Taste North Canterbury 2018

TASTE NORTH CANTERBURY 2018 – Christchurch (25 October 2018)

The newly launched North Canterbury Wine Region, a merger of the Waipara and Canterbury wine growers associations, held a tasting event in Christchurch on a rainy October Thursday evening. Amongst the winery stalls were some local makers of sheep milk cheeses and free range pancetta and salami. There was a lot to taste!

It is sad to see that Tresillian has closed; snap any up if you see them, they made very good wines. Bell Hill and Pyramid Valley were two makers whose stalls had large queues all evening. I don’t know what it is about all that loony biodynamics codswallop but it sure attracts good reviews from wine writers, and plenty of customers clamouring for the new releases. I think apart from a few notable exceptions (anything from Millton’s Clos de Sainte Anne vineyard, for example), biodynamics seems to be an excuse to overcharge for overrated wine, and the breathless, credulous enthusiasm some reviewers have for it is the same that we find in audiophile magazines about gold-plated HDMI cables and wooden volume knobs. But I digress.

Present at the event but not reviewed here (since we visited them on previous days) were wines from Lone Goat, Black Estate and Pegasus Bay.

Pegasus Bay established the first vineyards in Canterbury in the 1970s and are one of the few wineries to make Bordeaux style reds in the South Island (the Maestro is excellent), although they initially established their reputation from very good Rieslings. Lone Goat make fantastic Riesling from 30 year-old vines, amongst the oldest in Canterbury and originally planted by Giesen, who have since moved to Marlborough. They also make the country’s only Ehrenfelser, and an excellent one too. Black Estate make wine that I wouldn’t write home about, and are proof that fluffing about with lunar calendars, Zodiac signs and homœopathic preparations (congratulations, you watered your vines!) does not always result in better wine. Sorry to go on about it, but what a load of cobblers, I mean really.

Pleasantly surprising amongst the excellent Rieslings and Chardonnays were several very promising, tropical fruit-forward examples of Albariño. In the reds, for what it’s worth, my favourite Pinot Noir wines were from Fancrest Estate and Mon Cheval (Pearson Estate), and whilst the Pyramid Valley Earth Smoke Pinot Noir was very nice too, it was more than double the price. Two makers presented very good Syrah, in a cooler-climate, northern Rhône style with an emphasis on complex floral aromas, and even a good Tempranillo from Mount Brown. Continue reading “Taste North Canterbury 2018”