As a country, we drink our wine far too young,” believes winemaker Alastair Maling. “In a restaurant, if you are ordering chardonnay, always try to get one that’s three or four years old. And it’s a crime that we’re already drinking the 2017-vintage pinot noirs from Central Otago.”
As chief winemaker and head of viticulture for Foley Family Wines, Maling, a Master of Wine, has overall responsibility for several popular brands, including Vavasour, Dashwood, Grove Mill, Goldwater, Te Kairanga and Martinborough Vineyard. Its latest acquisition, of high-profile Mt Difficulty vineyards and winery in Central Otago for about $55 million, has been approved by the Overseas Investment Office.
Foley Family Wines is controlled by American billionaire Bill Foley, who owns numerous wineries in California and Washington state. Foley built his fortune in title insurance and has chaired a bewildering array of fastfood and other groups. Now, his goal is to “bring financial discipline to the wine industry”.
Since making his first move here in 2009, Foley has steadily expanded his wine empire, while boosting quality. Many of the wines offer exceptional value.
Goldwater Wairau Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018
This is a punchy, medium to fullbodied wine (12.5% alc/vol), with fresh, strong, tropical-fruit aromas and vibrant passionfruit/lime flavours. $21
Grove Mill Wairau Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2017
Delicious young, but also well worth cellaring, this youthful wine was French oak-aged for 10 months. It is fragrant, full-bodied (13% alc/vol) and vibrant, with a slightly smoky bouquet, generous stone fruit flavours, showing good complexity and a dry, persistent finish. Fine value. $20
Te Kairanga Runholder Martinborough Pinot Noir 2017
This classy young red was estategrown and matured for 10 months in French oak casks. Deep ruby, it is graceful and sweet-fruited, with satisfying body (13% alc/vol), generous cherry, plum and spice flavours, finely integrated oak adding complexity and a rich, rounded finish. $32
Vavasour Awatere Valley Marlborough Rosé 2018
Hard to resist, this vivacious, lightpink wine is full-bodied (13% alc/ vol), with fresh acidity and strong watermelon, strawberry, peach and spice flavours. Made from pinot noir, it’s a dry style, showing lovely depth, delicacy and harmony. $25