Wine Wednesday: Chenin Blanc from Millton Vineyards

This week’s Wine Wednesday is about an incredible Chenin blanc from New Zealand which I tasted a few weeks ago at a tasting at the Modern of New Zealand wines. It was a classy affair, with space and just the right amount of wines.

This one stood out for me. It was from Millton Vineyards The appellation is Gisborne which is located on the North Island of New Zealand. James and Annie Millton started the winery in 1984. I never really associate Chenin Blanc with New Zealand. I think more of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir.

This wine had all the lovely notes I expect from a Chenin from the Loire Valley – floral, lanolin, wool, honey, texture, and length. I detected more sweetness in this wine than I had been expecting. In fact, an Italian restaurateur I know was tasting at the same time I was and for him, the wine didn’t have enough acidity. Italians generally speaking, always look for acidity in their wines.

I was fine with the acidity level and was looking for something else from this Chenin – deep, persistence, finesse, and structure and I found all of that.

The winery is both organic and biodynamic. Certified by Demeter and other associations, the vineyard where the grapes are grown for this wine is just five kilometers from the Pacific Ocean. This vineyard is known as the Te Arai vineyard and it is close to a stream. In fact, the wine is often impacted by botrytis.

The soils are young sedimentary ones while the climate is hot but there are ocean breezes. The winery also uses indigenous yeasts and bacteria. Fermentation is done either in stainless steel or larger format oak barrels.

I have never been to New Zealand. At least not yet. For some reason, watching Moana last night with my son made me think of New Zealand although Motunui is a fictional island in the Pacific. I hope to visit at some point and to spend time in Tasmania as well. For now, wine glass travel works/

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