‘A handmade expression of New Zealand’s Awatere Valley’
Blind River wines are very much handmade and of limited volume. The philosophy is to capture the characteristics of the vineyard and guide them into the finished wine. This is done by first ensuring the vineyard is nurtured in a way that encourages the desirable qualities of flavour, acidity, ripeness and overall balance.
In the vineyard, each of the five small blocks – some pruned to two-canes and some to three-canes – are harvested separately. These then undergo careful destemming and pressing and the juice is kept separate. Each block undergoes individual winemaking tailored to the fruit profile. 10% of the juice is fermented in aged, French oak barrels while the rest is batch-fermented in stainless steel at cool temperatures to retain the aromas and intensity of flavour. The use of oak is not intended to be obvious, rather it is done to add a level of complexity to the wine together with added weight and mouth-feel. The process also softens the acidity a little, giving the wine more of a richness. The wines then spends three months on lees (spent yeast cells and other particles that fall to the bottom of the vessel during fermentation) for added complexity, flavour and texture before being rigorously tasted by the team for potential selection for the final Blind River blend. Any wine that does not meet the standards or flavour profile required is declassified. Finally, after the blend has ‘married’ which takes some time, the wine is bottled, labelled and ready for sale.
As with the Sauvignon Blanc, the grapes are closely monitored as they near optimum levels of ripeness. As well as picking based on maturity, it is important that the grapes contain the flavours that the winemaker wants. The team both test and taste the grapes everyday as they near perfection. When deemed to be ready, the grapes are picked, carefully destemmed and gently crushed before undergoing a cold soak for five days to develop the primary fruit characters. During fermentation, the cap (the skins that float to the top during fermentation) is hand-plunged up to four times a day. Post fermentation maceration then takes place to soften the tannins and generate a silkier mouthy-feel. The wine is then matured in French oak barrels – a quarter of them new – for ten months. It is then settled with a light egg-white fining if required and then bottled. Finally the wine spends another six months in bottle prior to release. From picking to release, the process takes about 18 months.
Tekau is a wine that offers a different expression of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Made from parcels that have been determined by the winemaker especially for this wine, the juice is 100% barrel-fermented in older French oak using wild yeasts cultured in the vineyard. It then undergoes partial malolactic fermentation (a naturally occurring fermentation that converts the more tart-tasting malic acid into the much softer lactic acid) and is matured on lees for about ten months. It then spends six months in bottle prior to release. While capturing the essence of Awatere Sauvignon Blanc, the additional winemaking techniques add complexity resulting in a fulfilling, opulent wine. Production is very small – about 150 cases. Blind River wines enjoy stellar reviews, high profile trophies and awards and a loyal following amongst wine enthusiasts.
On the basis that love should be spread... I totally LOVE your Blind River Sauvignon Blanc. What a gorgeous wine that hits you in the face with gooseberry and then kisses the senses in lapping waves of passion fruit and citrus. Bloody brilliant! I am a very happy person with a glass of this in my hand.
Mary Harper, Scotland