What was once an ancient story riverbed has, over time, become much more. The distinctive stone-studded Rapaura soils of Stoneleigh vineyards create a wine style that is fresh, crisp and vibrant – the flavour of Stoneleigh.
For thousands of years, the Wairau River ran through what are now our vineyards, depositing stones of all sizes. Today Stoneleigh vines are planting among these stones, which we call sunstones.
SupermarketNews spoke to Jamie Marfell, Group Winemaker at Pernod Ricard about the brand and award-winning top drops.
What characteristics of your wine are influenced by the physical landscape of your winery?
“We say that Stoneleigh is "Vibrant. By Nature" and that’s because nature is at the heart of our brand and beautiful wines. Surrounded by ancient sunstones, the warm sunlight absorbed by the stones of our valley emanates heat into our vines long after the Marlborough sun has set. The unique stone-studded Rapaura soils of our vineyard create a wine style that is fresh, crisp and vibrant – the distinctive flavour of Stoneleigh. Chief winemaker Jamie Marfell has a hands-off, minimal intervention approach. The intensity and vibrancy of the wine is entirely By Nature herself.”
What is one of the most rewarding things about winemaking?
“Wine is an expression of the land and of the environment. No two seasons are the same, so as winemakers we have to adapt our winemaking to meet the challenges that mother nature gives us with. I love tasting back vintages to remind me of what we achieved and to see these subtle differences in our new creations.”
“Stoneleigh Wild Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2019: Made with fruit picked at optimum ripeness from Stoneleigh vineyards, this wine shows great complexity, with intense nectarine, yellow peach and citrus aromas in harmony with warm oak toast. A rich textural and full-bodied wine.”
“Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé 2020: This pale rose-coloured wine opens with fresh red cherry and wild strawberry notes. The lively palate shows cranberry and papaya accents, bright acidity, and a hint of spring blossom on a medium body, finishing with a flourish of vibrant fruits.”
What was important in making this award-winning wine?
“For the Rose, doing less as a winemaker and letting the vineyard and superb 2020 growing season natural express itself in the wine.”
“2019 Wild Valley Chardonnay, being patient and letting the wine mature and grow in stature in barrel after wild fermentation. With Wild fermentation, the wine sometimes needs time to evolve, making sure not to bottle early.”
“Stoneleigh Wild Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2019: The rich, textural palate makes this wine a perfect accompaniment to a range of succulent and rich dishes. Serve lightly chilled on its own or with full flavoured dishes such as paired pumpkin ravioli, as well as richer dishes such as grilled pork loin with roasted nectarines.”
“Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé 2020: Serve this wine with charcuterie or tapas on a sunny afternoon. Lamb skewers on the BBQ will be great too, alongside a feta, spinach & quinoa salad with fresh mint. Light fruit desserts like cherry clafoutis as well as soft cheeses will all work a treat.”
How long can you shelf your winning bottle of wine for?
“Stoneleigh Wild Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2019: This wine is ready to drink upon release but will cellar well for 2-4 years, for a more savoury, toasty aged characters.”
“Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé 2020: This wine is released ready to drink, vibrant with fresh fruit flavours that will be at peak for 2-3 years.”
Who would your wine appeal to?
“The easiest thing to say would be Chardonnay lovers, due to its complexity. However Wild Valley Chardonnay has been known to convert even the most stringent "ABC" drinker ("Anything But Chardonnay!"), because it has quite light stonefruit characteristics rather than the bold and buttery, melon characteristics that can deter some people away.”
“The rosé appeals to younger consumers, both male and female who may be new to wine. It's a perfect wine for drinking in the sunlight over a light lunch.”
How would you describe this wine to someone who's never had this grape varietal/blend before?
“Stoneleigh Wild Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2019 –This Chardonnay has everything you want and nothing you don’t. Ample fruit with a toasted character that isn’t polarising, but provides a rich, textured and interesting wine.”’
“Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé 2020 – Just like summertime in a glass. It’s fresh, fruity, vibrant and a party for your tastebuds. A juicy wine that is the perfect option for both those wanting to explore the world of wine a little more, or those who are seeking the perfect refreshing Rosé.”
If you could do a wine bottle swap with any winery in NZ or the world, which winery and wine would it be with?
“A white wine, definitely Champagne for its uniqueness of style and quality, Perrier Jouët.”
Current Owner: Pernod Ricard Winemakers
Winemaker: Jamie Marfell
Wine varietals produced: Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rosé, Pinot Noir