Find wines and prices




Notes from New Zealand, 2011

text © 2011 Tom Cannavan

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


hayden Mud House's winery, visitor centre, restaurant and café complex is the most impressive on the Waipara Wine Route, and along with Pegasus Bay it is the face of Waipara wine that many casual visitors to the region will see. There's even a programme of summer concerts in the immaculate grounds. The Mud House group also owns the stand-alone Waipara Hills brand, with its own facilities and winemaking team.

The group has wineries and vineyards in Marlborough and Waipara, and also has its own vineyards in Central Otago as well as buying from contracted growers. Head winemaker Simon McGeorge took me through the range before dashing off to a meeting and leaving me in the very capable hands of assistant winemaker Hayden Oliver, right.

Mud House

Mud House is imported by Maisons, Marques et Domaines. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

Mud House, South Isalnd Pinot Gris 2010
Nelson, Malborough and Waipara fruit. Blending brings tighter flavours from Waipara and richer flavours from Marlbourgh. Nice nose, with delicate apricot notes and a touch of vanilla and cream from lees ageing. Very clear nose of stone fruits. The palate has quite a lot of sweetness (7g/l) with a rich texture and lots of fruit sweetness, with balanced alcohol and acidity. 88/100.

Mud House, Home Block Vineyard Pinot Gris 2010
From the home block around the Waipara vineyard. A slightly more lifted aromatic, little floral glimpses and a more delicate character. A touch of barrel ferment adds some gentle nutty notes. The palate has real juiciness, the background sweetness tempered by juicy acidity and a long, nicely tapering finish. 90/100.

Mud House, Waipra Riesling 2009
Attrasctive little bit of waxy lemon development, some orange zest notes. The palate has lots of texture and richness, the fruit of melon and stone fruits cut by a fine lime acidity, with a pithy dryness that sits very elegantly. 90/100.

Mud House, The Mound Vineyard Riesling 2010
Hand-picked, little skin contact gives a fruit skin note on the nose, with some clove and weissbier aromas and nice stone fruits. The palate has a lively but grippy fruit on the mid-palate, with 15 g/l of sugar adding apparent sweetness. The finish has that phenolic grippiness and a long, juicy finish. 91/100.

Mud House, Sauvignon Blanc 2010
A tiny proportion of Nelson fruit in this Marlborough wine. Big green bean blast on the nose, with rich pea pod ripeness backed by more tropical fruit notes. The palate has a very clean, crisp definition (only around 3g/l sugar) with a fruity mid-palate, but the acidity pushes through with a nicely lemony and focused, food-friendly style. 89/100.

Mud House, The Wooldshed Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010
A single vineyard form a hill block in Wairu valley. Much more expressive, phiol charcter with snow pea and pea shoot brightness. The palate has lots of sweet, ripe tropical fruit coming through, but again the limey acidity, and fruit sweetness pulls thios through in a very nice, very dry (1g/l) finish. 92/100.

Mud House, Chardonnay 2009
South Island blend, unoaked, with some lees contact. Lovely bright apple and orchard fruits, a touch of honeysuckle, a very gentle nuttiness. The palate has a nice texture, the fruit is niceluy focused. Good acidity, the finish perhaps a little abrupt. 87/100.

Mud House, Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
Bendigo vineyard is one of the biggest in Central Otago. Planted with lots of different clones and rootstocks to try to achieve some complexity. Nice Pinot nose, a nicely mineral and cherry brightness, a touch of smokiness and a touch of herbs and tobacco, but the focus is on the fruit. The palate has a tiny aggressive note, perhaps from slightly underripe tannins, but the fruit sweetness carries this through svefry nicely and that touch of underripeness adds a little herby complexity that sits very well with the fine, peppery tannins. 89/100.

Mud House, Swan Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
The "Swan" will change to "Eastate" from next vintage. Hand harvested, part whole berry, colds soaked for seven days of hand plunging in open tanks. Post ferment maceration to taste, followed by 100% French oak, 30% new, for around 10 months. The vineyars if cropped lower than for the regular Pinot Noir. Adds a much more smoky, mocha note to deeper plum and berry fruit. The palate has delicious tang, the cherry skin grip of acidity and ripe, fine tannins playing nicely against the really bright, dark, quite luscious fruit and spice. 91/100.

Waipara Hills

Waipara Hills is imported by Freerun Wines. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

Waipara Hills, Pinot Gris 2010
All Waipara fruit from 17-year-old vineyards and some younger vines planted more recently. Nice, light, juicy and fresh style with much less mealy and leesy character than the Mud House. A little skinny, pear skin note. The palate has quite punchy pear fruit, the acidity nice and ripe and juicy. This is pretty dry, with only around 5g/l of sugar. Very nice drinking. 88/100.

Waipara Hills, Riesling 2010
All Waipara fruit, form a relatively cool vintage but with a long hang time into the autumn. Around 30% skin contact in the press. All Riesling planted on river gravels. Has a touch of lime and a touch of pear skin tang, with a nicely bright charcter. The palate has nice medium-sweetness, with a light, lemony acidity allied to a soft, peach down, pretty fruit flavour. Nicely balanced and long. 89/100

Waipara Hills, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010
This and the Central Otago Pinot are the 'out of region' wines in the WAipara portfolio. This is mostly from the AWA-TERRY, with lots of bean and pea-shoot lift and brightness and a finely tunes lightly tropicl mango fruit beneath. Lots of brightness and freshness, and a very nice dry finish with texture and good acidity, but not aggressively so. 89/100.

Waipara Hills, Chardonnay 2010
Simon has worked in the Loire, the US and in Slovenia. He sees the model for Waipara Chardonnay's style being Chablis. This has only a very small proportion of barrel fermentation and only around 20% Malolactic. Nice hint of nutty, yeasty oatmeal charcter over crisp orchard fruits, lots of succulent fruit, but not too ripe or tropical in nature. The palate has nice sweetness, mostly from the fruit ripeness, but just a touch of RS (3/gl) too. The palate has a smoothness and nicely elegant finish. 88/100.

Waipara Hills, Waipara Pinot Noir 2009
Oldest vines are of the Swiss 10x5 clones, though more modern plantings are Dijon and Davios clones. Lovely aromatics, lots of cinnamon, clove and spice lift, with a tobacco and herbal lift, and the fruit has a juicy cherry and raspberry lift. The palate has is fairly lean, with a fruity mid-palate but always edged with tobacco and herbal notes, only hints of a more chocolaty ripeness before a lean, lemony finish. A bright, nicely focused and very authentic Pinot on the leaner side. 89/100.

Waipara Hills, Southern Cross Selection Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
All hand-picked fruit from Bendigo, 100% barrel aged, around 30% new, lower toast. Nice spice and exotic herbs, a little bit deeper and glossier. Has that nicely edgy fruit, and a lovely mocha background. Deliciously tangy and offers a nicely made, balanced wine with a spicy, grippy edge to the finish. (This wine was a Wine of the Week) on wine-pages in January 2011. 90/100.

return to New Zealand 2011