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Wine of the Week for week ending 6 Jun 2010
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John Hill Estate Pinot Gris 2009
Hunua, New Zealand

It's a fresh fruity twist on what is fast becoming the consumer's favourite. Yes, Pinot Gris, but not as we know it. It's not bland and boring (thankfully!) and for an afternoon quaffer it's not too rich and heady, either.

I'm talking about John Hill Estate Hunua Pinot Gris 2009 and served chilled it's spicy and tangy with hints of ginger, loads of apple and pear and finishing full and rounded. A fresh, tangy and refreshing style, it shows what can be achieved in a warmer climate in a good year. That it is first crop fruit should be noted too.

So this is wine that's made from grapes grown in Hunua. Hunua! Where is Hunua? It's in greater South Auckland country and the Franklin region to be precise. There are four dams in the Hunua catchment supplying water to much of the Auckland region. It's a wonderful place for walks and day tramps and of course there is the much-viewed Hunua Falls where the Wairoa River tumbles and cascades on its seaward descent. Now you can add a winery visit to your Hunua experience too.

John Hill Road is on the southern access to the falls, the vineyard taking in the convergence point with Whites Road, along which is access to the falls.

Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Merlot vines were first planted here in 2005 and the inaugural harvest was 2008. Pinot Gris vines were planted in 2007 along with more Cabernet Franc and Syrah. The wine is made in Waiuku.

When you visit John Hill Estate, currently open weekends from 11am to 6pm, you will be enthusiastically welcomed by Jeanette Bloemendal who will take you through the wines. Tastings are free and cheese platters and coffee are available to purchase. It's a rustic set up now but Jeanette and partner Geoff Davis, who owns the land and the vineyard, plan to have a café open next summer. Jeanette is a sculptor and her work, together with local artworks. are on display and are offered for sale too.

Geoff and Jeanette met a few years ago at a jazz festival held at Inverness Estate in the Inverness Valley at Clevedon. Now that the Inverness Estate has been sold they hope to recreate the former annual Anniversary Weekend jazz festival at John Hill Estate.

It's worth a visit to John Hill Estate and if you take time out to visit on a Sunday morning, also make time to visit the Clevedon Village Farmers' Market at the Clevedon Showgrounds in Monument Road. It's only 10 kilometres away.

John Hill Estate Hunua Pinot Gris 2009 has 13% alcohol and costs $20 a bottle.

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© Sue Courtney
2 Jun 2010

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