FROM THE TASTINGS: MAN O' WAR
MAN O' WAR WITH DUNCAN McTAVISH
Tuesday 3rd October 2017
Mention Man O' War wines and eyes light up. The biggest winery on Waiheke Island, in recent years their wines have become very sought after. Partly due to the amazing location on the West end of the Island. The aspect of the cellar door rivals the best, whether you drive out there or cruise on up (just don't forget about the outgoing tide while you sup your wines!). But it is probably no coincidence that the arrival of wine-maker Duncan McTavish heralded huge quality improvements both in wine-making and viticulture (The "Skill of the Winemaker" was mentioned!). The 120+ small vineyard plots have been focused to just 74 including those on neighbouring island Ponui - still a lot of plots, but now much more focused. There is quite an extensive range of wines and styles and tonight Duncan tasted us through a number of them. Great stories; great wines.
Man O' War Tulia Brut $51.99
A Blanc de Blanc (100% Chardonnay) which is aged in barrel with no malo-lactic and given no dosage (added sweetness) at disgorgement time. The result is a bright crisp and fresh bubbly with a subtle underlying brioche character. “Tulia is a small and gentle breeze which just seems so completely appropriate for our tiny and treasured parcel of Methode”. A very limited release wine.
75% Sauvignon Blanc 25% Sémillon with all the Semillon and 20% of the Sauvignon barrel aged. Duncan began his winemaking career at Pegasus Bay and this wine is influenced by their Sauvignon Semillon as well as those of Bordeaux. This wine is still as fresh as, and there is no hint of aging. It has flavours of fresh herbs and fennel with a core of tropical fruits. A deservedly highly rated and accoladed wine both in NZ and Internationally – Gold Decanter and Trophy for Best NZ White Wine International Wine Challenge.
Selected from the very best barrels, this wine typifies the varied and careful selection process that Man O' War wines go through. From 9 vineyard sites – the hilltop sites contribute finesse and acidity whilst the lower valley sites contribute richness. Each parcel is foot trodden before wild fermentation on full solids with no lees stirring and no malolactic. No sulphur is added at this stage to encourage some oxidative characters. This is quite a savoury style with ripe stonefruits - golden peach nectarine yet quite taut and restrained.
From Waiheke Island & Ponui Island which just lies to the west of Waiheke. It is the Ponui portion that originally dicated the style of this Pinot Gris - the grapes can only be barged off the island when the tides are suitable and this also dictates picking times. This originally resulted in a late pick style which became hugely popular and is continued today. The aromas burst out of the glass redolent of apricots and ginger spice. The sweetness is balanced by fine acidity. Unctuous and delicious.
A hugely successful Rose label that seems to have taken NZ by storm. A blend of 36% Merlot, 34% Malbec, 30% Syrah pressed very lightly in the Champagne press and fermented completely dry.
Man O War produce two Syrah. The Dreadnought which is the full bodied “Aussie style” and this, which has more of a nod to the Cote Roties of Northern Rhone. Made in a similar manner to a Pinot Noir (as are most top NZ Syrah) with gentle extraction, 30% whole cluster and has 2% Viognier co-fermented. Really lifted, floral aroma with super fine tannins – almost like milk-chocolate melting on the palate with glace cherry and dark plum flavours.
50% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 15% Malbec, 10% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Hand-picked fruit with the majority de-stemmed so no crushing of the fruit. After ferment, batches were aged in older oak for 18 months. Medium bodied with soft, fine tannins. This has a real blueberry, currant character with a chocolatey edge. Fruity, tasty and very drinkable.
60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot & 10% Malbec. Unlike the white label, this is co-fermented as one wine and then aged in 40% new oak for 18 months. Some of the grapes also come from Ponui Island. This is a big, super concentrated wine with a great combination of red fruits, olives and spiced floral notes. Supple ripe tannins give an excellent mouthfeel, finishing nicely dry. An excellent wine.
Aptly named with a sense of humour – Hellburner was the name given to the notorious fire ships Drake unleashed in darkness upon an unsuspecting Spanish Armada or as Duncan described “the first weapon of mass destruction”. This too could cause mass destruction if not consumed with care. A blend of Cabernet from 2012 and Petit Verdot from 2013 fermented on the skins of Malbec. Stopped at around 100gms rs and fortified to nearly 20% alc. Lusciously sweet, utterly delicious and dangerously enjoyable!