The Hunting Lodge property was purchased in 2016 by the Sutton Family who have been supportive of rejuvenating the Home Vineyard and also freedom when it comes to winemaking expression. The brand holds a sense of nostalgia for the Suttons who, as friends of the original owners, spent a lot of time on the property with their children helping develop it back in the 1980s. The site itself is home to the historic Hunting Lodge homestead and restaurant and even some of the vines first planted by Bill and Ross Spence back in the early 1970s.
SupermarketNews spoke with The Hunting Lodge’s winemaker Peter Turner to find out more about their award-winning top drops.
What characteristics of your wine are influenced by the physical landscape of your winery?
“We are fortunate enough to have a site rich in history but also to be a young and dynamic wine company. On one side, we have some of the oldest Sauvignon Blanc vines in the country. We fully embrace this and our Homeblock Sauvignon Blanc is one of our flagship wines but made in a more modern, alternative style. On the other side, we are young and are not bound by expectations or traditions. This allows us to think a little more outside the square and break away from some of the more traditional wine business preconceptions. We source grapes from all regions and champion alternative varietals and marketing campaigns. We’ll give most things a crack.”
What is one of the most rewarding things about winemaking?
“Every vintage and sometimes every day is different with winemaking and that keeps it exciting. However, the notion of terroir extending from the vineyard to the environment in which the wine is enjoyed is personally the most rewarding - seeing an experience unfold with a group of people over a bottle of your wine. The wine might not be a focal point but it definitely helps shape that experience in some way.”
What was important in making this award-winning wine?
Albariño – “Ultimately the timing of harvest – retaining the zesty acidity with that big, juicy round mid-palate packed with stone fruits.”
Merlot Malbec – Pushing the fruit on the vine to optimum ripeness, plenty of attention during ferment and the choice of classy oak.
Albariño – Bright acidity, structure and body meet a foray of citrus and fleshy stone fruit aromas intertwined with white florals, wild fennel and crushed seashells. A taut but generous palate delivers lemongrass, white peach, a touch of aniseed and a unique salty minerality. Bold, fresh and the perfect Spring weather companion.
Merlot Malbec – Two of the more approachable and generous red varieties from Bordeaux, Merlot and Malbec are a match made in heaven - soft and juicy meets inky and robust. From the Gravels of Hawkes Bay, this blend of Merlot and Malbec delivers a matrimony of elegance and temptation. Rich, black plum and cassis flavours of Merlot are met by violets, wild berries, game and from Malbec. A wine with depth of flavour and an assertive yet warming structure.
FOOD PAIRING RECOMMENDATIONS
Albariño – Fresh pan-fried Hauraki Gulf Snapper (or Marlborough Groper) and a Greek salad, or Seafood Chowder.
Merlot Malbec – Partially smoked Vension with roasted seasonal vegetables.
How long can you shelf your winning bottle of wine for?
Albariño – Best drinking now and over the next 2 years.
Merlot Malbec – Superb drinking now but will cellar well for 3-4 years.
Who would your wine appeal to?
Albariño – People daring enough to try something different and yes, all also all the people who talk about Riesling but never buy it.
Merlot Malbec – Those after an approachable, juicy red offering a bit of sophistication without the pretense.
How would you describe this wine to someone who's never had this grape varietal/blend before?
Albariño – A bit like Riesling except sexy and a bit like Viognier but more elegant.
Merlot Malbec – Power and sophistication with extreme drinkability.
If you could do a wine bottle swap with any winery in NZ or the world, which winery and wine would it be with?
“Assuming Domaine de la Romanee-Conti weren’t interested in a straight bottle swap; it would be with old mate Uncle James (Rowan) down the road at West Brook. We swap a few bottles every now and then, share triumphs, fails and gossip. Undoubtedly, the wine would have to be Waimauku Chardonnay. Go Auckland Chardonnay!”
Founders: Brent and Denise Sutton.
Current Owner: Brent and Denise Sutton
Winemaker: Pete Turner
Location: Waimauku, Auckland.
Wine varietals produced: Pinot Gris, Rose, Syrah, Lagrein, Albariño, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot Malbec, Malbec Merlot, Chardonnay, Viognier.