A Haven for Wine Lovers
by LAUREN M. MURPHY
Deep in the arid Wairau and Awatere Valleys of Marlborough, New Zealand, lie the vineyards of Whitehaven Winery. Owned and operated since 1994 by Sue White (and until recently her late husband, Greg) and winemaker Simon Waghorn—who came to Whitehaven following a distinguished career at Corbans Winery—the label has quickly gained recognition for its highly acclaimed Sauvignon Blanc. The white wine is highly regarded for its quality, intensity and consistent expression of Marlborough’s unique style. As a cool-climate viticulture region, Marlborough produces wines that are known for their powerful fruit flavors, and Whitehaven sources fruit from a number of vineyards (with varying soils and climates) throughout the area’s valleys. The differences in vineyard locations produce unique flavors that are retained at the winery by fermenting each parcel of fruit separately.
With grapes that are machine-harvested in cool evening conditions, de-stemmed, chilled and pressed immediately, the award-winning Sauvignon Blanc is a full-flavored, medium-bodied wine with vibrant peach, tropical-fruit and gooseberry aromas and herbal undertones. With its refreshingly crisp and clean finish, this straw-colored wine is best enjoyed while young with summer salads, poultry and shellfish—particularly oysters and lobster.
If you prefer a red wine, Whitehaven’s Pinot Noir is the one to try. Hand-harvested grapes are lightly crushed and cold-soaked for three days and then rapidly fermented. After fermentation, the wine is lightly pressed and aged in French oak barrels for 10 months. Before bottling, it is fined with egg whites to ensure a soft finish. Paired best with venison, wild game and other red-meat dishes, this Pinot Noir has a balanced palate and soft, velvety texture supported by dark fruit flavors and a firm, lingering finish. While this wine will improve with time if kept in a cool environment, it can also be enjoyed right after release. So get a taste of New Zealand this fall and drink what Whitehaven is serving. Whitehaven wines are available at The Wine House, 2311 Cotner Ave., Los Angeles, 800-626-9463, ext. 260; whitehaven.co.nz