Well-known for their aromatics, Marlborough wine producer Lawson’s Dry Hills has two wines in the top six of the latest Dish Magazine tasting, including the top spot. Taking first place with the Pioneer Gewurztraminer 2016 and sixth with the estate Gewurztraminer 2016, this is further proof of the company’s ability to in produce outstanding quality wines.
Chief Winemaker, Marcus Wright, delighted with the acknowledgment said, “Gewürztraminer may not be a big seller, but it’s been our calling card for many years”. He puts it success down to the vineyard, “With vines that are over 35 years old and grown on clay soils, you certainly see intensity of aroma and flavour, but also texture.” He explains, “These wines feel weighty in your mouth, almost viscous, they leave an incredible impression.”
As if to reinforce this point, Dish Magazine’s Yvonne Lorkin described the Pioneer Gewürztraminer: “I love how focused, flavoursome, concentrated and multi-layered this gewürztraminer is,” while Jo Burzynska agreed saying, “It’s big, rich and generous – just what good gewürz should be.” Third judge, Cameron Douglas MS commented, “So well-made, I could drink this all day.”
Lawson’s Dry Hills are offering trade and media an opportunity to taste a ten-year vertical of Gewurztraminer at their up-coming tasting being held in Auckland on 9th October.
For further information, please contact Lawson’s Dry Hills Group Marketing Manager, Belinda Jackson firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 027 4448 666.
A new initiative has been launched to safeguard Marlborough’s wine reputation and Lawson’s Dry Hills is among the first to jump on board.
The protection of ‘brand Marlborough’ has been under discussion for some years but with the proliferation of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc labels over recent times, a group of key industry people led by Ivan Sutherland of Dog Point Vineyards, have been spurred into action.
Under the name Appellation Marlborough Wine (AMW), the aim of the initiative is to protect the integrity, authenticity and brand value of wines produced in Marlborough. The initial focus is on Sauvignon Blanc only.
To communicate this to the market, an Appellation Marlborough Wine mark has been developed for use on packaging and collateral (appertaining to the relevant wines only). To use it, producers must sign a licence agreement comprised of the following standards and quality parameters, declaring each wine submitted is:
- Made only from 100% Marlborough-grown grapes
- Made only from grapes grown in vineyards which are certified as part of a recognised sustainable viticultural program.
- Made only from grapes grown at an appropriate cropping level* (each year the Licensor will notify the Licensee of the cropping level which will be expressed as tonnes of grapes per net producing hectare and be pertinent to each separate vineyard parcel).
- Bottled in New Zealand.
The majority of the process will be based on the honesty and integrity of members and on the correctness of certifications they are required to submit. Members agreed that underpinning these arrangements, there needs to be a system for inspections and audit.
*If grapes used to produce the certified wine do not comply with the Licensor’s desired cropping level, then the Licensee may submit the wine with any necessary supporting evidence to the Licensor’s wine tasting panel which at its absolute discretion may permit that wine to become certified. The tasting panel shall be entirely set by the licensor and the decision of that panel shall be final and binding.
It’s May – typically one of the busiest months for a winemaker in Marlborough, yet Marcus Wright, Chief Winemaker at Lawson’s Dry Hills, still finds time to reply to his U.K. distributor’s email about the new fining technique he’s been exploring with his wines. Such attention to detail is symptomatic of the measures taken by this relatively small yet hugely successful Marlborough winery to keep lifting its game.
Over the past year, Lawson’s Dry Hills has been trialling different fining agents in a bid to broaden the appeal of its wines to new sectors of the market, namely vegans and vegetarians. As a result, they are now fining or ‘clarifying’ most of their sauvignon blancs and certain other varietals with totally plant-based fining agents. According to Marcus, “A number of new products have come available recently, allowing us to make our wines completely vegan and vegetarian friendly. Plus, we’re producing a better end product which everyone can appreciate.” The new fining techniques are being used in many of the wines under the Lawson’s Dry Hills, Mount Vernon and Blind River ranges.
Even the more seasoned wine drinkers amongst us may be unclear about what effect fining has on a wine. As Marcus puts it, “Fining takes away those more astringent elements known as ‘phenolics’, giving the wine a softer mouth feel, improved aroma and a cleaner, brighter appearance in the glass.”
