Sunday, March 30, 2008

March 20, 2008 - Hawke's Bay

After checking out nine vineyards over two days we've decided that the Gimblett Gravels region of Hawke's Bay seems to produce consistently good wine. Generally, we have been much more impressed with the quality of wine that we tasted around Hawke's Bay compared to the Martinborough region.

When we pulled up to Hatton Estate's cellar door and realized that the tasting room was just a picnic table inside the winery, rather than a flash standalone building, we knew we were in for some good stuff. In the US and UK, Hatton's wines are primarily found in restaurants, such as Charlie Trotter's, Per Se, The French Laundry, Moto, Everest, and Gordon Ramsays; but, the sales manager told us that some of Hatton's wines were available at three Chicago liquor stores (see the website for a complete list), including our favorite - Sam's Wine Warehouse. If you can find it, Hatton's EC2 Chardonnay is worth seeking out.

One brand from this area that you are likely to find in your local wine shop is Craggy Range. They source their grapes from each of New Zealand's best wine regions (Pinot Noir from Central Otago, Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, Chardonnay and Merlot from Hawke's Bay), and make wines that reflect the terroir of those regions. We were impressed with all of their wines.
The vineyards in Hawke's Bay have just begun to harvest their grapes. This busy time of year turned out to be a great time to visit their cellar doors. The winemakers are taking samples of grapes from around their vineyards to test the sugar and acidity levels to see which varieties are ready to harvest. At two vineyards we were offered freshly pressed grape juice to try once the winemakers were done with their tests. At Hatton Estate we tried juice from Syrah (aka Shiraz) grapes. At Alpha Domus we tasted some Chardonnay juice. It was so delicious - nothing like Welch's. As we were leaving Alpha Domus, they gave us bunches of Chardonnnay and Merlot grapes to take with us.

1 comment:

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