Nelson and Waipara wine regions are more than just one-hit wonders

by Michael Cooper / 12 April, 2019

Photo/Getty Images

The South Island regions are noted for specific varietals, but there's much more out there.

Pinot noir, riesling or something else? You could make a fortune, taking bets with Christchurch wine lovers about which grape variety is the most widely grown at Waipara, in North Canterbury. It’s sauvignon blanc.

Sauvignon blanc is No 1 in Nelson, too. Together, the South Island’s two smallest wine regions have 7% of the national vineyard area, but 15% of the country’s wineries.

A versatile region, Nelson succeeds with several varieties: sauvignon blanc, riesling, pinot gris, gewürztraminer, chardonnay and pinot noir. Further south, riesling and pinot noir are the two greatest strengths in Canterbury, where almost 90% of the vines are clustered at Waipara.

Whites

Ataahua Waipara Riesling 2017 ••••½

Invitingly scented, this is a gently sweet, medium-bodied (12% alc/vol) wine. Citrusy and peachy with a hint of honey, it has balanced acidity and excellent flavour intensity. $26

Blackenbrook Nelson Pinot Gris 2018 ••••

This floral, finely textured wine is an off-dry style, fresh and full-bodied (13% alc/vol), with pear, lychee and spice flavours, showing delicacy and depth. $25

Bronte Nelson Pinot Gris 2018 ••••

From Rimu Grove, this off-dry style is freshly scented, mouthfilling (13% alc/vol) and smooth, with strong peach, pear and spice flavours, showing excellent complexity and harmony. $25

Greystone Waipara Valley North Canterbury Pinot Gris 2018 •••••

This powerful, off-dry wine is already drinking well. Sturdy (14.5% alc/vol) and concentrated, it has generous stonefruit flavours, with hints of honey and oak adding complexity, and strong personality. $29

Dunnolly Estate Reserve Waipara Valley Chardonnay 2017 ••••

Showing obvious potential, this refined wine was matured in French oak barriques. Fresh and mouthfilling (13% alc/vol), it has excellent delicacy and depth of grapefruit, peach and pear flavours. $32

Greenhough Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ••••½

Certified organic, this refined, full-bodied wine (13% alc/vol) has strong, vibrant, tropical-fruit flavours to the fore, a distinct touch of barrel-ferment complexity, and a dry finish. $22

Kaimira Estate Brightwater Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ••••

Certified organic, this estate-grown wine is freshly herbaceous, with strong, ripe, tropical-fruit flavours. Full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), it has subtle, toasty notes adding complexity and a dry, crisp finish. $21

Mischief Waipara Pinot Gris 2018 ••••

Drinking well young, this is a fragrant, full-bodied wine (13% alc/vol), with generous, peachy, vaguely honeyed flavours and a fresh, off-dry, smooth finish. $22

Mud House Single Vineyard Home Block Waipara Valley Pinot Gris 2018 ••••½

This classy wine is very fresh and vibrant. Mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol), it has generous pear and peach flavours, gentle spicy notes, a slightly oily texture and an off-dry, lingering finish. $26

Pegasus Bay Sauvignon/Semillon 2016 •••••

This North Canterbury standout is a blend of sauvignon blanc (70%) and sémillon (30%). Still youthful, it is fragrant and weighty (14% alc/vol), with concentrated, ripely herbaceous flavours, a subtle seasoning of toasty oak and a long, dry finish. $32

Old House Vineyards Kaho Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••½

Elegant and age-worthy, this Upper Moutere wine is mouthfilling (13% alc/vol), with vibrant, well-ripened peach, passionfruit and lime flavours, fresh acidity, integrated oak and good complexity. $30 

Saving Grace Dry Riesling 2018 •••••

From Waipara Hills, this classy wine is sold in restaurants. Fragrant and finely balanced, it is medium-bodied (12% alc/vol), with rich citrus and apple flavours, a minerally thread, a strong sense of youthful drive and a dry, lasting finish. 

Pyramid Valley Orange 2018 ••••½

Copper-coloured, this distinctive Waipara wine is full-bodied (13% alc/vol) and complex, with strong strawberry, watermelon and peach flavours and hints of spices, apricots and oranges. $35

Sherwood Waipara Valley North Canterbury Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ••••

Drinking well now, this vibrantly fruity wine is medium- to full-bodied (13% alc/vol), with fresh, strong, ripely herbaceous flavours and a crisp, finely balanced finish. Priced right. $19

Waimea Estates Nelson Riesling 2017 ••••

Balanced for easy drinking, this delicious wine was made in a lush, gently sweet style. Medium-bodied (12.5% alc/vol), it has rich, citrusy, peachy, limey flavours, a hint of honey and a fragrant bouquet. $18

The Crater Rim Waipara Chardonnay 2016 ••••

This age-worthy wine is fragrant and full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), with good intensity of youthful, grapefruit-like flavours, slightly buttery and toasty notes and obvious potential. $30 

Sweet whites

Bellbird Spring Muté Les Epices 2016 •••••

This Waipara blend of riesling, gewürztraminer and muscat was fortified with the estate’s brandy. Sturdy (17.5% alc/vol), rich and rounded, it has pear, peach and spice flavours that are sweet, complex and harmonious. (375ml) $35

