NWWA Top 50 – Rapaura Springs

The Rapaura Springs story begins with two families brought together by premium Marlborough produce. The Neylon family have a long association with premium exports from the Marlborough region, having helped pioneer the green lip mussel industry. They were the first family to grow, process and export this premium product in the early eighties. In 1985 they purchased prime vineyard land in the Rapaura and Dillons Point sub-regions, starting a business partnership with the Wiffin family, first growing orchard fruits, and then establishing a grapevine nursery to supply its vineyards and others in the region. In 2005 they built a winery, two years later their first vintage was produced. Since then the brand has grown exponentially, with Rapaura Springs wines winning awards around the world, including the Sauvignon Blanc Trophy and New Zealand Wine Producer of the year at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London. The team know they’ve only got so many vintages on the planet and they want to make theirs count.

SupermarketNews spoke to owner and director Brendan Neylon to discover more about this great winery and its award-winning wines.

What characteristics of your wine are influenced by the physical landscape of your winery?

“Our wine label depicts the rocky aquifer at our home vineyard in the heart of Marlborough, and the pristine springs that connect it to our land. The water in our springs takes months to filter down from the Southern Alps to the springs at our home vineyard. This pure water feeds our vines via underground aquifers, meaning we can dry farm our home vineyard. The springs also represent our home, it’s where it all began and where our family live today, there is a real sense of place in our wines. The purity of our water also guides our philosophy. In our winemaking that means minimal inputs and respecting the purity of flavour in our wines, respecting our natural environment and not taking for granted the place we’ve got.”

What is one of the most rewarding things about winemaking?

“I get a real kick out of seeing people drinking and enjoying our wines.”

TASTING NOTES

“Pure and vibrant, with layers of passionfruit, tropical fruit and zesty citrus. Juicy fruit flavours and crisp acidity combine to deliver a mouth-watering finish. Our Classic Sauvignon Blanc captures all the trademark sub-regional flavours of Marlborough.”

What was important in making this award-winning wine?

“We minimise the inputs in this wine, respecting the purity of flavour in our grapes. We’re also fortunate that our winery is the only one in the lower Wairau Valley, this means that we can minimise skin contact prior to pressing, allowing us to capture all the expressive aromatics and fruit flavour. We always push that little bit harder and make no compromises when it comes to quality.”

Food Pairing?

“It is delicious with any kind of seafood.”

How long can you shelf your winning bottle of wine for?

“We love to drink Sauvignon when it’s fresh, with intense aromatics and bright, zippy acidity. However, you can safely enjoy this wine for the next two years before it will start to lose some of its vibrant fruit flavour.”

Who would your wine appeal to?

“We make wines that have vibrant, ripe fruit flavour, appealing aromatics and approachable acidity. We like to think that this Sauvignon Blanc is a real crowd pleaser, as it doesn’t have a bracing acidity or a lot of the greener characteristics that some Sauvignon Blanc exhibits.”

How would you describe this wine to someone who's never had this grape varietal/blend before?

“Appealing flavours and aromas of passionfruit, tropical fruit with a mouth-watering finish. Trust me, you’ll like it.”

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 bottle of Sassicaia from Tenuta San Guido. I first fell in love with this wine at an unexpected evening at the end of a vintage I worked in Germany, back in 2007. This wine holds memories of an amazing evening spent with good company in a VDP vineyard with incredible history, right on the French border. The wine was spectacular, but the company and experience made it even more memorable. I would love to drink this wine again, here in New Zealand.”

FAST FACTS:

Founders: John and Margaret Neylon, Brendan Neylon and Ian and Rosemary Wiffin

Current Owners: John and Margaret Neylon, Brendan Neylon and Ian and Rosemary Wiffin

Winemaker: Matt Thomson and Michael Bann

Location: Marlborough

Wine varietals produced: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Rose, Pinot Noir