Waipara (pronounced Why-Pra) is part of the Marlborough region of the South Island of New Zealand. Since a few of us were in the general area, we joined some other enthusiasts on a tour of some of the wineries North of Christchurch. Waipara Springs was our first stop of the day.
There ended up being a group of about 20 of us debating and discussing each wine on this tour and for most stops, a consensus was reached fairly well. At Waipara Springs however, the debate as to which wine was our favourite was split (OK, so every taster but one agreed on a favourite but the one dissenter happened to be the author…)
2018 Sauvignon Blanc: This was the author’s favourite wine of the day. The nose of passionfruit and pineapple immediately announced the variety (which in the author’s opinion is really important in a wine). The nose was almost perfect, only being scored down slightly for intensity (it was big, but no Warrabilla – see previous posts). The fruit flavours were powerful and ever present in the mouthfeel and there was enough complexity to make you want a second (and many more) taste. The finish seemed to cut out just a bit too quickly, but the structure, acid balance and aftertaste all rated very highly. $22NZD per bottle.
2018 Riesling: This was the wine that everyone else said was their favourite, was the wine ordered in large quantities (measured in bottles, not glasses) over lunch and was bought in large quantities by those not having to travel overseas (and in smaller quantities by those who knew they could finish it in the days remaining before travel… On a purely points-based assessment, this scored the same high score as the Sauvignon Blanc. It was unanimously agreed that these were the best two wines sold at Waipara Hills, the debate was over which was number 1. Greater depth of colour than the Sauvignon Blanc, which is to be expected from a Riesling. The nose shows a similar intensity as well, giving very good varietal clues through the honeysuckle (is there a smell of Botritis? Possibly.) The palate is less complex but the finish is longer. An excellent wine. $22NZD per bottle.
2016 Pinot Gris: Pinot Gris is more common in New Zealand than Australia in terms of the proportion of producers, and when tasting wines like this it is immediately obvious that there is something in the climate or terroir that the Gris grapes like a lot. The green apple bouquet gives the game away for this wine and the crisp flavours add to the picture of a wine which is a very good example of its variety. Lacking some depth in the bouquet, but otherwise faultless, reasonable complexity of flavours and will not disappoint. $22NZD per bottle.
2017 Chardonnay: This wine has been matured in French Oak (which is a very good way to make Chardonnay as it adds structure and complexity when done correctly). In this offering, the oak is minimal, which is certainly preferable to being over-done. Unfortunately, this wine lacks the concentration of flavours found in other Waipara Hills wines and the finish is similarly not up to the same level. This doesn’t mean it is not a very good wine though, because it is. $26NZD per bottle.
2017 Pinot Noir: Fans of light reds may enjoy this wine quite a bit. It has excellent depth of colour and reasonable viscosity. The lack of browning at the edge suggests this wine may open up even further with some careful cellaring (most Pinot’s reach peak drinkability somewhere between 5 and 8 years of age, so you don’t need to wait as long as you would for a Shiraz or Durif). The aroma is instantly recognisable as Pinot Noir, with the earthiness and deep red fruits very clear, albeit a little weak in their intensity. The palate is light, which may be the intention, but the complexity has also been lost somewhat in the process. When combined with the lack of length in the finish, this doesn’t compare too favourably with other Pinot Noir’s but remains a very drinkable wine, not our pick though. $26NZD per bottle.