The Hills are alive

Waipara Hills has much more of a large winery feel about it from the moment you step inside. The range of wines on offer is very impressive and the overall quality is very high. Very much worth a visit!

2017 Riesling: By this point of the tour, we were developing something of a group opinion that Waipara as a region makes some amazing white wines and the Riesling grapes lead the charge. The depth of this particular wine was amazing, albeit with a slightly paler colour than some examples of the variety. The aroma is actually quite sweet but is clearly a Riesling but may have some botrytis present (this may have been deliberate, it is hard to say). The flavours that follow are very much up the sweeter end of the scale, not quite a German Eiswein, but getting close. It is fortunate that the acid is kept very much in balance through to the good length finish making this a very satisfying wine to drink. $27.90NZD per bottle.

2017 Sauvignon Blanc: Although this wine scored the same on our points-based system, the general feeling was this wine was preferred to the Riesling. Again, the depth created in the glass was magnificent, and this time the varietal aromas were perfectly arranged to create a beautiful nose of citrus fruits. The fruit flavours were ever present, making the shortness of the finish a surprise, but a forgivable one.

2017 Pinot Gris: The author actually mistook this wine for a Gewürztraminer based on the colour and aromas which were a lot softer than the first two wines tasted. The green apples aromas that are typical of a Pinot Gris were not so obvious in this wine, with more lemon/citrus notes more present instead. One sip though and all was forgiven! The complexity of this wine is amazing and the length is good. Only the aftertaste (which was good but not perfect) distinguished this from the wine which eventually won our choice for best wine. Opinion was divided however with some tasters saying the abundance of fruit made this wine their favourite.

2017 Chardonnay: This was the wine that eventually won the “buy me now!” competition, with a finish that dominated the other whites. The lemon colour was a bit lighter than some oaked Chardonnay wines, but the nose was very definitely a Chardonnay, with nectarines and other stone fruit making it quite an easy pick in the blind tasting (the author wasn’t going to make two mistakes at the one winery…) The initial acidity in the palate fades into peaches and nectarines beautifully smoothly before the finish lingers; no length would do this wine justice, such is the balance achieved.

2017 Pinot Noir: This was another example of a weak-nosed Pinot Noir, so perhaps it is the standard in the region? Colour is good and the nose is quite good in terms of varietal influence. The palate is a bit weak also, but there is reasonable complexity and some nice fruit coming through. The finish is a bit short, so it is not our favourite Pinot Noir.

2017 “Equinox” Pinot Noir: In many ways this wine is superior to the other Pinot Noir. The colours are actually remarkably similar, but the nose on the Equinox is much more pronounced and intense. The typical Pinot Noir dark fruits and leafiness are still very clear, leaving no doubt about the variety. The taste is much higher quality than the other Pinot Noir as well, although there is a slight sourness in the finish which was unexpected. Clearly the better of the two reds tasted.

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