When Wither Hills winemaker Sally Williams was in town this week, it was the perfect opportunity to not only run through an intimate Wither Hills single vineyards tasting, but also a great chance to check out the newly renovated Sydney Park Hyatt hotel.
Think wines and Marlborough New Zealand and Sauvignon Blanc is probably front of mind. And yes we did start our tasting with a single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc – the Wither Hills Rarangi. Sally Williams told our small group that there’s no topsoil (the soil is pea gravel) and because no water is held it drives amazing structure in the wine. It’s a beautiful example of a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, with a focus on minerality, and rich mid palate texture that grounds the wine.
Although this area is best known for that style, what was interesting in our tasting was exploring the Wither Hills single vineyard Pinot Noirs – (the yet to be released) 2008 Benmorven and 2008 Taylor River. This pair was described as the Yin and Yang of Pinot Noirs.
The 2008 Wither Hills Benmorven was soft and inviting, and I can see why it is described as a feminine wine. My favourite of the evening though was the longer, punchier, more structural Taylor River 2008. It’s deeper resonance makes it (as winemaker Ben Glover says) “a wine that makes you want to dance.”
Glover unfortunately wasn’t able to join our little gathering in Sydney, so perhaps it is more appropriate to finish with a quote on the wine from winemaker Sally Williams. “With a bit of Pinot track record behind us now, it’s great to have reached the stage where we can confidently put forward this vineyard and say Taylor River is distinct, unique and can stand on its own two feet. Vine age has played a part in this, as has the hard graft we put in there amongst the rows. I love this wine, which reminds me of the succulence and richness you find in Pommard, Burgundy.”