To celebrate the launch of the World Atlas of Wine (8th ed) by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, Sophie Parker-Thomson,who contributed to the New Zealand chapter and David Nash of A Seat at the Table fame, hosted a tasting of iconic Marlborough wines, selected for their sub-regional focus and tasted in Jancis's very own range of glassware.
A quote from Jancis, who unfortunately could not be present, "It was not until the 3rd edition of the World Atlas of Wine, published in 1985, 14 years after the first edition, that New Zealand was even mentioned. It warranted a single page then, and just one paragraph about the South Island. In this brand new 8th edition, full nine pages are devoted to New Zealand, probably the book’s greatest ratio of space to the volume of wine produced. Thank you kiwis for keeping us so well-wined." Jancis Robinson
David Nash and Sophie Parker-Thomson.
This important book is an invaluable resource for wine lovers and students of wine. (At the New Zealand School of Food and Wine, we always have a few copies on hand while studying for our wine programmes).
The detail on each map provides a unique perspective on a wine region and this, in turn, excites curiosity to enquire more, to look further and naturally, to taste more wines featured on these pages. And for many of my students, referring to the maps of the Wine Atlas is just the start of a life-long pursuit of knowledge and pleasure from wine. It also helps fosters that kiwi travelling ambition, to one-day visit some of those famous regions captured on each map!
Four soil groups of Marlborough image from World Atlas of Wine (8th ed).
The Marlborough section of the Wine Atlas includes details of the four major soil types of Marlborough with a very helpful map to explain the sub-regional delineations. This map provides a much improved pictorial understanding of the personality of Marlborough. It does exclude the up and coming sub-region of Kekerangu which lies further down south along the coastal road before Kaikoura.
This intriguing line-up of Marlborough's wines in this tasting, featured the local terroirs of Conders Bend, along the Wairau to Dillions Point, southwest towards the Southern Valleys of Omaka and Brancott and then over the hills to the Awatere and further south to Kekerengu, on the Southern Coast.
The first flight of Sauvignon Blanc
Use of different winemaking techniques are transforming the classic Marlborough style of Sauvignon Blanc and this flight of 6 wines clearly demonstrates this innovation. Use of skin contact, wild yeasts, fermentation in oak, lees stirring, malolactic fermentation have introduced enormous diversity. Tasting James Healy’s Dog Point Section 94 from 2013 and 2017 confirms that Sauvignon Blanc can be made in a way that allows it to continue to develop in a bottle. The Blank Canvas ‘Abstract’ Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Dillions Point, Wairau Valley showed more light tropical notes of passionfruit and melon with a lemon sherbet with a toasted almond twist on the palate. Simon Waghorn’s Astrolabe Taihoa Sauvignon Blanc 2017 from Kekerengu has aromas of yellow plums and cape gooseberry with a salty minerality and savoury finish. Brian Bicknell's Mahi Alias 2015, from Conders Blend, was a completely different style with ripe guava, pink grapefruit and rockmelons and gentle acidity. All of these wines were very exciting to taste.
Line up of White Wines
Chardonnay from Marlborough can proudly hold its place along side leading examples of Chardonnay from around the world. Drawing inspiration from the Côte de Beaune in the heart of Burgundy, this tasting of Marlborough Chardonnays reflects the influence of oak in the winemaking, with flavours of butterscotch, vanilla and hazelnut with balanced natural acidity. What a great lineup from the Southern Valleys with the older vintages from 2013 of Dog Point and Mahi confident of further ageing in bottle.
Tasting: Blank Reed Chardonnay 2018 Waihopai, Dog Point Chardonnay 2017 Brancott/Omaka, Mahi Twin Valleys Chardonnay 2016 Waihopai, Southern Valleys, Blank Reed Chardonnay 2016 Omaka, Dog Point Chardonnay 2013 Brancott/Omaka, Mahi Twin Valleys Chardonnay 2013 Waihopai, Southern Valleys
Sophie Parker-Thomson, who is in the final stages of her MW programme and her husband, Matt Thomson owns Blank Canvas wines.
Flight of Pinot Noirs
The Blank Canvas Escaroth Pinot Noir 2018, from Taylors Pass, offers a deceptive light ruby hue and on the nose, shows perfumed violets and ripe red cherries. The palate has balanced acidity and the tannins have that savoury texture from whole bunch fermentation. The Giesen Clayvin Pinot Noir from 2013 and 2017 provides resounding evidence that Marlborough Pinots can continue to develop with age. The Pinot 2017 with a nose of black cherries, toffee, cinnamon and generous ripe tannins on the palate. Dog Point’s Pinot Noir has become a trusted example of classic Marlborough Pinot with an elegant balance of ripe berries, tannins and acidity. The Dog Point 2012 demonstrates that it can continue to evolve for many more years.
Line up of Red Wines
Blank Canvas ‘Abstract’ Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Dillions Point, Wairau Valley
Dog Point Section 94 2017 Brancott/Omaka Valleys
Astrolabe Taihoa Sauvignon Blanc 2017 – Kekerengu, Southern Coast
Mahi “Alias” Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Conders Bend, Wairau Valley
Dog Point Section 94 2013
Astrolabe Taihoa Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Blank Canvas Escaroth Pinot Noir 2018 Taylors Pass
Giesen Clayvin Pinot Noir 2017
Dog Point Pinot Noir 2017 Omaka Valley
Blank canvas Escaroth Pinot Noir 2014 Waihopai Valley
Giesen Clayvin Pinot Noir 2013
Dog Point Pinot Noir 2012 Omaka Valley
Jancis Robinson designed tasting glass: One Glass for Every Wine
READ AN INTERVIEW WITH JANCIS ABOUT THE BOOK: WINE SEARCHER