Enjoying a nice meal and conversation with chief winemaker Anthony Walkenhorst was terrific. Anthony leading us through six of his wines paired with customized individual dishes, now that was fantastic.

Wonderful opportunity to spend a couple hours with a talented winemaker whom lives and works further away from us than virtually any other winemaker on the planet. Anthony poured six of his wines, several of which are not yet available in our market (LCBO and SAQ), however, there is hope of that changing in the coming months. Most of us having enjoyed Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines over the past 10 years (both currently available as Vintages Essentials), were excited to try some of their premium small production wines too. These wines were refreshing compliments to their better know higher production wines.

Anthony also provided insight into Kim Crawford’s winemaking philosophy (minimal intervention to permit the fruit flavours to express themselves), and interesting trends in the NZ wine industry. Anthony spoke of a recent move towards increased oak ageing of Sauvignon Blanc and another trend of lower alcohol wines (targeting ~9%, picking at 18 brix versus 21 brix, and the winemaker’s challenge of balancing alcohol and sugar in the finished product). All very interesting developments to hear which get us wondering if there will be significant stylistic changes in the future for NZ wines we’ve come to love.

New Zealand’s highest and most southerly wine region, Central Otago, is where Anthony sources only the finest grapes for their premium Small Parcels “Rise and Shine” Pinot Noir. An ideal region for Pinot given the continental climate with daily and seasonal extreme temperatures, providing for ripe fruit with crisp acidity. Central Otago also happens to be the world’s most southerly wine making region.

Marlborough, located at the north of the south island, is today one of the world’s foremost winegrowing regions. Sauvignon Blanc is the most planted varietal, and do they ever do it well there. Arguably the world’s most renowned new world Sauvignon Blanc breeding ground, Marlborough is virtually covered in vines with as much as 97% of the plantable land now producing grapes. We enjoyed a premium Small Parcels “Spitfire” Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough and every Sommelier present thoroughly enjoyed it. The wine exhibited delicious exotic fruit, fresh tomato leaf and basil, with a long refreshing finish. One of the finest expressions of SB I’ve sampled recently.

Thanks to Maxwells Bistro for a delicious meal, to Constellation Brands for making the event possible, and to Natalie MacLean for organizing another terrific industry team tasting event.


Matt Steeves, CSW

Full article via NatalieMaclean.com: