A quick visit by Dom Maxwell, winemaker at Greystone Wines, and a showing of the new 2011 aromatic wine releases showed the continued progression to being one of New Zealand's top producers, as predicted by critics both in New Zealand and overseas. Proprietor Bruce Thomas, viticulturist Nick Gill and Dom Maxwell are all on the same wavelength in aiming to make contemporary Waipara Valley wines of finesse and elegance, and I was very impressed at how they have achieved their goal. www.greystonewines.co.nz
The first four wines served were the aromatic whites. The Greystone Waipara Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (17.5/20), is 60% estate fruit and 40% contract Waipara grown, 25% BF to 13.5% alc. and 3.5 g/L rs, with lees work. Pale straw yellow colour with a pale edge, this is softly voluminous with restrained tropical fruits lifted with fresh fermentation esters and flinty lees on the nose. Dry and very finely-textured, the flavours of limes, tropical fruits and minerals are tightly bound. Gentle acidity underlines the palate and will enable this to develop over the next 2-3 years. Next was the Greystone Waipara Pinot Gris 2011 (18.5/20), fermented to 13.5% alc. and 13.5 g/L rs, a small portion in barrel, given lees contact, this is bright straw-yellow colour with hues of light gold. The bouquet is fulsome with lifted, attractive aromas of ripe pears, spices, tropical fruits and honey, Medium dryish to taste, the palate features soft, weighty and near unctuous textures and flavours of aromatic spiced pears, honey and subtle minerally lees notes. There is a power and drive to the palate, the acidity in the background. Savoury, flinty, fruit flavours mark the long finish. This will match rich poultry and pork dishes over the next 3-4+ years. Another excellent wine is the Greystone Waipara Gewurztraminer 2011 (18.5+/20), fruit hand-picked and foot-crushed, fermented to 14.0% alc. and 15 g/L rs. Brilliant light straw-yellow colour, this has an extremely intense and penetrating, but finely expressed nose of rose-petal florals, spices and lifted fermentation esters. Medium in sweetness, the rose florals and lifted spice flavours are framed in a very elegant, seamlessly textured and fine, oily palate with lacy acidity underneath. The fruit depth is a feature, forming a core and leads to a very long, sustained finish. This will become richer over the next 3-4+ years. The final aromatic white was the Greystone Waipara Riesling 2010 (19.0/20), pristine fruit fermented to 12.3% alc. and 30 g/L rs. Bright, light lemon-straw colour with green hues, this has a very fine nose of exotic jasmine florals and limes, unfolding delicate and ethereal notes in the glass. Medium to medium-dry to taste, the palate is one of great delicacy and finesse, with subtle citrus fruit and white floral flavours, along with talc-like elements. Extremely fine-textured, the acidity is crisp and sleek, and contributes to the lingering, dry finish. A benchmark Waipara Riesling that will keep 5-6+ years.
Then came three complex styles. Firstly the Greystone Waipara Chardonnay 2010 (18.5-/20), Mendoza and clone 15 fruit, foot-crushed and fully barrel-fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 20% new French oak, with 45% MLF. Bright light golden yellow with a pale edge, the nose has piquant citrus and ripe yellow stonefruits interwoven with oak nuttiness and buttery MLF elements, quite tight and with good intensity. Concentrated and tight on palate, the citrussy fruit is lifted by spicy oak, and the creaminess of texture enlivened by excellent acidity. The palate has a sleekness and balance, resulting in poise. This will keep another 4-5 years. The first of the reds was the Greystone Waipara Pinot Noir 2009 (18.0+/20), fruit fully destemmed and fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged in 25% new French oak. Dark, deep, ruby-red colour with excellent depth and heart, the bouquet is tightly constructed with intense dark cherry, berry and plum fruit aromas backed by fine oak. This is finely expressed and has much to unfold. On palate very concentrated with dark fruits and subtly spiced by oak, this is still an elegantly proportioned wine, the tannins fine-grained and supple, and the wine showing freshness, youth and potential. This has become richer, showing more sweetness over the last 6 months, and promises to improve and develop for another 5-7 years. The final wine was the Greystone Waipara Syrah 2009 (18.0/20), the second release of this label, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 15 months in 45% new oak. Very dark, deep, near impenetrable black-red colour, the bouquet is soft, but intensely packed with savoury, spicy black fruits, pepper and subtle violet notes with a little complex meatiness and oak toast. A concentrated wine with good density of black fruits with pepper, chocolate, oak toast and a complexing reduction nuance, this has a soft, mouthfilling presence and fine-grained tannin extraction that results in a gentle finesse. The acidity is restrained and sweet black fruit and pepper flavours show on the long finish. A wine to evolve over the next 6-8+ years.