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Notes from New Zealand, 2011

text © 2011 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on New Zealand 2011.

SHERWOOD ESTATE

dayne When Dayne and Jill Sherwood gave up their Sunday to meet me at their low-key winery in Waipara I was honoured, and slightly concerned to hear that some of their biggest selling wines were imported through Oddbins. Rumours of Oddbins' financial predicament were just starting to circulate. Thankfully their main UK distributor, Alliance Wine Company, is still going strong and getting the wines onto shelves.

The Sherwoods farm their five separate vineyards organically, with no synthetic chemicals. They also own vineyards in Marlborough, and this family-owned and run operation makes several ranges, but all of them offering modest prices and excellent value for money. Sauvignon Blanc is a big seller, but Dayne (right) says "We don't see Sauvignon blanc as just a cash-cow - we want to make distinctive styles, and make it with as much care as we can." One thing is definite: "We certainly try to avoid the 'sweaty armpit' character that I can't stand in some wines."

The range-topping 'Heritage Collection' are all made from Waipara fruit, and Dayne describes them as "not so upfront and concentrating on texture and mouth-feel - they're 'food based' wines." This collection is fermented with wild yeasts, has no added enzymes, and part of the fermentation is in oak barrels.

the wines

Sherwood is imported by Alliance Wines. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

Sherwood, Heritage Collection "No 8 Wire" Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Lovely mealy nose, with lots of creamy, nutty tones to green fruit - gooseberry yes, but greengage and fig also. The palate has a richness and a Chardonnay-like texture and texture. The fruit sweetness is there, with apricot and peach and tropical nuances. Nice and fresh, perhaps could use a touch more acidity would be useful perhaps. 90/100. £12.99

Sherwood, Heritage Collection "The Shearer" Chardonnay 2007
Waipara. Nutty, Cox's Pippin nose, some almond and green fig and a gently oxidative style that is mealy and rich. The palate has beautiful fruit concentration, with a lovely core of lemon and lime acidity cutting through those sweet fruit tones, the coffeeish, gentle oak adding a nice layer into a long, sweet and nutty finish, but with excellent definition. 92/100. £12.99

Sherwood, Heritage Collection "Red Band" Riesling 2009
Waipara. 13.5. Very interesting nose, made from late-harvested fruit but fermented dry at slightly higher temperatures than might be expected for Riesling. Mango and guava ripeness and exotic style, some lime in the background, with a big, sweet-fruited palate. Delicious orangy acidity cutting through that sweetish alcohol and touch of RS, but that tropical fruit richness and exotic flavour persists. 90/100. £12.99

Sherwood, Pinot Gris 2010
Brand new wine, yet to be named within this series. Lovely nose, with quite a rich, mealy, oatmeal nose, a touch of melon and apple fruit, and a savoury, herbal and more earthy element. On the palate plenty of weight and texture, and a lovely dry, grapefruit acidity. I find this quite stylish. 89/100. £12.99

Sherwood, Heritage Collection "Huntaway" Late Pick Riesling 2009
50gl RS. Nectarine and tropical guava fruit, a touch of mineral smokiness here, and lots of caramel-like depth. The palate is luscious and sweet, with those juicy nectarine fruits powering through the rich mid-palate and the sweetness filling the mouth, but the acidity is beautifully balanced, leaving a tangy mandarin orange clean finish. 91/100. 12.99

Sherwood, Heritage Collection "Nor'Wester" Pinot Noir 2009
Much more savoury than the Sherwood Pinot, much more meaty and earthy, with complex glimpses of cedar and floral touches too. Lovely wine in the mouth. The savoury, juicy quality of the fruit is good - ripe, but restrained and edgy - and there's a briskness about the acidity that maintains that edge, despite quite a big coffeeish oak quality and plump, meaty tannins. In the end this is naturally concentrated and powerful Pinot, with real substance too. 91/100. £14.99

Sherwood, Heritage Collection Syrah 2009
Only four acres of this, which Dayne describes as "a personal, fun project. We never expected it to be a commercial wine, but we have been stunned by the results in the four vintages we've made." Very nice pepper and slightly meaty nose, with a touch of herbal quality, and lots of sweet red berry fruit. There is a juiciness and jammyness to the fruit, with touches of herbs and chocolate, as well as that lively. 90/100.

Sherwood Estate, Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Marlborough fruit. More mineral, more mineral nose, citrus characters. A concentrated character, with good minerality and just a suggestion of herbaceous notes. The palate has a juiciness and a fine herbal edge to lots of luscious fruit. 89/100. £9.99

Sherwood Estate, Pinot Noir 2009
Waipara fruit. Older oak, a touch of micro-ox in this one just to loosen it up for earlier release. Juicy, appealing red cherry and rhubarb fruit, lots of thick, ripe fruit character, with a touch of espresso in the background. Rich and sweet fruit on the palate, cherry and beetrooty richness very expressive, a little spice and nicely rich, thick tannins. A fairly big and sweet-toned style, but lots of juicy, complex, Pinot bangs per buck here. 89/100. £10.99

Sherwood Estate, Stratum Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Marlborough fruit. Lovely nose, lots of tropical fruit, very inviting with a passionfruit juiciness. Quite and oily mouth-feel, the thick tropical fruit sweetness persisting o n the mid-palate, lots of lemon and grapefruit. Well balanced. 87/100. £8.99

Sherwood Estate, Stratum Chardonnay 2009
Waipara fruit. Unoaked. Apple fruited nose, with a touch of green to it. The palate has hugely ripe fruit, perhaps too sweet, with abundant tropical notes on the mid palate but is there also a touch of RS? Commercial, but perhaps a little too sweet for me, the citrus pith acidity. 86/100. £8.99

See all stockists on wine-searcher.

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