottled. It carries 13.5% alcohol by volume and is sealed with a screwcap. Recommended price is $22.

It's a limited edition wine, so will probably be hard to find. Hopefully at discerning restaurants, and of course at the Grove Mill winery.

Find out more from by navigating to the 'Innovator' range.

The Diversion is also the name of Grove Mill's Art Gallery and tasting room, in Waihopai Road in Marlborough. It is named for the Wairau River Diversion, constructed in 1965, to divert flooding river waters spilling onto plains.

Pinot Blanc is not particularly popular with New Zealand winemakers. I remember that St Helena Estate in Christchurch produced a pretty nice example from the 1989 vintage. It had been matured in oak and had the body and texture of a chardonnay, but was at least a third of the price. It certainly tasted fine, just didn't have the cachet as no-one knew what it was.

© Sue Courtney
17 April 2005

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