Yvonne Lorkin has been an admirer of the Brockenchack range of wines from the Eden Valley label for many years, and was happy to act as MC for this informal tasting of their wines at the Whitestone Cheese Bar in Aucklands Wynyard Quarter last week. Not only is it a name that many people wouldn’t have heard of.. but the name also isn’t, as some people might assume, an old Barossa German name from generations back. It actually comes from an amalgamation of the owners Grandchildren’s names – Bronte, MacKenzie, Charli and Jack.
Whilst the land high in the Eden Valley has been a vineyard since the 1880s, it was only in 2007 that Queensland residents Trev and Marilyn Harch bought the property. They’ve grown the Estate to over 120 hectares, with seventeen under vine, by acquiring neighbouring land. The plan is to grow the family-owned and run label into one of the regions powerhouses – with those infamous grandchildren involved in all of that. Their Riesling vines are thought to be the oldest in Australia – dating back to 1896, and as well as growing that other local favourite – Shiraz, they have plantings of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. They were awarded ‘Eden Valley Winery of the Year’ at the 2021 Melbourne International Wine Show.
There’s not many tastings of Australian wine that will start with an accompaniment of a Southland Cheese Roll – but today we did. The Whitestone Cheese Bar has some of the best products you’ll find in the country – from 12-year old Cheddar to creamy gorgonzola-inspired blue. Each wine to be tasted had a sample chosen to best accentuate it, and I had absolutely no complaints as we ran through. Franco, their italian-accented Ambassador clearly knows his stuff.
It could be a brave start to go with a Pinot Grigio as the first wine of the tasting – given the somewhat lowly expectations (and reputation) of Pinot Gris in New Zealand. It – wrongly in my opinion – doesn’t have the kudos that is given to other varietals. And Brockenchack have both Riesling and Chardonnay in their range.
Anyway – On Point Pinot Grigio 2021 is up first. It is paired with a Mount Domet double cream brie. The wine starts clean and pure, with nectarine, almond, nashi pear and honey aromatics. Bone dry. Any reservations are discarded – this is a great start! It’s not a tricky wine, kept simple and classic in style. The palate broadens out, moving through a saline acidity into a generous finish, showing a savoury edge of green olive and nori. 92pts
Unfortunately, there’s no riesling to see today, but we are straight into reds instead. Zip Line Shiraz 2018 is matched to a gorgeous Windsor Blue (yum) cheese. Bramble, white pepper, christmas cake, eucalypt, plum and vanilla on the nose. Concentrated and elegant, staying taut and linear into the palate. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ripe, soft textures, fine tannin and good acidity. A hint of milk chocolate and liquorice towards the decent finish. A brilliant match with that voluptuous cheese. 91pts
It’s always a treat to see a single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon. Quite rare in these parts, but a wine that can excel across the ditch. Miss Bronte Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 doesn’t disappoint. A savoury element to the aromas, with leather and graphite alongside a smoky ripe mulberry, cassis and mint. Still young – powerful and muscular. All ripe fruit upfront and with a solid tannin grip in the middle. A nice prickle of green herbs – nettle, chamomile and that eucalypt note again. Matched to a Vintage 5 Forks 50/50 cheese – another inspired pairing. The finish on the wine is strong, elongated and sweetening. 93pts
Jack Harrison Shiraz 2018 is their top wine on the NZ distribution list. A brooding darkest purple in the glass. Blueberry, damson plum, mocha, green peppercorn, boysenberry and redcurrant on the nose. A balanced dexterity to the palate with supple tannin in harmony with the lush fruit and integrated acidity. Star anise, tapenade, pepper, sage and liquorice – it’s all there. Plenty of oak toast present, although this sits behind the rest, as a spine and core to the central flavours, still with a tightness that’s unfolding and developing. This was accompanied by the top Whitestone cheese – an Oamaru Blue – a fitting match. A bold, harmonious finish. 92pts
As we thought we’d finished there was one more surprise; and if I say it is only the second one of these I’ve ever tried – that isn’t something you’ll hear me say too often. It is the Great Scott Sparkling Shiraz, a non vintage version of the Zip Line Shiraz, made in the Charmat method, with just a little port added. Unusual but really rather good. A frothy pink in the glass, with spice and red fruit aromas bursting from the glass. Cinnamon, blueberry, rosehip and freesia. The palate is surprisingly dry – full but well-balanced, with lovely ripe cherry flavours and sweetness… but with a dryness that makes it very more-ish. I like this. The cheese for it is a 12 year old Cheddar (yes, really) which is also something I don’t get to taste every day. 90pts
Definitely a label to look out for, and I’ll be looking to try not only the other wines from their ‘New Zealand Collection’ but also that riesling, a grenache (do LOVE an Aussie grenache) plus they do an ‘Icon’ collection which I’m guessing might have to wait for the day I visit the Cellar Door in the Eden Valley. For now you can track down the range available here at https://brockenchack.nz/