Marsanne and Viognier are the traditional white grape varieties of the Rhone Valley in France. It is rather unusual to find them combined in a single wine in New Zealand.
That said, the country produces more and more Viognier wines. The natural aromatic character of the grape combined with New Zealand ability to produce super-fragrant wines often works wonders.
Marsanne however, is rather unusual in New Zealand, and more generally in the New World.
With a relatively warm climate, the Hawke’s Bay region is particularly suited to Viognier, with a climate that is not dissimilar to the Rhone.
Trinity Hill winery has most of its vineyards in the Gimblett Gravels area of the region and is one of the most reputable wine producers in New Zealand.
As the name suggests, the Gimblett Gravel part of the Hawke’s Bay region has free-draining and warm gravelly soils providing favorable growing conditions to grape varieties requiring heat to ripen like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Viognier. On paper at least then, the conditions are there to produce an interesting Rhone blend.
Winemaking-wise: the fruit for this wine was hand-harvested, and whole-bunch pressed before being directly transferred to barrel. The fermentation with indigeneous yeasts (wild ferment) took place in aged French oak barrels without new oak component. After malo-lactic fermentation and aging on full lees in barrel, the wine was blended and feventually bottled in August 2015.
This wine is part of the producer’s ‘Ginglett Gravels range’ sometimes referred to as Black Label.
But how good is the white Rhone-like blend of Marsanne and Viognier?
The answer is in the tasting notes:
A rather intense and spicy nose dominated by aromas of petrol and wax, rounded up by fruity notes of pear, apricot, and pineapple. There’s a peppery volatile spiciness to it as well, edging towards nutmeg and almost smoky. The latter lightens up the otherwise rather pronounced almost heavy tones.
The wine feels fresh and rich on the palate, with full body and oily texture. A great flavor intensity is revealed, with tropical fruits struggling for power with spices and this petrol-like note again. It’s long, intense, and powerful, on a slightly-low acidity. The oak is well present with aromas of vanilla and hazelnut, and brings in a fine velvety tannic feel. Well balanced overall, with a tension between freshness of some aromas making the wine quite easy to drink, and the sheer power and intensity both on the palate sensations and the flavors.
A very interesting and enjoyable wine in a Southern Rhone white wine style, quite unexpected out of New Zealand. For lovers of rich, oily, and powerful whites, with the aromatic kick typical of NZ wines.
Ideal pairing for grilled seafood, and seafood salads. The wine showcases notes of fennel and anise aromas on the finish that demand white fish or freshly grilled prawns or crayfish. Far from compromising the marriage, the salty touch of the wine will make it even better!
I’m not a sommelier, but I would happily put this on a wine list, as the perfect match for a scallops and/crayfish salad with fresh and juicy pomegranate and grapefruit.
The sort of wine you dream of refined, balanced, and tasty restaurant food to go with it while you’re tasting. Always a good sign!
Find more information about the producing winery at TrinityHill.com
Find this wine to buy online at Wine-Searcher