Trip to Waipara

by Charles Lea

Having got married in June of last year my Kiwi wife and I went over to New Zealand a few weeks ago for a belated wedding party for the friends and family that couldn’t make it to our wedding in Scotland. This was also a timely trip as I got the chance to sample two of the new wines that we have recently taken on. I asked my father-in-law if he would drive us up to Waipara to visit the vineyards, and being a wine-lover as well he didn’t take much persuading.

The first winery we visited (just arrived this week) was Black Estate, owned by Rod Naish. His daughter Penelope is married to the winemaker Nicholas, and their brother-in-law Alistair manages the vineyards. A real family affair, this is a new and exciting acquisition for Lea & Sandeman. The three wines that we have taken on, Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are very smart indeed and I’m sure will quickly gain a loyal following from our customers. I thought the 2009 Chardonnay was superb (a perfect vintage in), and a wine very suited to the clay soils from which they originate. Close your eyes and you would think you are drinking a very expensive Burgundy. In fact almost immediately after our visit my father in-law paid a visit to his local wine merchant and purchased twelve bottles straight away.

Another fabulous Pinot Noir to add to our growing collection was next.  Black’s 2007 Pinot was recently awarded the Pinot Noir trophy at the International Wine and Spirit Competition and the 2008 looks even better.  Broad and expansive, with savoury tannins, the wine shows its origins of limestone rich soils. Complex, elegant, and invigorating.

From the 2009 vintage, Black Estate added an impressive Riesling to its range, made with grapes from a nearby Omihi vineyard, and as such the only non-estate wine in the range.  On the day that we were there they were just ploughing the land in preparation for planting some Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc (exciting stuff!!).   Rod Naish is also in the process of building a new tasting room that will truly put Black Estate on the tourism map of vineyards to visit whilst in New Zealand.