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Marisco Vineyards launches The Craft Series

Marisco Vineyards chief winemaker and proprietor Brent Marris has launched his latest viticultural development from his Waihopai vineyard – The Craft Series.

A range of three wines, the Craft Series aims to demonstrate the characters and delicate nuances of the chosen grape varieties. The first wines of this range are the Pride & Glory Sauvignon Blanc 2011, The Exemplar Viognier 2012 and the Journey Pinot Noir 2013.

This new range responds to the consumer connoisseur who is looking for high quality, complex wines that reflect the capability of New Zealand. The Craft Series will target consumers who already know The Ned and The King’s Series and are familiar with Brent’s winemaking, and who are seeking a further step for the wines of the Waihopai Valley. They will range in price from approximately £25 to £50. The wines are very limited in production with unique vineyard sites; for example the Viognier is planted on a one-hectare plot that has a special hot spot, and the Journey Pinot Noir 2013 only has a production of 150 cases.

The bottles feature elegant, sophisticated labels with a modern edge to reflect the wines’ characteristics. The three wines have three different names on each label: The Pride & Glory has Brent Marris, winemaker, the Exemplar has Anton Rasmussen, the vineyard manager, and the Journey has Siobhan Wilson, marketing manager.

Brent states: “For me, the Craft Series is all about the craft of winemaking and viticulture, and guiding the grape varietals to fulfil their full potential. By using aspects such as specific yeast strains and French ovals purposefully bought from France, we are able to allow our wines to develop their distinct characteristics with new depth and complexity.”

The Pride & Glory Sauvignon Blanc 2011 and the Exemplar Viognier 2012 are from vertical shoot positioned vineyards that are cane pruned with 2,500 plants per hectare. The soils are ancient riverbed comprised of free draining strong silt with loam topsoil. The Pride & Glory is initially fermented in stainless steel utilising specific yeast isolates to capture the true essence of the Marisco soils, the wine was then aged on fine yeast lees without the presence of S02 for seven months, for palate weight and texture. The resulting wine was subsequently transferred into seasoned Puncheons containing Chardonnay lees for a further five months. For the Exemplar, handpicked grapes were gently whole bunch pressed to ensure minimal phenolic impact and full flavour extraction. The resulting juice was fermented in seasoned 500l French oak puncheons without the addition of cultured yeast strains. Extended barrel maturation on yeast lees without the presence of SO2 allowed greater varietal expression and enhanced textural qualities to be achieved.

The Journey Pinot Noir 2013 is composed of 80% Pinot Noir from separate clonal plantings off Marisco’s renowned Benmorven Vineyard, the Dijon clone 777 and Abel clone. The vineyard is famous for rich clay loam soil. The balance of 2013 was sourced from a small block of Abel clone planted on a gentle north face, at the highest point of the Slopes vineyard. The mix of loess (wild born) silt loam and clay based soils plus the exposure to North West winds naturally restrict vine growth producing wines of purity.  The handpicked fruit was predominately de-stemmed without crushing into small open top fermentation tanks. Around 30% whole clusters were included in the Benmorven clone 777 fermentation whilst the Slopes Abel clone was a pure 100% whole cluster ferment. The grapes were cold soaked for around seven days, before the onset of a rapid, warm fermentation. The ferments were hand plunged up to five times each day to keep the skins in intimate contact with the fermenting juice, then left to macerate for an additional week post fermentation. The young wines were drained and pressed before being aged in French oak puncheons for 11 months, with malolactic fermentation occurring naturally as the weather warmed in early spring. The wines are bottled with a minimum of intervention; not fined or filtered.


13 July 2015 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor