The formal part of the evening covered discussion on the arrangements of the up coming club wine and beer completion to be held in late September. The Regional competitions were discussed and those attending have had travel arrangements organised by June our secretary.
Our guest speaker was Steve Skinner from Elephant Hill winery and his subject was aging of wines. The grapes are picked by hand at Elephant Hills several vineyards and once at the winery are sorted by a very expensive but clever machine which uses a high speed camera to identify the imperfect berries. These are then blown off the system by high pressure jets activated by a computer. Hence only high grade grapes go into the crusher or fermenters. They ferment at quite high temperatures after cooling the raw product down for several hours. After warming and once fermentation is initiated by wild yeasts a cultured yeast inoculum is added. Little or no sulphur is used during winemaking which allows malo lactic fermentation to take place if required. Wines are aged for a year or two before release.
The main factors influencing aging are type of closure, size of bottle, winemakers actions and storage conditions. We learnt that there are differing Selvin closures which vary in permeability thus allowing differing air exposure to the wine. Interestingly only corks are used in their top line wines as this is what is expected from those who buy them. The levels of tannin, acid, alcohol and sugar also influence aging processes on the bottle. Along with this storing bottles in the dark, at a constant low temp, not moving the bottle and storing on its side if a cork closure is used. So many factors can effect how wine ages once in the bottle.
An interesting story was told about the early days of contact with the Chinese market, in fact there wasn’t one. After Chinese buyers assessed their wines an order was placed for a container load(1000 cases). This was sent off and the company then went to China to see how it was selling but they couldn’t find it on the shelves in shops. On inquiry it was discovered that one business man had bought the wine and he had used it as gifts to give away to people he wanted to influence. Amazing story but eventually a wine market was created in China where the public had access to imported wine.
After the talk we had the opportunity to taste a new 2014 Syrah and a 2009 Syrah. The difference was amazing. The new wine was all fruit on the nose and palate and with deep red and purple colours while the older wine had lost much of the fruit nose and the colour was a lighter red with a slightest hint browning. The taste was more wine complex still had some fruit characters.
Well worth a visit to the winery and restaurant. More info on http://www.elephanthill.co.nz
Following this the points cup competition was run and June won Silver for her Sweet Red Fruit. Brian and Steve won Bronze for their Bitter Pale Ales and David won Bronze for his Brown Ale.
And Maurice won the raffle.