The Wine Portfolio started in 1978 in the present Cellar Door at its current site. It was originally envisaged that the grapes and production would be all on the one site. However, it was quickly evident that The Bay of Plenty was not suitable to grape growing but it was an ideal position for production and distribution of wine. In 1995 the current owner John Coney purchased the winery and invested heavily in new vineyards and state of the arc technology in the wine making side. The company has grown exponentially and has had recognition for its wines both locally and internationally.
What characteristics of your wine are influenced by the physical landscape of your winery?
“Our Riverview Vineyard at Mangatahi, is relatively cool and elevated and the diurnal temperature variation that comes with that allows us to retain aromas and freshness and acidity whilst still fully ripening the grapes. Our vines thrive on the free draining, river stoney soils and the vineyard block is the closest of all to the winery meaning that we can process the grapes very soon after they are picked.”
What is one of the most rewarding things about winemaking?
“There are so many rewarding things about winemaking that it is hard to single just one out but a favourite would have to be seeing how much enjoyment people get from tasting one of your wines or being able to sit down at the end of a hard day in the cellar and share a glass of something you have crafted with a workmate or friends and family.”
“Stonefruit and gentle vanilla oak aromas lead through to a palate of riper stonefruit flavours and soft, toasty oak. It is generous, mouth-filling and moreish without being flabby. The fruit, acid and tannin balance is seamless. You will need a second glass.”
What was important in making this award-winning wine?
“The kind weather conditions of the 2019 vintage allowed us to hand pick the grapes for this wine at their optimum. That’s the key, getting clean fruit off the vine gently when it’s at its best. The grapes for this wine all came off our highly regarded Riverview site and are 100% Mendoza clone. From there it was barrel fermented in a mix of new and seasoned French oak barriques and lees stirred by hand weekly. The final blend for the wine was made by our winemaking team who tasted every barrel in order to get the best selection possible.”
“This wine will pair well with the usual array of everyday seafood, white meats and creamy pastas but for a special treat I’d be looking to match it with a freshly caught Hawkes Bay crayfish or a traditional stuffed and roasted chicken.”
How long can you shelf your winning bottle of wine for?
“Drinking beautifully now but will continue to evolve and develop in the bottle for another 5 years.”
Who would your wine appeal to?
“This wine will, I think, appeal to a wide range of people. It’s a real crowd pleaser, and will be enjoyed as much by the seasoned wine connoisseur for its finesse, balance and subtle complexities as it will by the less experienced drinker who perhaps is looking to broaden then wine range and palate.”
How would you describe this wine to someone who's never had this grape varietal/blend before?
“Is there anyone left in the world who is yet to try Chardonnay? Seriously though, I would describe it as a friendly and approachable wine, but with considerable interest and complexity for those who want to look deeper into it. An everyday wine that would not look out of place or let anyone down if it had to step up to be a special occasion wine.”
If you could do a wine bottle swap with any winery in NZ or the world, which winery and wine would it be with?
“That’s a tough one, but I suppose it would be good to swap our Chardonnay for another Chardonnay, say with a top producer from Burgundy where the Chardonnay grape originates from. I’d go for a Coche Dury Grand Cru Corton Charlemagne, Cote de Beaune. It would be good to show a Burgundian winemaker what we can do with ‘their’ grape here in Hawkes Bay. For me it would be an opportunity to taste a wine that, retailing for several thousand dollars a bottle, I will probably never afford to buy myself!”