Tasting the New Zealand Wines of Rising Marlborough Star Jules Taylor…

I don’t seem to write about New Zealand wines enough. Is it perhaps because I don’t often get surprised or stopped in my tracks by an exciting new release Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc? Possibly. Don’t get me wrong, I love all New Zealand wines including commercial supermarket Sauvignon Blanc brands etc. But they don’t necessarily inspire me to wax lyrical and share them with followers of my blog.


But yesterday the lovely Jules Taylor hosted a tasting of her full range of wines for me. Jules launched her own label in 2001 and made her first batch of Jules Taylor wines including 200 cases of Pinot Gris and Riesling. Today those 200 cases have been joined by Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Rose, Gruner Veltliner and Arneis.


Jules produces very smart wines as you’d expect from someone who previously worked at Cloudy Bay and Kim Crawford Wines, both kiwi Icon brands. But her Jukes Taylor wines are much more artisanal and characterful with real complexity and attention to detail. I’m especially a big fan of her Gruner Veltliner but it was her 2016 Pinot Gris that unexpectedly just blew me away.


Made from new clone M2 and 52B Pinot Gris planted in the last 6 years, they produce beautiful little berries which are full of concentrated flavours of spice & stone fruits. The grapes for this Pinot Gris come from the Lower Wairau, Southern Valleys and Lower Dashwood sub regions of Marlborough. A portion has been hand-harvested with the balance picked in the cool of the morning by machine. The machine harvested portion of this fruit was fermented with selected commercial yeast strains chosen to enhance the natural flavours of the variety. The hand-picked portion was whole bunch pressed, then wild fermented with natural yeasts. This also underwent a full malolactic fermentation. Lees stirring in the barrel has also added an extra textural component to the wine. The wine was blended, stabilised and bottled in July 2016.


Jules Taylor Pinot Gris 2016, Marlborough, 13.5 Abv. (RRP Β£16-17pb)

A beautiful textural Pinot Gris with lucious pear, white peach, tangerine peel and aromatic stone fruit flavours. The partial wild ferment imparts extra richness, and exotic complexity while the lees stiring contributes a complimentary nutty, biscuity minerality. There is no flabby fat on this taught, beautiful Pinot Gris with the wine remaining almost bone dry at 1.8 g/l RS. The palate is layered and textured but underpinned throughout by a vibrant crystalline acidity and great fruit intensity. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a kiwis Pinot Gris this much in years! 

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Tasting Fine Marlborough Pinot Noir with the Kiwi Legend Brian Bicknell of Mahi Wines…

I first met Brian Bicknell way back in 2000 when he was still making the characterful wines of Seresin. I thought he was a real cool dude back then and certainly still think so today. So it was wonderful to catch up with Brian this afternoon to taste through his lovely Mahi wines. 


Brian is an ex-Roseworthy graduate and chose Marlborough to settle down in way back in 1996 after making wine all around the world for 15 years. His first Mahi vintages were in 2001, buying fruit from a dedicated group of growers. In 2006 Brian acquired the old Cellier Le Brun winery, finally giving Mahi wines a true home.


Working very naturally in a hands-off manner, Brian focuses on making wines that speak of their terroir and origin. Sourcing fruit from the same vineyards continuously, for many years, has also allowed his knowledge and understanding to grow with every vintage. All his single vineyard wines use wild yeast ferments while his estate wines are a combination of innoculated and wild yeast vinifications.


Tasting Note: Mahi Wines 2013 Pinot Noir, Marlborough, 13.5 Abv. – This wine shows very pretty black fruit aromatics and wonderfully lifted, fragrant perfume. Sweet roses, pink musk, red plums, black cherry and black currant notes waft out the glass intermingled with graphite, gravelly spice and pithy foresty bramble fruits. The palate is vibrant, slightly crunchy and fresh revealing sour plums, stewed cranberries and salty black berries with fine, spicy, savoury mineral tannins on the finish. Has all the hallmark elegance of fine Marlborough Pinot Noir with ample minerality and sappy choc spice oak complexity on the finish. A wine starting to show real promise at 4 years old. Drink or keep for another 5 to 8 years.

(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)