I spent quite a bit of time working in New Zealand in the early 90s. This was when the 1987 Stonyridge Larose upstaged the French Bordeaux winemakers at their own game. I drank the wine several times. It was wonderfully complex and elegant.
A couple of weeks ago was my first stay on Waiheke Island, so my first winery stop had to be Stonyridge. It has reached legendary status in New Zealand, although it seems to have gone quiet for a while, when Craggy Range came out of the blocks with their Hawke's Bay red wines.
But it seems Stonyridge is back to form. The first wine I tried was the 2009 Stonyridge Luna Negra, a Malbec. The flavours were of dark blueberry fruit. The wine was quite tannic and finished dusty (91 points).
This was followed by the 2009 Stonyridge Pilgrim, their version of GSM. It is really a Shiraz, with 15% Mouvedre and 4% Grenache thrown in. The wine is quite light, with a soft feel and smoky overtones. A well balanced and quite easy to drink wine (93 points).
Finally the flagship, the 2008 Stonyridge Larose. It is a blend of 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Malbec, 16% Merlot, 16% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. The percentages change every year. The major contributions of Malbec and Petit Verdot are slightly unusual for an Australian or French palate.
The colour of the wine is almost violet. What stands out is the purity of the fruit, while it is also a very complex wine. Apart from fruit flavours, there is licorice, tar and spice. The oak influence is quite noticeable, but the wine is still very young. This Larose has pleasant length and finishes dry. Overall, the Larose is an unusual wine. It would not be my favourite, but it is a worth while, though pricey experience.