Kiwi wineries play up rugby links

his is a momentous year in more ways than one for New Zealand Winegrowers, which celebrates three decades of wine in the UK at its London trade tasting. In keeping with New Zealand’s coup of 2010 – hosting the Rugby World Cup last September – this year’s Kiwi tasting has a rugby theme to accompany the 800-plus wines from 70-plus different wineries. Many wines will be making their UK debut.

“We also have four different self-pour ‘themed tables’ to highlight regionality,” says New Zealand Wine­growers Europe Director David Cox. These include: New Zealand Chardonnay versus Chablis; Regional and sub-regional New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; and Table of the unexpected – surprising varietals from New Zealand. Syrah wil also feature – while the variety in New Zealand is dubbed, by some, as “the one to watch”, quantities remain minuscule with just 297ha planted.

The Sustainability Gallery is new this year. From vintage 2012, Kiwi wineries must be independently audited by a recognised sustainable winegrowing body if they want to use marketing initiatives from New Zealand Winegrowers.

Brancott Estate will debut in the UK with its Classic range, named after Brancott Vineyard in Marlborough – home of Montana Wines, where Marl-?borough’s first Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted. Wines for tasting include: Pinot Noir 2009 and the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010. Chief winemaker Patrick Materman describes 2010 as “one of the finest in recent memory”.

Vintage 2010 marks 10 years for Spy Valley Wines in Marlborough. Chief winemaker Paul Bourgeois will run through its new wines, including its first rosé, and explain the new “spy” QR label code.

Four different ARA wines can be tasted: Path­way, Marlborough, Composite and Resolute. UK and mainland Europe business development manager Julie Dawson will show the new, textured Composite label.

The world’s first Maori winery Tohu Wines began in 1998 in Marl­borough. Chief executive Mike Brown hosts a tasting of trophy-winning Marlbor­ough Sauvignon Blanc 2010.

Te Mata Estate, Hawkes Bay, is one of New Zealand’s oldest, most consistent, high-quality producers of Cabernet Sauv­ignon and Merlot-based reds. The new Coleraine and Awatea 2008 will be there.

Escarpment, Martin­borough, is regarded as one of New Zealand’s kings of Pinot Noir.

Twelve Kiwi winemakers took part in Mud House Vineyard’s inaugural New Zealand Riesling Challenge. Contest-ants each received four tonnes of grapes in April from Mud House, which they crushed, pressed and fermented to produce their idea of the best Riesling style. Taste some of the results.

North Canterbury winery Waipara Springs will open its Premo Dry Riesling 2009, made from 21-year-old vines, with partial wild fermentation and “some” oak influence.

Stanley Estates, a Marlborough label from the Awatere Valley, launches in the UK with the Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Pinot Gris 2010 and Pinot Noir 2009.

Felton Road Wines, one of Central Otago’s most sought-after wineries, will open three Rieslings: its Felton Road Bannockburn Chardonnay 2009 (rrp £22) and three Pinot Noirs, all from 2009, ranging from £27 to £34.

Craggy Range Wines is a single vineyard winery in Hawkes Bay but sources grapes from all over New Zealand. Tasting highlights include Marlborough 2010 and Martinborough 2008 Sauvignon Blancs and Te Muna Road Pinot Noir 2009, Hawkes Bay Syrahs, Rieslings and Pinot Noir from the South Island.

Churton Wines, a biodynamic and organic vineyard owned by Sam and Mandy Weaver in Marlborough, will launch new single block release The Abyss Pinot Noir.

Taste the new dry Villa Maria Private Bin Riesling 2010, the lighter-style rosé and Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2010. Esk Valley wines, including the Esk Valley Verdelho 2010, will also be there. Winemaker Gordon Russell uses grapes from Hawkes Bay and Marlborough in these consistently standout wines. All Vidal wines will be open, including its Reserve wines.

Ager Sectus Wine Estates includes The Crossings Awatere Valley, Crossroads Hawkes Bay and Southbank Estate Marlborough. A wide range of wines from different regions will be opened.

Ex-chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay Kevin Judd began his own wine label, Greywacke, in 2009. He will open his Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Wild Sauvignon 2009 (a wild yeast, barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc) and Pinot Noir 2009.

Awatere Valley-based winery Yealands Estate has a strong environmental focus. Winemaker Tamra Washington will taste through Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Viognier and the debut 2009 Pinot Noir.

Tinpot Hut’s winemakers Fiona Turner and Matt Thomson will open their brand new Grüner Veltliner.

?Vavasour Wine Company planted the first vines in the Awatere Valley, Marlborough, in 1985. Winemaker Stu Marfell will open Vavasour and Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

, against Sauvignon Blanc’s 16,910ha