Last week was definitely New Zealand week in Hong Kong with a whole load of winemakers and winery reps in town showing off their versatile aromatic wines to the public and trade of the city during the Wines Of New Zealand Fair. Luckily for me, one man called Steve Pellett snuck in under the radar so we decided to catch up with him and taste his full range of Marlborough wines in the comfortable surroundings of newly opened Tapas A’Peel.
Steve himself is an Englishman who, after touring the world and driving from London to Cape Town after university has made New Zealand home. Exposure to South African wines during their trip caused Steve to fall in love with wine and he now makes some very interesting and unexpected wines from Marlborough.
“I make wines the way I want to drink them”, says Steve as we delve skeptically into his Sauvignon Blanc, a wine that I was pretty sure I would not like. But you know what they say about assumption, and I can honestly say that I do get it completely wrong sometimes. Steve’s Sauvignon Blanc is not Marlborough-typical. My first tasting note just reads; “really, this is a savvy?” It’s creamy and rounded and if I had tasted this blind, I would have thought it was a Chardonnay. Nothing like the grassy, typical Sauvignon’s coming from Marlborough, much more refined and masculine, without that tell-tale New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc nose that we’ve all come to expect.
Steve’s Pinot Gris is made exactly the way I like it and is a touch and delightfully off dry where the sweetness tickles your tongue. This is my perfect boat trip or barbeque wine. “Just grab some scallops, barbeque them with some lemon and some garlic salt”, says Steve on what to pair this wine with. I reckon I agree with him too, that would make a lovely pairing and something that is simple to do when out at the beach.
The most interesting wine to come from Steve’s winery, actually called Stanley Estates but the wines are named Intrepid, is certainly his Albarino 2012. I for one have never seen an Albarino from New Zealand but boy I am I glad I met this wine. For me it was refined and elegant with great acidity and a perfect wine for pairing with seafood. It’s like liquid Skittles (you know, the candy) with sweet papaya tastes and the finish reminds me of the fruit counter at a buffet breakfast in a holiday hotel. A truly marvelous wine to be fair!
“We used to make Albarino in Spain when we lived there”, says Steve. “We always ate loads of seafood and with that we’d always drink Albarino. We got to appreciate the grape variety and when we took over the vineyard in New Zealand, we wanted to do something different. We are the first producer of Albarino in New Zealand”.
I have to say that I am now a huge fan of Intrepid white wines, especially the Albarino which I am assured is on the next delivery to Hong Kong as Steve hand carried this bottle over from New Zealand for us. Steve only makes one red, a Pinot Noir from Marlborough which is a nice, easy drinking red that is certainly one I think works better with food. It’s quite fat on the mouth with a good body and leaves a nice long finish. It is what you would expect from a New Zealand Pinot Noir, not as herbaceous as something from Central Otago, a little more fruit driven, but very nice overall.
Finally to the Noble Harvest 2011, the sweet botrytised wine that made me first fall in love with Intrepid wines when I first tried this about a year ago. The wine is 100 per cent Sauvignon Blanc and made when the grapes are totally botrytised or, as Steve puts it, “when the grapes look like an old mans scrotum!” It’s a stunning sweet wine (and you know I like my sweet wines!). It has stunning tropical fruit notes and is delectably addictive – which may be why they only come in half bottles! Actually, they only make 1800 bottles per year so if you get the chance to snap some of this up, I would suggest you jump at the chance.
In fact, I can say that overall all of Steve’s wines are exceptionally well made and of his wines (not counting the Noble Harvest) , it’s the Albarino that gets me the most excited. For sure, as soon as it hits the shores of Hong Kong I will be telling you all about it again, but that’s not for a couple of months yet so in the mean time, as the summer begins to kick in, opt for the Sauvignon or the Pinot Gris with that seafood BBQ or the Pinot Noir if you are just having a nice meal at home.