The Vintry, within the Matakana cinema complex, is a good starting point for familiarising yourself with this ever more popular wine region. Established five years ago it boasts the largest local wine list, allowing people to taste wines from different vineyards without leaving the village! They do blind tastings (only with wines they sell by the glass), and although I found the proprietor somewhat condescending, it is a rather neat concept to introduce people to the basics of wine tasting and the region. A cross between a bar and the local wine merchant perhaps?
I had a "blind" tasting sitting out on their expansive deck. Glasses were poured and presented, before bottles were revealed. A few surprises, some more pleasant than others. It was a fun way to taste wines of Matakana, although not nearly as satisfying as visiting the vineyards themselves. I guess there’s just something special about being able to see the landscape that nurtured the grapes that you sip.
Mahurangi River Winery Field of Grace 2010 Chardonnay
Golden straw, medium bodied, intense fruity nose of ripe melon and pear, palate redolent of stonefruits and a trace of honey cut through by acid and a hint of flint. Beautifully delicious bouquet but I feel it didn’t quite deliver on finish. Perhaps a more restrained style of Chardonnay?
Brick Bay 2012 Pinot Gris
Lemony straw coloured, subtle stonefruits dominate the bouquet and palate with hints of lime and honey. A clean, and rather lean, wine.
Heron’s Flight 2012 Rosé
Heron’s Flight specialises in Italian varietals, and this one is made from Dolcetto, hailing from the North Western Piedmont region. Now I must admit I’ve never tasted Dolcetto so I don’t know what it’s suppose to be like, but this Rosé is gorgeously pink, almost florescent! Filled with sweet berries, citrus, and almost pink grapefruit flavours. It’s a light and delectably summery drink, quite adept as the dolcetto, or “little sweet one”.
Ransom 2010 K-Syrah
Now that Bordeaux blends are slightly out of vogue, Syrah is perhaps the most popular red in Matakana. This is a pretty classic Syrah, deep red in colour with black pepper, cassis, black cherries, and a hint of tobacco. Dry, firm, masculine, a solid food wine.
Runner Duck 2009 Red
Perhaps the surprising highlight of the flight, from a boutique 8-acre vineyard in Warkworth (whose town symbol is the duck), this is a remarkably fragrant red smelling of violets and raspberries, tasting of sweet Doris plums and spicy blackberry pie. It is round, smooth, and soft, and oh so ridiculously easy to drink. An interesting blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.