Fining is quite a simple process. The winemaker pours a small quantity of the fining agent into the barrel or tank which bonds to suspended particles including dead yeast cells, tannins and grape fragments, causing them to slowly sink to the bottom. When the wine is ‘racked’ from one barrel or tank to another, the sediment is left behind and discarded. Traditionally, fining agents such as egg white, gelatine, isinglass (a fish-based product) and milk are used. While they ensure the final wine is clear and less astringent, there is a chance that minute traces may still remain in the wine; as stated on the back labels of many wines. This can be of concern not only to vegans and vegetarians, but also to those who may be allergic to milk, egg or fish.
With the new plant-based fining technique being used by Lawson’s Dry Hills, there’s absolutely no contact with any animal-based products at any point during the winemaking process. It’s also yet another example of how Lawson’s Dry Hills always looking to make many small improvements along the way, which add up to a better end product. So how good are the new wines? To find out, open any of the recent 2017 wines from Lawson’s Dry Hills, Mount Vernon or Blind River Sauvignon Blancs and taste for yourself. You don’t have to be a vegan or vegetarian to appreciate the difference, just someone who enjoys good wine!
Lawson’s Dry Hills celebrated 25 years of winegrowing last year, and it is well-established as one of Marlborough’s stalwart producers with a wonderful reputation for the quality of its wines, especially with Sauvignon Blanc and the aromatic varieties. Sion Barnsley is general manager and director, his family being shareholders from the start, and Marcus Wright is the winemaker, with the company since 2001. Marcus is assisted by Rebecca Wiffen, and the viticulturist is Mark Ludemann. The current wines, sourced from vineyards in the Wairau, Waihopai, Omaka and Awatere Valleys have never been better, and the 25 year celebratory ‘Ranu’ co-fermented wine shows the open-mindedness of the team with respect to winemaking styles. Here, I review the 2017 Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc. www.lawsonsdryhills.co.nz
Lawson’s Dry Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 * * * * *
Bright, even, light straw-yellow colour with some depth. The nose is firm and well-packed with a core of passionfruit harmoniously melded with nettle, cut-grass, green capsicum and snow pea aromas, unveiling some chalky mineral notes. The aromatics are layered and detailed. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a tightly bound heart with penetrating and intense flavours of passionfruit intermixed with nettles, fresh herbs, snow peas and nuances of minerals. The fruit has richness and sweetness and is enlivened by racy acidity, and the wine carries with good energy along a very fine-textured line. This has concentration and linearity, and the wine carries to a very long and sustained finish of passionfruit, herbs and nettles. This is a firmly-packed, intense, rich-fruited Sauvignon Blanc with real linearity. Match with Pacific Rim fare over the next 2 years. Fruit from 5 sites, in the Waihopai, Dashwood, outside Renwick and on Alabama Road, fermented in stainless-steel with 7% indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned French oak barriques to 12.5% alc. and 2.2 g/L RS. 18.5/20 Apr 2018 RRP $20.00
Celebrate #SauvBlanc day at our Cellar Door with 20% off all Sauvignon Blanc purchases!
Plus, experience some older vintages with a special vertical tasting – one day only!
No bookings necessary – just come and see us at 238 Alabama Road – the closest Cellar Door to Blenheim’s town centre!
ISO14001 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT
No agriculturally-sourced product whispers its reliance on the soil and environment quite like wine. When the land talks, wine changes it voice. Wine owes its soul to the ‘terroir’ and Marlborough-based winery Lawson’s Dry Hills believes you have to repay the favour and respect the environment in return.
When a decision was taken to achieve the lofty ISO 14001 standards, it wasn’t so much a case of needing to, but wanting to, in order to gain a further competitive advantage. Much is spoken about Sustainable Winegrowing NZ (SWNZ) accreditation which casts a halo over wineries New Zealand-wide. ISO 14001, however, gets less of a mention largely because relatively few wine businesses have actually achieved it.
Sion Barnsley, General Manager and a Director of Lawson’s Dry Hills, reflected on the decision to undertake the audit and meet the standard. “Environmental management touches every aspect of the business.” From the back blocks to the front office, it requires a shared attitude on the part of every individual to manage resources wisely, reduce waste and give back to the environment. “Initiatives like carbon neutral, for example, may affect only an organisation’s main office for instance, ISO 14001 goes much further.”
