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Wine of the Week for week ending 17 February 2008
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Woollaston Burke's Bank Pinot Gris 2007
Nelson, New Zealand

Another tasting of Pinot Gris wines from the 2007 vintage yet again revealed some deliciously tasty wines and reconfirmed that New Zealand Pinot Gris has come of age. Put it down to vintage, vine age, winemaker's age, whatever, but the more experience every winemaker has with his vineyard and grapes, as well as the annual climatic variations, the more he or she can refine their styles to the grapes that each harvest produces.

Pinot Gris is grown throughout New Zealand but with the 2007 vintage it is Marlborough and Nelson wines that are shining most brightly - and in particular, from recent tastings, Nelson.

With Rimu Grove topping a tasting in December, this month it is neighbouring Woollaston Estates, just three kilometres as the crow flies from Rimu Grove, but a little more inland. And like Rimu Grove, Woollaston has produced two Pinot Gris wines from the vintage.

Pinot Gris is new to Woollaston's second label 'Tussock' but it certainly is a welcome addition.
Tussock Nelson Pinot Gris 2007 has a smoky note to the earthy, savoury aroma which gives way to ripe yellow fruit in the pawpaw, loquat, peach spectrum with a delicate citrus undercurrent. Grown on the clays of the Upper Moutere, the wine has a pleasing touch of residual sugar (6.9 grams per litre) which places it on the cusp of dry to off dry. Alcohol is 14% by volume and the bottle is sealed with a screwcap. My score: 17.5/20.
Although this wine is primarily exported to Woollaston markets in USA, Australia, Ireland and Denmark, there are some stockists in NZ and it costs $18 at the cellar door.

For a much more lush, full-bodied style, then it's hard to go past this week's Wine of the Week, Woollaston Estate Burkes Bank Pinot Gris 2007 with grapes sourced from the company's Burkes Bank vineyard on the gravelly soils of the Waimea Plains, further south east. With clean, rich, fruity aromatics, it's nicely rounded in the mouth with fruit salad, pear, apricot and perhaps even a hint of botrytis adding complexity to the mouthfilling finish. It's a wine of length and power that is even better the following day with peach, delicate spice and a hint of honey. The label says 14% alcohol by volume although the technical notes indicate the alcohol is a little higher. The wine is almost bone dry with only 3.9 grams per litre of residual sugar, but it the low acidity, just 4.9 g/l, and the alcohol sweetness, that makes it seem so heady and lush. My score 18.75/20.

Wouldn't you know it, when I checked the Woollaston website, I find that only 95 cases of this wine were made with only 40 cases available to Cellar Door and mail order @ $22 a bottle (plus freight). The rest is being exported but it's excellent that elsewhere in the world people may have the opportunity to experience the taste.

Love the new labels on the Woollaston wines too. Find out more from

There is no doubt that these Pinot Gris wine are delicious to drink but they are so remarkably food friendly too. My favourite match, especially with the Burke's Bank, was pieces of salmon marinated in olive oil with a splash of soy and a hint of garlic, which the other half cooked on the barbecue. Salmon and Pinot Gris just go so well together.

© Sue Courtney
11 Feb 2008

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