I was fortunate enough to be invited away on holiday over New Year’s this year, to stay with friends in Wellsford just north of Auckland. As well as offering the opportunity to catch up with people I hadn’t spent time with in far too long, the Auckland region offered a number of interesting activities, some of which are relevant to this blog. One of the first on my list was a visit to a winery, and on this trip I chose Brick Bay Winery in Matakana.
Originally established in 1986 as a mixed smallholding and native bush regeneration project, the first vines were planted at Brick Bay in 1995. Today they grow Pinot Gris, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and two varietals which are quite uncommon in New Zealand, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. A total of four wines were available for tasting at the tasting bar located in an arbour beneath some of the original Pinot Gris vines, which at this time of year had already set fruit.
The 2015 Pinot Gris had a complex flavour which was drier than much commercially-made New Zealand Pinot Gris. It had distinct citrus and apple notes, along with blossom and a faint refreshing herbiness.
The 2016 Rosé, very much in fashion over here, was predominantly made with Malbec, along with touches of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It was one of the nicest Rosés I’ve ever tasted, with notes of strawberry, redcurrant and, yes, roses, and went very well with the burritos I made for dinner the following night.
Their 2013 ‘Martello Rock’ was apparently a claret-style wine (although I honestly have no idea what claret is like) blended from Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It had notes of blackberry and black plum as well as tannins and a subtle spiciness, and was smooth and satisfying. I bought a bottle of that as well, and paired it with spaghetti bolognaise.
‘Pharos’ is described as Brick Bay’s ‘premium blend’ and was last made in 2013, when a particularly hot, dry summer brought the red grapes to perfection. It was deep and earthy, with notes of cedar and chocolate with dark stone fruits. At $45, a bottle was well out of my price-range, but I’m definitely glad I paid the extra charge for a taste.
The winery also has a sculpture walk, which I’ll write about in a separate post, and a restaurant. As it was the holiday period it was extremely busy, an indication of the popularity and profile of the Matakana wine trail.
I hope you’ve also enjoyed a tasty drop or two over the holiday season. As always, please remember to drink responsibly, and don’t drink and drive.