Between the ridges

by Michael Cooper / 28 May, 2015

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Family tradition is alive and well at Hawke’s Bay’s Ngatarawa winery.
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The Corban family, originally of Lebanon, have made wine in New Zealand since 1902. The Corbans brand is now controlled by Lion, but the family tradition flourishes at the Ngatarawa winery in Hawke’s Bay, where Alwyn and Brian Corban produce superb chardonnay, merlot, syrah and honey-sweet dessert wine.

Growing up in Henderson, West Auckland, Alwyn was occasionally given wine by his father, prominent winemaker Alex Corban (who died last September, aged 89). “It was always table wine and watered down. Dad stressed that we should always be looking to the future, value education, pay attention to detail and focus on quality.”

Ngatarawa (“between the ridges”) is the key pioneer of the Bridge Pa Triangle wine district on the south side of the Gimblett Gravels. Its first wines flowed in 1982. Comparing it with the higher-profile Gimblett Gravels, Corban describes the Triangle as fractionally cooler, with slightly less stony soils that yield “more aromatic, less tannic” red wines.

Ngatarawa’s mid-priced Stables and Stables Reserve wines rank among the 10 most popular wine brands in supermarkets, says Alwyn. Just out is a new Proprietors’ Reserve selection, positioned between the elite range and the middle-tier Glazebrook range. All four rank among Ngatarawa’s best wines.

Ngatarawa Proprietors’ Reserve Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2013 (5/5 stars)

A very “complete”, generous wine. Fragrant and full-bodied, it has rich stonefruit flavours, toasty, nutty notes adding complexity and a long harmonious finish. $35

Ngatarawa Proprietors’ Reserve Hawke’s Bay Noble Riesling 2014 (5/5 stars)

This ravishing wine is pale gold and richly scented with highly concentrated, sweet, peachy, citrusy, gently honeyed flavours. A very classy wine, it’s already hard to resist. $40 (375ml).

Ngatarawa Proprietors’ Reserve Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2013 (5/5 stars)

Dark, with youthful, purple-flushed colour, this mouthfilling red has vibrant plum and black pepper flavours showing excellent density, a nutty oak complexity and a long, firm, spicy finish. Best drinking from 2018 on. $40

Wine of the week


Proprietors-ReserveNgatarawa Proprietors’ Reserve Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet 2013 (5/5 stars)

This memorable wine is in the classic Bordeaux style. Dark and fragrant, with concentrated, beautifully ripe blackcurrant, plum and spice flavours and a hint of dark chocolate, it should flourish for a decade, but is already a delicious mouthful. $40

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