I couldn't believe my luck when I found this beautiful Pinot Gris. It hails from the Spencer Hill Estate in Nelson in the North West of New Zealand's South Island and is owned by Phil & Sheryl Jones who moved there from California in 1989. It is very much a family affair with their sons also involved. Spencer Hill’s ethos is to take the best ideas from sustainability, organic and bio-dynamic practices and apply them as required by the land and the vines. In their words "The concept is simple... farm with the least input from chemicals, equipment and human interaction as possible. But this requires a thorough understanding of the relationships of insects, plant disease, soil chemistry, agricultural chemicals and their chemistry, and ecology...”
The sunniest region of New Zealand Nelson is considered a relatively cool climate region. Cooler temperatures help retain the delicious fruit flavours and the long growing season and high sunlight ripen the fruit perfectly. The clay loam soils provide the grapes with a depth and concentration of flavours.
Pinot Gris is not as popular as it ought to be in my opinion; many have been put off by the commercial versions - inexpensive, easy to drink, light wines which are sometimes bitter and often lacking in any fruit flavours. This is something quite different, a really classy white wine.
This wine is very light in colour and with a pink tinge which comes from the white Pinot Gris grapes. The aromas are quite subtle – and if the wine is too cold they will be difficult to appreciate – but fruit is the overriding feature – pears, ripe green apple with hints of cream soda, spice and honeysuckle. The cool temperature fermentation shows in the dominance of fruit flavours – pears, white peach, lychee, lime cordial and green apple – but there is added complexity from the very light use of oak and ageing of the wine on its lees.
The wine has quite a delicate texture but at the same time it coats the mouth with its delicious fruit flavours, creaminess and hint of warm spice. This is an elegant wine, medium-bodied yet light with distinctive aromas and a complex palate. I love this wine.
This wine is sealed with a Zork which allows further ageing in bottle and is easy to open- you just unfurl the plastic and pop the stopper open. It can also be used to reseal the bottle.
ALLERGENS: Note that the label states that there may be traces of milk in the wine; this is the first time that I have seen this on a wine label despite the use of casein, a milk protein, by other wine producers to extract any impurities in the wine before bottling. Some argue that all the milk will have also been extracted but it is better to be safe than sorry so if you have a severe milk allergy, sadly this is not the wine for you.
Recommended for drinking as an appetiser and with fish or poultry dishes; it has sufficient body to stand up to a wide range of foods but very strong flavours would mask the beauty of this wine
"A crisp, fruity Pinot Gris that will surprise your taste buds. Pear and spice flavours are evident in this wonderful wine just about every year. Further light ageing on special French oak and lees provides a hint of vanilla and cream. Grown on heavier soils that are required for full flavoured Pinot Gris.
Colour: Brilliant light copper colour
Bouquet: Hints of pear, spice and vanilla
Palate: Good mouth filling structure of pear, white peach, ripe green apple. Very crisp and sweet fruit."
Sommelier Wine Awards 2016 Silver
"... aromatic style with some petrolly notes along with lychee and peach fruit... 'intense lime and grapefruit with medium body, crisp and refreshing"
Bob Campbell MW
"Spencer Hill is certainly a leader rather than a follower. The wines are typically concentrated, rich and smooth textured with a variety of complex flavours that impress."