I’ve been a big fan and admirer of New Zealand winemaker James Millton for many years. He has made wines at his eponymous estate in Gisborne since 1984. Moreover, since day one, James and his wife Annie have produced their wines by using organic methods, and as a result they taste pure and natural. In most people’s opinions the wines produced from the Millton Vineyard are the most quintessential and expressive, not only of their region, but also of the grape variety. James is very particular about which grape variety is planted on which soil within his vineyards. He makes a huge effort and has a lot of attention to detail. The wines also display an energy and balance - two qualities, which are very much hallmarks of wines produced using biodynamic principles.
James Millton and his estate’s wines featured prominently in the Gisborne chapter in my book about New Zealand – “An Epicurean Odyssey: A Road Trip Around New Zealand“. Possibly, the wine for which he is most famous is the Chenin Blanc from the Te Arai Vineyard. This wine also featured and did well at my blind tasting of Chenin Blancs from around the World – “Craving For Chenin“.
Even though he has a fabulous reputation for the Chenin Blanc – a grape variety not very widely-planted within New Zealand and requires certain conditions, he also produces other wine styles. Recently, I tasted a trio of his white wines – 2009 “Te Arai” Chenin Blanc, 2009 “Riverpoint” Viognier and 2007 “Opou” Chardonnay.
2009 “Te Arai” Chenin Blanc – fresh green apple, lightly honeyed with some waxy hints. Has a real presence on the palate and displays power and elegance with minerality. 2009 is the current release of this iconic wine, but it would be interesting to see how it ages. The wine certainly has the acidity and complexity. The latter quality in the wine is a true reflection of the age of these vines, and the care in which they have been tended since the first vintage 1984. More technical information here.
2009 “Riverpoint” Viognier – displayed lovely floral and stone fruit aromas, yet well-balanced and restrained. A very elegant wine, with typical mouthfeel and texture on the palate, yet was deliciously poised with a long, mouth-watering finish. Wine RRP £12.99 and available from Laithwaites. More technical information on the vineyard’s website here.
2007 “Opou” Chardonnay – honeyed, citrus and honeydew melon with a touch of beeswax. Very flavoursome and powerful, with some leesy notes and a big, long, creamy finish. Perfectly balanced, with potential for further ageing. Wine RRP £17.99 and available from Laithwaites. More technical information here.
Vintage Roots are the UK agents and distributors for Millton Vineyard wines. Please contact them for further information.
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Many thanks and best wishes to you all.
The epicurean odyssey continues…