Wine review — Braided River, The Crossings, Brokenwood and Mount Pleasant

Braided River Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 $14–$19
The Crossings Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 $14–$19

New Zealand’s Ager Sectus Wine Estates, controlled by Peter and Debbie Cutfield, owns the ‘Braided River’ and ‘The Crossing’s brands. Winemaker Matt Mitchells says the bolder, traditional, in-your-face Braided River wine is an all-of-Marlborough blend. But the more restrained ‘The Crossings’ comes from the company’s extensive vineyards in the cooler Awatere Valley (to the south of the earlier-planted Wairau Valley). It’s paler in colour and lighter bodied with a taut acid backbone carrying the delicious, pure, tropical-fruit varietal flavour – something of a surprise from such a cool area, more noted for capsicum-like flavour from the other end of the spectrum.

Braided River Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 $17–$22
The Crossings Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 $20–26

Marlborough’s unique, sunny, cool climate makes it the world’s sauvignon blanc capital. And its pinot is set to achieve similar status. Braided River, an all-of-Marlborough blend, offers pure, ripe varietal flavours, fleshed out by high-toast oak.  It’s soft but built like a real red and ready to enjoy now. The vividly coloured ‘The Crossings’ heads in a less fleshy, finer, more intense flavour direction. In tandem with the fruit, the fine but assertive tannin structure (derived from a range of oak types and extend maceration on skins) make for satisfying, complex drinking at the price.

Brokenwood Hunter Valley

  • ILR Reserve Semillon 2004 $45
  • Maxwell Vineyard Semillon 2005 $36

Mount Pleasant Lovedale Hunter Valley Semillon 2005 $65

We sipped this delicious, maturing Hunter trio over four days without noticeable degradation of wine quality – few whites could achieve this.  Brokenwood ILR 2004 (10 per cent alcohol) sits on the austere end of the style spectrum – dry as cucumber skin, brisk as limejuice and showing first hints of age. Maxwell 2005 (11 per cent alcohol) seems a little fuller and softer by comparison and it’s lemony rather than limey. Its vintage mate from the 1940s Lovedale vineyard (11.5 per cent alcohol) is a little deeper coloured but dust dry, with jaw dropping flavour intensity and gripping, dry acidity.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010