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New Zealand Masters at Teddington and Richmond

by | Mar 30, 2021 | Richmond Wine Society, Teddington Wine Society

Over 130 people participated in this tasting, which focussed on two of New Zealand’s leading winemakers: Kevin Judd of Greywacke and Warren Gibson of Trinity Hill. Kevin is on the left in the picture above.

We delivered sets of 8 sample bottles (Fliss would like to point out this required 11 bottles of each wine being carefully poured through a teeny tiny funnel), each containing 50ml tasting quantities, and settled down with Teddington Wine Society on Saturday night and Richmond on Sunday and Monday nights.

For me (and several of the participants in the tasting) it was a trip down memory lane, as we visited both Greywacke and Trinity Hill during my 2014 tours to New Zealand (do read the blogs).

Kevin Judd was the winemaker at Cloudy Bay as this wine put New Zealand (and specifically Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc) on the world wine map.  He has since set up Greywacke, and buys in grapes from some of the best growers across the Marlborough region.  The very first wine of the night, his ‘basic’ Sauvignon Blanc was stunning -oozing gooseberry, grapefruit, boxwood, with a pinch of passionfruit, and a creamy texture underpinned by racing acidity.

A fascinating comparison was with his Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc, which in addition to relying on the yeasts naturally present in the winery and on the grape skins to produce the fermentation (rather than innoculating with commercial yeast, which is the normal practice in Marlborough), is fermented in ‘mostly’ old French barriques and spends 8 months on the lees (the remnants of the yeast cells after fermentation) – the combination of which adds all sorts of interesting flavours (sage, smoke, bread dough) and a really rich texture.

Kevin’s Pinot Gris was a perfect demonstration of what this grape variety (which masquerades as a rather thin, underwhelming wine, under the name of Pinot Grigio in Northern Italy) can do when yields are constrained and it is given the benefit of intense Marlborough sunshine.  Green plums, smoke, ginger, honey, with a touch of residual sugar, this was a fabulous foody wine – perfect for some rich pâté or blue cheese.  His Pinot Noir was to be honest a perfectly pleasant fruity spicy wine with good tannins, but it lacked the star quality of the other wines we were tasting.

Warren Gibson has made wine at Trinity Hill in Hawkes Bay, on the East Coast of the North Island, since 1997.  He is a pioneer of the Gimblett Gravels, a desolate stretch of soil so poor that sheep farmers can’t feed one sheep off a whole hectare.  Luckily a bunch of wine makers recognised that a better use for this land than a cement factory was to acknowledge its similarity to the Médoc in Bordeaux, and it is now producing pretty much New Zealand’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot (which we tasted in ‘The Gimblett’ Bordeaux Blend, a beautifully balanced New World expression, full of ripe black fruit, with violets, pencil shavings and forest floor to prove how classy it was).  Warren also makes a white wine from Rhone varieties Marsanne and Viognier (a lovely combination of florality, stone fruits and creamy texture), and his Tempranillo was a very different wine to most Riojas with intense black and red fruits and really quite grippy tannins.

Hawkes Bay is home to almost all of New Zealand’s Syrah, and The Homage, the final wine we tasted, showed incredible depth of fruit, powerful ripe tannins and wonderful oaky characters of chocolate vanilla and sandalwood.  I would recommend you lay it down for several years to allow the tannins to soften further and the development of even lovelier elegant flavours.

Every time I do a tasting of New Zealand wine, the quality has jumped another level and my excitement climbs again.  A return visit is very much on the cards, albeit when such exotic things as overseas travel are permitted.

Several of the wines are available for sale in the shop.  For full details see the wines we have tasted page.

Meet Tim Syrad

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“Throughout the 17 years I have attended Tim’s wine tasting events, he has continued to deliver his extensive knowledge of wine and wine-making with great charm, and lots of humour, making the evenings not only informative, but also great fun. In the course of an average year, the tastings cover a kaleidoscope of different wine themes – interesting and entertaining for all, novices and experts alike. And the wines taste pretty good too!”

“We have been going to Teddington Wine Society events for a number of years. Tim runs the evenings with bonhomie and humour and wears his considerable knowledge lightly. The evenings are great fun, the wines are always a little bit different and help to expand knowledge and tasting horizons.”

“I have attended the Richmond Wine society for over ten years and always enjoyed Tim’s self-effacing style and gentle humour. His knowledge is globally eclectic and presented in a clear, interesting and always stimulating way. Every guest I have taken there has enjoyed the evening immensely. Tim also offers a wide range of wines to buy and my red cellar has provided great pleasure to my own dinner guests.”

“I’ve been enjoying Tim’s tastings for over 20 years – he is a great teacher, raconteur and wine expert. He is seriously passionate about his wine, but there is nothing serious about his tastings, which are always informal and relaxed. A lovely way to spend an evening and enjoy some fantastic wines.”

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