Having recently toured Australia and New Zealand in April and May, Bill and Theresa Peoples hosted a “Kiwi” evening for the “Wine Knots” wine group on June 16. They introduced the group to some delightful wines from the Organic Gibbston Valley Winery, which is outside of Queenstown, New Zealand and was visited by the Peoples.
The two wines tasted were a 2015 School House Pinot Noir and a 2015 China Terrace Chardonnay. These two wines were from the Bendigo sub-region. Bendigo is not as high in elevation as Gibbston, but its defining features are its arid climate and high sun intensity. Bendigo is a historical gold mining site from the late 1860s. The name of each of the wines is a reflection of the vineyard from which each is cultivated; each is a single-vineyard wine.
China Terrace, the homestead of Chinese gold miners, is lower in elevation of the two and is the only Bendigo vineyard that features clay in its soil. The effect is great heat and water retention and more full fruit notes. The China Terrace 2015 Chardonnay is a pale straw color. Golden peach, honeydew and barrel aromas come through on the nose. The palate unfurls with beautiful delicacy, expanding with quiet grace. The impression is of finesse and elegance with layers of creamy fruit. A subtle minerality punctuates the finish.
School House 2015 Pinot Noir, is grown on the north-facing slope located on a glacial terrace. The cooler temperatures by day elongate ripening, meaning wines gain a remarkable intensity, elegance and perfume. Deeply colored and alluring, the wine shows dark fruit, anise, and mocha aromatics. Firm yet suavely sculpted back tannins lead the long, sustained finish.
Both wines were served with 70% Cocao dark chocolate as was done at the winery, and both were suggested best drinking in two to five years but will cellar up to 10 years. The chocolate certainly did not dampen anyone’s appetite! Following the tastings there was rack of lamb and lamb chops along with spinach salad, scalloped and sweet potatoes, bacon wrapped green beans and “Kiwi” pizza and tarts. It was a fun evening with lots of wine, merriment and laughter among friends.