Friday, December 10, 2010

Waiheke Island Reds

Many new wineries have sprung up in the last 15 years on Waiheke Island, in the wake of the Stonyridge Larose success. How do they stack up and compare?

As a general impression, most wineries are very small. As a result, vineyards can be - and generally are - looked after very well, and the winemaking is characterised by attention to detail. Therefore the quality of wines tends to be good.

The Te Whau winery is spectacularly located on a cliff top, with amazing views and sunsets. Like for a number of other wineries, the restaurant is open for dinner as well. The 2006 Te Whau The Point is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec. The fruit flavours are complex, mainly redcurrant, but also blackcurrant and some savoury and earthy undertones. The wine has quite a dry finish (91 points). The 2007 The Point is a similar blend, but livelier and more acidic. This wine is likely to live longer (92 points).

Passage Rock is another winery worth a visit. The 2008 Passage Rock Cabernet/Merlot shows ripe fruit, but is savoury in character. The fruit profile is a bit weak and the mouthfeel slightly flat (89 points).

Over the last few years, Shiraz has become a major factor as well, like in so many other parts of the world. The 2008 Passage Rock Reserve Shiraz tastes very Northern Rhone like, with a plum core, but quite savoury and smoky, with dry tannins (92 points).

A strong performer is Kennedy Point. Its wines are slightly riper and more elegant. The 2009 Kennedy Point Shiraz is a terrific savoury wine, with good depth (93 points). The 2005 Kennedy Point Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is made in the same mould (91 points). I was tempted to take some of these wines with me, as unfortunately they are not available in Australia.

The issue with all these wines, as a generalisation, is that they are good quality wines, but not compelling enough to absolutely stand out.

No comments: