Every two years, the Marlborough wine region puts on a fantastic two day extravaganza to showcase its local wines, food, scenery and personalities to the trade and media.
This year’s event started on a serious note with two masterclasses looking at the “unsung heroes” of the Marlborough Wine Region: Sparkling wines (Or “Methode Marlborough”) and Chardonnay.
The panellists on the sparkling wine seminar were fantastic – I was really impressed by the calibre and breadth of the panel. Tom Stephenson, international Champagne expert had travelled from the UK to attend, and to ensure a global perspective on the discussions. Liz Wheadon, General Manager of Glengarry’s is the country’s expert in Champagne and sparkling wine retail. Cameron Douglas is New Zealand’s only Master Sommelier – the elite qualification for wine experts in the on premise. And last but not least, Daniel Le Brun, a winemaker who started making quality sparkling wines in Marlborough in the 80s and continues to produce world class wines from the region, pulling on the experience and expertise drawn from generations of vignerons in his family back in Champagne.
All the sparkling wines looked good, although an early pour had left my beloved Nautilus looking a little flat and warm. The highlight for me was the Cuvee Remy from Daniel’s No 1 Family Estate.
After lunch we resumed for a look at Marlborough’s top Chardonnays. I love this variety, and find that Marlborough’s expression of it – citrine, pithy, and pure – is perfectly to my taste.
A cross section of producers and vintages all looked stunning. Our own Nautilus Chardonnay was the youngest of the line up but very popular with the Australian retailers sitting to my right. My other favourites in the line up were the Auntsfield (elegant, creamy, complex and balanced) and the Dog Point (funky on the nose but amazingly clear, precise and concentrated on the palate. This wine was only just starting to open up as the seminar drew to a close and aroused a lot of fairly heated debate).
Both of these seminars highlighted the breadth of the Marlborough wine region to produce great quality wines. Although from a commercial standpoint the region has benefitted from associating its name with a single variety and doing it extremely well, from a wine quality point of view there is certainly more to discover.