The boxes arrived last week, three of them, shipped all the way from Onetangi, Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand. 36 bottles of Kiwi nectar, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, direct from the Obsidian vineyard. Made with love, the product of much hard work, and sun blessed by the islands wonderful micro climate. They now reside in Abingdon, England, probably the only examples beyond the South Pacific, and I for one could not wait to rip in and have a first taste.
The first opportunity came whilst driving in the Black Mountains of Powys, Wales. Julie and I spent a few days in Hay On Wye at the beginning of the week, browsing through the many bookshops, taking in the fresh country air and enjoying the local hospitality. The weather was glorious, wall to wall sunshine and temperatures in the mid 20’s. Weather by no means uncommon for the time of year, but a pleasant surprise nonetheless given the dreadful rain we have been having for weeks on end. Rain that has since returned.
We had planned a long walk over the mountains but decided that it was simply too hot, and settled on a drive through the mountains instead. We were not disappointed. With a good map it really is possible to escape the crowds, even in a car, and we stopped by a stream running through the Mynydd Du Forest, and just short of the Grwyne Fawr Reservoir. Save for the sheep, we were alone.
I had brought a bottle of The Obsidian 2010, to drink one evening in the hotel, but in such a perfect place it was impossible to resist a first sip. Sat by the fast running stream at our feet it was all the more wonderful to consider the journey that the wine had taken, from those terraces overlooking the Hauraki Gulf to this remote place in the Welsh Black Mountains. The only open bottle of Obsidian 2010 for thousands of miles, such a delicious thought.
Two days later we were back home, and time for a more formal tasting. We invited Sian, Anton, Edwin and Lillian, round for supper, and over barbequed lamb with home grown salad, Julie and I put The Obsidian to the test.
I have already written about provenance, and how walking the dirt and shaking the hand of the owner and grower makes the experience of enjoying a glass of wine all the more rounded, and to be able to describe all that to your guests makes the experience deeper still.
We all agreed that the wine had a lovely colour, rubies and garnets were mentioned, with a touch of cranberry at its edge. The smell was fragrant and floral, gentle, not powerful, with hints of lavender to the fore. A young and youthful smell that suggested that there was a lot more to come. A view that Anton and I particularly shared.
When it came to taste, Anton remarked how full and mouth filling it was, to which Lillian remarked, “take smaller sips then!”. Not sure Lillian quite understood what we were doing 😉 Anyway, we did all agree that the wine was young, and typical of a Bordeaux blend needed more time. Nonetheless the taste lingered well for a green wine with suggestions of liquorice and rhubarb.
Wine: The Obsidian 2010
Purchased: Obsidian Vineyard, Onetangi, Waiheke, Auckland
Price: Not yet released I believe. Lindsay or Janet do please post a comment, and the retail price, if the wine is now available to the general public.
Mark: 7.3 (out of 10). Each of the panel marked the wine out of 10 and the mark was then averaged. I marked this wine above the average.
Comments: I continue to be amazed by the consistent quality of Waiheke wines, and particularly from this vineyard. The mark may seem mean, but this wine is not yet at it best and like any fine Bordeaux blend needs time. I am an impatient soul, and cannot resist that first taste, but this wine deserves to be left alone for a few years, alongside the Chateau Lascombes and Haut-Bages Liberal in my cellar. It deserves to be left for 5 certainly, maybe even 10 years, but I just know that the wait will be well rewarded. I will have to check on it from time to time though, to make sure it is alright!
I “smuggled” back a number of Waiheke wines when I returned from NZ last October, including Destiny Bay, Miro, Man O War, and Passage Rock. Reviews of all these to follow.
In the meantime the resilient people of these Isles continue to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee, despite the awful weather. For the moment though it has at least stopped raining, but to expect the sun to come out is simply asking for too much!