Kaimira Estate 2004 “Unoaked” Chardonnay (Nelson) – Slightly reductive. Pine forest fog, salted lemon-lime, and crisp, raw apple juice that’s especially prominent on the finish. Very salty throughout. Fun, if a little fierce, with great acidic intensity. As unwooded chardonnays go, this is a pretty good one. (3/05)
Kaimira Estate 2004 Riesling (Brightwater) – Almost smoky, with a foundation of quartz, dust, and gravel over which are laid the wine’s varietal aspects: lime rind, Granny Smith apple skin, and a light touch of lemongrass. Intense and ultimately stone-dominated, with a long and drying finish that brings fine balance to the wine’s residual sugar (somewhere in the eight to nine gram range). Quite good. (3/05)
Kaimira Estate 2004 Gewürztraminer (Brightwater) – Fun. Lychee, nut oil, peach and pear, and dried rose petal – pretty classic – though the nose is a bit hot. Honeysuckle on the finish is aided by six grams of residual sugar. Despite the hint of heat, it’s a fairly elegant and lighter-styled version, and while it’s nice now, I wouldn’t hold it very long. (3/05)
Kaimira Estate 2004 Pinot Gris (Brightwater) – Pear skin, lemon, and ripe fennel that shades towards anise later on. There’s also grapefruit, apricot, and pear juice. All this produce is presented cleanly and with fine acidic crispness, which helps open a window through which a little underlying minerality can be sensed. 3.5 to 4 grams residual sugar. Very promising, and one of the better pinot gris I’ve tasted on this trip. (3/05)
Kaimira Estate 2004 Sauvignon Blanc (Nelson) – Slightly reduced, with a layer of dust and (non-TCA) must that somewhat mutes its gooseberry, lime, lemongrass, and grapefruit aromas. There’s a soda water aspect to this wine, as well. Iffy. (3/05)
I don’t know if it’s just another facet of this geographically and historically youthful country, but while grizzled veterans certainly exist, New Zealand’s winemaking scene sometimes seems to be one huge youth movement. Not everyone hosts weekly raves, perhaps, but this youthfulness does contribute to the pervasive energy and optimism of the country’s wine industry.
Though it’s bright and sunny outside, we’re in a dimly-lit room. Shadows are everywhere. There’s a sepulchral quiet in the air. And I’m beginning to wonder if we’re ever going to taste any wine.
Jenny Wheeler, the sales and marketing director for Greenhough (Patons Rd., RD 1, Hope), is talking to us. Everything she says sounds understated, but the low volume is deceptive; there are some strong opinions being expressed here. We ease into our conversation by commiserating over the problematic 2005 season, which is not going any better at Greenhough than it is elsewhere. Maybe this is the wrong way to start.
Greenhough 2004 Sauvignon Blanc (Nelson) – Gooseberry, white plum, and perhaps some quartz underneath. Though the wine is quite ripe, it remains clean and crisp, showing its acidity in layers of grapefruit and lemon, which persist through a strong, balanced finish. This is an unusually solid sauvignon, with character too rarely found from the grape in these parts, despite its worldwide fame. (3/05)
Greenhough 2004 Chardonnay (Nelson) – Fig, clove, ripe peach, apricot, white nectarine, and an exotic, almost boisterous aroma of dried, then baked, flowers. Soft, with a lush and luxurious texture on the finish. Not my style, but it’s a very good wine (3/05).
Greenhough 2004 “Dry” Riesling (Nelson) – A dusty sand road, bordered on two sides with dull, unpolished iron. Balanced (6 grams residual sugar) but overly light, and it flattens on the finish. Kind of tedious. (3/05)