I'm back in Auckland for this week's Wine of the Week with a wine from the excellent 2006 vintage. It was a cool start to the season in the spring of 2005 but a hot dry summer and a settled autumn followed - just the conditions for producing flavoursome grapes in the Muriwai Valley, northwest of Auckland city, and the result can be seen in this wine.
Waimarie Muriwai Valley Merlot Cabernet 2006 is a dark cherry red with crimson flashes and a moderate depth to the deep hue. The appealing aroma is intense and full with scents of savoury cedary oak, cassis, a hint of bitter chocolate and perhaps a hint of leather too. Cabernet seems the forward component on the first taste with the classic cassis, cedar and a hint of dried herb I associate with the grape but the juicy softness of the Merlot quickly asserts it dominance. There are cake spice nuances penetrating the concentrated cassis, cherry and bramble fruit and a fine tannin backbone. Well-structured with savoury oak nicely proportioned to the rich, ripe flavours, it's a very good match to barbecued lamb back straps. The food complements the wine and makes it seem quite creamy with a rounded mouth feel.
Made from a blend of 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc, 37% Merlot, 10% Malbec and 7% Petit Verdot, it was matured in one and two-year-old French oak barrels for 16 months.
I loved the wine, great with the food but would have preferred a screwcap closure. That is because having consumed half the bottle between us, the bottle was not firmly recorked. The next night, when having the obligatory 'second day tasting', the cork just about fell out as I moved the bottle and the aroma indicated the air had got into the wine. Our fault and such a shame but while the aroma was stuffed, the depth of the wine's flavour was there.
The awesome photo on the label is a 'nightscape' photo of Muriwai Beach with the gannet colony the third promontory in the distant foreground. Photographer David Cooper took the photo on a moonlit night between midnight and 4am. See www.davidcooper.co.nz.
This label adorns all the Waimarie Wines made from grapes grown on the Muriwai Valley property in the sheltered valley that is protected from the prevailing westerly winds and chilly southerly winds by the northern foothills of the Waitakere Ranges.
Waimarie, which translates to 'peaceful waters' was established by Nicholas and Stephen Nobilo, grandchildren of Croatian immigrant Nikola Nobilo who started Nobilo Wines in 1942. After the property was purchased in 1999, they planted chardonnay, syrah and a selection of traditional Bordeaux red grape varieties .
Not sure where the wines are available for sale in retail and there is no cellar door on the property. The lack of cellar door is not surprising to me, seeing the vineyard is hidden away on a gravel road well of the highways that has thousands of cars making their way to and from Muriwai Beach every year.
However Steve and his wife Angeline host free wine tastings at Gallery Q at the new Waimauku Shopping Centre at the turnoff to Muriwai on State Highway 16. They are there on Sundays only at this stage, at least until the end of March. They have four wines for tasting and as well as this little beauty there is also Muriwai Valley Syrah, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Gisborne Unoaked Chardonnay. I have to say there's something rather nice about sipping on a glass of wine while you peruse the art for sale.
On the web: www.waimariewines.co.nz. Check out their summer offer.
© Sue Courtney
20 Jan 2009