West Brook winery may not have a particularly memorable name but once you have visited the stunning and serene setting and tasted the wines you will not want to forget it! Check out the beautiful setting of vineyards, rolling hills and duck pond, and the giant chess set out the front of the winery.
You can buy a bottle and enjoy it in the picnic area next to the pond, play giant chess or even pétanque. It is peaceful and soothing and almost makes you forget why you came – but not quite! The wines!
My first taste of West Brook wine was the chardonnay, for which the winery is well renowned, and has won many awards. With my buddy Roger I tried the Waimauku Estate Chardonnay 2008 (pictured) at Centre City wine shop in Wellington in 2012. The colour of the wine speaks volumes! Dark golden, oozing with the toastiness of a medium oaked chardonnay, with flavours reminding you of brioche and nougat (as the tasting notes say!) just starting to settle into its age – it could have been cellared much longer, we didn’t want to wait. Chardonnay this good helps you to understand why it is the most widely planted white winegrape variety in the world. Classy, complex, this is a superb addition to any chardonnay collection.
I recently visited West Brook in Waimauku, Auckland, a 30km drive to the north-west of the CBD with my friend Randy Weaver, one of the founders of the famed Coopers Creek winery in Kumeu and now Director of Wine Science at Auckland University. Randy knows the West Brook owner and winemaker Anthony Ivicevich well – they chatted, I tasted!
Standouts for me were the chardonnays of course but also the pinot noir from Waimauku – I had never had a pinot from here, and Auckland is not known for pinot – but it was really really good! If you fancy something totally different this is the go! We all love our pinots from Otago, Waipara, Martinborough and Marlborough, but as all pinot lovers will know, this is the grape that most reflects the terroir (climate and soils). So of course the Waimauku pinot would carve out a profile of its own – I bought some and will wax lyrical when I share it with my wine buddy and expert Raymond Chan so watch this space!
Back to gewürz – of course!
Tigs and gewürztraminer are inseparable as my readers know well. France and NZ produce the best examples I have had to date, with a huge mind-boggling variety of flavour profiles, intensity, age, and style. Why am I so gewürz obsessed? Because it is the most surprising variety for me, varying according to producer and region. It can be light and fruity, dry and spicy, sweet and floral, make an intense dessert wine, or a dry table wine, it can be drunk very young or aged for many years. It is great on its own and an equally superb and versatile food wine. Most of all it is the wine that can really make you groan with pleasure… If in doubt try some of those I have written about here – the famous Hugel and Domaine Zind-Humbrecht versions from Alsace, France, and from NZ, try Johanneshof, Coopers Creek, Brookfields – and West Brook!
West Brook 2012 Marlborough Gewürztraminer
The reason this wine was a standout for me is its elegance but with backbone. It is very pale in colour (see my wonky photo – arty, not the result of overconsumption!) and has a delicate floral nose with gentle notes of lychee and honeysuckle – then wham! The palate bursts with spice and floods with luscious honeysuckle and baked apple, coating your tongue with deliciousness, lingering on and on to a dry lip-smacking finish. Wow! It is a tighter package than some gewürz I have tried – this one is lithe and toned with no rough edges, generous with flavour then tailing off gently leaving you wanting more. Warning – very easy to drink! I absolutely loved this wine.
Alcohol 13.5%; Price $22.90 from cellar door
Many thanks to Anthony Ivicevich for an instructive yet relaxed tasting at the cellar. I came away with a few beauties. More on the pinot at a later date – it deserves its own 15 seconds of fame!