Staying in a vineyard is an excellent base for wine tasting in Marlborough. From our vineyard house at Korohi Vineyards, it was a short drive to Brancott Estate (formerly known as Montana Estate) to start our tasting of the day. Established in 1973, it is the first commercial winery in Marlborough, and today has over 2,100 hectares in the region (with another 1,000 hectares further south). We tasted 6 wines from there: A 2010 Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc (wonderfully aromatic), a 2009 Brancott Estate Showcase Awatere Sauvignon Blanc (light, and with a capsicum nose), a 2010 Brancott Estate Letter Series R Sauvignon Gris (very light, easy to drink), a 2009 Montana Classic East Coast Rose (80% Merlot, 20% Pinot), and a 2009 Brancott Estate Letter Series T Marlborough Pinot Noir (some tannins, strawberry notes with a spicy finish that grows on you). Because of the sheer size of the estate, only the pinot noirs are hand picked. Our group favorite of the tasting: the sparkling and the pinot noir.
We headed for Lawson’s Dry Hills next, whose Gerwurtztraminer I had been particularly in love with. But though I enjoyed the in-your-face rose petals and lychee notes of the Gewurtz, I wasn’t very taken with the almost petroleum-y, bitter finish. Everyone loved the 2010 Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc however. We walked away with a bottle of that – gorgeous nose of lemongrass, passionfruit that simply leaps out of the glass. We tasted a total of 9 tastings there. I think the favorite of the tasting was the 2007 Lawson’s Dry Hills Late Harvest Geurztraminer. Peirui and I bought a bottle each, and my brother was tempted to ship a case back to Melbourne. Candy in a bottle, but not too cloying.
Saint Clair’s was our next stop. I had really liked their Sauvignon Blanc that my second uncle brought to a dinner once, and wanted to visit their cellar door. However, of all the wineries we went to, that was the most disappointing. Even though they ship a half million cases a year (relatively huge shipment, compared with some of the boutique wineries we visited), they charged us $2 a tasting (though refundable if we bought some wine), and only provided 4 wines to try. I think my favorite of the lot was the Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Chardonny, released just 3 days ago (vanilla notes, smoky, toasty). The Saint Clair Pioneer Bock Pinot Noir was pretty good too, very smooth, with just a touch of spice. Their reisling had a lovely nose (one of the best noses of the reislings we tried today).
The 4th stop for the day was Hunter’s, which was recommended by Korohi’s owner, especially since Korohi is one of its contract growers. We tried a total of 9 wines there. TPR’s favorite two were the Gewürztraminer 2010 and the Pinot Gris 2010.