Dinner and tasting event with winemaker

  • Auntsfield Vineyard: winemaker Luc Cowley will host a dinner at Barracuda Grill and a tasting at Marcus’ this month

    Auntsfield Vineyard: winemaker Luc Cowley will host a dinner at Barracuda Grill and a tasting at Marcus’ this month

If you would like to taste some lovely wines with Luc Cowley of Auntsfield, you can book a place at Marcus’ for October 26.

If you would prefer to join him for a wine dinner the night before, you can by booking space at Barracuda Grill.

In both cases please refer to the “Auntsfield Event”.

But let me start at the beginning. We must go back to 1854 when David Herd arrived in New Zealand.

While everyone around him was looking around the land and thinking “sheep”, he looked at it and thought “wine”. With this vision he became Marlborough’s founding winemaker. This is now a region famed throughout the world for its wine, but it was Herd who first saw that potential, deciding that the landscape, the soil and the weather were all perfect.

Herd conceived this dream of making wine on the Auntsfield Estate and planted his first grapes in 1873.

Today with four massive gum trees standing sentinel, the rammed earth cellar with dirt floor and Manuka log roof, it is an impressive reminder that winemaking in Marlborough does, in fact, have a proud past. This cellar was the first of its kind to be built in Marlborough.

It was another 100 years before the first of the new era vines were planted in the region. Sited at Auntsfield Vineyard, the old cellar has been lovingly restored to its historical glory. For the Cowley family, the cellar is the first in a long journey to restore a very special part of this region’s history.

When Graeme and Linda Cowley bought the property there were no grapes anywhere around them. It wasn’t until they began researching the history of the land that they realised they had purchased Marlborough’s very first vineyard. Auntsfield is a family business in every sense of the word. At the very heart of this are Graeme and Linda’s sons — Ben and Luc Cowley. Both men are utterly passionate about the part they play in creating the exceptional wines made there at Auntsfield. Ben is the general manager and viticulturalist while Luc is the winemaker that will be visiting us.

I have never seen higher scores for sauvignon blanc from anywhere in the world. Decanter magazine rated the 2016 98/100. Their 2012 garnered first place out of 238 New Zealand sauvignon blancs tasted by Cuisine magazine.

When we became involved with Discovery Wines a couple of years ago we realised that Auntsfield was one of their top sellers. In fact, so much so that recently we have run out of their sauvignon blanc a couple of times. I believe that we have solved this with a large shipment of their 2018 vintage that has just been unloaded as I write. As it is too soon to find many reviews I will share one from critic Raymond Chan: “Very pale straw colour. The nose is soft with ripe, passion-fruity aromas. This has lovely harmony. Medium-bodied, the ripe passion fruit flavours are softly presented, and the palate is composed of fine phenolic textures with bright acidity. The integration, balance and togetherness are gorgeous. Luc Cowley reported that 2018 wasn’t an easy vintage, but lessons learnt from 2017 were invaluable.”

Here are comments from Luc: “Cool fermentation with cultured yeast in stainless steel tanks was utilised to retain the fresh varietal aromatics. This was balanced by a portion of the fruit subjected to traditional winemaking practices; handpicked, whole bunch pressed and fermented in seasoned oak barrels, adding texture and length to the wine. The result is a handcrafted wine combining the bright fresh fruit characters with an underlying minerality and fine structure.” Auntsfield 2018 Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc $19.70.

If you think that all the talent goes into their sauvignon blanc you are mistaken. Well-known New Zealand wine writer Michael Cooper gives his absolute highest five-star rating to the Auntsfield 2014 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir that we currently have, and this is his description: “Matured for ten months in French oak casks (just over 30 per cent new), it is deeply coloured, mouth-filling, warm and concentrated, with very ripe plum, cherry and spice flavours, nutty and savoury, good tannin backbone and strong personality. Best drinking 2018+.” $30.40.

I do not have much more space for superlatives but let me end with Auntsfield Heritage Pinot Noir 2013. Wine Orbit reviews: “This is totally seductive on the nose exhibiting mature fruit, smoked meat, clove, black olive and floral characters with hints of dried herb and violet notes. It is impeccably composed on the palate, showing outstanding weight and plush texture, brilliantly enhanced by rich fruit intensity and savoury complexity. The wine offers generosity as well as refinement, leading to a seamless persistent finish. The wine is infused with 100-year-old wine, which was produced on this land. At its best now to 2023. 97/100.” $60.90.

Luc Cowley’s wine dinner at Barracuda Grill takes place October 25. The winemaker is offering a tasting at Marcus’ the following day, from 5.30 until 7.30pm. This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm

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Published Oct 19, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 19, 2018 at 7:41 am)

Dinner and tasting event with winemaker

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