Tim's Blog

NZ’s Family of Twelve, the final four

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Teddington Wine Society meets on 31st March.

Not long now till we taste twelve wines from New Zealand’s Family of Twelve, and I’m completing the round up of the wineries we will be exploring.

Villa Maria is so well known it is hard to imagine it is a family owned winery – but it is!  Sir George Fistonich founded Villa Maria in 1961 – initially leasing land in Mangere, Auckland from his father, and as he recognised the suitability of different areas of New Zealand for different grape varieties growing the business through relationships with contract growers based on quality.  We will be tasting a Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Bay from the Gimblett Gravels region of Hawkes Bay.  Innovation is at the heart of Villa Maria – the first company to employ professional viticulturists in New Zealand, the first major company to move entirely from cork to screw cap closures in 2002.

Palliser Estate’s first vineyards were planted in 1984 and the wines being produced now reflect the characters being developed from these older vines. Palliser Estate has seven vineyards on the Martinborough Terrace, where stony silt loam overlays ancient free draining river gravels, each vineyard is suited to particular grape varieties – we will be tasting a Pinot Noir. The climate is dry with frosts and strong winds, allowing the development of organic vineyard practices.

In 1978 Tim and Judy Finn risked everything to plant grapes on a hillside in Upper Moutere, just out of Nelson. They held down six jobs to pay four mortgages and dedicated themselves to the production of fine, elegant wine, which they now sell with great success internationally under the Neudorf brand.  Summers in the Moutere Hills are warm and long, with cool nights towards vintage, while the infertile clay-gravel soils contribute enhanced minerality and textural characteristics to the wines – we will be tasting one of their Chardonnays.

The mathematically perfect spiral of the Nautilus shell has been admired since  ancient Greek times.  This natural balance and proportion expresses the balance and proportion of the Nautilus Estate’s wines.  Owner Robert Hill Smith is a fifth-generation vigneron and established the estate in Marlborough in 1985.  A major emphasis of current  winemaker Clive Jones is the marriage of wine with food, and we may get the chance to explore this with their Sauvignon Blanc.