"We have to go to Stonecroft," said Neil as we were driving along State Highway 50 in Hawkes Bay, yesterday.
It was getting on in the afternoon and they closed at 4pm.
On the way we passed a Go Kart track where engines were roaring and dust was flying.
"Alan's probably there," said Neil.
"I don't think he races Karts," I replied.
We turned into Mere Road and a little way down came to the Stonecroft gate and a sign that stated "We have no Sherries Sparklings Bus Tours"
There was a shady spot to park under a pine tree. We know it was a pine because it filled our roofless car with pine needles.
Glen Limmer greeted us in the tasting room. Alan wasn't there because he was at the Kart track. Neil was right but we learnt that Alan was stewarding, not racing.
There was an impressive range of Stonecroft wines lined up on the tasting bench.
Boy, we have a knack of calling in on Stonecroft at the right time - even if Alan was not there this time. We don't go there very often, but I do remember an occasion in 1995 or 1996, when we were passing through 'the Bay'. We rang Alan to see if we could call in. "You're in luck," he said. Some important person had been there the day before and a vertical of what is now the 'Ruhanui' blend had been opened. We were able to taste those wines.
"It's not very often we have the whole release available for tasting," said Glen. That's not surprising, as when these wines are released, some very quickly sell out.
I decided to forgo the Sauvignon Blanc and the Chardonnay and start with the Gewurztraminer. It only took one sip and I knew I was tasting something rather special.
"When was it released?"
"Just this weekend," Glen replied.
"Is there an 'Old Vines' Gewurz as well this year?"
"Better read the back label - that explains it all," said Glen.
I found out that Stonecroft Hawkes Bay Gewurztraminer 2008 came from a ridiculously low cropping year and the wine was a mix of the more recent 15 year old vines and the old vines, planted in 1983. Not many bottles were produced. But the wine is also special because it is dedicated to Denis Irwin, the man who made the ground breaking Matawhero Gewurztraminers that Alan fell in love with. "It was these wines that first introduced me to high quality wine, and Gewurztraminer at the same time. They were unforgettable wines," he states on the back label.
The wine's perfume hints of its sweetness - not that it is sweet, but the citrus zest, honey, coriander and Asian five-spices have a sweet scented overlay. That hint of sweetness is there in the beautifully balanced palate with a full rich texture and the lightest touch of viscosity. Gentle in its attack with a seamlessness to the mouthfeel and an ever-expanding flavour of sweet citrus and spice with an apricot richness and a spicy tingle that sits on the tongue and adds a brightness to the lasting finish. Classic rose petal and violet add to the overall appeal.
The wine has 13.5% alcohol and is closed with a DIAM technical cork and although it costs $45 a bottle, it is worth every cent - it is simply supreme.
After the Gewurztraminer we tasted through the range of reds - and as reported on my Feb 22nd blog, the reds are outstanding too.
Mail order customers and visitors to the winery get first priority on the wines. Check out www.stonecroft.co.nz to find out more.
© Sue Courtney
23 Feb 2009