In the early nineties, Trevor and Robyn Bolitho were keen to diversify their horticultural operation into grape growing and winemaking. They recognised that the stony alluvial soils of the Waimea Plains were ideal for Fine Wine production. They planted their Annabrook, Hunter and Hill vineyards between 1993 and 1995. The first wine from these vines was produced in 1997 and was an immediate success, winning the Best Sauvignon Blanc trophy in the 1998 Winestate Awards. By 2006 they had planted their Hope, Packhouse, Colin's and Lansdowne Road Vineyards and built a modern winery on site to support the rapid growth in wine production.
One of the distinguishing features of Nelson wineries today is that all of them are family owned and run, and Waimea Estates is no exception. They pride themselves on remaining a boutique producer and, since those first plantings, as a family, they have been intimately involved with production. They believe that great wines begin in the vineyard and the winemaker says “I'd like to think that the care with which we manage the soil and the plants that grow in it has an enormous impact on the ultimate quality and consistency of the wine we produce’.
It was over a bottle of wine that Trudy Shield fell in love with the idea of winemaking and set in motion an exciting career. Studying at Lincoln University and working in vintages overseas, in March 2004 Trudy arrived at Waimea in time for the harvest. Nine years on, Trudy is Head Winemaker and has run their core winery team since 2010. The finesse with which Trudy finishes her wines and her exceptional palate has seen the accolades roll in thick and fast.
Harvest 2014 was notable for the excellent quality of fruit produced thanks to a season that was warm and dry for Nelson. Excellent concentration of flavours and ripeness levels were reached several weeks earlier than expected, resulting in an early start to harvesting in the second week of March. Fortuitously this meant that when more than 200mm of rain hit the upper South Island mid-April their fruit was already happily fermenting in the winery.
Over a period of eight days in late March-early April the parcels of fruit for this wine were collected from five estate vineyards, all of them based on the stony Waimea Plains. Prior to harvesting, each vineyard parcel was scrutinised for the attributes it would bring to the final blend and once chosen scheduled in for harvest very early morning so to arrive at the winery cool, protecting the precious aromatics. Once at the winery the fruit was quickly pressed. Pressing was monitored so to separate free run and lightly pressed juice from hard pressed juice. The juice was cold settled to obtain a clarified juice and then inoculated with yeast chosen for its ability to contribute to the aromatic profile. The ensuing ferments were carefully overseen and stopped when the individual wines became harmonious. For a textural component to the wine, a small percentage of the final blend was aged on fine lees. Come late June each wine was carefully graded and the most expressive blend was decided upon. The wine was then carefully finished ready for bottling late July.
Vibrant floral aromas and cool tropical notes the nose. The generosity you are led to expect from the aroma follows through on the palate. Great concentration makes this a very mouth-filling wine which is stretched out to a long finish by a chalky minerality typical of the Waimea Plains. Combined with a pleasing acidity it makes a scrumptious and refreshing aperitif and an excellent companion to light, fresh meals.