"Try this," said James Rowan at West Brook Winery's harvest festival in March. It was pinot gris juice from grapes that had just come into the winery. Pure, unadulterated, pinot gris grape juice and just delicious. Just one of the many delicious drops that day.
"Now, how about a wine!" said James.
I spied a Gewurztraminer on the counter.
"How long have you been making that?"
"It's our first," said James as he poured me a taste.
I wrote in my notebook quickly, before it became buried in the bottom of my bag . . .
West Brook Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2009 - a sweeter style, distinctly varietal with fresh lychee together with orange zest and rose water scents that carry through to the honeyed palate that has viscosity to the texture and a lovely mouth-coating finish. Just so gorgeous served chilled.
"It has a late harvest component," said James.
A late harvest component, to seduce a palate like mine.
There was no time to dwell further on the gewurz
that day as James proudly showed off his other new releases then whisked us into the winery for barrel samples of Chardonnay.
But West Brook's Gewurztraminer filled my radar when I heard the 2010 vintage was crowned the Supreme Champion Wine from 377 wines entered into the International Aromatic Wine Competition, judged in Christchurch. What's more both the 2009 and 2010 vintages of West Brook's were awarded gold in the show.
I sent a congratulatory note off to James, who responded with samples.
West Brook Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2010
Pale in colour, this shows a little more of those Moroccan spices on the nose together with rose essence and lychee. Fairly dry in style, yet rich and spicy with a tickle of ginger that adds a refreshing zing to the lasting finish
West Brook Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2009
Light straw gold colour. Heady aromas of rose blossoms, Turkish Delight and sweet citrus, this is the sweeter of the two with richness to the flavour and violets on the finish.
It was interesting to taste the wines side by side and the younger 2010 wine was distinctly drier.
I asked James what he thought it was about this wine that made it stand out from the others.
"I like its balance between sugar/alcohol and phenolics. I think they combine well to give an interesting journey along the palate . . . The juice components were pretty damn good when they came in . . . so I really think that its all credit to Peter Rose who grows the fruit . . . I just throw yeast at it! . . . and a small (13%) portion of seasoned oak barrel ferment!"
But to my palate it was the 2009 vintage wine that stood out the same grower but a different season - I just love that touch of sweetness, the viscosity to the texture and the all-round feel-good flavour and it's delicious whether served chilled to the bones, or served at cool room temperature. It's the one I pick for my Wine of the Week.
The 2009 also picked up another gold medal at the 2010 Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
Both wines are available from the winery at a very reasonable price of $21.90 a bottle. If you are in Auckland, then it's a short trip in a northwesterly direction to the Waimauku countryside, or find stockists or buy online at www.westbrook.co.nz.
© Sue Courtney
22 Nov 2010