In September last year, after Day One at Wine New Zealand, I was waxing lyrically about the quality of the newly released pinot gris wines from the recently picked vintage. But as is usual with this type of stand up and walk around tasting, you have to pace yourself and can only make impressions and take notes as you see the wines from that brief encounter. So when one of those wines that I tasted that day arrived as a sample last week, I couldn't wait to unscrew the cap. Besides it was hopefully going to be an ideal match for our dinner.
The wine was Brunton Road Pinot Gris 2007 from Gisborne, an area from which we don't see too many pinot gris wines. In fact the only other 2007 vintage PG I've seen from Gisborne was from Coopers Creek, and that little honey was a blend of Auckland and Gisborne fruit. However, the other 2007 vintage Gisborne whites have been quite stunning. It was, after all, one of the region's best white grape seasons in years.
When I tasted Brunton Road Pinot Gris 2007 in September last year it was straight off the bottling-line and was one of the few that was neutral on the nose. But there was none of that neutrality showing seven and a half months later.
Tasted in May 2008, Brunton Road Pinot Gris 2007 is invitingly fragrant and floral with a little hint of musk and varietal pear drop scents. Crisp, vibrant and lively to the taste with a sweet citrussy infusion to the crunchy pear fruit and an underlay of zesty spice, it seems quite dry but the fruit is ripe and sweet and as well there is a touch of viscosity to the texture. It's balanced, bright and clean with a twist of citrus and a touch of pineapple sage on the fruity finish. Drinking beautifully, I now rate it, without any doubt, of gold medal standard. The wine has 13% alcohol by volume and 5 grams per litre of residual sugar. It costs about $25 a bottle.
As for the dinner match with our juicy, salty, roasted herb-crusted chicken, it was perfect.
Brunton Road Estate is named for the road adjacent to the vineyard and is a fairly recent but welcome addition to the Gisborne wine scene. It is located in the Upper Patutahi sub region and was first planted in 1999 by Philip and Margot Searle. When their son Richard and his bride, Kirsten arrived in Gisborne from their overseas adventures in 2002, they too settled in Brunton Road and set about expanding the vineyard. The first wines under the Brunton Road label made their debut from the 2004 vintage. However the pinot gris vines were not planted until 2005 and the stunning wine that is this week's Wine of the Week, is from first crop fruit.
The Searles employ Logan MacKenzie as vineyard manager and Sam Smaill, based in Marlborough at Whitehaven, as winemaker, and if there is a winemaker who knows how to make good Pinot Gris, Sam is that man. Kirsten Searle heads the marketing team.
Also recently tasted
Brunton Road Gisborne Merlot 2007 ($19.95) - a deeply coloured, juicy tasting and very appealing smooth creamy red. Packed with raspberry and blackberry fruit with a smoky undercurrent, hints of liquorice and nicely integrated spicy oak to round out the finish, it has lots of ready to drink user appeal.
Brunton Road Gisborne Gewurztraminer 2007 ($24) - a reasonably dry style with pretty musky florals and lemony notes infused into the oily textured palate. It is a soft and spicy wine that opens it petals as it traverses across the palate to finish in full resplendent bloom. We matched to this Tandoori Chicken - a match that is recommended.
All the wines have screwcap closures. There is a long list of stockists on the Brunton Road website - and of course you can buy using the online ordering too. Check out www.bruntonroad.co.nz..
© Sue Courtney
26 May 2008