The eight individual recycling bins sitting outside the cellar door stand as a daily reminder of this commitment, requiring staff to sort their waste into distinct recycling categories. Yet this is just the tip of the environmental iceberg. “We looked at minimising our peak electricity usage. It meant not only reducing our total consumption but, where possible, shifting certain operations to off-peak times of the day. That saves money as well.” Water usage is also carefully managed. Day to day it means things like not completely filling a vat in order to clean it, for instance, and looking at smarter ways to use water in all daily chores.
He also believes Lawson’s Dry Hills has a distinct advantage – they’ve even been told they’re one of New Zealand’s best performing wineries environmentally. “The size of our operation makes it easier, as everyone in our relatively small team shares a mindset of sustainability. Yet we’re large enough to have a lot of our own equipment including a grape harvester, a complete bottling operation and warehousing. That means you can better control these assets and use them in the smartest ways possible.” As you walk through the operation, it feels more like an extended family rather than a corporation. The ‘family members’ not only share a common vision for sustainability, the expressions on their faces suggest they actually have a good time doing it.
The team carefully monitors machinery usage in the vineyard, helping reduce diesel consumption, carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuels. “We’re reducing our use of herbicides, that also helps,” Sion added. It’s not simply a one-off attitude change. “Right now we’re looking at leasing a solar power system and at ways to store that harvested electricity, because the sun isn’t always shining at the times you need it most.” While they’re already recycling water, moves are in place to capture and filter rainwater for use in the winery. Regular review meetings unearth further initiatives as new ideas present themselves, ensuring continual improvement.
As Sion also reflects, it also had to make sound business sense. “Environmental Management gives back in so many ways – not just to the environment – it also benefits your productivity and bottom line.”
So if the land and environment is feeling the impact, who else is listening? People like buyers in European supermarket chains and other customers are placing increased importance on sustainability, and the internationally-recognised ISO 14001 standard offers tangible evidence of their commitment. So when that next glass of gold and trophy-winning Mount Vernon Sauvignon Blanc or Lawson’s Dry Hills Gewürztraminer trickles across your palate, perhaps it will leave a better taste in your mouth knowing the environmental initiatives that helped get the wine into your glass.
- The world loves Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand – its big, powerful expression with passionfruit, citrus and fresh herb aromas and flavours make it unmissable!
- France has two areas famous for Sauvignon Blanc – the Loire Valley with flinty, dry Sancerre and Pouilly Fume as well as some lesser known wines from Touraine, and Bordeaux in the south-west. Here it makes crisp, dry wines and yet it is also a component of Sauternes and Barsac – the great sweet wines (also made with Semillon and Muscadelle).
- Sauvignon Blanc is great with seafood, but be careful not to overwhelm the gentle flavours of a fish dish with a big, fruity wine. Instead look for a more subtle style. The bigger, more fruit-driven styles are great with more flavoursome cuisine such as Thai green curry. Sauvignon Blanc is also great with sushi and goat’s cheese (among other things!)
- Sauvignon Blanc has a number of styles – from fresh, dry and steely to highly aromatic and juicy. It is sometimes made using oak barrels too which give a richness and complexity to the wines.
- Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wine Award Show Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Silver Medal Air NZ Wine Awards Gold Medal New World Wine Awards Blue Gold Medal Sydney International Wine Competition Lawsons’ Dry Hills Gewürztraminer 2016 Trophy – Champion Gewurztraminer Marlborough Wine Show Trophy – Champion Gewurztraminer Air NZ Wine Awards Gold Medal Air NZ Wine Awards Gold Medal NZ International Wine Show Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Five Stars and No.1 Cuisine Magazine #186 (out December 2017) Lawson’s Dry Hills Chardonnay 2016 Silver Medal NZ International Wine Show Lawson’s Dry Hills Riesling 2015 Trophy – Best Aromatic Wine Sydney International Wine Competition Trophy – Best Dry White Table Wine Sydney International Wine Competition Gold Medal International Wine Challenge Lawson’s Dry Hills Pinot Gris 2016 Gold Medal New World Wine Awards Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2015 Gold Medal New World Wine Awards Blind River Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Double Gold Medal Six Nations Wine Challenge Blind River Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Blue Gold Medal Sydney International Wine Competition
Looking to the 2018 vintage, Marlborough was less affected by the wintery blast which hit the southern areas of New Zealand’s South Island in early November 2017. Central Otago shivered under a blanket of frost and ski fields enjoyed fresh cover while gale force winds hit Wellington and threatened sailings of the Cook Strait ferries. Luckily, Marlborough temperatures stayed just above zero keeping the frost fans silent. Now as summer begins, that late wintery blast has been replaced by a warmer than usual December setting up the expectation for an exciting 2018 harvest. Stay tuned.