Seifried Winemaker’s Collection Sweet Agnes Nelson Riesling 2018 •••••

This is Seifried’s most celebrated wine. Rich and finely poised, it has excellent concentration of citrusy, peachy, gently honeyed flavours, with a sweet, crisp, finely balanced finish. (375ml) $25

Rosé

Brightwater Vineyards Sophie’s Kiss Nelson Rosé 2018 ••••½

Floral and bright pink, this mouthfilling wine (13% alc/vol) is instantly attractive. Slightly off-dry, it has excellent weight and depth of watermelon, strawberry and spice flavours. $22

Mount Brown Estates North Canterbury Pinot Noir Rosé 2018 •••½

Priced sharply, this bright pink charmer is freshly scented and smooth. Medium-bodied (12% alc/vol), it has vibrant, delicate strawberry and watermelon flavours, with a sliver of sweetness adding to its appeal. $16

Terrace Edge North Canterbury Rosé 2018 •••••

Showing unusual depth, this delicious Waipara rosé is full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), with a strong surge of fresh berry, plum and spice flavours. Fractionally sweet, with a very persistent finish, it’s certified organic. $22

Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Pinot Noir Rosé 2018 ••••

Pale pink, with vivacious watermelon and spice flavours, this is a scented, medium-bodied wine (12.5% alc/vol). An off-dry style, it offers great value. $17

Reds

Main Divide North Canterbury Merlot/Cabernet 2017 ••••

Offering good value, Pegasus Bay’s red is fragrant, full-coloured and mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol), with plum, spice and blackcurrant flavours, showing excellent ripeness and depth. $21

Black Estate Damsteep North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2016 •••••

This outstanding, full-bodied red (13% alc/vol) is very savoury and concentrated, with lovely plum, berry, spice and nut flavours. Likely to flourish for a decade, it’s full of personality. $45

Leo Nelson Pinot Noir 2017 •••½

Enjoyable young, this is a bright ruby, freshly scented wine, with very good body (13% alc/vol) and depth of vibrant, plummy flavours showing a touch of complexity. $20

Mt Beautiful North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2017 ••••½

This classy red from Cheviot is fragrant and mouthfilling (13% alc/vol), with concentrated, ripe, plummy, gently spicy flavours and a hint of herbs. Savoury and complex, it has good ageing potential. $32

Neudorf Tom’s Block Nelson Pinot Noir 2016 ••••½

Ruby-hued, perfumed, savoury and supple, with an array of cherry, spice, herb and nut flavours, this complex, softly mouthfilling Moutere red (13.5% alc/vol) is already drinking well. $33

Renato Nelson Pinot Noir 2017 ••••

Priced right, this bright, ruby red is full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), with cherry, plum and spice flavours, nutty and savoury notes adding complexity, and a very harmonious, finely textured finish. $25

This article was first published in the April 6, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

LatestDiningArticlesWidget - Latest Dining Articles with RestaurantHub
Error loading section - Error executing child request for handler 'System.Web.Mvc.HttpHandlerUtil+ServerExecuteHttpHandlerAsyncWrapper'. The remote server returned an error: (404) Not Found.
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Medical specialist and writer Eileen Merriman's prescription for success
104920 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Profiles

Medical specialist and writer Eileen Merriman's pr…

by Clare de Lore

Eileen Merriman doesn’t have to dig too deep to find the angst, humour and drama for her award-winning novels.

Read more
We still remember them: The best in new Anzac Day reading
105020 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Books

We still remember them: The best in new Anzac Day…

by Russell Baillie

The tide of great New Zealand books on the world wars shows no sign of going out. Russell Baillie reviews four new Anzac books.

Read more
Fine lines: New Anzac books and graphic novels for kids
105028 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Books

Fine lines: New Anzac books and graphic novels for…

by Ann Packer

A telegraph “boy”, heroic animals and even shell-shock make for engaging reads for children.

Read more
Keeping up appearances: The challenging job of restoring NZ's lighthouses
104978 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Keeping up appearances: The challenging job of res…

by Fiona Terry

Ensuring lighthouses stay “shipshape” isn’t a job for the faint-hearted.

Read more
The former major reuniting service medals with their rightful owners
105015 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

The former major reuniting service medals with the…

by Fiona Terry

Service medals are being reunited with their rightful owners thanks to former major Ian Martyn and his determined research.

Read more
PM announces 'Christchurch Call' to end use of social media for terrorism
104952 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Politics

PM announces 'Christchurch Call' to end use of soc…

by Noted

A meeting aims to see world leaders and CEOs of tech companies agree to a pledge called the ‘Christchurch Call’.

Read more
Red Joan: Judi Dench almost saves Soviet spy story from tedium
104942 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Movies

Red Joan: Judi Dench almost saves Soviet spy story…

by James Robins

The fictionalised account of a British woman who spied for the Soviet Union is stiflingly quaint.

Read more
What to watch on TV this Anzac Day
104749 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Television

What to watch on TV this Anzac Day

by Fiona Rae

Māori TV once again devotes the day to Anzac programming, including a live broadcast from Gallipoli.

Read more