Ohau Wines visit, NZ, December 2014
Last week we visited Ohau Wines, a winery producing exciting award-winning aromatic wines that was established in 2006 in NZ’s newest wine region - in the lower North Island on the west coast area of Horowhenua, nearest town Levin.
Sustainable Wines UK is the exclusive importer of Ohau wines to the UK so we were excited to meet the team there and get a first-hand account of the operation. Our first shipment will be arriving in the UK in January 2015 – details below about where you can get your first taste of these terrific wines.
The winery changed hands in late 2012 and the new owners and their team have made changes to the vineyard management that are now bearing fruit, if you’ll excuse the pun! We met with General Manager Donna Riley (on the left in the photo below), and Marketing Manager Ashleigh Le Gal (partially hidden on the right).
The Ohau vineyard location is unusual in that it is the only one on the west coast of New Zealand. The site experiences high rainfall and high winds, which are also unusual conditions for a successful vineyard. However, this coast is famous for its unique microclimate with long warm, dry late autumn days and cool nights, which assist in intense flavour development during the ripening season.
2014 is the first vintage produced using a stricter canopy management approach, under the watchful eye of vineyard manager Tim Higginson, and Wairarapa winemaker Jane Cooper who has made the Ohau wines since its inception. (We also visited Jane in the Wairarapa and will post this interview on the blog soon).
From the vineyards on the east side of State Highway 1 which bisects the property, Ohau produces a 100% oaked Sauvignon Blanc, the Single Vineyard; as well as the lightly oaked Ohau Gravels Sauvignon Blanc, and the Ohau Gravels Pinot Gris. The Ohau Gravels range of wines is named for the signature gravel stone remnants in the vineyard, forged over time by the force of the Ohau River.
From the blocks west of State Highway 1 the Woven Stone range of wines is produced: the Sauvignon Blanc, the Pinot Gris, the Rosé and the Pinot Noir. The Woven Stone range is Ohau’s second label wine.
The new website to be launched in January 2015 will enable customers to trace the wines back to their original growing site.
New measures being brought in to enhance sustainability include:
- replacing tanalised wooden posts with steel posts, because the chemicals used in the tanalising risk being leached into the ground and affecting the vines;
- planting blue-flowered plants that attract lacewing flies which are natural predators of the mealy bug, a common pest on vines;
- crushed glass under the vines which suppresses weeds and holds the sun’s heat allowing it to be reflected onto the vines to enhance ripening.
We did a vertical tasting of the Woven Stone Sauvignon Blanc from 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. The point of this was to experience how the Ohau Sauvignon Blancs are able to age and still be delicious and aromatic after several years, unlike many of those from Marlborough which are very fruit-forward and tend to fade away after the first year or two.
- The 2011 still had great acidity with gooseberry, lime and herb characteristics on the nose and palate. The late, dry autumn provided cool nights, ideal for the long slow flavour development during the ripening of the fruit. This wine won the TOP WHITE WINE award at the Korean International Wine Challenge 2012.
- The 2012 is still tasting rich and full, not often found with a Sauvignon; again the lime and gooseberry notes and this time with a hint of green apples as well on the nose and palate with good complex acidity. This wine won a Bronze medal at the 2013 International Wine Challenge in San Francisco.
- The 2013 is complex on the nose with gooseberries, capsicum and grass, and has a long finish of gooseberries, nettle, lemon and grass.
- With the 2014 I got stone fruit, citrus and herbs. It shows good complexity and will develop in the bottle to become more mellow and rounded.
SO, COME AND TASTE THE OHAU WINES!
On 20 January 2015, we will have the 2014 Woven Stone and Ohau Gravels releases open for tasting at the Ultimate NZ Wine Tasting in London, 5.30-8.30pm. Click below to book tickets:
Look forward to seeing you there!