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Gladstone Vineyards, New Zealand

Tom Cannavan, 02/07

One day I will write an article (or who knows, maybe even a book?) on famous Scottish winemakers. OK, I can hear the sniggering now, but in fact there are some excellent Scottish winemakers spread throughout the world of wine, many of them individuals who have followed a passion and dream, others who have found themselves living in a winemaking country, and have made a move into the profession.

Amongst the list I have so far is a small group of Scottish women winemakers including Pamela Geddes in Spain and Jane Wilson in Australia. And now I have a new name to add to that list: Christine Kernohan of Gladstone Vineyards in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand's North Island. Christine's range called '12,000 Miles' is named in honour of the journey she has made, both physically and emotionally, from her Glasgow roots to the other side of the world. Christine and her husband David Kernohan emigrated from Scotland 30 years ago, and took over Gladstone in 1996. Christine is winemaker and MD, whilst David runs helps within the limits of also running his Architectural practice.

Gladstone farms around 35 acres of vines, which are run on accredited 'sustainable agriculture' principles, and a new winery was built in 2005, complete with guest apartment accommodation. Christine sent me this set of wines from the 12,000 miles range to try for myself.

white wines

Gladstone Vineyard 12,000 Miles Sauvignon Blanc 2006
The grapes for this wine are a selection from one of Gladstone's blocks, and after a cool, two-week-long fermentation the wine saw extended lees contact to add richness. It pours a pale straw/lemon colour and has a nose that is only moderately herbaceous, with some pea-pod and grassy character, but more of a mealy, passionfruit richness and creamy quality. On the palate the wine has quite a striking, verdant spike of herbal-tinged, very robust lemon fruit with plenty of sweetness, but a little hollow note at the mid-palate where the fruit falls away and is replaced by a pithy, dry, citrus acidity. There is a savoury character here, and the wine is in a more food-friendly style than some from Marlborough.

Gladstone Vineyard 12,000 Miles Pinot Gris 2006
This screwcapped Pinot Gris from Wairarapa on New Zealand's North Island comes from estate vineyards and a small proportion of it was fermented in older French oak barrels. It has a pale lemony green colour and a brightly-fruited, appealing nose of pear and pear-drops, with just a hint of a mealier richness. On the palate it has a rich, mouth-filling texture, and an initial rush of very sweet, ripe pear and peach fruit. It is juicy and savoury through the mid-palate, as some broader orangy flavours and acidity emerge, and there is a small note of spice just as it finishes. It displays a little alcoholic heat, but is otherwise a fruity, very drinkable wine with a bit of substance and structure.

red wine

Gladstone Vineyard 12,000 Miles Pinot Noir 2005
12,000 Pinot Noir was hand harvested and matured for 12 months in older French oak barrels. It is bottled under screwcap. It has quite a deep, vibrant crimson colour and a noce of crunchy, bold redcurrant and cranberry fruit. There's a nice raspberry creaminess too, and a spicy background in an appealing picture. On the palate this is a medium-weighted wine, with quite a smooth mouthfeel and bold, assertive fruit with falvours of plum and crisp, juicy black cherries to the fore. Spice, tobacco and an earthy personality come through, with chunky, spicy tannins and good acidity. It stays fresh, though chewy and dense on the mid-palate, and a bit of rustic, grippy character in the finish adds up to a well-balanced and attractive Pinot.

Gladstone Vineyards' wines are available in the UK from Great western Wines and Lea & Sandeman, and from James Nicholson in the UK and Ireland. The 12000 Miles range is not yet in the UK, but it is distributed internationally by Rubicon Reserve.