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SPECIALISING in a style of wine means the winemakers can focus their undivided attention on developing the finest product.

Six winemakers from the land of the long white cloud got together under the banner of The Specialist Winegrowers of New Zealand to promote their wines.

The six are Fairbourne Estate (produces Sauvignon Blanc), No 1 Family Estate (Methode Traditionelle), the Hay Paddock (Syrah), Destiny Bay Wines (Cabernet Blends), the Wooing Tree (Pinot Noir) and Vinoptima Estate (Gewurztraminer).

Said to be “lovingly nurtured and matured for the discerning enthusiast”, the wines, which are distributed by New Zealand Unlimited Sdn Bhd, were introduced to guests in a private gathering at Binjai on the Park in Kuala Lumpur recently.

Russel Hooper of the Fairbourne Estate spoke of the wines in general, “These wines made in small volume with a high specification.”

His wife, Sarah Inkersell, 39, is the winemaker while his role is to market and sell the wines.

C1B1EEA4EBC34AFB8F5DBE360F2F3695Tropical flavours: Gewurztraminer 2004 produced by the Vinoptima Estate is one of the six wines in the collection box.

He said the grapes at their vineyards in Malborough were hand harvested and cold-pressed.

Hooper explained the difference between hand harvesting and machine harvesting lies in the time the juice spends in contact with the grape skin, from the time of harvest to the time of pressing.

“The grape skin has stronger flavours than the grape juice. The skin of Sauvignon Blanc grapes, has particularly strong flavours and provides a juice that becomes extremely fragrant when made into wine.

“However, excessive skin contact dominates the wine flavour, making it strong but one-dimensional with an aggressive back palate,” he said.

Fairbourne Estate prefers to keep the juice and skin contact minimal so that the purest free run juice can be obtained for its wine.

17A3C8CB37C247C69CF3B4D68C9AFECASmall volume: Retailed at RM1,522, the collection box contains six wines.

“Our grapes are handpicked so that the juice is not dominated by the flavours of the skins, and that the character of the soil is retained. This allows the wine to show its sense of place, known as terroir in French.

“Handpicked grapes will make a more elegant wine offering a wider range of flavours and finer texture, and holding its character longer than wines dominated by the flavour of the grape skins,” Hooper said.

The grape bunches are chilled overnight as the grapes boast flavours that are more intense and aromatic at a lower temperature.

“Many winemakers choose to harvest before daylight in the morning to maximise this.

“The handpicking process is much slower than machine harvesting, and has to be done during the day, hence we store the grapes overnight to replicate the effect of them being picked early in the morning,” Hooper explained.

New Zealand Unlimited Sdn Bhd managing director Richard Tankersley said many areas in New Zealand boasts of an excellent combination of sun, soil and water, creating the best conditions to grow different types of grapes.

A collection box of six wines was also revealed to the guests during the event.

Representing Fairbourne in the collection was Fairbourne Sauvignon Blanc 2010, while No. 1 Family Estate featured its Cuvee No. 1 Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine.

The latter was aged in the bottle for a minimum of two years for it to develop its finesse, elegance and complex champagne-like characters.

Wooing Tree vineyard, which has bagged trophies and gold medals for its wines including the Best Pinot Noir in the world at the Hong Kong International Wines and Spirits Competition, introduced its Sandstorm Reserve Pinot Noir 2008 in the box.

Destinae Cabernet Blends 2006 comes from Destiny Bay, Waiheke’s first fully sustainable winery, while the Hay Paddock Syrah 2006 won the gold medal at the International Wine Challenge in London, receiving five-star ratings from wine writers.

Vinoptima, Latin for best wines, presented Gewurztraminer 2004, which boasts of tropical fruit flavours balanced with spicy accents of nutmeg and vanilla.

“Retailing at RM1,522, the collection box makes a premium gift,” Tankersley said.

For details, call 03-2141 0822/42.

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