This collaboration between Great Little Vineyards wine merchants, Stark White and Gow Langsford galleries is always a treat. The line up of featured artisans includes people at the top of their game. For example, Schubert in Wairarapa have just won the Top 10 tasting at WineFolio for their ‘Block B’ Pinot Noir. Artworks on show are from the likes of John Reynolds and Allen Maddox. It’s an inspirational and intriguing afternoon – I find something new every time.
Shows like this are often different year-on-year. Last time I spent a lot of time talking to the exhibitors. This time it’s a more head-down tasting session. I manage to taste through the entire line-up on a few stalls, which does require some concentration! I’m just going to give a very top-level review of four highlights, but be assured that the standard across the board is extremely high at this expo. Apologies to those who I intended to get around to, but ran out of time.
Favourite wine of the day was a Rock Ferry ‘Rise ’n Shine’ Pinot Noir 2020. This was one of the stands where I applied myself to the whole range. Sometimes I need to see deep into the whole before I can pick out the individual parts. Rock Ferry had a few very, very good wines. The Rock Ferry Blanc de Blancs 2016 sparkling was excellent, but the Rock Ferry Brut Pinot Blanc caught the eye as well. Pinot Gris and Gruner Veltliner were delicious. The Pinot Noir single block designations are just beautiful though – Both TNT and Mid Hill are serious, European-leaning expressions of Central Otago, but the Rise ’n Shine was the winner for me.
Best Art for me were the quirky little blocks from John Reynolds. Laugh-out-loud in some cases, but just fun, accessible and clever. I met the artist Banksy once upon a time, and these remind me of his approach to art – where the idea and intention trump the execution. To see some ‘tasting notes’ on the wee block was a reminder of how language can seem odd out of context – “Violets Lavender Cherries” was ace, but “I drink therefore I am” probably gets the vote.
On a visual thread – there were some great label designs in the room today. With an ‘art school’ design background, I do appreciate a good bit of packaging. Lethbridge and Cullen both showed well – a label should reflect well on what’s inside the bottle, and these did that. Cullen ‘Rose Moon’ 2021 and Lethbridge Chardonnay 2021 and all the wines from the Kemp Road range were superb, but the best presented overall range were from The Supernatural. Their re-launch sees new labels across the selections, taking some design cues from craft beer. The Supernatural The Green Glow 2022 skin-fermented Muscat/Marsanne has a label that actually glows in the dark.
I can’t go to a wine expo and not have a little section about Chardonnay! Three wines stood out. Schubert Chardonnay 2022 was a new one on me. I think they’ve always had Chardonnay, just that it has been part of their quirky Tribianco bottling. One barrel this year sees the light as a stand-alone wine. Very good, as you’d expect. Eaton ‘Raupo Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2021 was the other outstanding Chardonnay of the day, but Corofin and Giant Steps were in the mix as well.