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Brancott Estate at WOW

By September 29, 2012No Comments

It is 25 years since the World of WearableArt Awards Show, founded by Suzie Moncrieff burst on the scene in 1987 in Nelson. 2012 also marks the 15th year of sponsorship by Brancott Estate (originally Montana), and the company remains the Naming Rights Partner for WOW. As Brancott Estates puts it, it is “inspiring creativity”, and it has helped bring magic and life to the design, art, and culture scene in Nelson, Wellington, if not all of New Zealand and beyond.

While altruistic, there is a business side to the sponsorship and the exposure of Brancott Estate as a brand and the wines to thousands of cultured people who have an interest in fashion, arts and theatre must be a boon to Pernod-Ricard, the owners of Brancott Estate, and the envy of marketers in any wine and liquor business. There is also the less tangible, but nevertheless real association of fine design and art in the exhibits at WOW and the crafting of fine wine, and this connection should be made the most of. At the show, Brancott Estate wine is served generously, and this year, there are limited edition WOW series wines bearing unique label designs available through liquor retail outlets. But it is all tasteful, done with a touch of class and not ‘in your face’, and credit must be given to Pernod-Ricard for taking this approach. For the New Zealand wine industry, the sponsorship is a great deal, as it promotes New Zealand wine uniquely and with considerable style. But it comes down to the quality of the wine being able to deliver positive impressions to the consumers at the event and at large.

Brancott Estate put delivery of wine quality to the test by inviting hospitality trade, media and business leaders to experience WOW and serving the wines at dinner as part of a VIP experience. The exercise involves food by Ruth Pretty Catering, one of the best caterers in the country, and a broad selection of Brancott Estate wines. It is said that a wine producer’s quality can be gauged by tasting their least expensive wine. If it’s good, the top level wines will be great. At WOW this year (as every year), the ‘regular’ Brancott Estate wines are served alongside the deluxe ‘Letter Series’ wines. The wines I tasted all looked good. Here are my impressions of what came my way:
 
The Brancott Estate Wines
On arrival, guests were served a glass of Brancott Estate Chardonnay/Pinot Noir Brut Cuvee NV, a true Methode Traditionnelle sparkler. Soft, fine-textures and mousse, the palate teasing with its gentle bready aromas and flavours. Fruit from Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough with 15 months aging on lees, and dry to taste, even with 12 g/L dosage. The regular, still table ‘Brancott Estate’ wines were all fruit-expressive and very true to variety, and consumer-friendly. The Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 was my pick, classically varietal with excellent, pungent passionfruit aromas and flavours, open fruited and balanced by racy, lacy acidity. The South Island Pinot Noir 2011 is made from fruit from Marlborough, Waipara, and Bendigo in Central Otago. A light-bodied and refreshing wine with attractively fragrant and pretty floral-red cherry flavours and a suppleness on palate. The Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2010, as could be expected much more structured and textural, the tannins a feature, providing firm palate line. Here, the fruit was still very primary with dark red plum flavours lifted by floral elements.
 
The Brancott Estate ‘Letter Series’ wines were different to what I’ve seen in previous vintages, and I’d say it is the result of a conscious effort on the part of the winemakers to tighten up the style to give the wines more contemporary finesse and elegance, as well as benefitting them with greater longevity. They’ve certainly achieved it. While not as immediately appealing as the regular Brancott Estate wines, the ‘Letter Series’ are clearly different to any consumer and recognisably more interesting to the keen wine lover. The ‘B’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 is still tightly bound, with beautifully pure and pristine minerally-infused stonefruit and gooseberry flavours. Very fine in textural flow and possessing a refreshing steeliness. The ‘O’ Gisborne Chardonnay 2010 is no longer a broad, opulent, buttery oak-packed and fleshy wine of the past, but stylishly presented with fine citrussy fruit with discreetly powerful, mealy, nutty oak. Poised acidity is a difference too, and this is set to age 5-6 years. My star of this strong range was the ‘T’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2010, a juxtaposition of concentration with elegance and subtle power and drive. Ripe black cherry and minerally plum flavours, fine-grained tannins and excellent flow and length. ‘Puissance’ is the French word to describe its character of tension, texture and drive. www.brancottestate.com
 
The WOW Show
Even though WOW has run since 1987, it is still a spectacle. There’s a formula which “ain’t broke” and those who have attended regularly know it, knowing that it makes the show work in combining all the elements of fashion, theatre, dance, music and continual entertainment. It’s loud, explosively colourful and mind-bendingly fascinating stuff. Every year, I’m impressed by different categories. The exhibits in the ‘Open’ and ‘Avant Garde’ were the ones in 2012. The presentation and performers in the ‘South Pacific’ section was another highlight. And the sci-fi backdrop theme and music for the ‘Bizarre Bra’ category appealed to my ‘nerd’ side.

One can’t see the incredible detail of the exhibited ‘garments’ as a member of the audience. You have to get up-close, and that’s practically impossible until you see them at the WOW museum in Nelson, or have a special viewing. However, the official WOW programme features them with a brief description listing the materials used in making them. These are the clues to the brilliant ideas, hard work, and intricacy involved.

WOW 2012 runs until 7 October. I understand there are single tickets at some of the performances still available. They will be worth taking up. www.worldofwearableart.com

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