Oct 3, 2017
The magnificent heritage steam train that will launch on 1st December this year between Picton and Blenheim has been officially named “The Marlborough Flyer”.
Comments Paul Jackson, managing director of Pounamu Tourism Group, the company behind the Marlborough Flyer, “The name was partially inspired by the Kingston Flyer which has links to the region (we respectfully acknowledge the recent sad passing of the late David Bryce from Renwick who purchased The Kingston Flyer in 2011), and which also used Ab class locomotives, the same class that the Marlborough Flyer will operate. The emotions and passions of the old “Flyer” days still stir deeply amongst rail fans throughout New Zealand.
Marlborough is fast becoming a world-famous region; attributable in part to her beautiful natural assets, like the Marlborough Sounds and surrounds, and in part to the marketing efforts of the burgeoning wine and food industry, aviation heritage and numerous other successful business enterprises. Marlborough is establishing itself as a recognisable brand overseas, so with these two pillars combined (“Marlborough” and “Flyer”), the christening of The Marlborough Flyer was one which resonated with all stakeholders and rail fans alike.”
Mr Alan Piper, Group General Manager Sales and Commercial at KiwiRail says, “The Flyer is a great local initiative celebrating New Zealand’s rail heritage while providing a boost to the region. KiwiRail is always keen to support tourism in our regions and has seen a big increase in our tourism services bringing economic growth to areas such as the West Coast and Marlborough. There is a real romance to rail travel that international tourists are looking for as well as local enthusiasts, and still no better way to see our glorious countryside than by train.”
It is hoped that the added attraction will assist to improve the overall cruise ship visitor experience in Picton and in doing so encourage more cruise ship visits to one of the most popular ports in Australasia.
Mr Ian McNabb, CEO Port Marlborough says, “We have supported The Marlborough Flyer right from the outset as it will offer something unique to cruise ship visitors at our port, something which adds another unique selling point for cruise ship agents and owners. It is our hope that Port Marlborough will soon have as many visits as the busiest Cruise Ports in the country. The Marlborough Flyer is another feather in our cap.”
The support from big business has been positive and early on some prestigious brands have identified value in being associated with The Marlborough Flyer. They have taken “ownership” of Carriage Sponsorships, all five carriage sponsorships are now sold. The brands that have supported the venture from the onset, in doing do have made the “Super Sunday Specials” financially viable at reduced rates for the general members of the public – credited for this are Saint Clair Family Estate, The Ned of Marisco Vineyards, Lawson’s Dry Hills, Peter Ray Homes and Harcourts Marlborough.
Full steam ahead for The Marlborough Flyer!
When the earthquake struck Kaikoura in November 2017, its effects were more far reaching than many first realised. A number of Marlborough wineries felt the impact as some lost power, others suffered damage to their tanks and as a result ended up losing a quantity of wine. So on the surface, the damage seemed relatively minimal. Yet Rebecca ‘Bec’ Wiffen, assistant winemaker at Lawson’s Dry Hills, has noticed a more lasting effect to the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake.
As Bec commented recently, “We’ve noticed that the water table has actually risen and as a result many of the vineyards around the Marlborough region seem to be wetter than normal.” So maybe it hasn’t simply been the winter rains which have caused some of the low-lying vineyards to remain quite damp.
Bec is very hands-on when it comes to all aspects of the winemaking process, so naturally she is very sensitive to any changes that are happening in the vineyard. Bec has had to deal with a range of conditions having worked for several wineries around New Zealand. She’s also worked in the Napa Valley in California, and in the Alsace and Languedoc regions of France, so dealing with acts of nature is all part of a day’s work. However, earthquakes are something beyond what any of us in the wine industry can plan for.
To learn more about Bec’s observation, it was time to dig a little deeper to truly understand what has actually happened underground.
Peter Davidson, water scientist with the Marlborough District Council, has been monitoring changes to the ‘aquifers’ – which are the underground layers of water-bearing rock – from which wells source groundwater supply. “The 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake caused ground water levels to rise up to six metres at some Marlborough District Council monitoring wells across the region. On the day of the earthquake, the ground water level rose from 68 to 73 metres above sea level. ”
When Peter spoke to the Marlborough Express earlier in the year, he highlighted the immediate effects of the earthquake. “The largest changes were associated with deep wells penetrating aquifers formed of compressible clays rather than from gravels alone,” he observed. After the earthquake, water came rushing up in the wells causing them to overflow, with the water in some rising by four to five metres causing it to seep into the ground. “An aquifer in Ben Morven rose by four metres, while water in another aquifer rose by five and a half metres. It destroyed our water monitor.” he said. At that stage it was unknown what the longer term impact would be to the underground water supply. “We are still learning from the Christchurch earthquakes and what effects they have had, so it’s still early days.”
So what has actually happened since the earthquake? Looking for instance at the 400 metre deep Marlborough District Council well in Hawkesbury Road in the Omaka Valley, “The groundwater level has largely returned to its pre-earthquake level,” Peter commented “But other aquifers like the one at Ben Morven, for example, have remained high and show no sign of falling.”
In Marlborough, water supply is important for not only drinking water, it is also critical to the local vineyards and the agricultural industry in general. Marlborough enjoys some of the most idyllic grape growing conditions in New Zealand, with high sunshine hours, free draining soils and low rainfall. In fact, parts of eastern and southern Marlborough are amongst the driest regions in the country, according to the Marlborough District Council. Most vineyards in the area are irrigated, which means underground water is a lifeline and any changes to this water supply need to be carefully monitored.
While water from below is one concern, water from the heavens is something else. The 2017 harvest presented many vintners with additional challenges with the after-effects of Cyclone Debbie battering much of the country back in April. As Bec Wiffen pointed out, since Lawson’s Dry Hills has its own mechanical harvester, the vineyard is better able to harvest at precisely the right time as they don’t have to depend on the availability of mechanical harvesters operated by outside contractors. So for 2017, they were able to work with the weather and bring the grapes in before the storms.
As wine lovers eventually come to enjoy the excellent wines produced by Lawson’s Dry Hills from the 2017 vintage, maybe they’ll raise a glass to the winemakers who had to withstand more challenges than normal. This year, even more so than with previous releases, enjoying your favourite wine from Lawson’s Dry Hills will be moving experience.
Jul 7, 2017
Yachting New Zealand and Lawson’s Dry Hills wines a great match.
The New Zealand sailing fraternity have had plenty to celebrate in recent days and can now do so in style after a partnership between Yachting New Zealand and Lawson’s Dry Hills wines was signed last week.
Lawson’s Dry Hills have become the official wine sponsor of Yachting New Zealand for the next three years. Just as matching wine is important when it comes to dining, this partnership is also destined to be a great match with both parties committed to excellence and innovation.
As a Marlborough producer with strong distribution abroad and at home, Lawson’s Dry Hills are also committed to local communities. The partnership will see them connect with sailing clubs around the country.
“There has never been a more exciting time to join New Zealand’s sailing fraternity,” Lawson’s Dry Hills group marketing manager, Belinda Jackson said. “With our own love of sailing here in the Marlborough Sounds and our extensive range of wines, we are delighted with the opportunity this partnership presents and we look forward to supporting Yachting New Zealand at every level.”
The Lawson’s Dry Hills’ label was launched 25 years ago. Today, the company’s wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and their famous Gewurztraminer, all made from fruit grown in the Wairau, Waihopai and Awatere Valleys.
“There are many fine vineyards in New Zealand but this partnership with Lawsons Dry Hills is a perfect match for all occasions,” Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie said. “With both organisations having similar strategies, Yachting New Zealand looks forward to what the future holds.
“There are certainly exciting times ahead with the America’s Cup coming to New Zealand and an expectation of growth in the marine industry. We look forward to sharing in the opportunities and ongoing success of Lawson’s Dry Hills.”
• For more information, please contact Yachting New Zealand communications manager Michael Brown on 021 677 618 or Lawson’s Dry Hills group marketing manager Belinda Jackson on 027 444 8666 or see www.lawsonsdryhills.co.nz or yachtingnz.org.nz.